The Sopranos: life and misery of a nobody

When I got my high school diploma, I had to prepare a case study related to some of the courses I followed: Italian, science, English, German and other stuff that doesn’t really makes sense to remember. It’ like trying to resume a corpse you desperately wanted to get rid of. Anyway, at that time I was obsessed by crime tv series and how cool the main characters were so my case study was “Criminality as a form of super heroism”. The heroes in crime fiction (anti-heroes would be a better definition) are written in such a way to inspire people to be like them. I focused especially on The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Dexter and others I can’t remember.

The point was that everybody secretly wants to be a gangster. Being respected, have a sort of honourable code, being almost a good guy who is second to none. There are plenty of examples of the romantic aspects of criminality depicted in media. Probably the most famous one is The Wolf of Wall Street. Anyone I met wanted to become like Jordan Belfort: the guy who went to jail and that now is selling his finance courses online on Youtube (Check out his channel with lots of free advices on selling)

The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Goodfellas

Living such a strong fantasy of power filled with money and women can somehow be dangerous for people approaching this kind of stories with the wrong approach. Sometimes I dreamed about being as smart as Walter White, as ruthless as Tony Soprano and as good in business as Jordan Belfort. It’s kind of sad how psychopaths are seen as winners in this life but that’s the reality of it. They are likeable because they are winners and they embody the type of man that the viewers would like to be. I am not an exception. I don’t want to be part of the mob but sure as hell I would like to be a billionaire and a winner. I was rewatching The Sopranos after 6 years and I realized that I didn’t change a lot. I am still rooting for the bad guy because my life is completely different from theirs. There is a line from the Goodfellas that always resonated with me.

Becoming someone

At the end of Goodfellas, it might seem as though Henry, the main character, gets off easy by selling out all his friends to the FBI and leave the Mob. But he’s left completely unfulfilled. He had everything he ever wanted and then lost it. Now, he has to live a normal life in the neighbourhood like everybody else.

“I’m an average nobody. I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.”

He basically says that life is different when you are just a random person without power, social status and money. This doesn’t apply only in the gangster world. People who made it (in every field) truly have a different life: they are happier and more fulfilled. This is why I always watch these kinds of stories to get inspired. Like I said I don’t want to be a criminal (I would be a terrible one in any case) but I want to be someone. That’s all I care.

The three As (a short story)

I am not a sane person. I think I am utterly insane. I either am silent, completely indifferent towards life and meek or I am a driven, loud, extroverted and ambitious guy. Sometimes I repeatedly punch the wall through a pillow so I don’t wake up my neighbours. Sometimes I meditate with the sound of a waterfall in my EarPods. Sometimes I mix creatine, Monster Energy, peanut butter and banana slices into my protein shaker just to drink a sip and feel my heart stop.

In order to feel something, I gotta do this kind of stuff. Right now, as I am writing, I imagine myself having the voice of James Gandolfini who played Tony Soprano. I am binge-watching the show for the second time in a row and I secretly wish I was more like Tony during my adolescence. He always took what he wanted and he never took a no for an answer.

This brings me back in time. You know, in order to motivate myself I think about really bad stuff that happened to me. When I think about bas stuff, I think about bad people I met. They are three and they all have a thing in common. Their names start with an “A”.

That’s how I refer to them:

A1

A2

A3

Every single time I need to get something done (studying, lifting, working) and I feel like I don’t want to do that, I simply recall their names, what they have done to me, and how I could have prevented everything bad from happening to me simply being a little stronger, smarter and less naïve. This is how my journal looks like:

I need to study hard. I don’t want to. A3. I was 18 years old. As I am procrastinating, A3 is going to have an advantage and (always A3) is going to beat me again.

That’s how I motivate myself. Of course, I don’t start studying all of a sudden. My blood starts to boil and thinking is impossible for five-six minutes. When it happens, I do this: 50 push-ups, 40 pullups, I count to ten controlling my breathing. Then everything is fine and I am ready to study as hard as ever. I think about my advantage that makes me superior to A3 and, for an hour, the world is as beautiful as it gets. I feel superior. Thinking about an individual who made me miserable six years ago and imagining a comparison between him and (A3) makes me feel superior. That’s why I say I am utterly insane, prisoner of a mistake I made a long time ago.

I will avenge myself.

I will save myself.

The words from The Northman comes to my mind. I am fighting a hopeless fight that doesn’t need to be fought. But I need to feel in charge. I need to have some control over what happened. I can read all the stoicism books I want and train as hard as I can. Outrunning the past is an impossible task.

A1: 14 years old

A2: 17 years old

A3: 18 years old

I look in the mirror and I touch my abs. My six-packs is not as visible as last week. Gotta remove some extra weight and cut. That’s the only way to live.

The Last of Us II: a hopeless story

Many of my favorite stories revolve around revenge. There is an immense pleasure in seeing someone who has been wronged getting revenge. You took something away from me, I take something away from you. You do something to me, I do something to you. It is not a simple whim to see the person you hate to sink into the abyss (especially if he sinks because of you).

Revenge was the first form of justice. In prehistoric tribes, revenge was seen as a symbol of power and whoever did justice to himself gained the respect of other people. The message was clear: ‘I’m not a person to mess with”.

If, on the other hand, one remained helpless and submissive in the face of an injustice, one was perceived as a weak person and the whole tribe sided with the executioner by adopting the good old mentality of the ‘hunter and prey’.

The Last of Us II: the cycle of revenge

Certain things are not easily forgotten. Just the title I put in for this post will piss someone off.

Over time, things have changed. Forgiveness and leaving everything behind are preached. On the other hand, it is better to live happily than to live in the past and remember every day what has been done to you. To put it in the words of the great Frank Sinatra: ‘The best revenge is success.’

Or not?

Getting revenge has apparently been shown to benefit both mental and physical health. Having personal satisfaction through the suffering of those who attacked first is written in our DNA. A bit like saying: ‘What I lost (whatever it is) won’t come back but at least this prick (whoever he is) got what he deserves’. It is no coincidence that many stories in the media use the leitmotif of revenge: it is something that each of us has thought about at least once in our life. Lately every story I have read and experienced (Berserk, The Count of Montecristo, The Northman, Vinland Saga) revolved around revenge. One story in particular caught my attention: The Last of Us II.

I liked The Last of Us II way more than the first one. Here you are. I said it. The first was nothing special.

I loved it: from the first to the last frame, The Last of Us II tells a simple and effective story that explores the feelings of frustration, revenge and PTSD of both protagonists, Ellie and Abby. Each one has excellent reasons to get revenge.

the last of us

Trauma and forgiveness

Ellie witnessed the death of her adoptive father Joel by Abby, who saw her father die by Joel. Unfortunately, revenge is a vicious circle and could last forever as this game demonstrates. Ellie’s psychological and physical condition get gradually worse  as she embarks on a mission to avenge Joel.

She will have to give up her friends of hers, the family she had in Jackson (the city where she lived with Joel) and her moral code. Ellie will destroy everything she has built up in the present, like her relationship with Dina, in order to stop the visions of Joel’s death that don’t make her sleep at night. As that saying goes: ‘Whoever seeks revenge must dig two graves: one for himself and one for his enemy.’

Living in the past leads to condemn the present and losing everything that has been built. So, if revenge is not an option, forgiveness remains the only alternative.

Ellie seems to understand this and lets Abby go when she realizes that her death won’t get her Joel back. An ending that has long been criticized but which is deeply human. Ellie realizes that she has lost everything and does not want Abby to face the same fate as her: she does not want the bond between her and Lev to be broken because of her.

What’s next?

When Ellie comes home, obviously, there is no one waiting for her. She had to choose between hate and forgives and she chose, at least the beginning, hate. However, Ellie finds the guitar that belonged to Joel. Everything has remained as it was before. She begins to play the guitar but on her journey towards revenge she has lost two fingers and has some difficulties: even the last bond she had with Joel (the guitar and the fact that he himself taught her to play it) is gone.

A final flashback is shown to us: Ellie berating Joel for not sacrificing her to save mankind. Joel tells her that he would make that choice once again.She was the daughter she had lost and mankind meant nothing to him. The world and human emotions revolve around selfishness. Joel is no different from Abby who is no different from Ellie. I think Ellie has figured all this out in the end and she decides to make amends. She forgives Joel, she forgives Abbie and she forgives herself. Naughty Dog’s sequel turned out to be a truly brutal game. Everyone here learns their lessons but the price is far too cruel.

The Four Hours Work Week – A dream of freedom

I still remember when I dreamed of living as Christopher McCandless, the guy that inspired Into the Wild. A happy, carefree life focused on the idea of ​​travel, free from any bond and obligation. I am fortunate to be able to say that I have lived like him for a year but nothing more than that. Then I had to deal with reality, get a job and all that stuff. Sometimes I think about how nice it would be to simply throw the phone in a river (or maybe in a waste bin just to less dramatic), get on a plane without a destination and simply get lost in the world following the path of loneliness created by Musashi Miyamoto.

 In this beautiful dream there are two problems: my job and the money for travel (I’m thinking Japan). It wouldn’t be hard to take a couple of weeks off and spend half of my money. And then? I would go back to my daily routine to regain what I spent on vacation, maybe book another flight for the year to come (I’m thinking Maine) and repeat everything on a loop. Perhaps this solution is better than nothing. But is there really no alternative to this?

brown hawk flying frefour hours work weekely
Another copyright-free image that gives a general idea of what I am talking about

These days I have studied and read a lot to find a solution. Opinions and market analysis on cryptocurrencies, SEO and Google Adsense positioning for the blog (lol), various investments, rent, sub-rent, Air-bnb. I woke up around 4.00 am. I maxed my bench press. I have read Rich Dad Poor Dad and The Art of the deal. They are books that motivate me a lot but they don’t offer a real solution. How could they? Making money is an art. It would be like pretending to learn how to write fiction by reading a creative writing book: it just isn’t possible. In any case, I came across this book titled “The Four Hours Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss.

Ferriss has an interesting personality. At the age of 23, he founded a hugely successful online dietary supplement company and then he sold it to a London-based private equity firm. Those were the years he wrote the four-hours work week book that brought him to success. Since then, he has decided to devote himself to the business of angel advisor. But Timothy Ferriss is much more than that. He is a national kick-boxing champion and he has the Guinness world record for the highest consecutive number of rotations in one minute in tango dance. A truly exceptional man.

In his book, Ferriss explores topics such as downshifting, virtual assistants, cash flows, online businesses and more. Ferriss explains the Pareto and Parkinson’s law according to which it is necessary to limit the tasks to the essential to shorten the working time and to shorten the working time to limit the tasks to the essential. This means cutting out any unnecessary action. In fact, 80% of the results derive from 20% of the causes. It is not necessary to judge the quantity as much as the quality. Having less time also equates to more motivation. Less time means more concentration to get the job done in the best way in the shortest possible time. When I was at University, I only got to work two days before the deadline for an assignment. Nothing motivates like a deadline.

Ferriss goes further by explaining in detail how to start your own business, the tips to follow and how to free yourself from the rat race. I found all these tips too chaotic. What allowed Ferriss to gain financial freedom were the revenues from his business which, as he himself says, was born a little by chance. Not everyone can afford to follow his footsteps. What I liked, however, is the energy and positivity with which he talked about his journey to success. A highly motivating book that, however, offers nothing else. Definitely recommended with a discount for e-books.

Quattro ore alla settimana: tempo, sogni e libertà

Ricordo ancora quando sognavo di vivere come Christopher McCandless, il protagonista di Into The Wild. Una vita felice, spensierata e incentrata sull’idea del viaggio, liberato da qualsiasi legame e obbligo. Ho la fortuna di poter dire di aver vissuto come lui per un anno ma nulla di più. Poi ho dovuto confrontarmi con la realtà, trovarmi un lavoro e tutta quella roba. A volte penso a quanto sarebbe bello semplicemente buttare il telefono in un fiume (o magari in un cestino dei rifiuti per non inquinare), salire su un aereo senza una destinazione e semplicemente perdermi nel mondo seguendo la via della solitudine di Musashi Miyamoto. In questo bellissimo sogno ci sono due problemi: il mio lavoro e i soldi per un fantomatico viaggio (sto pensando al Giappone). Non sarebbe difficile prendere un paio di settimane di ferie e spendere metà del mio patrimonio. E poi? Tornerei alla mia routine quotidiana per riguadagnare quello che ho speso in vacanza, magari prenotare la prossima metà per l’anno a venire (sto pensando al Maine) e ripetere il tutto. Forse questa soluzione è meglio di niente. Ma davvero non c’è un’alternativa?

brown hawk flying freely
Ennesima foto gratuita copyright free che non spiega molto

In questi giorni ho studiato e letto molto per trovare una soluzione. Opinioni e analisi di mercato sulle criptovalute, posizionamento SEO e Google Adsense per il blog (lol), investimenti vari, affitto, sub-affitto, Air-bnb. Ho letto Padre Ricco Padre Povero e The Art of the deal. Sono libri che motivano molto ma che non offrono una reale soluzione ma è giusto così. Come potrebbero? Fare soldi e investire è arte. Sarebbe come pretendere di imparare a scrivere narrativa leggendo un libro di scrittura creativa: semplicemente non è possibile. In ogni caso, mi sono imbattuto in questo libro dal provocante titolo “Quattro ore alla settimana – Ricchi e felici lavorando 10 volte di meno” di Timothy Ferriss.

Ferriss è una personalità interessante. A soli 23 anni ha fondato un’azienda online di integratori alimentari di grande successo per poi venderla ad una società Private Equity londinese. Quelli sono stati gli anni in cui ha scritto il libro delle quattro ore che lo ha portato al successo. Da allora, ha deciso di dedicarsi all’attività di consigliere business angel. Ma Timothy Ferriss è molto più di questo. È un campione nazionale di kick-boxing e ha il guinness world record per il più alto numero consecutivo di rotazioni in un minuto nel ballo del tango. Un uomo decisamente d’eccezione.

Nel suo libro, Ferriss esplora temi come il downshifting, i virtual assistant, i cash flow, i business online e tanto altro. Ferriss spiega la legge di Pareto e di Parkinson secondo la quale bisogna limitare i compiti all’essenziale per abbreviare il tempo di lavoro e di abbreviare i tempi di lavoro per limitare i compiti all’essenziale. Ciò significa tagliare ogni azione superflua. L’80% dei risultati deriva infatti dal 20% delle cause. Non bisogna tanto giudicare la quantità quanto la qualità. Avere meno tempo a disposizione equivale anche ad avere più motivazione. Meno tempo significa più concentrazione per portare a termine il lavoro nel migliore dei modi nel minor tempo possibile. Quando ero all’Università mi mettevo all’opera solo due giorni prima della scadenza di un compito. Niente motiva come una deadline.

Ferriss si spinge oltre spiegando nel dettaglio come far avviare una propria attività, i consigli da seguire e come liberarsi dalla corsa dei topi. Tutti questi consigli li ho trovati sin troppo caotici. Ciò che ha permesso Ferriss di guadagnarsi la liberta finanziaria sono stati i ricavi della sua attività che, come lui stesso afferma, era nata un po’ per caso. Non tutti possono permettersi di seguire i suoi passi. Ciò che mi è piaciuto, però, è l’energia e la positività con cui ha raccontato la sua scalata al successo. Un libro altamente motivante che però non offre null’altro. Decisamente consigliato in offerta per e-book. Altrimenti opterei per Padre Ricco Padre Povero.

Vinland Saga: hate and forgiveness

Is it really possible to change as a person? Can a human being animated by pure hatred and revenge become a pacifist? Vinland Saga was a pleasant surprise. After watching The Northman for the fifth time, I was obsessed by revenge stories. One of the first results on Google was Vinland Saga, a manga set in the Viking era. The plot was as simple as the one depicted in The Northman. A kills B and C seeks revenge for B with the clear intent of killing A. It is no coincidence that most of the stories featuring Vikings are about revenge. One of the most important deities of the Norse mythology is represented by Víðarr who embodies the very concept of revenge.

The god Víðarr will fight in the Ragnarǫk, the end of the world, and his task will be to avenge his father Odin. Revenge is the best tool to preserve honour and ego: it is not just something entirely negative. Hurting those who committed a crime is nothing but justice. Fearing retaliation for committing an injustice also has the function of stopping a crime before it happens.

“Brushwood grows and high grass

widely in Vidar’s land

and there the son proclaims on horseback

his eagerness to avenge his father”

If we did not pay for the crimes committed, how many of us would be guilty of the most serious offenses? A lot of us. And if we talk about justice, wouldn’t the concept of “forgiveness” perhaps be an affront to the victims? How could it be possible to forgive someone who has done a serious crime to you or to someone you care about? A theft, a violence, a humiliation, a murder? It could be argued that the old and dear concept of “an eye for an eye” can only lead to more despair and hatred, which would lead to a new act of retaliation, in an endless cycle of revenge. You really have to be an incredibly strong (or incredibly weak) person to let go of your revenge fantasies and focus on the future.

Vinland Saga: justice, revenge and honour

This is the riddle of Thorfinn, who saw his father die at the hands of a mercenary for no apparent reason. Thorfinn lets anger and hatred take over and he meditates revenge towards his father’s killer. He is only  six year old but he begins his training. Askeladd, his father’s killer, seeing potential in him, makes him a proposal: join his army, prove his worth in battle, and earn the right to face him in a duel to avenge his father. Thorfinn doesn’t intend to cut Askeladd’s throat in his sleep. That would not be honourable: he must avenge his father by honestly winning in a duel. And this is how young Thorfinn begins his apprenticeship under the command of his father’s killer.

“The strongest lives and the weakest die” become his new mantra and he acts accordingly, joining the Danes and raiding the cities of Great Britain. Until, by a fortuitous circumstance, his desire for revenge is stolen from him. This causes it to become an empty shell. Without revenge, Thorfinn is nothing. From there, he begins his journey towards healing, but it is never entirely possible to escape from the past (a very dear theme even to the latest God of War which, not surprisingly, deals with Norse mythology). Perhaps it is impossible to be non-violent in such a world.

Vinland Saga is a highly recommended manga that comes close to the moral ambiguity of Berserk and Vagabond.

Scuola, odio e Pink Floyd

Ho sempre odiato la scuola. Mi piaceva imparare. Alcune materie le trovavo persino interessanti. Ciò che non sopportavo era svegliarmi alle 07:00, prendere i mezzi pubblici e parcheggiarmi per sei ore su una sedia in mezzo ad altri 22 ragazzi. Non mi sono mai sentito a mio agio nei luoghi sovraffollati e alcune persone, soprattutto gli insegnanti, non facevano che rinfacciarmelo. “Perché non parli mai?” “Sei muto?” E, spesso, queste considerazioni da premio Nobel provocavano più di una risata tra i miei compagni di classe. Dicono che la scuola ti prepari alla vita e non potrei essere più d’accordo.

La scuola ti prepara a passare il resto della tua vita a svegliarti presto, a incurvati le spalle su una metro, a passare le giornate con persone che preferiresti evitare, ad ascoltare i tuoi superiori (insegnanti, capi: fa lo stesso) a dirti cosa fare con un vago cenno di frustrazione nelle loro voci perché anche loro non vorrebbero essere in quel posto.

Forse la faccio un po’ tragica. Non tutti gli insegnanti erano così male e non tutti godevano nell’asserire autorità a dei ragazzini con rimarchi più che discutibili. La maggior parte . Credevo di essere l’unico ad aver avuto un’esperienza orribile al liceo ma sta di fatto che non è così. Con chiunque abbia avuto modo di parlare, la scuola – soprattutto il liceo – è stato percepito come un periodo se non orribile, perlomeno negativo. Ma, come direbbe il professor Oak in Pokémon, non è questo il luogo o il momento per muovere una critica al sistema scolastico. La scuola è essenziale per la crescita mentale di un individuo. Letteratura, matematica, arti, scienze: tutto è fondamentale. Ma la scuola raramente si basa sull’apprendimento delle materie, basandosi di più su una burocrazia infondata e insensata che non porta a risultati tangibili.  

low angle photo of two men fighting in boxing ring
Come avveniva il confronto con il mio professore nella mia testa. Montante e gancio sinistro. Una delle mie combinazioni preferite.

Si sta avvicinando la mia stagione preferita, l’autunno. Già oggi ho visto un bambino insieme alla mamma che comprava un quaderno a righe e un compasso. Ciò mi ha fatto tornare alla mente ricordi che avrei preferito dimenticare. Ore e ore della mia vita a sentirmi inadeguato e depresso in un’aula anonima di provincia. L’unica cosa positiva di quel periodo era la mia ragazza e Il Trono di Spade. A pensarci bene, forse, la colpa non è del sistema scolastico ma solo mia. Se avessi avuto una bella esperienza le mie parole sarebbero ben diverse.

Eppure, sono grato di non essere più uno di quei bambini costretti a varcare le porte di un liceo. E sono ancora più grato di non essere uno che varca le porte di un ufficio. Ogni volta che entravo in quei posti mi sentivo un animale pronto per essere macellato. Forse anche i Pink Floyd si sono sentiti così. Quel video è stata un’esperienza catartica.

Don’t be another brick in the wall…

Io lo sono stato per troppo tempo. Mi ricordo ancora quando mio padre mi diceva: “Adesso odi la scuola ma da grande ti mancherà tutta questa spensieratezza e vorrai tornare indietro per rivivere questi meravigliosi anni!”

Preferirei un avvelenamento da cianuro piuttosto che rivivere quegli anni. Ho ventiquattro anni, un pelo grigio nella mia barba da tre giorni, lavoro da remoto, ho quattro paia di jeans e vivo in una casa in affitto lontano dal posto in cui sono nato. Non è molto ma in confronto a quell’obbrobrio della mia vita a sedici anni mi sento Elon Musk. E, cosa più importate, ho un obiettivo, un sogno e qualcosa di tangibile a cui aggrapparmi. Quella scuola non è stato altro che un inferno per me. Credevo di averla lasciata una volta per tutte dopo un ricco 95/100 alla fine degli esami. Ma le cicatrici sono ancora qui dentro di me. A volte odio me stesso per lasciare che il passato mi influenzi ancora. Ho una lunga strada di fronte a me ma sono fiducioso.

Sono grato di ciò che mi è successo. Le esperienze negative possono essere tanto utili, se non più utili, di quelle positive. I rimpianti sono per i perdenti. Ciò che è accaduto è accaduto. Tanto vale imparare la lezione e andare avanti. Non si può cambiare il passato, ma si può agire nel presente e cambiare il futuro. Questo è già qualcosa.

Buona fortuna per chiunque sia ancora alle prese con le mirabolanti avventure nel sistema scolastico.

American Psycho: self improvement and murder

Today I saw American Psycho for the fourth time in my entire life. Every time it’s like the first time. It is a masterful movie based on a novel that defines modern literature along with Fight Club and Trainspotting. Patrick Bateman has it all: a well-paid job in Wall Street, a penthouse in New York’s most luxurious area (but not in front of Central Park. Fuck Van Allen and his reservations at Dorsia), a sculptured physique thanks to his daily workouts in New York’s most exclusive gyms.
Yet Patrick is prey to a personal dissatisfaction. He hates his work; he cannot stand appearances, and he despises constant confrontations with his colleagues. However, his life is based purely on that. Patrick books a seat in the best restaurants every evening. Patrick takes steroids. He has multiple relationships with attractive women. He is a productive and respectable member of society. For Patrick, however, it is not enough. He wants to be the best in every aspect.

And it is precisely his constant need to feel superior and to be accepted by others that drives him to madness. In fact, between training sessions and fancy dinners, Patrick Bateman kills and tortures several prostitutes, homeless people and friends from his university. The facade of him as a ‘boy next door’ gets thinner and thinner, revealing a person who is essentially fragile in front of the opinion of others.

He constantly lies about his alleged friendship with Donald Trump to let others perceive him as an important person: a clear example of this is his frustration for not being able to make a reservation at Manhattan’s most exclusive restaurant, Dorsia.

American Psycho: Patrick Bateman as a role model?

American Psycho is about the obsessions of a man who doesn’t feel enough and his consequent frustration: Patrick is a passive victim of a consumer society, which is becoming increasingly difficult to be a part of. He can’t live without stopping pleasing people he despises. He doesn’t want to be left on the side-lines. The solution? Unleashing his discomfort towards others. He mixes sexual fantasies and acts of violence with his routine composed by gym, drinking with ‘friends’, cocaine and concerts. Perhaps this is the only way Patrick can find relief in his mission to integrate himself.


rectangular white table with rolling chairs inside room
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

However, Patrick is a successful person. He just cannot see that. He sees himself as a loser by the constant confrontation with others in trivial matters. For example, the comparison of business card formats in the office. Except Patrick’s mental health, his murderous impulses, and his complete antisocial personality disorder, I think there is something or two to learn from him; first of all, his desire to win.

In my personal opinion, I believe this is the message of American Psycho. It is not a critique of the yuppie and capitalistic society: it is a message to aspire to greatness with a balanced and logical mentality, without letting the judgment of others (positive or negative) turn you into a monster. I believe this message is not as relevant as it is today. It is difficult to find a successful man but even more difficult is to find a balanced man … and this is what really leads to real success.

Now, if you will excuse me , I gotta go to return some videotapes.

Silent Hill II: a traumatic past

Once upon a time in 2006

I was 9 and I attended grammar school. It wasn’t a good time of my life. I lived in a small town, far from home. I felt alone. I had no one to talk to. The days were grey and they were all the same to me: waking up, going to school, sport, studying and so on. I guess it’s a common routine for a child of that age. The days were so identical that I could not even tell them apart.

But at the bottom of this endless greyness, there was a light. I was the proud owner of a Playstation 2 and I had a stack of games inherited from my neighbour. One game title stood out among all.

Silent Hill II is a name that has appeared frequently in these pages. It is hard to convey the emotions I felt the moment I experienced it. I was confused, scared, disoriented. I wouldn’t have described that game as a good experience.

The long walks through the streets of Silent Hill in a thin fog, the monsters with a human appearance and the brutal and sexual nature of some moments made me feel a strong feeling of discomfort. It made me feel dirty. This is a further proof of the masterful job from Konami in painting a psychological picture of such complexity.

I didn’t understand the story perfectly. I didn’t grasp the references to Carl Jung and David Lynch. One thing I understood for sure: a guy was looking for his dead wife in a town full of monsters. And the plot, at least in appearance, is simple as that.

mountain slope covered with trees
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

James Sunderland receives a letter from Mary, her wife, who died three years earlier from cancer. She begs him to return and meet her in Silent Hill, the city symbol of their special place. Confused, James leaves for the city but, once he is there, he doesn’t find the idyllic Silent Hill of which he cherished a fond memory.

Now everything is rotten, ravaged and inhabited by disgusting creatures, monsters and humans. On his journey to this hell, James will meet several people. The first is Angela Orosco, a mentally unstable girl whose emotional state is deeply damaged from the continuous memories of the sexual violence she endured inflicted by her father and from the psychological abuse caused by her mother.

Silent Hill and the shadows of the past

As the story unfolds, James meets Eddie Dombrowski, a severely overweight boy who has had severe self-esteem problems due to bullying. Here, the player has the sensation something is slightly off.

How come all the humans James meets are indifferent to the chaos that reigns in Silent Hill? Why is no one worried about the deformed monsters that appear in every part of the city? A further question arises when James meets Laura, an 8-year-old girl with no parents who roams the streets of Silent Hill carelessly.

As it turns out, Laura was friends with Maria, James’s wife, and came to Silent Hill on purpose to see her again. There is definitely something wrong here. It almost seems as if each of the characters is walking into a different and personal version of Silent Hill-Also, this city seems to attract a certain type of person.

One of the most common explanations is that Silent Hill is a purgatory, a place where anyone who has failed to overcome a severe trauma is finally forced to face it. Silent Hill is a shape-changing purgatory based on each person’s fear and trauma.

James still feels guilty about his wife’s death and he can’t get rid of the survivor syndrome. Every monster he encounters is full of sexual allegorical meanings.

Mannequin is an example of James’ clear sexual frustration when Mary was battling cancer. Pyramid Head, the faceless monster who takes what he wants by force. The character of Maria is also noteworthy. Maria is the physical copy of Mary, but her personality is completely different: she is the stripper of Heaven’s Night, a night club situated in Silent Hill. Maria could represent Mary’s split personality, as well as James’s sexual desire.

Still in that city

Silent Hill II is a journey into the depths of the human psyche. No wonder a game so full of metaphors, hatred, trauma and redemption gave me such a negative feeling as a child.

James’s journey will finally lead him to the truth, to the “special place” shared with Mary. There are six available endings. Not a single one of them is canon. I can just talk about the ending I had in my run that I first completed (I never finished the game as a kid) a few months ago. The ending called Leave: James has the opportunity to face his past once and for all and talks to his wife for the last time. James finally leaves Silent Hill with Laura. He has earned the right to process the trauma and leave the city. Silent Hill has one less soul to torment.

I am grateful I experienced this ending: the other epilogues had a much bleaker development. Still, a part of me will always be part of that city. Maybe Jame has abandoned Silent Hill for the moment. But, sometimes, I can still see it in my dreams. James has made his journey. I can’t say the same for me. Silent Hill called me to answer of my past a long time ago. I suspect my journey will be a long one.

But I don’t mind. I’m still in Silent Hill.

During my university time: a long, short story

I have no idea what to talk about. It happens. I stare at the emptiness of a blank page, emotionless, thinking about that beautiful monologue from American Psycho.

“I had all the characteristics of a human being—flesh, blood, skin, hair—but my depersonalization was so intense, had gone so deep, that my normal ability to feel compassion had been eradicated, the victim of a slow, purposeful erasure. I was simply imitating reality, a rough resemblance of a human being, with only a dim corner of my mind functioning”.

Here it is. This is one of the best things I wrote in my entire life and it’s not even mine. I can see myself in that description. It reminds me of my time in university. I attended classes, joined more than a social club, spent hours wondering in nature but I simply was not there.

People talked to me, stuff happened, the weather changed with a fast pace since the university was located on an island. I was merely a witness of what happened to me. I remember a hill that overlooked the entire town.

It was pretty popular, however I found out about that only during the second half of my first year. It was 10 minutes distant from where I lived. During the day, the hill was crowded. During the dead of the night (around 03.00 a.m.) it was the loneliest place in the world.

I used to walk all the way up with a torchlight and I seated on one of the three benches that overlooked the sea. At 3 in the morning even birds are quiet. My favourite time was when a full moon displayed in the sky. That was the peak. I didn’t even need a torchlight. I used to seat there for hours. One of the few times I allowed myself to be the real me.

Two years have passed and nothing truly changed. I don’t study but I have a job. That’s the difference. In both situations I try to do as little as possible.

Those years were lonely and I can’t help but miss them. I was 22 yesterday, now I am 24. Where does all the time go? Feel like I am living a fantasy and not a pleasant one.

I overlook the park and I leave. Somehow, I managed to write something. I sigh and I whisper to myself:

“This is not an exit.”