Antonio Gramsci, ‘I Hate New Year’s Day’

This text was first published in Avanti!, Turin edition, from Antonio Gramsci’s column “Sotto la Mole,” January 1, 1916.

Every morning, when I wake again under the pall of the sky, I feel that for me it is New Year’s Day.

That’s why I hate these New Years that fall like fixed maturities, which turn life and human spirit into a commercial concern with its neat final balance, its outstanding amounts, its budget for the new management. They make us lose the continuity of life and spirit. You end up seriously thinking that between one year and the next there is a break, that a new history is beginning; you make resolutions, and you regret your irresolution, and so on, and so forth. This is generally what’s wrong with dates.

They say that chronology is the backbone of history. Fine. But we also need to accept that there are four or five fundamental dates that every good person keeps lodged in their brain, which have played bad tricks on history. They too are New Years’. The New Year’s of Roman history, or of the Middle Ages, or of the modern age.

And they have become so invasive and fossilising that we sometimes catch ourselves thinking that life in Italy began in 752, and that 1490 or 1492 are like mountains that humanity vaulted over, suddenly finding itself in a new world, coming into a new life. So the date becomes an obstacle, a parapet that stops us from seeing that history continues to unfold along the same fundamental unchanging line, without abrupt stops, like when at the cinema the film rips and there is an interval of dazzling light.

That’s why I hate New Year’s. I want every morning to be a new year’s for me. Every day I want to reckon with myself, and every day I want to renew myself. No day set aside for rest. I choose my pauses myself, when I feel drunk with the intensity of life and I want to plunge into animality to draw from it new vigour.

No spiritual time-serving. I would like every hour of my life to be new, though connected to the ones that have passed. No day of celebration with its mandatory collective rhythms, to share with all the strangers I don’t care about. Because our grandfathers’ grandfathers, and so on, celebrated, we too should feel the urge to celebrate. That is nauseating.

I await socialism for this reason too. Because it will hurl into the trash all of these dates which have no resonance in our spirit and, if it creates others, they will at least be our own, and not the ones we have to accept without reservations from our silly ancestors.

– Translated by Alberto Toscano

I don’t agree with socialism as an automatic fix for this kind of rigid chronological thinking. I think people will always be prone to thinking in the arc of story and linear progression. It is part of how we cope with the uncertainties of random events, but the more we can pull ourselves away from fixating on turning points and rigid structure and see the flow and waves of interconnection and interaction that surround us all the time, the more we will be successful at solving the problems we face as humanity.

Progressive Geographies

occupationThis text was first pub­lished in Avanti!, Turin edi­tion, from his col­umn “Sotto la Mole,” Jan­u­ary 1, 1916.

Translated by Alberto Toscano for Viewpoint.

Every morn­ing, when I wake again under the pall of the sky, I feel that for me it is New Year’s day.

That’s why I hate these New Year’s that fall like fixed matu­ri­ties, which turn life and human spirit into a com­mer­cial con­cern with its neat final bal­ance, its out­stand­ing amounts, its bud­get for the new man­age­ment. They make us lose the con­ti­nu­ity of life and spirit. You end up seri­ously think­ing that between one year and the next there is a break, that a new his­tory is begin­ning; you make res­o­lu­tions, and you regret your irres­o­lu­tion, and so on, and so forth. This is gen­er­ally what’s wrong with dates. (continues…)

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