Tuesday, 03 January 2023 14:38

Milan 1st January 2023

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This morning I wanted to go hiking with a friend on the mount Bronzone near Bergamo. I got back fairly early on New Year’s Eve and got up after 7 hours sleep ready to drive to Bergamo. All dressed up for hiking I called my friend who confirmed the weather was humid and foggy and the lake could not be seen at all, so we had better postpone.  

Still dressed with warm transpirant trousers and shirt, I reached the sofa. On the way to the sofa my hand picked a book I had just had a conversation about with a man in Tuscany: The Soul’s Code by James Hillman. According to Google books:

A journey into the essential mystery at the center of every life--the search for calling--The Soul's Code takes a new look at age-old themes, providing a radical, frequently amusing, and highly accessible path to realization through an extensive array of examples. Hillman encourages readers to discover the "blueprints" particular to their individual lives, certain that there is more to life than can be explained by genetics or environment. 

For the first day of the year, the "acorn theory" — the idea that our lives are formed by a particular image, just as the oak's destiny is contained in the tiny acorn - would now replace my ritual walk. I lazily slipped through the pages, reading only the passages I had already underlined years ago. Some of the lines attracted me: I transcribed them on a Word file, in the order in which they appeared in the book. A few spaces on the page added, and a poem emerged. An extracted poem with a title, all in Hillman’s own words. A tiny acorn.

In the end, to place the acorn in my worlds, I added two photos: one from a walk I just had in Tuscany, one I now took from my kitchen window - where I had called my friend to go hiking.

(this creative writing practice is inspired by works such as those by Lea Melandri, Laurel Richardson, Leonora Cupane, and Jane Speedy and from engaging in creative literature review with Laura Formenti and Silvia Luraschi*)


How do I find the basic plot of my story?


A calling may be postponed, avoided, intermittently missed

The daimon does not go away

The Romans, like Keats, said the call came from the heart

For some it is Lady Luck or Fortuna

In Egypt, it might have been ka, or the ba with whom you could converse


We are parented by everything around us – 

if “parenting” means watching, instructing, encouraging, and admonishing

Ecological disaster – 

the belief that what’s out there is less of a factor than my close family


Extended family

Imagining demands absolute attention

A counterlife (Philip Roth’s term) –

the creation of a fantasy biography


Nature loves to hide

Eat first, talk later

I would rather keep accident as an authentic category of existence.


(Extracted poem from J. Hillman 1996, The soul’s code: in search of character and calling)


Asciano Le Biancane 20221227

Ph Gaia Del Negro, on a walk in Le Biancane di Leonina, Deserto di Accona (Siena), 27th December 2022.


Milan 20230101

 Ph Gaia Del Negro, modified view from my window, Milan, 1st January 2023.


* Formenti, L., Luraschi, S., Del Negro, G. (2022). Relationship, power, and care in feminist pedagogy: our theory under construction. In Proceedings CASAE/ACÉÉA 2022 Annual Conference/conférence annuelle 2022. Hosted by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Organisé par la Fédération des sciences humaines et sociales (pp.137-
147). Ottawa: Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education (CASAE), https://www.casae-aceea.ca/conferences/.

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