To give a face to depression and suggest a way of escape: this is the challenge with which Luca Artioli measures himself in Beyond the Dark.
How is it possible to portray darkness, blackness, the negation of life? How to succeed in this while achieving a certain detachment from one’s own experience of suffering? The author works by subtraction: he adopts a subtle and at the same time tragic language, he presents a white sheet and, cast away on it, a tormented, entangled body. We distinguish a face, or rather a scream, concealed amid the folds (or the wounds) of the fabric, hands that cling to nothingness, the dramatic nakedness of one who has lost even himself. Waves, withdrawals, cuts, and then a hazy Turnerian Venice and lunar, glassy landscapes that accompany the long unfolding of the illness, which seems to leave no scope for recovery…
But the message of Luca Artioli is again one of hope, and there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel: “Can I offer you the experience of rebirth?”, asks the author. A rebirth which at first smacks of surrender, passing through “a new birth as painful as the real one: “…I am reborn, borne again, the first whimper is a cry, of a man who is born already man. Muscles, bones, hands of an adult, strong legs, beard. I am reborn, in a body as voluminous as experience.”
And at the end, after so much suffering, “the appetite and the hunger of life” gain the upper hand. “Light over darkness, love over death, the desire to shine, to find the breath of the soul, will be like the moon when it finds the snow, like the sun when it lives on the mountains, it will be yours, it will be light”.
I built my solitude,
I nurtured it with snow,
Now I am not afraid to open the door
and leave behind the footprints of my past.
At times we seem to have arrived at the end and only a determined gesture can save us.To turn
over a new leaf. But the page is heavy, dark and illegible. It is a black veil, dense and sticky, that
covers the soul and slowly stifles it.Translating those moments into words and images is not easy.
You feel ill and the representation of darkness is private, yours alone.Working in that dimension
that smacks of nightmare is madness. Pages and images of depression cannot be born in the
darkness or in an unmade bed as you are sucked into the night. In there, in the vortex, down
there, at the bottom there is no strength, there is no writing or language because life is lost and
you can’t grasp it again.
Only later, when you are better and memory is bearable, can you write or paint your blackness
with the truth felt on your skin.This is what happened with this book. Emerging from the tunnel
I wanted to tell of the journey.
Can I offer you the experience of a rebirth?
Light over darkness,
love over death,
the desire of shining,
of finding the breath of the soul,
will be like the moon when it finds the snow,
like the sun when it lives on the mountains,
it will be yours,
it will be light.
So we can start. Pain has done its work, like a used car, now I pull up in one of the parking lots of
life. I continue with a different means of transport, and resume my journey across a white field of
snow. When you succeed in walking on the fresh snow and leave new footprints behind you;
when you feel your body respond to the effort and the light settle on your skin without wounding
then it means that you have started to live again.The fresh field of snow is your new page, a new
garment to wear. And now that I feel energy return to my fingers and all my body, now that the
white sheet before me invites me to leave new footprints, at this very moment, I can speak of the
life that I thought lost.
it dissolves on my hand
open to the sky.
It returns home, the pain.
Everything is now beneath me. The anguish of bewilderment, the unseeing face, the hands
trembling and the prozac and zoloft tablets. It’s all under my feet.The veil of snow woven with the
threads of my darkness is dissolving.This new day will restore motion, light and new nourishment.
And if the paths are many, I am not afraid to choose one.
It appeared with an invitation,
an open door, but on entering, the passages multiplied,
the paths opened and closed suddenly,
too many choices, too many ways.
No one had told me life was a such labyrinth.
Today I wandered where it was right to wander.
I directed my footsteps there,
around that bend.
At once I felt the new path a little my own, so different from those before.
“Go on, go on… keep going,” it seemed to say,
and I felt no fear of losing the black luggage of my life,
or the fear of finding myself before another closed door.
Go on, it said, go on.
How long did the journey last?
How many things did I take with me?
I can’t recall, but I found myself at the center.
My hand, before my soul,
entered the eye of the cyclone.
there is a heart that beats serene, without hustle and anxiety.
I find a bench to sit on.
Here at the center everything is calm, really strange.
Not strident noises, not flashes, winds and violent darknesses,
only lovely colors and a music of serene, ineffable notes.
The wooden bench like in the park,
is an invitation to rest,
“Stop now,” it seems to murmur.
It is neither hot nor cold and the body is not hungry
and, in the end, it forgets it is a body.
I am at the center,
at my center and I feel and see with new eyes.
I have no fear now of returning into the storm.
I feel the protection of a good force that will enable me to traverse it.
I walk calmly and if I again find myself faced with a closed road,
it does not matter,
now I know how to return to the center,
to rest there, to find new energies
to seek and perhaps to emerge,
in the end,
from our limits.