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Conversation with Clelia Albano on Italy, Catholicism, God, Poetry, Dawkins, Dante Alighieri, and Genius: Member, Capabilis (1)

February 15, 2021

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 26.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (21)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: February 15, 2021

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,373

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Clelia Albano is from Italy. She’s a teacher of Italian and Latin, painter and poet writing in Italian and English. She has two collections of poetry, In Assenza di Naufragi, that was a finalist for the National Literary Contest “Il Mio Esordio 2018,” selected by the International Festival of Poetry of Genova, and “Come Tutte Le Cose di Questo Mondo”, a prosimetrum. She’s been published also in English on the american anthology “Winter” and by the literary magazine “The Night Heron Barks”. She loves reading, learning languages and editing for Wikipedia, which she has done since 2012. She discusses: growing up; a sense of an extended self; the family background; the experience with peers and schoolmates; some professional certifications; the purpose of intelligence tests; high intelligence discovered; the extreme reactions to and treatment of geniuses; the greatest geniuses in history; a genius from a profoundly intelligent person; profound intelligence necessary for genius; work experiences and jobs; particular job path; the gifted and geniuses; God; science; the tests taken and scores earned (with standard deviations); the range of the scores; ethical philosophy; social philosophy; economic philosophy; political philosophy; metaphysics; philosophical system; meaning in life; meaning externally derived, internally generated; an afterlife; the mystery and transience of life; and love.

Keywords: Catholicism, Clelia Albano, Dante Alighieri, genius, Italian, Latin, Naples, Richard Dawkins.

Conversation with Clelia Albano on Italy, Catholicism, God, Poetry, Dawkins, Dante Alighieri, and Genius: Member, Capabilis (1)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When you were growing up, what were some of the prominent family stories being told over time?

Clelia Albano[1],[2]: I love this question. It brings back memories of incredible people very significant in my life. My father was a teacher of Latin and Greek from Naples. He belonged to a remarkable family. Along with fairy tales I was mostly told stories of some ancestors and of notable relatives but also stories related to specific historical context such as WWII.

With regard to ancestors, my father recounted often about a well known poet of the Renaissance, Luigi Tansillo, one of the most prominent petrarchist of southern Italy – according to Treccani – who was the ancestor of his mother. This created a sort of mythical aura around my dad’s legacy. In addition he loved to recount anecdotes of his uncle -brother of his father- Leonida Albano, who was a magistrate who built a case against the fascist general Rodolfo Graziani. He also had two amazing aunts: Laura and Alba, both teachers, both erudite, both single by choice. In sum they were forerunners of the modern emancipated women. Laura was incredibly tall, a beautiful red-haired woman with green eyes and with an enormous number of men who vowed her hand. Alba was the opposite. A gracious little figure, but equally exquisite and fascinating. She taught Italian literature, Latin and Greek. I keep her vocabulary of Latin, a priceless memory. My father told me that given her skills and competencies she was hired as a private preceptor of the little prince of Montenegro at the time he was in Naples.

Jacobsen: Have these stories helped provide a sense of an extended self or a sense of the family legacy?

Albano: Yes, they have. Particularly they shaped my awareness of the importance of learning and of democracy. With regard to the feminine side of my family I also shaped the idea that a woman can self determine herself and that a woman can be what she wants to.

Jacobsen: What was the family background, e.g., geography, culture, language, and religion or lack thereof?

Albano: My family is of Italian language and catholic religion.

On the paternal lineage, cultural background is characterized by a high educational level. Many graduated in various fields – from teaching to medicine, from the military to law. The majority were teachers and head-teachers. My mother comes from a humble family. Her father was an employee at a municipal office. She has many siblings. Living in a very small town in a mountainous area with a limited budget and resources for traveling and attending universities, made not possible for her to earn a degree. Despite the obstacles they are brilliant and smart people though.

Religion is a relevant point in both my parents’ background.

I was raised as a catholic. Gradually I developed skepticism over faith although I can say I was a believer in my childhood and for half of my adolescence but always dubious. My dad was a church goer and he had an intellectual idea of faith; on the one hand as an intimate and private feeling, on the other as a form of rational dimension that gave no room for superstition, fanaticism and theatrical performance. He disliked the grotesque side of certain expressions of faith.

Jacobsen: How was the experience with peers and schoolmates as a child and an adolescent?

Albano: It was a good experience. I have attended public schools, the high school was a classic lyceum, and what I remember is the environment of the entire scholastic iter was heterogeneous. Honestly I got bored when lessons were too repetitive and I would be lying to say that I enjoyed the small tough chair and the constraint of school time. In my opinion once you have assimilated the contents you should be put in the condition of going further. It’s a mistake when teachers flat progresses. Doing like that transforms them into bureaucrats who close minds in evolution in a box. Being an only child I usually tended to socialize. On the other hand, I also tended to be selective because my tastes and attitudes didn’t often match the peers’ ones. I loved to paint, writing poems, create objects with clay and to draw illustrations, and I loved to listen to British and American pop music; as a child I loved Franco Battiato who is a singer, musician and a painter whose texts were revolutionary for the poetic texture and for the multiethnic influences, an odd taste for a kid. Strangely I have never been a child who giggled to children tunes and enjoyed songs for kids. As a student I was one who easily learned but I often think that a non conventional school would have met my inclinations better.

I have had some good teachers though.

Jacobsen: What have been some professional certifications, qualifications, and trainings earned by you?

Albano: Well, after graduating in Literature and Philosophy – my degree is quadriennal that is equivalent to a Master degree – I earned a certification in Italian literature and history, another one in Italian literature and Latin, a certification in History and Philosophy. All these represent different teaching chairs in Italy, which means I’m qualified as a teacher for each of these certifications.

Jacobsen: What is the purpose of intelligence tests to you?

Albano: I took tests by chance. Before taking them I have had only some fun with taking these IQ tests that pop up in the Internet ads. One day I received a friend request from a Mensan, founder of one of those IQ societies and I told myself why not to give it a try? Since then, given the very good result, I entered several IQ societies and later I was friended to another Mensan who got the highest IQ score in the world a couple of years ago, and I took more than one of his tests. There are incredible, fascinating people in those societies, sensible and humble.

To be frank my personal purpose was to satisfy the curiosity to test my capabilities but I don’t feel comfortable being tested because I think there are aspects of our minds that cannot be measured.

Jacobsen: When was high intelligence discovered for you?

Albano: There always have been things that were easy to comprehend and to retain in my mind, since my childhood. When you’re a kid you don’t notice that much the difference. You think everyone is like you. When you grow up you start to acknowledge that your mind works differently from the standard particularly because of the enormous size of the contents and information you realize you retain and with regard to myself also memory. Acquaintances, friends, schoolmates, and gifted people, were impressed by how easily I remembered contents even of a distant past.

More than memory it would be preferable to call it comprehension, because I retain what I’m interested in and what I want to learn. OK I also remember things that are not useful sometimes ( such as an anecdote of a cat named Sugar who fell down from a skyscraper ten years ago and it landed safe), but they surely were related to a certain mood or particular moment or a context that somehow was affecting my interaction with the world around me ( with regard to Sugar it’s because I love cats) not necessarily relevant context or memorable days though. Anyway across the time I realized that everything I remember is useful and precious. I have developed the idea that reality, life and experiences are linguistic codes and every single memory is a set of words that must be there in the vocabulary of our mind even if we will leave them in pages we will never visit again.

Jacobsen: When you think of the ways in which the geniuses of the past have either been mocked, vilified, and condemned if not killed, or praised, flattered, platformed, and revered, what seems like the reason for the extreme reactions to and treatment of geniuses? Many alive today seem camera shy – many, not all.

Albano: I think the reason is people feel uncomfortable in the presence of extra-ordinary, when someone does not meet the standard, the convention, the predictable. People find attractive those who are simple to imitate, they like to find in the other a mirror equipped with the same notions, prejudices, look, or by contrast they like social models that appear on the glossy covers of financial magazines or fashion zines or gossip. But a genius is different. A genius has nothing to do with social and economic business nor with aesthetical trends to launch. Looking back to the tragic end of many beautiful minds of history I think not only they were considered abnormal but given they were intellectuals, scientists, philosophers, artists and so on who reversed the monolithic knowledge and the officiality of held views (such as religious beliefs), they were seen as dangerous, they were considered a threat.

Jacobsen: Who seems like the greatest geniuses in history to you?

Albano: Many to me are great. It’s not a piece of cake to make a choice. You know, was I a scientist I would have answered Einstein or Tesla but I’m a teacher in Humanities and I’m also a painter and a poet and although I am fond of a long list of writers, philosophers, painters, poets, all geniuses, I must admit that Dante Alighieri is more impressive than others because of the variety of narrative situations, of metaphors, of cultural contents and subjects he put inside the Divine Comedy. Moreover he is impressive because of his imagination. They say his contemporaries saw him as a voyant, strongly convinced he went across the three ultramundane reigns actually. This happened due to the realistic details of every experience he narrates. Beside this, he is the greatest because he had the courage to criticize the Church corruption and because he acknowledged that there is an innate predisposition even to feel love, among other things.

Jacobsen: What differentiates a genius from a profoundly intelligent person?

Albano: Generally I think sometimes they coincide. Profound intelligence is the faculty of understanding and interpreting others emotions, and learning. On the other side genius is intuition, exceptional ability to penetrate and dig inside the most intricate, complex problem. It is also creativity, inspiration but it is not for granted a genius is always empathic.

For a better explanation of what I mean I want to quote a passage from “Imaginary Lives” by Marcel Scwob, on the famous artist Paolo Uccello (Paul of the Birds):

“The truth was that Uccello cared nothing for the reality of things, but only for their multiplicity and the infinite lines and angles that form them; so he painted blue fields, red cities, knights in black armour on ebony horses with mouth aflame, and spears bristling skywards in every direction like rays of light… The sculptor Donatello would say to him: ‘Ah, Paolo, you are neglecting substance for shadow!’

Schwob portrays Uccello like an artist who is obsessed with lines and abstractions to such an extent that he loses sight of life and death, of love. So, if genius is not rooted in the emotional side, it lacks the intelligence of feelings. This is the difference.

Jacobsen: Is profound intelligence necessary for genius?

Albano: Yep.

Jacobsen: What have been some work experiences and jobs held by you?

Albano: All related to teaching. There are other experiences that can’t be considered works. I write poems and I published two books. The first collection was chosen by the International Festival of Poetry of Genova and I was a finalist in this national and international literary contest. My other experiences are related to art. I am also a painter and other experiences are related to cultural fields such as being wikipedian since 2012.

Jacobsen: Why pursue this particular job path?

Albano: I have to repeat myself, my faith in education and the influence of my father and relatives.

Jacobsen: What are some of the more important aspects of the idea of the gifted and geniuses? Those myths that pervade the cultures of the world. What are those myths? What truths dispel them?

Albano: In my opinion a myth is that all the gifted people are sensitive, empathic, altruistic (as I briefly said before). To my knowledge some masters of art considered geniuses, weren’t so nice and good privately and if I think of my personal experience I can say I have known some highly intelligent people who are sadic, racist, misogynist.

I even don’t think that necessarily a poet or a great writer are sensitive. I have no clue why this happens. It might be that emotional intelligence is not always developed in intellectually developed people.

Jacobsen: Any thoughts on the God concept or gods idea and philosophy, theology, and religion?

Albano: As I told you before once there was a time I was a believer, although in adulthood I realized this idea of God was instilled into my mindset by default, given my family’s background and beliefs.

Nonetheless I already doubted the existence of God when I was a child because the deepest mystery for me consisted in His invisibility. I was attracted by the idea of supernatural entities and this was for a certain period of my youth what triggered my curiosity even to the likelihood of another life on another dimension or planet.

When I grew up with my knowledge and critical thinking I lost my faith. Despite this I consider religions necessary. I see them as a form of literature and mythical narrative that specially in Italy with regard to Catholicism, during the Middle Age, passing through Renaissance, gave a strong impulse to Arts, and due to its closeness to the best minds of those times did contribute to the birth of spectacular frescoes, chapels, cathedrals, paintings, manuscripts, and why not, also poetry. Dante’s works, I aforementioned, are a perfect paradigm of poetic inspiration drawn from God. With regard to the other question, study of theology and philosophy is to be considered fundamental. Philosophy played a pivotal role in my formation.

Jacobsen: How much does science play into the worldview for you?

Albano: Science is essential, although I must say it cannot explain everything. I’m scared by scientists like Dawkins, for example. To think there is mystery, that there are unexplainable things, gives me the sensation of being a human being. To think we are only neurons, synapses, chemistry and predictable beings transforms us into machines and it sounds creepy.

Jacobsen: What have been some of the tests taken and scores earned (with standard deviations) for you?

Albano: Spatio, visual and verbal. Respectively 138, SD 15, and 152, SD 15.

Jacobsen: What ethical philosophy makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Albano: I can mention many philosophers that have influenced my idea of ethics, but since for me what structures life and society is a series of interconnected values and fields of knowledge – I don’t share the relatively recent habit of separating disciplines into sectors, because it produces only fragmentation – I will answer ethical philosophy that is carried by Gadamer’s aesthetics and hermeneutics. The reason is simple. Gadamer acknowledged there are not absolute truths and in Truth and Method (1960) he formulates the aesthetic concept that Art is related to the transmission of meanings across time. He wasn’t persuaded with the idea that a work of art loses its meaning when it is subtracted to the time of its creation, in opposition with what Schleiermacher theorised, for example. The artistic products are vehicles of objective truths that through an hermeneutical approach take new meanings. This addiction of meaning has an impact on the collective culture, education, ideals and ethics. What he calls prejudices (pre-judices) represent not negative preconceptions but our preformed cultural views, our knowledge, and as such they can be transformed by interpretation, since cultural values and aesthetical values have to be interpreted through the time. They can modify ethics because aesthetic he referred to is a set of signifiers that affects our behaviour, in other words Art, poetry and so forth, forward messages that for every span of time must be decodificated, and trans-codificated. I believe in the educational and ethical power of Art and Literature.

Jacobsen: What social philosophy makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Albano: About one year ago I read a book I consider one of the most beautiful books I ever read and one of the best books of philosophy of the last centuries: This Life, written by Martin Hägglund, professor of Comparative Literature and Humanities at Yale University. Page after page I nodded in agreement with the concept that this life is the only life we have. This means we have to employ our time to care for others, since there is neither religious consolation nor the promise of an infinite ultra mundane existence. Sociality is essential in Hagglund’s line of reasoning and so are politics and economics according to an original interpretation of Karl Marx. The ideal society should pursue democratic socialism. That said, I want to focus on social and human meanings this book carries with it because it’s, above all, a work on life and the social function of acknowledging our frailty and values, emotions and feelings related to loss and death which capitalism and neoliberalism tend to erase from our culture for replacing them with a dehumanizing frantic rhythm of living. In this work there’s no transcendent aspiration. Hagglünd argues one has to realize themselves here by cooperating with each other.

Jacobsen: What political philosophy makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Albano: It makes sense the theorisation of equality according to Enlightenment on the one hand, democracy conceived as a process strictly linked to contingency and not democracy as an absolute truth the way Hagglund has formulated in his philosophical speculation also through Derrida and Marx (in two different works).

Jacobsen: What metaphysics makes some sense to you, even the most workable sense to you?

Albano: Metaphysics is a fascinating word. It evocated parallel worlds in my youth, the aspiration to go beyond limits, the platonic Hyperuranius, the inexhaustible query of inspiring emotions. Nowadays poetry is my metaphysics.

Jacobsen: What worldview-encompassing philosophical system makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Albano: I think there isn’t only one philosophical system I can apply to my worldview. As a human being I see myself as part of an extended reality, as a person amongst thousands of people. That’s why I consider myself cosmopolitan and my weltanschauung cosmic. Not universal but cosmic since the word cosmic from the time of the ancient Greeks embraced the idea of multiplicity whilst universe is related to “unus” (one) and “monos” sounding exclusive and merely unilateral.

Jacobsen: What provides meaning in life for you?

Albano: Bonds of affection, empathy, progress.

Jacobsen: Is meaning externally derived, internally generated, both, or something else?

Albano: Part of the meaning comes from experience, the way we interpret the world, part is a construction.

Jacobsen: Do you believe in an afterlife? If so, why, and what form? If not, why not?

Albano: Being not a believer I don’t. This doesn’t mean there is not another dimension, a new form of existence. It would be amazing if reincarnation was a possibility. One thing I can do for sure to grant me an afterlife is to become a tree which is possible due to the so called Bios Urns. I read somewhere it is expensive though. Who knows, when I will die it might be they lower prices. Lol

Jacobsen: What do you make of the mystery and transience of life?

Albano: Inspiration.

Jacobsen: What is love to you?

Albano: Many things. First of all something to cultivate and nourish.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Italian & Latin Teacher; Painter; Poet, Member, Capabilis.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 15, 2021: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/albano-1; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Clelia Albano on Italy, Catholicism, God, Poetry, Dawkins, Dante Alighieri, and Genius: Member, Capabilis(1)[Online]. February 2021; 26(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/albano-1.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2021, February 15). Conversation with Clelia Albano on Italy, Catholicism, God, Poetry, Dawkins, Dante Alighieri, and Genius: Member, Capabilis (1). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/albano-1.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Clelia Albano on Italy, Catholicism, God, Poetry, Dawkins, Dante Alighieri, and Genius: Member, Capabilis (1). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A, February. 2021. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/albano-1>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2021. Conversation with Clelia Albano on Italy, Catholicism, God, Poetry, Dawkins, Dante Alighieri, and Genius: Member, Capabilis (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/albano-1.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Clelia Albano on Italy, Catholicism, God, Poetry, Dawkins, Dante Alighieri, and Genius: Member, Capabilis (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A (February 2021). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/albano-1.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Clelia Albano on Italy, Catholicism, God, Poetry, Dawkins, Dante Alighieri, and Genius: Member, Capabilis (1)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/albano-1>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Clelia Albano on Italy, Catholicism, God, Poetry, Dawkins, Dante Alighieri, and Genius: Member, Capabilis (1)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/albano-1.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Clelia Albano on Italy, Catholicism, God, Poetry, Dawkins, Dante Alighieri, and Genius: Member, Capabilis (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 26.A (2021): February. 2021. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/albano-1>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Clelia Albano on Italy, Catholicism, God, Poetry, Dawkins, Dante Alighieri, and Genius: Member, Capabilis (1)[Internet]. (2021, February 26(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/albano-1.

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