the act of looking [or the look of Cabiria]

Something hurt me in here.
Some things cannot be touched by human vulgarity.
Even amidst a crowd that laughs idiotically...
there's always someone who understands, who knows.

Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini

— And why do you think life is not for crying?
Lina did not know exactly, but she trusted the opposite. Such insanity — or misguidance? Intrepidity — or blindness? Not one, not another. She was pure. Naïve. For that young lady, verging almost all the time on solitude and scarcity, as hunger as she was of looking for a route, a less sinuous route to follow, even if shouldering and trying to cover up all the panic she felt inside for having nothing but her hope, nothing but her dreams, and nothing but her wish to move forward, for her life could not be for crying.
Deep down, she had been so triumphantly doubted to ever emerged as a lunatic for trusting that life was for living. Irrespective of how strange or contradictory it may seem to anyone, but not to her, because for her life was basically — and charmingly — for one step by another. A path. The Pessach she declined to think in terms of stones on her way home. Notwithstanding all the surrounders making fun of her, shooting her down, swallowing her day by day, trying to kill her dreams and to screw her up…
Life was for respecting life. For bringing forth a cycle of life. By dying away, you live and let live. You share and let love. You fall or strongly collapse but brave out. Life was then for… Not for crying, not even for anything else that could lead to hopelessness… even if her life used to be a mélange of pain and shocks against the wall.
— Don’t you even figure that your mother wants to rape your dignity, steal your energy, your strength, by making you feed her cats day by day? By making you sleep outside every night? By treating you much more like a stranger than a daughter, making you do whatever she wants, not what you want and need? She exploits you…
— If I, for instance, come over to this yard day by day and stay three or four hours feeding her cats, “distracting them” as she orders me to do, that’s just because I love those cats. They equal life. By feeding them, I’m feeding off life too. I let them live by living with and for them…
Her friend was stunned by her innocence. Taken aback by her unselfishness into how she avoided facing all the crudeness of that mother, of reality, so that it could be argued that all this endeared her to a path of violence and abuse. Because her mother and everyone around her abused of her generosity, purity, and absence of a look of maleficence to face the world.
Lina Cabiria Green was not concerned with, and never aware of what people would think when she just declined to conceive of all misunderstandings, all stumbles, and all failures as a motive to cry, or to give up.
This was her beauty, not her blindness. Her softness, much more than her violence… Even when people tended to believe that she was blind, or mad, or cruel with herself, whatsoever, she did not care so much. Her myopia was external, to the eyes of others, it was not such inward-looking. Her thick glasses without which she had what her friend put in terms of “nearsightedness” — that was indeed how people conceived of her, when they did not feel that she was blind properly, because her look was a so different one — just represent nothing but a tool… to look. How strong she loved the act of looking. She could not go out that she was just thinking: “Let me look at this tree, how colorful today!” or “I notice that you, little boy, feel so gloomy now, what’s wrong?” or “I understand your pain and will do my utmost to help you save this money you need”. Yes, Lina had this fixed idea to look into persons and things and places, and so on… We will never know why but the very act of looking meant the world for her. She looked at anything so deeply. Looking, and seeing, and viewing, and taking inward notes about anything she could possibly cogitate to look at one day. Looking at reality and at the other without anger or rancor… But with tenderness, and sincerity, and respectful — for life, for others’ life. A gift, we tend to admit, but also a curse, no?
There was a day, a so crude day in her life… Her mother, as if eating her both eyes at their breakfast time, her mother just impeded her to look. Oh! and how Lina was always pleased to look at people, things, movements. But now? What would she do if her mother abused of her so cruelly so that she really felt as if had lost both eyes to look at the world?
Firstly, she got desperate. Devastated. Lost. Off course. Life seemed to her as an abyss of turpitude and ruins. She woke up in the early morning, unfolded her eyes, but she just felt that she did no more have them. Where were her eyes? Had her mother really swallowed them? She cried and she cried. She was impeded to look. And then she was so blind.
But few days after this blindness, after this atrocity her mother committed, Lina had a guest. A little boy, fourteen years old, ripped clothes, nothing in both hands, a bewildered boy. Like her, someone who was just innocent, even if so fucked up, but pure, unaware of life’s atrocity. He knocked on her window. It was a drizzly evening. She was terribly devastated since she did not know yet how to cope with her blindness. That little boy was blind either. He did not see anything. Every single, and simple, contour of reality had another kind of trace, of shape, or color, of design.
And then that little boy came close to her. Told her a secret. A brief one. And then he left.
— Your blindness is nothing but relies on your deep-down absence to believe, once again, that you can see. That you can look. Your salvation, Lina Petite, is that you need to sense… You will redeem your ability to see when you realize there is much more to look at, to look inside… and to bear up against all the difficulties, the turpitude, in order to move forward… Go deep into you, you will see that you can see much more than you guess so… Because you have this incredible and rare and precious ability to look at without expecting…
A Cabiria — Lina Cabiria… but a beauty, undeniably her preciosity…

Dedicated to a person who makes the world much more beautiful and delicate by making us believe, once again and for all, in the redemptive power of generosity and integrity and innocence... 


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