What Moves the Stars?

My piece on grief, love, and “what moves the stars”… [read here]

Paradiso_Canto_31Gustave Doré, Dante and Beatrice gaze at high heaven [source: Wikimedia Commons]

Never Let Them See You Sweat

Who’s the father of Renaissance “cool”? Find out here…

Joseph Luzzi

There are many words in Italian that defy translation: bella figurasimpatico, and my favorite, sprezzatura. The Oxford New American Dictionary will tell you that it means “studied carelessness,” but that’s only a small part of it. What the word actually suggests is a truly Italian approach to the fine art of living—at least as it was practiced several hundred years ago.

Sprezzatura may be difficult for us to understand today. William Deresiewicz has described our “virtually exhausted” American way of life, a time of nonstop and hyperconnected labor, with little boundary between the office and the home. “We’re in a panic as a nation,” Deresiewicz writes, “that we don’t work hard enough, and blame this iniquity for our ‘decline.’ ”

They saw things differently in the Renaissance. The key then was to show people how hard you were not working, to effect an air…

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