Thursday, June 1, 2006

A niche in crookedness?

(A letter not published by Financial Times)

Sir, in your series about reforming Europe you refer to Pisa’s medieval tower as a “spectacular example of a grand architectural project gone awry: beautiful, still in existence, but wrong nonetheless,” and you got it all wrong. It is just because the tower is leaning that it has turned into one of the most outstanding commercial successes. What would a straight tower have meant to Pisa?

I wish to make this point since when trying to pursue an “antidote to decline” in today’s difficult environment, trying to straighten out Italy in too many aspects might actually break it. There might very well be interesting little niches in crookedness to pursue, and, besides, without some of it, the world would be an unbearably boring place.

Extracted from Voice and Noise, June 2006