When Dan Brown published The Da Vinci Code in 2003, Umberto Eco didn’t think, as others did, that Brown had ripped off his own earlier bestsellers. Eco went one step further: he took credit for inventing Brown altogether.
Fascinated by arcane mysteries and secret societies, Brown shared all the concerns of Eco’s characters. When the two writers finally met, “I told him,” Eco says grumpily, “he should give me royalties!”
At 83, Eco has the physical appearance of a long-term armchair detective. When I arrive at the London hotel bar where we have arranged to meet, he already looks well settled. Eco orders steak tartare and a couple of glasses of Chablis.
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At first I feel I have positioned myself for a tutorial with the great professor, whose heavily accented English immediately suggests a commanding performance. But the background music is so loud that Eco is forced to lean sideways towards me, and I’m afraid he will spill out of his chair.
Our conversation takes in, through no plan of mine, subjects ranging from Agatha Christie to sex with animals, and a comparison of Mussolini with Beyoncé.
Later, I realise that its faintly absurdist quality must have been partly due to the fact that Eco, tired of asking me to repeat my question, had occasionally decided to answer a different one.
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At one point, for instance, we find ourselves talking about a television programme he loves, Starsky and Hutch. If you were to write a television series, what would it be? I ask him.
“You cannot do everything,” he says. “You know the Latin proverb Ars longa, vita brevis? I was asked by a gay magazine, have you had homosexual experience? I answered: Not yet. Because ars longa, vita brevis.”
Were you counting the homosexual experience as part of art or life, I wonder aloud. “You have only 80 years. You cannot try also bestial coitus. It takes too much time.”
While I am taking this in, Eco adds: “There is another reason why I never tried to direct a film. Because I am impatient. In a film, if you need an elephant and the elephant is not there, you have to wait two days. I cannot wait two days for an elephant.”
You could make a film without elephants, I suggest. Eco says: “I should make only films without elephants.” And so on.
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Though he became an international literary celebrity with the English-language publication of The Name of the Rose in 1983, he has mostly been an essayist, as well as a professor of semiotics and a prolific writer of newspaper columns in Italy.
Because The Name of the Rose made him wealthy, he has an apartment in Milan and a 17th-century manor in the countryside, both filled with rare books.
Because he is a respected professor, he has not given up, despite his retirement, his Renaissance office in Bologna, an oval-shaped room much older and more beautiful, he says, than the Oval Office occupied by the US president.
His new book, Numero Zero, takes on a profession he has both worked in and criticised for most of his adult life: journalism.
Narrated by a middle-aged ghostwriter and “compulsive loser” who is hired for a vanity project, it follows the founding of a phoney newspaper in Milan.
The newspaper is never meant to exist: it has been commissioned by a small-time tycoon – a would-be Berlusconi – and is designed to function only as a threat.
Backdated issues will fearlessly expose corruption since proven to be true, formulating it in the future tense. Rather than report, the newspaper will pretend to predict – it’s called Domani (tomorrow); its leaks are supposed to be “oracular” – and its seemingly spooky prescience will render the corridors of power so anxious that the tycoon will have all the blackmail tools he needs.
The beauty of a retrospective newspaper is that you know exactly what you will find, and thus are entirely able to control the news. The paper’s editor instructs his staff with ingenious daily workshops on denial and defamation, in terms that will be comically familiar to anyone who has ever worked on a newspaper themselves.
“You know,” says Eco, “some important Italian journalists, like the founder of La Repubblica and the former director of Corriere della Sera, said: OK, our papers are not that bad. But there are many features that belong to every newspaper.”
Some newspapers recognised themselves in the novel and didn’t know what to do, Eco says (though it’s unclear how he knows this).
“Because if they attacked the book they would have confessed… So they spoke very well of it, but said it was obviously referring to somebody else.” It sounds like an excellent strategy for getting positive reviews, I suggest.
“I was a little bit irritated by the German reviewer who read this book as a book on Berlusconi,” he says. How can it not be about Berlusconi, I ask. Eco replies that his fictional tycoon “can be Berlusconi but he can also be Murdoch, or Trump. I mean, the world is full of people like that. Certainly, you can see some elements of Berlusconism, but my target was larger.”
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In his 2004 book On Literature, Eco explained that he wrote fiction between the ages of eight and 15, and didn’t return to it until he was nearly 50. “Of this output,” he writes, “I have retained only one finished work, of indeterminate genre.”
His early writing and drawing was coloured by the books he devoured – from comics to P G Wodehouse and Dante – and the influence of these childhood preoccupations can still be felt in his later work.
The phrase “of indeterminate genre” itself is telling, since Eco loves a pastiche. As a semiotician, he has analysed a number of genres with zest, and as a novelist his forte is a pile-up of wide-ranging references and in-jokes.
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For instance, his novels all contain characters named after typographical fonts – Baskerville, Garamond, Bodoni, Palatino, Colonna, etc. His grandfather was a typographer.
Most of his writing, in fiction and nonfiction, has a ludic quality, whether his subject is medieval monks, conspiracy theories or WikiLeaks.
The Name of the Rose had at its core the notion of laughter as a dangerously powerful force, and it’s as if Eco has set out to prove, again and again, that the structure of a detective novel is exactly the same as the structure of a joke.
The six-time Grammy Award winner, Lady Gaga would soon be seen in a TV series. She was quite nervous before meeting Ryan Murphy, the “American Horror Story” creator and admits that she threw up on the way in her Rolls Royce.
The role in “American Horror Story” is 29-year-old Gaga’s first stint in acting. According to news.com.au, Gaga would be seen in the role of a bloodthirsty sexual predator named ‘The Countess”. The audience would see her alongside other actresses, 67-year old Kathy Bates and 57-year-old, Angela Bassett.
Gaga also narrated her experience at the sets of “American Horror Story”. She told news.com.au that she was required to act with a child in her first scene. She said that it was like a 40-year-old woman who has worn a blonde wig was sitting on her knees before the child. She added, “I’m just like ‘I’ve never done this before!” The 2008 “The Fame” singer said that the camera was protruding and glaring at her and Murphy was yelling all the time, while she kept praying to God, wishing that she does not mess the scene. She concluded that she was really nervous.
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Gaga also gave a party to the cast of “American Horror Story”, so that they can know each other a bit. According to news.com.au , her co-star, Chloe Sevigny said that the party was very lavish and could easily make for 200 people, while they were only some 20 people. She disclosed, “She even dyed her pool red to look like blood.”
There are seven episodes, which have to be shot. The “Born This Way” singer admitted that she is bewildered by the response of the fans to her chilly character in “American Horror Story”. She said that it’s funny that her fans would wonder that is she like ‘The Countess” in real life too and was it very easy for her to play the role of a bitchy and rude woman?
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Gaga told to news.com.au that ‘The Countess” in “American Horror Story” and she are very different from each other. She said that in real life she was very funny and humorous and not like her TV alter-ego. She said that Murphy would tell her to be bitchier and meaner, while acting the character. She also revealed that she studied Robert Durst’s character in “The Jinx”, Anthony Perkins in “Psycho”, and Anthony Hopkins in “Silence of the Lambs”, so that she can act better in her role.
Photo Source: Lady Gaga/Facebook
Kinagagalak ng Dubai-based Filipino designer na si Michael Cinco ang pagsuot ng pop icon na si Lady Gaga sa isa sa kanyang creations sa US TV series na American Horror Story: Hotel. Nag-post si Cinco ng photo sa kanyang Instagram account na suot ni Lady Gaga ang isang crystallized couture gown. Heto ang kanyang caption:
“LADY GAGA wears a crystallized MICHAEL CINCO couture gown in tonight’s episode of American Horror Story Hotel...thanks @ladygaga @stylepr @antonio_esteban @inessa_shak... @sayed5inco @salon_korona_ @kookiesheart @ronanopina... #ladygaga #ahshotel #stylepr #couture #swarovski #dubai #mydubai #madeindubai #michaelcinco.”
Isa si Michael Cinco sa paborito ngayong kunin para gumawa ng mga avant-garde at couture gowns para sa TV, pelikula, photo shoots at mga awards night.
Noong 2011, dalawang beses na-feature ang mga avant-garde creations ni Cinco sa America’s Next Top Model ni Tyra Banks. Last year ay si Cinco ang gumawa ng futuristic gown ni Mila Kunis sa pelikulang Jupiter Ascending.
Sinuot din ng singer na si Rihanna ang isang gown ni Cinco sa kanyang photo shoot for Harper’s Bazaar. Nitong nakaraang American Music Awards ay suot ni Jennifer Lopez ang isang creation ni Cinco.
Si Cinco din ang gumawa ng mala-prinsesang wedding gown ng Kapuso Primetime Queen Marian Rivera noong ikasal ito kay Kapuso Primetime King Dingdong Dantes last year.
Ang iba pang celebrities na nakapagsuot ng Michael Cinco creations ay sina Naomi Campbell, Sofia Vergara, Britney Spears, Chris Brown, Fergie, Paris Hilton, Dita Von Teese and Mischa Barton.
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