Wednesday is the only day of the week that I don’t read the front page of the Times first since Wednesday is the Dining section day.
When I finally got around to unfolding the front page, I felt my heart sink as I read the news of Antonioni’s passing. In my first year post-BA, I studied Antonioni’s films in Padua with film critic and Professor Giorgio Tinazzi. I’ve read Seymour Chatman’s book on Antonioni, The Surface of the World, over and over. And I did meet Antonioni once at UCLA in the 1990s. Pier Maria Pasinetti, Antonioni’s brother-in-law and a collaborator on Le signore senza camelie, was one of my professors at UCLA where I took his 19th Century Italian Lit class (and on many occasions he spoke about his relationship, personal and professional, with the master director). Antonioni was among my favorite subjects to teach when I taught Italian Cinema at UCLA as a grad student.
As we witness Antonioni’s eclispse, I can’t help but think of L’eclisse (or “The Eclispse”), the third installment of the 1960s Trilogy. Many don’t remember that the title — like so many things Antonioni — was intended as a wonderful paronomasia: the Italian eclisse means both “eclipse” and “ellipse” (from the Latin ellipsis in turn from the Greek elleipsis, from the root leipo or lipo, “to be or to go missing”). Today, I’d like to think that Antonioni’s life and work have not been eclipsed but rather that he has given us yet another ellipse that makes us think about the spaces and surfaces of the meaning of our lives.