July 20, 1969: fifty years later

On July 20th countless celebrations will take place all over the world to commemorate an extraordinary event, the first human landing on the Moon by the Apollo 11 lunar mission. As Neil Armstrong put it in his immortal one-liner, it was “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.


We are neither scientists, nor smart Alecs…


…but as creative people we certainly are curious and we love unearthing the many subtle but highly interesting links between reality, words and experience. And when it comes to the moon, there seem to be a lot of them!
We never spend our time mooning away, except perhaps once in a blue moon—but when the moon waxes and wanes it affects our mood, and we may sometimes look wistful and moonstruck, but prepared to ride out any change of plans as if they were a tidal bore, and maybe even to time our work with the moon as ‘idea growers’ well might.


…nor astronauts, nor poets!


We never promise anyone the moon, but frankly we wouldn’t mind to try and reach for it. We’d like to go to the moon, and we’d like just as much to carry our clients along—to take with us those who do trust us. One doesn’t have to be an astronaut, as long as one can be enthralled by what lies far and above our world. Like the moon. Its ever-changing shape, its shimmering colours, its relentless motion and its rhythm are priceless sources of inspiration even if one isn’t a poet of Leopardi’s exalted standing.


Use your eyes—look up!


The beautiful incipit of his Canto notturno di un pastore errante dell’Asia (“Night song of a wandering Asian shepherd”), “Che fai tu, luna, in ciel? dimmi, che fai, silenziosa luna?” (“O silent moon, why are you up there in the sky? Do tell me…”) still haunts so many of us. While we undoubtedly owe the bulk of the poem to Leopardi’s own exquisite sensitivity, he actually took the cue for it from Baron Meyendorff’s journey in Central Asia as reviewed ina French magazine. In his Zibaldone di pensieri, a work which was to become the epitome of all commonplace books, under October 3rd, 1828, he jotted down a passage describing how nomadic Kyrgyz shepherds would spend the night sitting on a stone, gazing at the moon and singing extempore. He was deeply moved; and this can hardly be surprising. Just think—even through the eyes of a shepherd one can see and admire the beauty of the moon. Humble as he may be, he knows how not to miss the forest for the trees.


The finger and the moon


And yet ancient Chinese proverb says, “When the wise man points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger”. That seems to be rather at odds with our supposedly natural tendency to look up at the moon. After all, the proverb reminds us wryly, we might not be as sharp-sighted as we believe; we might well focus on a secondary element and be unable to see the big picture.