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  • Writer's pictureValeria Pugliese

Mid-April Paraphernalia

The first two weeks of April 2023 have been 'heterogeneous', an extravagant amalgamation of Beauty, aesthetic exploration, death, holiness, sugar overdose, disruptive pondering, sensual consumption, sociality, historical anemoia, career success, drugs fantasising, music orientalisme, ME, and dark tetrad positioning among others.

Two days ago I have been told the maximalism I surround myself with and my monstrous wardrobe may reflect how much I experience inside and how can I keep living like this, why on earth I refuse to be 'lighter'.

I am exhausted, plenty is yet to come within the month although I am here, satiated with Beauty, oozing with life.

This article is almost a diary, an account of the first half of this month.

And, of course, fuck being lighter.


On the evening of Maundy Thursday, I gifted myself a delightful solo evening at the Royal Opera House.

The opera was Turandot: conducted by Antonio Pappano, a production by Andrei Serban, it is Puccini’s final opera, a glorious extravaganza of dance, music and drama, a blend of Chinese and Italian theatrical traditions summoning a vision of ancient China in a fable of amore & morte.

"Straniero, ascolta!" – "What is born each night and dies each dawn?"


"What flickers red and warm like a flame, but is not fire?"


"What is like ice yet burns, and if it accepts you as a slave, makes you a king?"

"Turandot! Turandot!"

Possessed by orientalisme, inspired by the 'ice maiden' Turandot, I wore a style of dress I admired from afar for years, believing it would look ridiculous on me with my heavy Italian traits: turns out my traditional Chinese cheongsam/qipao dress was a head turner, being both the most comfortable and sensual outfit ever.

Precious hair accessories, a bird fan and an art deco emerald green bag completed the look; opium pipes lay around, highly desired, not used (yet) - more in Opium Dream.

Turandot costumes slightly disenchanted my chinoiserie expectations, too minimalistic (less is less, shame on you); the long-lost gowns of the Pratese soprano Iva Pacetti, who performed at the Turandot in 1926, still remain my favourite.




The Easter break was composite:

  1. Opera on Maundy Thursday.

  2. Memento Mori on Good Friday.

  3. Last minute uni work on Holy Saturday.

  4. Too much chocolate on Easter Sunday.

  5. Afternoon tea turned afternoon wine and later degenerated in Notting Hill Carnival dancing on Easter Monday.

How holy (pretending to be) I was one year ago on Good Friday: I was Saint Veronica, accompanying the Addolorata (Our Lady of Sorrows) in a procession reenacting the Passion of Christ in my native Sicilian village, Ciminna.

Emulating the piety of Veronica allowed me to touch and explore parts of my femininity which never publicly came out prior; an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience indeed.

Good Friday will always remain among the most anguished and febrile days of the year, a powerful Memento Mori, a meditation on the desolation of death reminding us all of the necessity of joy and pleasure in life.

I will never be deemed pure enough to be Our Lady of Sorrows in procession and I will certainly go to Hell.

Resigned to this awareness, I gifted myself a Holy Heart pendant.

Passion, after all, regardless of pondering on either life or death, holiness or unholiness, is about intensity.

Cin Cin with the dear friend and femininity Muse Laura - her amazing boutique and events at

Ardisco Non Ordisco

(I do not plot, I dare)

Gabriele D'Annunzio saved me from the 'shut up, getting married will be the pinnacle of your life and get pregnant ASAP' expectations imposed on Southern Italian young women, initiating me to Decadentismo and aestheticism at 18; I will be 28 on 14/05.

I have been his disciple for almost ten years now, savouring him without hurry, without rest, constantly referring back to his writing, his vices, his exceptional life as a reminder to battle, every single day, against mediocrity.

Gabriele D'Annunzio

I am far and not up to date at all on the contemporary narrative Italian scene although I am highly knowledgeable (and proud, yes) about manifestos, narrative and authors of Decadent literature, especially from Italy, UK and France.

The only author I can identify in modern Italy as Neo-decadent is the Roman writer Orlando Donfrancesco.

I have read Il Sole a Occidente (Sun in the West) back in 2018.

I often fantasised about how much Liliane, one of the main characters, with her 'important' nose, her nervous long fingers, her perpetual pearls, her questionable choices, her escape to a land afar, is a woman impressively similar to me.

It is a truly delightful novel, touching on plenty of aesthetic themes with a modern outlook and present-day style of writing, including the awareness of solitude for the few who pursue, truly pursue, Decadence as a tragic epilogue.

'Dear Tancredi,

Our world is, nowadays, a solitary pleasure.

To us, adrift souls in the desert of equality, it is a dreamlike chase which we would be able to feel only through the creation of feigned surroundings.

We are emperors with no empire.’

Sulla Cima del Mondo: Il Romanzo dei Ribelli di Fiume (On the top of the world: a novel on Rijeka's - Italian Fiume - rebels) has been my April 2023 book.

Set immediately prior to and then throughout the Italian Regency of Carnaro (the self-proclaimed state in the city of Fiume, now Rijeka, in Croatia, led by Gabriele d'Annunzio between 1919 and 1920), the novel is a passionate historical account of Italian Futurism, an artistic and social movement emphasising, among others, dynamism, velocity, youth, sex, drugs, blood, technological innovation, aeroplanes.

Gabriele D'Annunzio during the Italian Regency of Carnaro

Fiume briefly became the most libertarian place on earth, dreaming, living and breathing the revolution, the 'endeavour of Fiume' among the most unbound and rebel moments of the European twentieth century where the main character, the lieutenant and WWI veteran Saverio Gualtieri runs away to, escaping from a post-war pretentious and bourgeoise Italy, asphyxiating, absolutely castrating for who, intoxicated by the fascination with impending death, can not bear to survive without Beauty, the inebriating intensity of passions, the rebellion of an ardent youth as the path to immortality.

The novel has been published in 2019, 100 years later Fiume's undertaking.

On 24 December 1920 the Royal Italian Army, led by General Enrico Caviglia, launched a full-scale attack against Fiume (Natale di Sangue - Bloody Christmas).

After days of strong desperate resistance, Gabriele D'Annunzio resigned on 28th December and the Regency capitulated on 30th December 1920.

Throughout my red pill rounds, I encountered plenty of noxious models for modern masculinity against the aforementioned 'desert of equality' although the outcome is often the disruptive even deeper abyss between sexes.

Sulla Cima del Mondo describes a utopia of 'futuristic love', where the pretensions of differentiation between masculine and feminine are anachronistic, spurious, where men and women are able to interact, to love, to fuck finally as equals.

The novel left me with plenty of pondering to be made on what we seem to dismally lack nowadays: ideals and, blending Futurism and Decadence, Beauty.

'Why on earth would I care about the Beauty now destroyed, the Beauty that we shattered with our war?


I now understood that Beauty must be annihilated in order to move to a nobler state of existence.

The Beauty of the past must become spiritual in its essence, forever permeating humanity, impregnating the world of the future'

Hero's (still confused) journey

The first two weeks of April have been a whirlwind of emotions and lessons learned.

I believe in apocalyptic planning, in synchronicity, in currently being either completely lost or nearby a momentous resolution on my own personal hero's journey.

My tarot and oracle cards have never been consulted through the dark art of divination: they have been rather a stop & reflect tool against the chaos of city life, a contemplation medium between my roots, my own journey and the universal experience intended as the collective unconscious.

I own and use only one oracle deck, loosely based on Jungian psychology mingled with Gnosticism: Supra Oracle by Uusi.

My 1-15th April oracle cards are:

Feeling: 'Our feelings (...) initiate an inner desire to find meaning through impulsive understanding. (....) Experiencing our instinctive self is to touch upon the unformed, primal heart of our being and tremble in its nervous, thrilling warmth.'

Self: 'Through the three fellowships of consciousness - collective unconscious, subconscious, and consciousness (...) micro merges with macro; life and death connect, and the divine serpent of a completed life swallows its own tail.'

Absolutely magnificent indeed.

I also am the privileged owner of a rare tarot deck: The Decadent Dream Tarot by Nakthag (now out of print).

Ace of Pentacles: Early in April I finally received a career offer for a role I decided I would do everything to get since October 2022. This card reminds me of the power of manifesting a strong desire. I may not really believe in the magic 'law of attraction'. I am, again, apocalyptic rather than optimistic although I hold the conviction that intense yearning makes wishes a tangible reality.

The Devil: if March was cold and cloudy, April got me in touch, more than usual, with my shadow. Contrasting with my hyperactive sociality this month which made me feel highly valued as a friend, in April I have been pondering on my darkest thoughts, my cruellest and most feculent fantasies, my attachment to materialism, my need for the highs of passion, on ME and how I inextricably am my main priority.

The Devil is the awareness of my shadow and how 'she' possesses me.

I have never been interested in tattoos although, for the first time, I am seriously considering getting one:

If asked, as tattoos are always the easiest conversation starter, I may say: this is my shadow, she whispers to me, she always will.

What do you think, would it suit my Madame facial traits?

The Dark Tetrad

My shadow's whispers made me, more than usual, drawn towards reading and self-research in the field of depth psychology.

After listening to a Jordan Peterson interview with the personality researcher Dr Paulhus Delroy, I became fascinated by psychometric measures to assess the Dark Tetrad: narcissism, Machiavellianism, sadism, and psychopathy.

After perusing through an academic publication focused on the methods and metrics adopted (thank you UWL) I then, playfully, sat for a test of psychopathy where, well well, I scored HIGH!

Absolutely engrossed by the result, I am at that stage where I am both beguiled and disturbed by myself and I am enjoying the process of asking friends to completely open up and tell me what they perceive about me.

My Jungian insights tell of a woman flamboyantly Yellow with a hint of Blue: I guess this is from where my passion for statistics truth and the rigour of metrics comes from.

A controversial blend of me reflecting on marriage and monogamy (adultery stats in Italy and how real are marriage and life-long monogamy in 2023?), a natural tendency to embody the masculine when required (I have been in touch with my Animus since when I was 10) and this me, me, me self-captivation led me to read an interesting book on narcissism: Eros and the Shattering Gaze: Transcending Narcissism by the American psychoanalyst Kenneth A. Kimmel.

It has been an absolutely fascinating reading which gave me interesting Jungian insights about one of the main components of the Dark Tetrad; I am in the process of reading through the last chapters as of today.

I do not believe in self-diagnosis but I strive for self-reflection and continuous development.

This fascination for the darkness inside, for the real nature of my shadow, has been an absorbing seducing pursuit which is likely to last in the upcoming months.


April will end with a climax: I will be in Edinburgh on the night between 30th April and 1st May for Beltane, the festival of fire, a nocturnal reenactment over Carlton Hill of an ancient Iron Age Celtic ritual celebrating the birth of the Summer and the fertility of the land.

I am foretasting a Jungian symbolic paradise, dense with anthropology and mythology, which is what I like and, at the end of a splendid month, what I need.

Beltane May Queen aka ME


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