The Art of Balance #74 | Piero Meogrossi, what will you remember?
The former MiBACT inspector at the Superintendence to Venice Monuments (1980-1983) and then director of the Special Archaeological Superintendence of Rome (1983-2011) is the 74th participant in the initiative “The Art of Balance / Pandemopraxy”, launched by Cittadellarte. Piero Meogrossi proposes a long reflection called “Remembering the history of the footprints, the love of co-living”, starting from the question “What will you remember?”.

What will you remember?

Remembering the history of the footprints, the love of co-living

The dimension of a hidden and often less acknowledged dual vision of the world enters into a dialogue with the invisible circularities underlying the ordinariness of reality, sometimes difficult to bear without being aware of the importance of remembering the tales of history in respect of biodiversity.
The monitoring deriving from this dual perspective composes pictures that help us think differently from the ancient models instituted between earth and sky, and reflect along the lines of archaeological paths of a humanity which, after practising a pragmatic scientism for a long time, is today trying to innovate with scientific methods the quantum values theorised developing them with love in an attempt to understand the values of a natural becoming.

The fusion of the metamorphic phases that for generations have traversed time and space envelops the shadows projected by the light illuminating the history of humankind, an essential history inasmuch as it is a useful source to make us reinterpret the energy paths of a biodiversity built on archetypes and syncretic symbolisms that must be understood because they are necessary to propel the restless soul called to inevitably face the complexities of a dual reality.

So we need to reaffirm the memory of historicised messages whose remembrance suggests contemporaneity how to refresh the theoretical thought and how to provide useful motivations to interpret and innovate the complexity of our earthly needs, i.e. the need for physical and virtual answers to projects that must guide “the ever-changing things” in a different, more conscious way, things that transform into each other according to specific needs and render justice in time, as Anassimandro reminded us as early as the 4th century B.C.

Subsequent reactions to existential needs often generate rituals which are unsuitable to the task because due to their diversities they are never reconnected well enough to improve the energy performances needed to support the environmental resources still available. In other words, the corpus of so much biodiversity must be made more and more compatible with wellness and cultural models learnt from the ancient world, a system of material interrelations to be glocally managed in an integrated manner for the common good, which every time human history has been capable of facilitating both locally and globally for co-living and survival purposes.

Every part, differing from the others but always relatable to the idea of salus (health and salvation), represents a category of biological essence only apparently isolated in nature for the simple reason of having made itself compatible with the anthropic time order theorised by quantum physics, which, while it analyses the characteristics of the atomic and molecular world, animates the system we are immersed in, the granular particles naturally bound together by Planck’s constant, which might substantiate the homogeneous consistency of an infinite time like the primordial Chaos imagined by ancient people.

To restart from the neuronal system, guided by the topographical values made sacred to the freedom of a subjective and above all collective living, we need to offer values of coexistence to the mental system and technical solutions to the cultural substance of each territory, which, in other words, means providing both with the degree of freedom necessary to lay the foundations for a productive new humanism which carefully characterises the spaces of the ancient world and agrees with the laws of modern times theorised today to prepare for the future (L’ordine del tempo – The order of time, C. Rovelli, 2019; Helgoland, C.Rovelli, 2020).

Our superficiality in the face of the dynamics underlying this energy physics stimulates the idea of a dimensional continuity between past, present and future anyway; and if on one hand it generates condensed categories difficult to read in a space/time context, on the other remembering the ordinary stratifications of history somehow helps better understand how to restore the superior labyrinthic order we have now lost, but which in the past was able to represent a commonality of material and immaterial values of the mind set along geographical paths and tracks.
The quality of those invisible signs and their lost meanings must therefore be tied together again so that they can be remembered if we want to comment again and better on the message of the history of the homo sapiens, which, through mythopoeic symbolisms, was able to explain the practices of the becoming of things in every era, a memento of past actions still essential to grasp the mysteries of nature and the necessary biodynamics to feed our survival needs.

These paths trodden on earth in apparently always different modalities recall the rituals of the signs on geographical maps, dialogues archaeology holds to outline new connective roles between earth and sky, vast and wise themes we have abandoned and whose qualitative and quantitative limits we don’t remember well enough nor we can recognise as different ingredients, nonetheless essential to compose integrated maps that should trace useful connections to identify environmental devices and assimilate them back into the continuity of the time and space of those prestigious sediments.

This way, the memory of ancient works, often incorrectly interpreted, is not recovered and it doesn’t offer good-enough solutions to innovate contemporary insediative models, needs that have been denied in spite of the fact that archaeological introspection tries to rebuild the forms of a lost beauty according to a communication addressed to the aesthetics of an ancient landscape, the awareness of the physical emptiness and fullness of the geographical space that interacts with the individual and collective subject on the territorial field.
The dual category of mind and territory, firmly connected in the past, must therefore be again the objective of our attention, now diverted by essentially economic-productive visions we choose to pursue because jointly intended with love, and because, by facilitating a close dialogue between the neuronal systems, they meet the vital needs through the topographical measurements of the geographical networks that used to teach the laws of the oikon-nomos, the essential rules to provide for the need of the house in a balanced way and to ensure the transformation of the anthropic action that modifies the landscape it lives in while dealing with material things (Geografia – Geography, F. Farinelli, 2002).

The fideistic or secular education, practised in different ways depending on cases and times, has always structured the necessary ideologies to explain and outline the ancient need for communication that accompanies every human interrelationship, and makes us face the complexity of how to dissolve the natural and artificial nets surrounding us; these have been more or less virtuous attempts that must nonetheless be remembered, if we want to assume control of the existential needs in a moment in which our planet is wondering how to manage the sustainability of space limits, without adapting them to a healthy co-living with time, which teaches how to really optimise the resources that can be shared for the common good.

The diverse awareness of natural laws therefore governs the transformations of human things, the long narration of whose paths forces everybody to remember the collective models inherited from the ancient world, because, if nothing else, those powers were at least able to facilitate the necessary exchanges and make them valuable for collective survival, clearly relying on always wanting to pursue the love of knowledge by supporting shareable humanistic models capable of advancing ethics, and not only at individual level.
Nihil humani a me alienum puto (I think that nothing human is alien to me) reads Terentius’s famous motto later recalled by Karl Marx.

Sharing the long path of thought and of a geographical history based on functional triangulations recalls the dual dimensions of the world, the needs of a humanity that must be re-read in a different way along the traces left inside an apparently impenetrable anthropologic labyrinth, stigmatised by a love for the healthy memories conveyed by myths, pragmatic actions and exemplary models to remember as gromatic-metaphysical visions so representative to be able to rehabilitate the frame of mind consciously lowered onto the territory, a constant attitude of the human kind, which is today disoriented but vital enough to remember the deep reasons of its thousand-year-old history under the sky (Il mulino di Amleto – Hamlet’s mill, G. De Santillana, 1983).

After all, the need of continuity for survival on this earth was able to be born, grow, die and every time be reborn thanks to the naturalistic forms of a mind always vital and able to advance through timely readings of the territory and the sky, not to impose absolute values by granting individuals different degrees of freedom, but to integrate a culture aware of the socially responsible thought, a collective vision of a dual reality composed of n dimensions, effective as well as robust dialogues to make practices on earth efficient, to define protections to life at every geographical latitude, to connect dynamisms learnt from the movements of the sky, to build spatialities able to measure time so as to ensure each environmental transformation.

Making locally and globally shareable this mental will to meet the archetypal need for survival has preserved the species by endowing human society with the utopic visions necessary to penetrate the labyrinth of matter, existential acts to remember and redeem like reality and dream enclosed in the poetic and literary expressions of the mind (“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep”, The Tempest, Shakespeare), possibly dissolving the exponential crowding of the planet with a quantum vision which, by innovating the memory of mind and territory, helps share the existential need to remember in order to co-live.

The hope of surviving the ‘agriculture age’ (12,000 B.C.) therefore led us to remember the ancient paths transferred into the micro- and macro-dimensions of contemporary materials diverted by the loving conscience of the digital revolution in progress, tales of a written communication interrupted after the times of Gutenberg and entirely to reassess, not so much to reaffirm the beauty of the classical world of our education, but to question the reasons of a historicisable time and spatiality we have to investigate better, a new circularity of footprints projected on the ground to share the battle of love for our survival on the planet.

Health, Environment, Digital technology integrated thanks to a mind and territory to reassemble is today more than ever the proposal to remember as new syntheses of a neo-ancient thought whose theorising and participatory actions define social behaviours, especially those benefiting closed and isolated communities, practices similar to those carried out in ancient communities, archetypes and myths of a socio-anthropological tale that is still in harmony with the biodiversity, references to remember if we want to continue learning and re-establish the right choice-making process for a different future.

Without pondering the footprints of the complexities inherited from history, we can’t participate in the essential reconstruction of a union of mind and territory capable of rebalancing things; without remembering the premises for anthropological co-living, we won’t be able to adequately establish the necessary order to deal with energy levels reflecting the needs of soon-to-be 8 billion people; without the humanistic models once useful for survival, the world – made dystopian – won’t be able to function in synchrony with the ancient natural networks, much better conceived that those woven in the sky by the satellites of Elon Musk’s Starlink project to support 5G, created by the technological and consumerist capitalism of a robotic without (rob)ethics.

The performing actions of the databases of a consumerism filtered through the algorithms of GAFAM, the digital confederation in the business of selling diffused needs without a responsible vision, surely don’t answer to the memory of the needs of thinking subjects who should remember the teachings of history and act accordingly by innovating their heterotopic participation, the model for sharing the diversities left on earth like footprints of the exchanges vouched for by the virtuous physicality of co-living “in the manner of the ancient people”, tales of a collective memory that has never denied the connections between mind and geography, these being values and virtues ascribed in the plan of the Polis Roma itself (The hereotopias, the utopian bodies, Michel Foucault, 2004).

These connections, dispersed and yet able to decipher the dual and complex code of an interrupted communication, knew how to relate things and people in the Roman world, heir to ancient memories selected to update a jointly intended design between earth and sky, and therefore conveyed by the archaeological stratifications of a city whose history hasn’t been historicised yet.
The different narration helps remember the solid and harmonic union of thought and geo-topography, to explain the heterotopic action of the small-big Mediterranean world first announced with the landing of the great mother Europa in Crete and then, in the 8th century, with the foundation of Rumi, the city of strength linked to Armonia, Mars and Venus’s daughter (Il sogno di Roma a Lentas – The dream of Rome in Lentas, P. Meogrossi, 2010; Europa sotto i monti Asteousia – Europe under the Asteousian Mountains, P. Meogrossi, 2020).

Digital techne might improve the quality of the natural environment, but it doesn’t actually offer pragmatic answers to the need to be able to integrate with the dual model of mind and territory, nor it develops the necessary topographical and mental visions to participate in Pistoletto’s symbolic infinite, which in fact perfectly retraces the topos of the design between earth and sky of the Ancile shield at the moment of the foundation of Rome (Fasti III, Ovid).
The topographical and archaeological knowledge we must rediscover supports the mythopoeic mind in reconsidering and remembering anthropologically the sense of unity between earth and sky in that remote time when we knew how to convey and measure the values of the natural systems and how to grasp the quantum dimensions deposited in the Tower of Babel, which should lead co-living to a rebirth.

This way, each contemporary soul will be able to feed the techne with an energetic communication able to reconvert inherited things in order to make them recover the cultural depth of which social needs have been deprived, memories of common goods that need rehabilitating for the parts kept separate by the groups themselves to be reassembled, a gromatic-metaphysical research for technical solutions and jointly intended thoughts able to recreate the humanistic model to be integrated with the visible and invisible physical realities of the world we are immersed in.
The cultural archetypes of such a world retrace the n dimensions practised on primitive territories in a present that entails dual roles and unsuspectable functions of a future the networks are part of, neuronal and physical paths of a mind structured on the basis of topographical triangulations the way the Rome model shows, able to organise the physical as well as the imaginative needs with primary cornerstones selected one at a time, so as to give field and substance to the heterotopic measure which, outside the utopia, supports the double seeing that makes every cognitive process possible.

At the end, those dual and difficult paths typical of the world, proving the connection between mind and territory, represent the integration of the collective model adopted in ancient times, which, while giving recognisability to the subjective thought, innovates the components of technical and collective making, thought and project with the data of the memory in order to open a cultural dialogue with history and instruct the constructive practice, possibly with digital technology as an essential element to support the participatory heterotopic logic that encourages the common good by making sustainable the survival regenerated through imaginative dimensions as it was for the Coliseum in specie ovi mentioned by Cassio Dione.

That’s when the use of the Aristotelian apagoghè, an unusual type of logic evoked by the positivist model of the philosopher Pierce, leading to pursue investigative practices à la Sherlock Holmes, must help us recompose the linking frame for such strategic connections and remember the single spatial-temporal visions of archaeology that have always motivated the choices for the quantum forms man-territory to be resewn and socially restored (Il segno dei tre – The sign of the three, curated by U. Eco, 1983)

The labyrinths of natural and anthropic complexity therefore need to be penetrated and remembered with love if we want contemporaneity to educate for such a dual scenario, to the wise exercise of dream and imagination called to close the distances between the n dimensions, to transform dreamlike visions into stratified models of mental and territorial networks still physically evident, stories and documents of the places of origin to re-read in order to re-establish vital forms and re-plan what was theorised inside the cosmic egg by the resilient quantum systems of the forms of beauty condensed in a landscape made dystopian by an obsolete urban planning that doesn’t adequately take into consideration the values of the archaeological topoi dispersed and, luckily, not lost (I sentieri per il disegno di Roma – The paths for the design of Rome, P. Meogrossi, 2020).



Piero Meogrossi’s bio: graduated cum laude in Rome (1974), he has worked at professional level since 1980, when he became a MiBACT inspector at the Superintendence to Venice Monuments (1980-1983) and then director of the Special Archaeological Superintendence of Rome (1983-2011).
Meogrossi has always been dealing with monument restoration, archaeological landscape and urban transformation on behalf of MiBACT, operating both in Italy and abroad on monument restorations and paesistic reclamations (Villa Cornaro in Codevigo: new discoveries on Alvise Cornaro’s Memory Theatre / Superintendence to Venice Monuments). In Rome for the SSBAR: Appian Way, Villa Quintili, Cecilia Metella’s tomb-museum, Palatino Hill/S. Gregorio’s side, Roman Forum, Coliseum Valley, Flavian Amphitheatre.
Meogrossi has participated in national and international architecture contests, among which are Progetto Fori, Prix Piranesi de Rome (team Purini-Valle), first prize, 2016; Danewerk Park, Germany, second prize, 2009; Piano di Luce for Rome after Sistus V, Utopia Award, 1998; Amenhophi Court, Luxor, 1988; Habitat ed Energia, Misawa Homes, Tokyo, third prize, 1979; Parco Appia, P.A.R.C.O., winner CEE/SSBAR, 1997.
He has held courses and seminars teaching restoration in archaeology (Politeknik Warsawe, 1974; IUAV Venice, 1982; Roger Williams, US, 2001; Architektur Beograd, 2015-2018; Architettura Roma, 1999-2019).
Since 1987 Meogrossi has been arguing the forms of the ancient landscape analysing the topographical identity of XXI Aprile in Forma Urbis Romae and holding conferences and exhibitions in Italy (see Archaeological Approaches for the Plan of Rome and the Megali Ellas, 1987-2018).
After retiring from MiBACT (2011), he has consulted for exhibitions and events participating in the debate on urban architecture and the Mediterranean landscape through essays and several conferences both in Italy and abroad (1987-2018: Asklepios’ Temple, Lentas and Festos’ Disk, Heraklion, Crete, 2010-2017; MiBAC projects and Roman Archaeology, Havana, Cuba, 2003), documenting the journey in the ancient space-time dimension according to which the axiomatic topographical design between earth and sky condensed in the Forma Urbis Romae is historicised.