A Savage Fascination (Part Two)

In the first part of this special we talked about cannibals, but also more generally about the concept of the Savage, object of contempt and fascination in the 19th century.
We analyzed a fictional tale and pointed out how the indigenous people were often used as pure literary devices to titillate the reader’s voyeurism. The tone of superiority is akin to the one that can be found in many reports of authentic expeditions of that time.

If this approach has disappeared today, at least from the most evident narratives, the presumption of some kind of Western supremacy over the supposed backwardness of traditional societies remains, at least in part. No luck in trying to “dispel the myth that in ‘primitive societies’ there is a subsistence economy that can hardly guarantee the minimum necessary to the survival of society(1)The quote comes from this interesting article (in Italian) by Andrea Staid on so-called ‘primitive’ societies, taken from his book Contro la gerarchia e il dominio. Potere, economia e debito nelle società senza Stato (Meltemi 2018).; another common idea about these communities is that they live in a more ‘natural’ way.
The use of this adjective may seem positive, even a form of admiration or appreciation, but we know that opposing Nature to Culture — one of the tenets of Western thought — often conceptually serves the purpose of distancing (our own) civilization from (other people’s) barbarism.

As we said, those tribes which harbor traditional elements are still the object of enormous curiosity. I myself have spoken extensively about them over the years, although I have tried to describe their customs in a detailed and detached way.
One thing not many are aware of, however, is that today many tours are organized in remote areas of the globe, for those who can afford them; they offer to discover (I quote from a brochure) the “world’s last intact systems of tribes, clans and rituals“.

It is perhaps one of the few chills left in the great machine of global tourism, the extreme frontier of exoticism. Exclusive trips with a more or less marked ethnological background, whose participants, however, are not anthropologists but tourists: to a cynical observer, it would seem the appeal lies in taking selfies with the natives, or in those traditional dances staged by tribe members for the benefit of white men’s cameras.

But one should not make the mistake of judging (or worse, being outraged) on the basis of some photos found on the internet. What are these tours really like, how are they organized, what activities do they offer? What is their underlying philosophy? Who takes part in these expeditions, and why?

Marco is a long-time reader of Bizzarro Bazar, and he happened to try one of these organized tours just this year. After following with interest the report of his adventure trip on social media, I asked him to tell us its implications in more depth. The interview he gave me is therefore a unique opportunity to find an answer to these questions.
(Note: from this point on, all the beautiful photos you will see were taken by him.)

Can you tell us in a few words what kind of person you are, what do you do, what are your interests?

My name is Marco Mottura, I’m thirty six years old and I’m from Busto Arsizio. In everyday life I am a graphic designer, and as a second job (or you could call it a paid hobby) I am a videogame journalist. Video games have obviously always been one of my greatest passions, along with board games, horror movies, crossover music and my beloved Juventus.

I am fascinated by all that is strange, dark and macabre. I am a convinced atheist. I always wear black or gray. Cannibal Holocaust is my all-time favorite movie. I am obsessed with Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights.

How did you find out about the possibility of this trip?

Actually the fault is indirectly yours, dear Mr. Cenzi. Thanks to Bizzarro Bazar a few years ago I discovered The Last Tuesday Society in London, and after visiting Viktor Wynd’s wunderkammer during one of my trips to the City I could not help but follow the eccentric millionaire on Instagram. A year ago I saw some of the pics he posted while he was in Papua New Guinea to attend the passing ceremony in which the young people of the Sepik River tribes turn into Crocodile-Men. I asked him some questions about such an unusual and bloody ritual, and at the end of our chat Wynd’s reply was: “In 2019, however, I will be returning over here, if you want you can come with me.” He was serious about it, I was too… and so I really left.

What were the travel options?

You had to choose between two different trips, eleven days each, or purchase the complete package (which was far beyond my budget). The first part was focused on nature, with birdwatching and floral-themed excursions, while the second half was undoubtedly more extreme, and culminated with a visit to the very remote mummies of Aseki. No need to specify which of the two I opted for.

What did you expect from this experience? What motivation led you to embark on this adventure?

I found myself in a particular phase of my life, in a moment of deep personal crisis after a period of depression and many other hardships. Following my girlfriend’s advice, I decided to do something for myself and myself only: seeking that extreme exoticism that fascinates me so much (all those Mondo movies I’d seen during adolescence must have left their mark), I decided to go for an adventurous and potentially risky trip. Even in the worst-case scenario, dying in a real-life B-movie plot looked like the perfect ending for the type of existence I’ve always tried to live.

The prospect of escaping from my everyday life, the idea of staring into an unknown and distant universe and experiencing a cultural shock fascinated me. Before this experience I had never even been camping!

Tell us briefly how the journey took place.

The expedition was open to ten people from all over the world, plus the two leaders. The first group leader was the aforementioned Viktor Wynd, the eccentric English dandy and artist (2) I dedicated a chapter of my guide London Mirabilia to Viktor Wynd and his London wunderkammer. president of the Last Tuesday Society, while the other one was Stewart McPherson, a naturalist among the world’s foremost experts on carnivorous plants: an authority in his field, with 35 species discovered and 25 books published on the subject.

Eight of the participants were men, four women: a total of eight British, two Americans, one South African and myself to represent Italy. The youngest was twenty-eight, the oldest forty-five.

We met at the airport of the capital, Port Moresby, and from there we immediately left for the Trobriand Islands. We spent three nights there, then we moved to Lae, then we went by jeep to the region where the mummies are (stopping at Bulolo, an isolated city of miners, and spending one night in a village lost in the mountains). Then we went back to Lae again and then straight to Madang, where the journey ended. All in all we traveled many, many miles — often on almost impassable roads—, took four internal air flights and encountered many different landscapes and cultures along the way, for this nation has the greatest biodiversity on Earth.

What were the experiences and details you found most striking?

It is difficult to summarize such an adventure in a few words: what’s really striking is the powerful sensation of being out of regular time and space. The absolute darkness of night in the forest, the starry sky so bright and breathtaking that it doesn’t even seem like your own sky, the sunset colors, those peculiar huts that can be seen here and there. But also the moments of pure horror — the fishing and quartering of a sea turtle we witnessed as soon as we lay foot on the pier in Trobriand (over there they live on a subsistence economy, what is captured is eaten and used to make crafts), or the giant spider that sneaked into my room on the very first evening — these things immediately threw me into the atmosphere I expected from Papua New Guinea.

One of the most magical moments was seeing the “shark callers” of the village of Kaibola, who within five minutes with a coconut rattle literally drew the sharks to themselves, and then caught them using a simple line with their bare hands. Only a few dozen people in the world are still able to perform that strange and very effective ritual, entering into full communion with the sea to charm their prey. Returning to the shore we were surrounded by a herd of playful dolphins, we ate the freshly caught shark, and then explored an underground cave until we reached a source of fresh water. All within a couple of hours.

Of course, mummies were also an unforgettable sight, as well as the aforementioned night spent in a village in the Aseki region, inside a hut without electricity, without running water or anything else (but with a lot of booze brought along by our English companions!) .

Was there a cultural difference that stood out and surprised you more than the rest?

Definitely seeing the effects of the Betel nut on the people’s mouth condition. Anyone from 6 to 99 years old is accustomed to chewing the kernel of this green fruit, the size of an apricot, mixing it with a mustard plant and with a powder made from burnt shells they call lime. The combination of these three elements determines a strongly alkaline chemical reaction, which stains their teeth and gums with a very intense blood red color… in addition to corroding the entire inside of the mouth, often with carcinogenic results. Despite this, they continue to take Betel nut for its energizing effects: I did try this awful-tasting kernel, and the result was halfway between alcohol and amphetamines.

Another peculiarity lies in the different customs, namely the way of approaching others. An example: for many remote villagers, brushing their teeth is an unusual and incomprehensible practice. While I had a toothbrush in my mouth, I found myself surrounded by some twenty people, all gathered a few meters away to observe my strange ritual: at that moment I felt like an animal in a zoo.

Was there any unpleasant episode during the trip?

Absolutely none. Indeed, the kindness of these people was touching and even sort of unsettling. People literally have NOTHING yet never skimp on a smile, a courtesy, a gesture of good heart. They act out of a pure sense of hospitality, without expecting anything in return: they just seem happy to meet someone different, odd-looking, coming from who knows where, so they welcome strangers in their homes very naturally. People will get in a line just to shake your hand; I’ve seen folks of all ages stop any activity they were doing to chase our van for a few meters.

These are situations that make you reconsider the way you look at the world — and that’s true even for a convinced nihilist like me, who seldom sees any hope for the present and the future: the context here is so different from what we are used to in our ‘civilized’ society.

What was the relationship between your party and the indigenous people you met? What was their attitude towards you? Have you ever felt uncomfortable?

Papua New Guinea is a vast country, in which 850 languages are spoken, and it’s inhabited by many microscopic communities with extremely limited means, but in general it is not as savage as perhaps one could imagine. Even in the mountains of Aseki, in the middle of the jungle, several hours by car from the city, you may come across some solitary hut displaying Coca-Cola billboards or ads for Digicel, the local telecom provider.

Of course, there are still some particularly inaccessible areas, and populations that may have remained somewhat isolated, but it was certainly not our intention to venture in such areas (it would have been dumb, disrespectful and irresponsible). Having said that, it still made us smile to hear the Trobriand inhabitants talk about the ‘2019 explosion of tourism’ as they were referring to a total of seventy people (including us!) who have come from those parts since the beginning of the year.

I was amazed to see how little the locals were interested in our technology: everyone knows what a smartphone or a camera is, and while getting a picture taken still arouses a minimum of interest, no one seemed impressed by our hi-tech gadgets. Ironically, my famous toothbrush interested them far more than a smartwatch.

The only moment in which I felt I was not in control of the situation, happened on our arrival in the Trobriand Islands: we found ourselves on the main pier and all the locals were obviously curious, and ran towards us to see the dimdim (foreigners) up close. All of a sudden we saw ourselves surrounded by a few hundred people who were trying to attract our attention to sell us food and artifacts. I did not actually feel threatened, of course, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t at least a little bit scared that it could degenerate at any moment. In fact, I think the only tension was in our minds, given the truly exquisite ways of the inhabitants of that province.

Let’s get to the critical part. We talked about it, and you know that I have some issues with this type of organized travels. They seem to be a late-capitalist version of 19th/20th century colonialism: we no longer use muskets and whips, of course, but it is difficult to lift the suspicion that we are still taking advantage of these poor areas, cloaking this exploitation under exotic narratives and selling the “thrilling adventure” package to bored Western tourists. What do you think about it?

Let’s not fool ourselves: extreme exoticism, the element of risk, a fascination for lost paradises (without forgetting the collective image of these places created by horror movies) are all undeniable parts of the equation. I would be lying if I said an alternative destination would have been just as exciting: the peculiar cult of the dead of the Aseki region, the mummies, the idea of getting so close as to touch them, these are all factors that drew me towards this journey. So yes, there is a nuance of dark tourism, no sense in trying to deny it.

Having said that, rather than a squalid revision of some colonialist enterprises, I believe this has more to do with the incurable nature of the thrill-seeker: no indigenous person has been ‘exploited’, on the contrary, I believe that in some cases it was us westerners who got a little ripped off! In order to access the mummy site in the village of Angapena, after exhausting negotiations we had to pay: $3,000 in cash, one power generator, two Samsung Galaxy phones, plus a whole lot of food supplies. In short, the locals are certainly not naive people eager to be exploited, and indeed they seem to have understood very well how to do business.

Well, honestly, it seems to me that exchanging smartphones for the mummies of ancestors is the perfect example of that logic — Mark Fisher called it ‘capitalist realism’(3)”The power of capitalist realism derives in part from the way that capitalism subsumes and consumes all of previous history: one effect of its ‘system of equivalence’ which can assign all cultural objects, whether they are religious iconography, pornography, or Das Kapital, a monetary value. Walk around the British Museum, where you see objects torn from their lifeworlds and assembled as if on the deck of some Predator spacecraft, and you have a powerful image of this process at work. In the conversion of practices and rituals into merely aesthetic objects, the beliefs of previous cultures are objectively ironized, transformed into artifacts.” (Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, 2009) in which everything becomes monetizable and even the sacred is turned into a simple product. On the other hand this is not surprising if, as you pointed out, Coca-Cola advertising is present even in the thick of the jungle.
Regarding your presence there, what was the organizers’ approach?

I can assure you their approach was one of rigorous respect for local populations, cultures, flora and fauna (McPherson, a naturalist, was extremely attentive and diligent regarding all environmental aspects): the infamous cannibalism was never mentioned, not even once, and the word ‘cannibal’ was never brought up by anyone. Because it is alright to seek strong emotions, or to be charmed by macabre or bloody traditions; but the reality of Papua New Guinea certainly does not require further fabrications. To give you an example, the killing of a poor pig by smashing sticks on its head was an almost unbearable sight, impossible for us to understand. There was no need to add cannibalism lore to it.

Judging from what you wrote on social media, before leaving you were convinced that the trip could be very dangerous. You even made a will! In retrospect, was there really an element of danger or was the journey safer than you expected?

Flying over those lands is objectively much more dangerous than elsewhere, due to climatic conditions. All in all it was a tough experience, and sometimes physically stressful (although never really impossible); it is certainly not as hard as climbing Mount Everest, but if you opt for a similar destination it means you’re willing to test your limits. As far as I was concerned, I had taken into account every possibility, and was ready to accept even a tragic outcome with great serenity. The excitement in not being sure of coming back was a reflection of some self-destructive tendencies that I won’t deny.

Having returned home safely, I can say that the journey turned out to be infinitely less dangerous than I expected. But then again, Stewart McPherson and his organization never presented the trip as a one-way ticket for would-be suicides. If anything the only true psychological terrorism, fueling false myths, came from much more official sources such as the site of the Farnesina Crisis Unit: Papua New Guinea might be poor and have plenty of problems, but it’s unfair to describe it (like they do) as an ‘all-round dangerous country’, and to advise against any type of unnecessary travel. The reality I have seen with my own eyes is quite different.

What is the most beautiful thing or feeling you came away with?

Such an experience is quite hard to explain to those who have not lived it. I wanted to take a leap into the dark, but in the end I came back with a wealth of emotions, memories, sensations that really turned my life upside down. Certain situations make you come to terms with your limits, kicking you out of your comfort zone, and you immediately bond with those close to you: it is unsettling to find yourself in a universe that is still your own, but is not your own. You cannot come back from such a journey exactly as you were before leaving: some things are bound to get under your skin and affect you. And in the end these feelings are so powerful that you might find you never have enough, a bit like the Betel nut.

I believe this chat provides interesting food for thought: in a globalized world, nothing really remains ‘intact’. Does it make sense to worry about it, or is it part of an unstoppable process of change? Do these tours bring our sensitivity closer to that of distant peoples, thus reducing prejudices, biases and misinformation — or do they perpetuate an essentially ethnocentrist Western vision?

I’ll leave you readers with the task of forming your own idea. For my part I thank Marco again for his kindness and helpfulness (you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram).

Note   [ + ]

1. The quote comes from this interesting article (in Italian) by Andrea Staid on so-called ‘primitive’ societies, taken from his book Contro la gerarchia e il dominio. Potere, economia e debito nelle società senza Stato (Meltemi 2018).
2. I dedicated a chapter of my guide London Mirabilia to Viktor Wynd and his London wunderkammer.
3. ”The power of capitalist realism derives in part from the way that capitalism subsumes and consumes all of previous history: one effect of its ‘system of equivalence’ which can assign all cultural objects, whether they are religious iconography, pornography, or Das Kapital, a monetary value. Walk around the British Museum, where you see objects torn from their lifeworlds and assembled as if on the deck of some Predator spacecraft, and you have a powerful image of this process at work. In the conversion of practices and rituals into merely aesthetic objects, the beliefs of previous cultures are objectively ironized, transformed into artifacts.” (Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, 2009)

Paris Mirabilia

I am thrilled to announce my latest effort will come out in October: Paris Mirabilia – Journey Through A Rare Enchantment. It is a guide to the bizarre and lesser-known Paris, among strange boutiques, obscure museums and eccentric collections.

The book is not part of the Bizzarro Bazar Collection, but launches a brand new series: the Mirabilia Collection.
Each volume, dedicated to a different city, is intended not just as a handbook for the curious mind, but also as a little gem that will, I hope, appeal to the bibliophile. In fact, as you never change a winning team, the photographs are once again by the great Carlo Vannini.

Waiting for the official release, I have udpdated the Collections section and prepared a page for Paris Mirabilia where you can see some more photos. If you just can’t wait, the book is available for pre-order at this link. The book will also be availble in Italian and in French.
Bon appétit!

 

I Templi dell’Umanità

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Il primo piccone colpì la roccia in una calda notte di agosto. Era una sera di sabato, nel 1978. […]
Cadde una stella nel cielo, grande e luminosa, che lasciò dietro di sé una striscia ben visibile di polvere dorata che ricadde sulla Terra.
Tutti pensarono che fosse un buon segno, e Oberto disse che in effetti indicava il momento perfetto per iniziare a scavare un Tempio, come quelli che da migliaia di anni non esistevano più. Si sarebbe fatto tutto grazie alla volontà e al lavoro delle mani…

Questo, secondo il racconto ufficiale, è l’inizio della straordinaria impresa portata avanti in gran segreto dai damanhuriani.

Damanhur è una cittadina egizia che sorge sul Delta del Nilo, e il suo nome significa “Città di Horus“, dal tempio che vi sorgeva dedicato alla divinità falco. I damanhuriani di cui stiamo parlando però non sono affatto egiziani, bensì italiani. Quell’Oberto che interpreta la stella cadente come buon auspicio è la loro guida spirituale, e (forse proprio in onore di Horus) a partire dal 1983 si farà chiamare Falco.

Gli anni ’70 in Italia vedono fiorire l’interesse per l’occulto, l’esoterismo, il paranormale, e per le medicine alternative: si comincia a parlare per la prima volta di pranoterapia, viaggi astrali (oggi si preferisce l’acronimo OBE), chakra, pietre e cristalli curativi, riflessologia, e tutta una serie di discipline mistico-meditative volte alla crescita spirituale – o, almeno, all’eliminazione delle cosiddette “energie negative”. Immaginate quanto entusiasmo potesse portare allora tutto questo colorato esotismo in un paese come il nostro, che non aveva mai potuto o voluto pensare a qualcosa di diverso dal millenario, risaputo Cattolicesimo.

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Oberto Airaudi, classe 1950, ex broker con una propria agenzia di assicurazioni, è da subito affascinato da questa nuova visione del mondo, tanto da cominciare a sviluppare le sue tecniche personali. Fonda quindi nel 1975 il Centro Horus, dove insegna e tiene seminari; nel 1977 acquista dei terreni nell’alto Canavese e fonda la prima comunità basata sulla sua concezione degli uomini come frammenti di un unico, grande specchio infranto in cui si riflette il volto di Dio. Nella città-stato di Damanhur, infatti, dovrà vigere un’assoluta uguaglianza in cui ciascuno possa contribuire alla crescita e all’evoluzione dell’intera umanità. Damanhur inoltre dovrà essere ecologica, sostenibile, avere una particolare struttura sociale, una Costituzione, perfino una propria moneta.
E un suo Tempio sotterraneo, maestoso e unico.

Così nel 1978, in piena Valchiusella, a 50 km da Torino, Falco e adepti cominciarono a scavare nel fianco della montagna – ovviamente facendo ben attenzione che la voce non si spargesse in giro, poiché non c’erano autorizzazioni né permessi urbanistici. Dopo un paio di mesi avevano completato la prima, piccola nicchia nella roccia, un luogo di ritiro e raccoglimento per meditare a contatto con la terra. Ma il programma era molto più ambizioso e complesso, e per anni i lavori continuarono mentre la comunità cresceva accogliendo nuovi membri. L’insediamento ben presto incluse boschi, aree coltivate, zone residenziali e un centinaio di abitazioni private, laboratori artistici, atelier artigianali, aziende e fattorie.

Il 3 luglio del 1992, allertati da alcune segnalazioni che parlavano di un tempio abusivo costruito nella montagna, i Carabinieri accompagnati dal Procuratore di Ivrea eseguirono l’ispezione di Damanhur. Quando infine giunsero ad esaminare la struttura ipogea, si trovarono di fronte a qualcosa di davvero incredibile.

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Corridoi, vetrate, specchi, pavimenti decorati, mosaici, pareti affrescate: i “Templi dell’Umanità”, così Airaudi li aveva chiamati, si snodavano come un labirinto a più piani nelle viscere della terra. I cinque livelli sotterranei scendevano fino a 72 metri di profondità, l’equivalente di un palazzo di venti piani. Sette sale simboliche, ispirate ad altrettante presunte “stanze interiori” dello spirito, si aprivano al visitatore lungo un percorso iniziatico-sapienziale, in un tripudio di colori e dettagli ora naif, ora barocchi, nel più puro stile New Age.

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I damanhuriani cominciarono quindi una lunga battaglia con le autorità, per cercare di revocare l’ordine di demolizione per abusivismo e nel 1996, grazie all’interessamento della Soprintendenza, il governo italiano sancì la legalizzazione del sito. Ormai però il segreto era stato rivelato, così i damanhuriani cominciarono a permettere visite controllate e limitate agli ambienti sacri. Nel 2001 il complesso di templi vinse il Guinness World Record per il tempio ipogeo più grande del mondo.

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Ma perché tenere nascosta questa opera titanica? Perché costruirla per quasi quindici anni nel più completo riserbo?

In parte propaggine del sogno hippie, l’idilliaca società di Damanhur proietta un’immagine di sé ecologica, umanistica, spirituale ma, nella realtà, potrebbe nascondere una faccia ben più cupa. Secondo l’Osservatorio Nazionale Abusi Psicologici, infatti, quella damanhuriana non sarebbe altro che una vera e propria setta; opinione condivisa da molti ex aderenti alla comunità, che hanno raccontato la loro esperienza di vita all’interno del gruppo in toni tutt’altro che utopistici.

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La storia delle sette ci insegna che i metodi utilizzati per controllare e plagiare gli adepti sono in verità pochi – sempre gli stessi, ricorrenti indipendentemente dalla latitudine o dalle epoche. La manipolazione avviene innanzitutto tagliando ogni ponte con l’esterno (familiari, amici, colleghi, ecc.): la setta deve bastare a se stessa, chiudersi attorno agli adepti. In questo senso vanno interpretati tutti quegli elementi che concorrono a far sentire speciali gli appartenenti al gruppo, a far loro condividere qualcosa che “gli altri, là fuori, non potranno mai capire”.

Almeno a un occhio esterno, Damanhur certamente mostra diversi tratti di questo tipo. Orgogliosamente autosufficiente, la comunità ha istituito addirittura una valuta complementare, cioè una moneta valida esclusivamente al suo interno (e che pone non pochi problemi a chi, dopo anni di lavoro retribuito in “crediti damanhuriani”, desidera fare ritorno al mondo esterno).

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Inoltre, a sottolineare la nuova identità che si assume entrando a far parte della collettività di Damanhur, ogni proselito sceglie il proprio nome, ispirandosi alla natura: un primo appellativo è mutuato da un animale o da uno spirito dei boschi, il secondo da una pianta. Così, sbirciando sul sito ufficiale, vi potete imbattere in personaggi come ad esempio Cormorano Sicomoro, avvocato, oppure Stambecco Pesco, scrittore con vari libri all’attivo e felicemente sposato con Furetto Pesca.

Oberto Airaudi, oltre ad aver operato le classiche guarigioni miracolose, ha soprattutto insegnato ai suoi accoliti delle tecniche di meditazione particolari, forgiato nuove mitologie ed elaborato una propria cosmogonia. Poco importa se a un occhio meno incline a mistici entusiasmi il tutto sembri un’accozzaglia di elementi risaputi ed eterogenei, un sincretico potpourri che senza scrupoli mescola reincarnazione, alchimia, cromoterapia, tarocchi, oracoli, Atlantide, gli Inca, i riti pagani, le correnti energetiche, i pentacoli, gli alieni… e chi più ne ha più ne metta.

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In questo senso è evidente come il Tempio dell’Umanità possa aver rappresentato un tassello fondamentale, un aggregatore eccezionale. Non soltanto i damanhuriani condividevano tra loro la stessa visione del mondo, ma erano anche esclusivi depositari del segreto di un’impresa esaltante – un lavoro non unicamente spirituale o di valore simbolico, ma concreto e tangibile.
Inoltre la costruzione degli spazi sacri sotterranei potrebbe aver contribuito ad alimentare la cosiddetta “sindrome dell’assedio”, vale a dire l’odio e la paura per i “nemici” che minacciano continuamente la setta dall’esterno. Ecco che le autorità, anche quando stavano semplicemente applicando la legge nei confronti di un’opera edilizia abusiva, potevano assumere agli occhi degli adepti il ruolo di osteggiatori ciechi alla bellezza spirituale, gretti e malvagi antagonisti degli “eletti” che invece facevano parte della comunità.

È nostra consuetudine, in queste pagine, cercare il più possibile di lasciare le conclusioni a chi legge. Risulta però difficile, con tutta la buona volontà, ignorare i segnali che arrivano dalla cronaca. Se non fosse per l’eccezionale costruzione dei Templi dell’Umanità, infatti, il copione che riguarda Damanhur sarebbe lo stesso che si ripete per quasi ogni setta: ex-membri che denunciano presunte pressioni psicologiche, manipolazioni o abusi; famigliari che lamentano la “perdita” dei propri cari nelle spire dell’organizzazione; e, in tutto questo, il guru che si sposta in elicottero, finisce indagato per evasione ed è costretto a versare un milione e centomila euro abbondanti al Fisco.

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Il controverso Oberto Airaudi, alias Falco, è morto dopo una breve malattia nel 2013. Tutto si può dire di lui, ma non che gli mancasse il dono dell’immaginazione.
Il suo progetto dei Templi dell’Umanità, infatti, non è ancora finito. La struttura esistente non rappresenta che il 10% dell’opera completa. Ma i damanhuriani stanno già pensando al futuro, e a una nuova formidabile impresa:

È importante che i rappresentanti di popoli e culture si incontrino in luoghi speciali, capaci di creare un effetto di risonanza sul pianeta. I cittadini di Damanhur, che stanno creando un nuovo popolo, si sono impegnati a costruire uno di questi “centri nervosi spirituali”, che hanno chiamato “il Tempio dei Popoli”.
In questo luogo sacro, tutti i piccoli popoli potranno incontrarsi per dare vita a un parlamento spirituale […] Come i Templi dell’Umanità, il Tempio dei Popoli sarà all’interno della terra, in un luogo di incontro di Linee Sincroniche, perché non è un edificio per impressionare gli esseri umani – come i palazzi del potere delle nazioni – ma deve essere una dimostrazione del cambiamento, della volontà e delle capacità umane alle Forze della Terra.

Le donazioni sono ovviamente ben accette e, riguardo alla possibilità di detrazione fiscale, è possibile chiedere informazioni alla responsabile. Che, lo confessiamo, porta (assieme all’avv. Cormorano Sicomoro) il nostro nome damanhuriano preferito: Otaria Palma.

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Potete fare un tour virtuale all’interno dei Templi dell’Umanità a questo indirizzo.
Il sito del CESAP (Centro Studi Abusi Psicologici) ospita una esauriente serie di articoli su Damanhur, e in rete è facile trovare informazioni riguardo alle caratteristiche settarie della comunità; se invece volete sentire la campana dei damanhuriani, potete dare un’occhiata al sito personale di Stambecco Pesco oppure dirigervi direttamente al sito ufficiale di Damanhur.