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Prologue of “Crystals of Humanite”

Barcelona, June 7

The darkness of the late Catalan evening has now entered the large windows of the graphic laboratory in Passeig de Gracia, projecting on the large drawing board the shadows of sheets, canvases, pencils and brushes accumulated and mixed in a single abstract composition that shortly thereafter it will be devoured by the dark; Dominique is tired but, before leaving, she wants to squeeze her talent again to finally find the right inspiration she has been looking for too long. Nothing to do; the last strokes of the pencil nullify the residual illusions of good inspiration, leaving pale and impersonal marks on the paper. Dominique’s tenacity is proverbial and so, before trying to improve at least the stroke, she instinctively takes off the jeweled ring, guilty of hindering the correct grip of the pencil; with a gesture of annoyance, the young woman throws the jewel away from her to return to immerse herself in her work. When Dominique is concentrated, her eyes become even deeper and her hair almost completely envelops her face, setting it like a much more precious gem than the diamond that adorns the ring, now submerged by the sheets, passed, one after the other, under the lashes of graphite that unnecessarily smeared the whiteness of the paper. The young artist’s regret for not having done anything good collides even more painfully with the constraint of commuting reality. Dominique takes the train every morning and every evening, every day of the week: I think it has always happened to see her arrive at the last moment, running and panting in tune with the hiss that precedes the locomotive’s bow, jumping on the last carriage without even checking that the train is the right one. In its disruptive youthful dynamism full of energy to burn, sometimes the eyes travel even more slowly than the hands that frantically turn off lights, turn switches, grab things, close the zippers of bags and jackets and … the ring remains abandoned on the desk next to the pencil which, exhausted, lies right next to the precious stone. When Dominique finally closed the last door of the laboratory behind him, the only ray of light capable of overcoming the darkness is the one that barely filters through the corridor: in any case sufficient to guarantee the deserved rest to the graphite of the pencil but insufficient to make shine diamond of the ring. Diamond and Graphite: it is the first time that the two minerals are in close contact and above all without having to work, as always happens, one to write and the other to shine; Graphite to wear out, despite the only apparently solid protection of an ephemeral wooden shirt, Diamante to hold on, always perfectly in shape and shiny, stiff in its golden ring-shaped turret. Now the two minerals can finally talk to each other, after having become intrigued with a certain mistrust of each other during the working days, often glancing at each other because she thinking that he was not doing anything and he thinking that she did not even deign to him a look, just him, the most beautiful specimen of the entire Mineral Kingdom.

“What a shame, there is no longer any respect for mineral values! Even now I’m here, forgotten on a desk amidst paper and other worthless objects: it’s simply immoral! ”
“Instead of making a lot of noise, show some respect, at least towards those who have struggled all day and now would like to rest, even if, as you say, it is one of the worthless objects around you.”
“Sorry, it was not my intention to offend you and much less disturb your rest, but I have the right to the respect, which has always been due to my lineage, which I honor by bearing the prestigious name of Diamond, which means invincible; I am the prince of all gems and the most precious and powerful mineral in the world. I am so hard that no one can even scratch me and indeed my strength bends the metal and cuts the glass as if they were butter. My intellect is so bright and my appearance so regal that I bring light wherever I go. ”
“Me, me, always me, only me! So why now, armed with so much arrogance, are you unable to light up the laboratory? The truth is that you do not bring any light but only reflect that of other minerals that, like me, sacrifice themselves to carry electricity. I won’t be precious in the way you mean it, but unlike you, I believe I am useful. Although I recognize that my work is humble, I let you imagine what the world would be like without my contribution, starting with my own name, Graphite, which means writing, that is, leaving your mark and making history. I remind you that this simple act allowed yesterday’s humanity to come out of the caves and today’s humanity to develop civilization so as not to have to return there ever again.”
“It could be as you say, but I wonder what meaning is there in spending a lifetime consuming oneself for humans, without ever receiving respect or even the slightest consideration, always being crushed on the paper that sucks your soul, pressed by hands that force you to give every ounce of yourself, to end up in the waste bin one day. I am more and more convinced that in the world it is necessary to be tough and only in this way one can last forever, never reduced to dust!”
“Look Who’s Talking! Just you who were the victim par excellence of the hands of humans who at first tore you to pieces, then cut, sawed, beveled, ground, rubbed, wedged violently in metal cages and finally condemned to show you even when you do not feel like it. Not to mention the fact that, while I humbly lend myself to a public utility, you are bought for an absurd amount of money and you are often the object of theft, murder and even wars.”
“My dear Graphite, you speak like this only because you are envious of my preciousness and the fame I enjoy. Thanks to the irrepressible desire for possession that I can arouse in humans, I guarantee you that there are no kings or popes who have not been honored. You are jealous of my success because you, on the other hand, obediently submit to those who exploit your weakness without even recognizing your helpful disposition!”
“I am perhaps too tender but certainly not envious of your arrogance. Instead of making a lot of controversy, I’d like to really know how things stand. Do you really know who you are and how you are inside to feel so sure that you are better than me and all the other minerals?”
“After humans elected me prince of minerals, I stopped wondering why, even if honestly I am very interested in the subject and, to further confirm, I challenge you to find out with me. My work lets me think freely and a stimulating idea that came to me is to leave for a journey backwards in time and space in search of myself and my origins, with the dream of finally being able to understand my essence and the reason why I am so different from all other minerals and even the opposite of you. Out of laziness and fear of loneliness, I systematically gave up on this project but now I seem to have found in you a possible adventure companion, in the sense that you share my own unanswered questions and curiosity about the mineral world and its unsolved mysteries. Indeed, since you assume that your usefulness is more important to humans than my presence, how about accepting the challenge of traveling together to find out why we are so different? Besides, we might find out which one of us is right!”
“I gladly accept the invitation. On the other hand, there is nothing more instructive than traveling to get in touch with the varieties offered by the kaleidoscope of Nature. Nothing more than travels and books, which I have contributed to writing in large numbers, are useful for understanding oneself. So let’s just take the time to pack a minimum amount of baggage and leave immediately, making the most of the time this night that humans have absent-mindedly allowed us to spend together.”
“Before leaving, we have to agree on one thing! Since my aristocratic stature requires me to attend only certain high-ranking environments, I pretend to go only to places where I can meet my peers, that is, noble metals and precious stones.”
“Don’t worry, my prince, I understand the request: it will mean that I will go to the most inhospitable and remote places, where ugly and inconspicuous minerals live. So, I will meet the dark metals and the dull stones. However, I accept your request, only on condition that you accept mine: I would like to continue doing the thing I do best and that is to write, to write the diary of this trip. Since I suppose you don’t know the written language of humans and therefore can’t even read it, I think you consider writing and reading useless activities and therefore, if you don’t mind, I’ll write, for you too.”
“Contrary to what you think, I think it is a great idea! Numerous times I have found myself hanging on the ears or slipped on the fingers of charming secretaries, but I would never have dared to think of having one entirely dedicated to me!”

Diamond and Graphite will not only travel in space but also in time, starting right from when the Earth was formed. On the other hand, Dominique will not notice their absence because when he returns to the graphic laboratory in the morning, they will both be on the table, in the same position as the night before: Graphite only slightly more worn and Diamond a little less bright than usual but, after all, in the time scale of those who are billions of years old, what are a few hours?
Upon departure, Diamond is unnecessarily punctual as a watch … in Quartz, while Graphite, in tune with his professional and feminine nature, is usefully late, for having prepared the travel plan and above all the diary on which he will report the memories of the journey mineralogical to discover oneself, through all times and all lands. Like Diamond and Graphite, on a certain day and from anywhere, each human also has begun or will begin his journey on Earth to which, after too short a time for many and too long for a few, he will eventually return, but knowing certainly much more. Most travelers will keep within themselves the memories, emotions, experiences and knowledge of the trip, but luckily some of them will also leave a diary, just as they decided to do Diamond and Graphite: crystals of Humanite!

[taken from “Crystals of Umanite”, Massimo Umberto Tomalino (2015)]
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