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Conversation with Clelia Albano on Family, Democratic Values, Religion and Skepticism, Dawkins, Gadamer, Wikipedian, and Cosmopolitan Weltanschauung Cosmic: Member, Capabilis (2)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2022/07/08


Clelia Albano is from Italy. She’s a teacher of Italian and Latin, painter and poet writing in Italian and English. She is a member of Capabilis and USIA. She has two collections of poetry, In Assenza di Naufragi, that was a finalist for the National Literary Contest “Il Mio Esordio 2018,” selected by the International Festival of Poetry of Genova, and “Come Tutte Le Cose di Questo Mondo”, a prosimetrum. She’s been published also in English on the American anthology “Winter” and by the literary magazine “The Night Heron Barks”. She loves reading, learning languages and editing for Wikipedia, which she has done since 2012. She was a finalist with “Come Tutte Le Cose di Questo Mondo” for the “Premio Internazionale Mario Luzi” 2020. She discusses: Latin and Greek in Naples; WWII; a sense of the importance of democracy; independence of the feminine side; earliest inklings of skepticism over religion; grotesque sides of religious faith; paint; poetry written in youth; aspects of the mind; linguistic codes; expansive memory; geniuses; perceptions of geniuses; main aspects of church corruption criticized by Dante; inspirations for writing the books; paintings; a Wikipedian; highly manipulative; the attraction of supernatural entities; scientists like Dawkins; an automaton; Gadamer’s presentation of Art in Truth and Method (1960); a democratic socialist; and cosmopolitan weltanschauung cosmic.

Keywords: Clelia Albano, cosmopolitan weltanschauung cosmic, Dante, Dawkins, Gadamer, geniuses, Italy, Naples, Wikipedian, WWII.

Conversation with Clelia Albano on Family, Democratic Values, Religion and Skepticism, Dawkins, Gadamer, Wikipedian, and Cosmopolitan Weltanschauung Cosmic: Member, Capabilis (2)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did your father get into teaching Latin and Greek in Naples?

Clelia Albano[1],[2]*: My father was from Naples. He grew up and received his education there.

He attended the Classic Lyceum where Greek and Latin are the basic curricular subjects and given his attitude towards humanities and ancient languages he earned the degree in Ancient literatures and languages at the hometown University “Federico II”.

Jacobsen: What are some of the remarkable stories of family, ancestors and relatives, in association with WWII?

Albano: Apart from historical recounts, I was told by my father and my grandmother about one of the worst issues brought by the war: the scarcity of food. The family had to adapt the diet to a flour made from chestnuts and to other poor food.

This was an experience that in the following years gave the food a centrality almost religious in my father’s family. To be nourished in a proper way was considered a priority by my relatives and by my daddy, the first prescription to keep oneself healthy and alive. I was influenced by this idea.

Jacobsen: How have these stories helped develop a sense of the importance of democracy?

Albano: As I told you in our previous interview, I was raised according to democratic values developed and strengthened by my paternal family particularly as a reaction to the social, cultural and individual repression under Fascism.

Jacobsen: How have you incorporated this independence of the feminine side into your own narrative and life path?

Albano: By following and expressing my attitudes, my preferences, beliefs, regardless of cliché, conventions and the others’ judgements.

Jacobsen: What were the earliest inklings of skepticism over religion?

Albano: Well, I clearly remember that, especially in my teens, I got upset with the incoherent behaviour of some believers. Beside this I have something to say about religion that will surprise you. In the last months I have been caught by a desire for faith and for praying. Maybe the seeds of faith to which I was raised never abandoned me. Of course there are things I am still skeptical about, but I know inside of me that often I have suffered the loss of this religious vocabulary that unavoidably knock on the door of my lexical repertory at Christmas time or at Easter, or when I am in despair and I realize that the words in my possession lack of spiritual energy. Because I think we are our words, we are what we say and my idea is that even spirituality, the good and the evil are made of words. Once I read a remarkable scientific study on the human brain and the DNA sequences. I read something that amazed me because I had thought a lot of times that words might change the human brain’s map. This would be explicative of both the healing process and the development of a disease. When I stopped to believe in transcendence I never excluded the idea of mystery in our lives. Thus, before the influence of prayers and their healing power in several cases, I was open to the possibility that they have an effectual power. In the above mentioned study, the researchers had found that if we speak words of sorrow, anger, or we semantically express the wish to die, in sum if we speak words against ourselves, we might cause some changes in our DNA, since each sequence is very similar to the linguistic code. In other words it would be like replacing the healthy words of the DNA with sick and deadly words. So when we make a negative wish and we desire to die we run the risk that it comes true. That’s why I think that prayers might have some influence.

Jacobsen: What were those grotesque sides of religious faith to your father?

Albano: By grotesque I meant the combination of religion and superstition together, which gives flesh to rituals and objects where it is hard to distinguish the threshold between devotion and talismanic gestures. However there is also an awesome side of this combination.

In Naples it is still present this way of interpreting and living faith; so you will find in several contexts, amulets along with pictures of Jesus.

My father had a rational conception of faith and he thought that religion is the opposite of superstition.

Jacobsen: What kinds of things did you paint?

Albano: I painted mainly African subjects.

Jacobsen: What themes were common in the poetry written in youth if any?

Albano: More or less the contemplation of the world, the desire to be elsewhere in the far sides of the world, the oneiric side of life.

Jacobsen: What aspects of the mind cannot be measured?

Albano: creativity and inspiration. Another aspect is dreaming. Although there’s a Freudian part of me that tends to interpret dreams according to psychoanalytic symbology, the other side of me rejects the positivist conviction that the oneiric dimension can be dissected and notomized by Freudian schemes.

Jacobsen: How are “reality, life and experiences… linguistic codes”?

Albano: Sorry for repeating myself. They are made of words. That’s what I think. Also “God” is a word. Is there something we can think about without giving it a name?

Jacobsen: When you came across individuals comfortable amongst the extraordinary, what was the intuitive, innate reaction in you, as the normal reaction was, more commonly, astonishment with the, for example, more expansive memory?

Albano: Well, on the one hand my reaction was of admiration. On the other hand, I tried and I still try to learn from them. By observing their approach to life, science and technology, by observing their idea of faith, for example. As I told you before I have felt the urge to speak and think like a believer once again in my life. In the groups I am a member of, High IQ groups, I happened to find very gifted people who are believers. Particularly I was struck by the words of the creator of several High IQ Sites, tests, creator of GENIUS High IQ Networks, a Mensan and awarded as one of the most intelligent men in the world, who has faith in God. Somehow I felt comfortable with that side of me that even when rejected religion never got entirely skeptical.

Jacobsen: Why are geniuses, fundamentally, perceived as a “threat” or as “dangerous”?

Albano: Because generally they bring changes and discoveries that subvert the ordinary. Some people live in the dreads of progress. They feel more comfortable with held beliefs.

Jacobsen: Are these perceptions of geniuses generally legitimate or illegitimate?

Albano: In my humble opinion they are legitimate for the reasons I just have illustrated. There is also a conspicuous portion of the population who is enthusiastic about progress. But I think, in addition, that there are progressivists who trust scientific and philosophical knowledge, and by contrast, disagree with certain scientific projects for they involve social and ecological risks. Just to take but one example, the idea of colonising other planets sounds as a form of neo-colonialism to many progressive people, because both the financial investments for those enterprises and the plan to build up cities on extra-terrestrial environments involve the risks of polluting them.

Jacobsen: What were the main aspects of church corruption criticized by Dante? How did he go about doing it?

Albano: At the time of Dante, the Church had lost the role of spiritual guide. The main reason was that most of the ecclesiastical officials conducted a mundane life, exerted a political power on the believers; they did act against the Christian principles. There were Popes and archbishops who didn’t disdain to have concubines and to have children, disrespecting the vote of chastity. They betrayed the vote of poverty by accumulating money, richness and commodities of every sort. The Church of Saint Peter, held both the temporal and the spiritual powers; the abuses it perpetrated, emerged particularly during the civil battles between the Communes when the supporters of the Pope on the one side and the supporters of the imperator on the other, formed respectively the factions of Guelfs and Ghibellines. Dante, who had a profound devotion and who dreamt of a pure Christianity based on a religion that took care only of souls, denounced in the Comedy what was in contrast with the predicament of Jesus.

Jacobsen: What were the inspirations for writing the books?

Albano: The books I published are collections of poems I wrote in different times of my life. Each poem came from a particular and unique inspiration.

Jacobsen: What are paintings focused on thematically now?

Albano: Unfortunately, it’s ages. I don’t paint. I’m focused more on poetry and the lack of time made its part.

Jacobsen: What kind of edits and additions have you been making as a Wikipedian?

Albano: I have created articles for Wikipedia in English and in Italian, mostly biographic. Generally, I work on literary and artistic contents, but also on contents related to public figures in the field of whistle-blowing, hackers and human rights advocacy.

I have translated into Italian English Wikipedia entries on painters that were not on Wikipedia It. I have integrated several entries. I am particularly proud of the creation of the wiki bio of a contemporary artist, New York based, who is now exhibited at the Guggenheim.

Jacobsen: What immediately strikes you about individuals who are highly intelligent, highly creative, or both, while being, in other aspects of their lives ‘misogynistic, racist, and sadistic’?

Albano: They are highly manipulative. At the beginning they are fascinating because of the way they talk, the way they capture your attention. They use all the tricks to reach the goal. You can find that they write books about human rights, papers against discrimination, tons of words to condemn domestic violence, poems to celebrate women and on the other hand they gradually reveal to not practice what they preach. I mean that if you pay attention you will catch their missteps. I have experienced that.

Jacobsen: What was the attraction of supernatural entities hypothesized by adults and authorities as a youth?

Albano: When I was a child at the end of the 70s early 80s, the TV and cinema main subject was the extra-terrestrial world. I remember that knowledge and science were focused on planet earth and on space. I was given as a gift a book by David Attenborough, “Life on Earth: A Natural History” and on the other side there was this huge interest in life on the other planets, life on Mars, et cetera. The idea of an E T. somewhere, ready to get in touch with me excited my fantasy for a certain time.

Jacobsen: Regarding “scientists like Dawkins,” what is the fear induced there? Is this a common sentiment?

Albano: In my previous interview I said that I don’t like the so-called new atheists because I refuse the idea we are only chemistry. I fear that a human being might end up like a predictable text.

Jacobsen: How is an automaton, though Carbon-formed and naturally evolved, view of human beings “creepy”? Can you expand on this, please?

Albano: Yes, I will try to expand. Well, the idea that we are determined only by our DNA would mean that we are predestined to be good or evil and that everything we do is not the consequence of a conscious decision but of a series of actions embedded by default in our cerebral circuits. It would make education, knowledge, religion, philosophy, all that mankind created, meaningless. This view of a human being is scary to me.

Jacobsen: With Gadamer’s presentation of Art in Truth and Method (1960) as the “transmission for meanings across time,” in some way, this circumnavigates the issues, pointed out by you, of siloing of disciplines and the fragmentation of knowledge seen in other disciplines than Art. Even though, art created by individuals across time can be interpreted in multiple ways with various depths of analysis to yield commonality of values or ethics. Can codification and trans-codification remain at risk of interpretation to ‘common’ values without benefit to human beings in general – or values seen across time with more degenerative effects on individuals and societies, e.g., artistic works interpreted across time through a reference frame of nihilistic ethics (or nihilistic anti-morality/non-morality)? Although, at the same time, these could be interpreted in more Christian Existentialist in some lenses or humanistic in frames. In that, it’s not a big risk, but it can be one. Who gets the interpretive authority in the end, in other words?

Albano: Of course there might be the risk of misinterpretation or even the risk of manipulative interpretations. This question is very important because you touch on an essential point which is ethics. We know that in the Middle Age they interpreted pagan authors from the Latin world or the Greek world through the lens of the Christian religion. In doing so they subverted the real meaning of works of literature, philosophy and so forth. There is the opposite risk, though. Also atheism or political regimes, dictatorships, in history, have deliberately misinterpreted works of art and literature. The risk is avoided if interpretation entails an hermeneutics free from prejudices – pre-judices in the gadamerian sense -. The second relevant point of your question is “who gets the interpretative authority”. In my humble opinion it is wrong to refer to a single one authority because I don’t share the view according to which only one cultural canon is established as valid, putting all the others beneath. This happens with the so-called Western Canon, for example. Once I read “The Western Canon ”, written by Harold Bloom. I must admit that I assimilated many intriguing concepts, but there was something utterly disturbing in Bloom’s contempt towards multiculturalism. We can’t ignore that also on the opposite side of the earth, Asia, Middle-East, Iran that previously was that magnificent empire of Persia, art, literature, philosophy, flourished. They produced myths, religions, archetypal figures fraught with meaning. They had writers and philosophers, who range amongst the greatest in human history. So, why do we talk only about the Western Canon? Where is the Eastern Canon or the Multicultural Canon?

Jacobsen: What society most resembles a democratic socialist one to you?

Albano: In the actual world no one. Democratic socialism is yet to come.

Jacobsen: As a cosmopolitan weltanschauung cosmic, with only this one life to live, what are your plans for this one life with the “bonds of affection, empathy [and] progress” to fill the void for you?

Albano: I will surprise you once again. As I have said above I feel this need of spirituality but don’t expect me to say that I have now a religious vision of the afterlife. I know it sounds contradictory. The fact is that I don’t exclude another dimension after we pass away. Where it will be and what aspect it has, I can’t imagine. Maybe when we die we are transformed into energy and, who knows, maybe this energy goes somewhere even here in this world…

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Clelia.

Albano: Thanks back, dear Scott. Your interviews are amazing. I really appreciate this opportunity you give.


[1] Italian & Latin Teacher; Painter; Poet, Member, Capabilis; Member, USIA.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 15, 2022:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2022:

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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