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Numero Zero Formato Kindle
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|Formato Kindle, 5 nov 2015||
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He then takes us two months back when he's approached by someone named Simei with a unique and lucrative job opportunity. Simei wants Colonna to ghostwrite a book for him. As it turns out a commendator, whatever that is, hired Simei to open up a newspaper. Colonna will also be the editor-in-chief. The newspaper is to go after the rich and powerful enemies of the commendator who will present the newspaper to certain individials in the hope that the powerful will end up paying him to close shop to avoid embarrassment. And Simei wants to publish a book about this affair. The chapters of Numero Zero, arranged by day, are mostly about the meetings of the editorial board. There are several other writers but two matter--Bragaddocio and the only female, Maia. These meetings usually start out planning what articles to write but usually end up being about what not to write as Simei shoots down pretty much every idea suggested, especially those by Maia.
Colonna of course ends up with the girl, whom others think may be autistic because she can only conceive what is in her head but manages to turn Colonna into someone who thinks like her. We learn how their relationship develops over time.
Bragaddocio is key. He's somewhat paranoid or at least very skeptic about everything. He's working on some research. He needs a car but no car will do because no car is perfect and on top of that, car marketing tends to suppress important data about cars, so he thinks there something of a conspiracy going on by car manufacturers, marketers, and the media.
Bragaddocio later reveals to Colonna what he's working on--a theory that Mussolini didn't die as we history tells, but rather it was a double that was killed and whose corpse was desecrated by the masses and hung. What sounds initially rather farfetched, Bragaddocio manages to make pretty convincing given all the strange characters, even stranger events, the unknowns, the inaccuracies and missing info at the time.
Whenever we talk about these leaders not dying as we are told, the next issue becomes their triumphant return to power. And Bragaddocio has that also thought through. It borrows from history to make the implausible probable, namely it bases this plan around to return Mussolini to power on the real-life, admitted, and recognized false-flag operation Gladio. Gladio wasn't just some single false-flag operation but an entire infrastructure and organization to carry out false-flags as needed.
Suddenly there is a mysterious death in the group. And now we are back at the beginning of the book with Colonna adopting Bragaddocio's paranoia.
Numero Zero is Eco's shortest novel. Some of the typical Eco themes are missing: wars, history of Paris, esotericism, play with languages. We do get though some history of Milan and the episode of Mussolini's death and the strange aftermath and fate of his corpse. This is interesting and enlightening stuff, as is the political climate in Italy during the cold war when Gladio was concocted. This is Eco's last book and he poignantly focuses a lot on death and the dead. Perhaps Numero Zero also represents a criticism of the media, while this prospective newspaper is rather an extreme possibility, one can't set aside the sense that what Eco presents may very well be how editorial decisions are made everywhere. Here we have the shadowy figure of the commendatore and Simei has to worry about what might be agreeable or disagreeable to his interests. Regular newspapers have to worry about what may the interests of owners, advertisers, or just the good old establishment. Another concern is the reader--and Simei has a very poor perception of readers and what interests them. Simei thinks he has to appeal to the lowest common denominator, or perhaps even below that, both in content and style. His newspaper wouldn't be just about informing but also manipulating.
The political aspect here is the strongest. Eco does a good job presenting the establishment critic who starts out with some sensible ideas but ends up taking it further and further until whatever truth there was is buried in a bunch of stuff bordering on nonsense, which of course invalidates his every argument. The topic of false flags will always be of interest as long as strange, unique, puzzling, powerful, and unlikely events happen that receive poor, unsatisfying, incomplete and and also unlikely explanations by the establishment--perhaps on purpose. He could have gone further with it but Eco has always been unnecessary careful.
"Numero Zero" is by rights a novella, clocking in at a slim 191 pages (including a number of white pages separating chapters). The plot is interesting enough, but only gets cooking in the final quarter of the book. That's when the murders begin and the heroes come under a shadowy threat (as in Foucault's). Here, though, the threat is so slight and dissipates so quickly, that it's merely a minor plot point. Beyond that, the reader is invited to chew over much-deserved insults flung at the media, a phone book of international intriguers, and revisit Italian corruption circa 1992. The big reveal -- if that's what it is -- also dissipates quickly, offering sort of a coda to a dark chapter in history.
Don't get me wrong. Eco at 84 out-writes authors of 750-page tomes who are a third his age. Having said that, this book, I feel, is best approached as if it were a quick introduction to Eco, whetting the appetite for a number of his better works, including "Name of the Rose," "Foucault's Pendulum," "Baudolino," and "The Island of the Day Before." Again, I stress that even a lesser Eco book beats most other books any day.