Monday, March 16, 2015

Seeds of Fascism: Century-Old Soiled Hanky Could Enable Cloning of Carnaro Regency’s Tin-Pot Dictator-Prince

Sometimes there’s a theme in a week’s minor news stories, and this week it seems to be: the mislaid spermatazoa of flamboyantly (even specifically upward-turning!) mustachioed Mediterranean fascist-sympathizing bohemian egomaniacs.  First, there was the news that one Pilar Abel, a 58-year-old Spaniard, was filing a paternity suit against the estate of Salvador Dalí, claiming the bombastic Catalan surrealist painter had had an affair with her mother while he was married to Gala Diakonova Éluard Dalí, his Tatarstan-born Russo-Spanish muse.  Of course, the case will get tossed right out; after all, she looks nothing like him:

And now there is the news that police in Italy have used a semen-stained handkerchief to map the genome of Gabriele d’Annunzio, an Italian poet, playwright, and ennobled prince who founded his own authoritarian micronation of sorts, the Regency of Carnaro, in 1919, and styled himself “il Duce” (“the Leader”) in anticipation of the eventual rise of Benito Mussolini.  The aristocratic snail tracks were sent, in 1916, to Countess Olga Levi Brunner, d’Annunzio’s mistress, and were preserved for most of a century in a private collection in Cagliari, Sardinia.  The hanky is now housed with other Annunziana at the Vittoriale degli Italiani (“Shrine of Italian Victories”) museum at his the prince’s former home on Lake Garda in Lombardy.

Gabriele d’Annunzio, Prince of Montenevoso
In the aftermath of the First World War, the Kingdom of Italy and the fledgling Kingdom of Yugoslavia were still squabbling over where their final border would be.  D’Annunzio, a wildly popular poet and war hero, in 1919 marched a makeshift army into Fiume—a then-Italian-populated town which today is on the Croatia side of the border and named Rijeka—and claimed it for Italy.  Italy’s King Victor Immanuel III, however, wanted no part of the plot and declined to formally reabsorb the enclave.  So d’Annunzio—an androgynous and wildly prolific bisexual erotic conqueror who followed the Italian art movement called Decadentism and whose megalomaniacal nicknames for himself included “il Magnifico” (“the Magnificent”) and “il Profeto” (“the Prophet”)—declared the town the Regency of Carnaro (Reggenza Italiana del Carnaro) and ran it as his de facto–independent personal fief for a year before the Italian navy retook the town.  Carnaro’s bizarre constitution, which was a piece of performance art in itself, declared “music” to be the founding political principle of the state, but d’Annunzio’s bombastic balcony speeches and black-shirted militias anticipated—some would say laid the groundwork for—the capital-F Fascism which later, in the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s, swallowed up Italy and half of Europe.  (Carnaro was later known as the Free State of Fiume (Stato Libero di Fiume) and in 1924 was formally attached to Italy.  After the Second World War, despite an attempt to revive the Carnaro entity, it reverted to Yugoslavian control.)

Olga Brunner, the prince’s mistress.
She’d better wait till the maid leaves the room before opening the mail.
Two years after Mussolini came to power in Italy in 1922 and began gently bending the monarchy to his will, Victor Immanuel III ennobled d’Annunzio as “Prince of Montenevoso”—the geographical principality in question being an Alpine town and district then within Italy but now known as Snežnik, in the Republic of Slovenia.

Poor Prince Gabriele: before the age of smartphones and “sexting,”
little ... um ... presents had to be sent through the royal mails.
D’Annunzio’s semen and its DNA are being used for comparison with his great-grandson Federico d’Annunzio, the current Prince of Montenevoso (Italy, a republic, nonetheless retains a semi-official aristocracy), and all press reports indicate that it is a test run for forensic genomics that does not rely on exhumation.  Though one wonders if something else is going on.  A succession dispute or paternity case?

In the waning days of the Second World War, a second try
at an independent Carnaro also claimed some now-Croatian islands in the Adriatic.
Indeed, the chief of the museum which owns the crusty rag, Giordano Bruno Guerri, raised, in an interview, the specter of a kind of small-scale version of The Boys from Brazil, musing that theoretically the poet, whom Italians regard as ambivalent sort of national hero and who died in 1938, could now be cloned.  “Nobody wants to clone d’Annunzio,” Guerri hastily clarified, “but nobody knows what changes will take place in science and society.  It’s good the DNA has been collected.”  Hmm, hard to know where he’s going with that.  If Guerri is planning to clone and breed a Decadentist pro-Fascist aristocracy to wrest control of Italy from corrupt republican politicos and imperialist Teutonic creditors, then where will it end?  We may have to swipe Monica Lewinsky’s dress from the Department of Justice’s evidence vault and clone an army of Bill Clintons to stop him.  Who’s in?

[You can read more about the Free State of Fiume, the Regency of Carnaro, and other bizarre and obscure separatist movements in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this special announcement for more information on the book.]

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