Numero Zero by Umberto Eco


I started reading this book while I was waiting for professor J in a café. I have never in my life spent an hour waiting for someone. I kept reading long after my espresso disappeared, occasioanally giving him a call, but nothing happened. I was reading about inventing / bending news, conspiracies and corruption in different layers of society while the man was sitting in Medical Emergency Unit waiting phonelessly. 

Colonna is hired to work at a newspaper which will never be published. It is called Domani, because it doesn't want to report about events that already happened, but wants to present its readers with "something more". It's exactly this "something more" that appeals to il Commendatore who finances the newspaper, however not with the aim to inform people but to blackmail the high and powerful. Colonna befriends Braggadocio, a journalist with a knack in uncovering conspiracies. He explained how Mussolini wasn't killed by the partisans and how he escaped to Argentina with Vatican's help. When Braggadocio is found killed, Collona gets scared "they" are out there to get him.

Call me cynical but I think media isn't here to inform us what goes on in the world, never has been. It's hard to distinguish real news from fake ones, since the majority of media copies one big source. Or perhaps it just takes an enormous amount of time to do it, but it might be possible if you want to work really hard. Domani's editor Simei thinks readers are stupid people. In crossword puzzles the husband of Eve is difficult enough question. Book reviews should be written so that even an ordinary housewife would understand it. Nobody reads book reviews anyway, nobody even reads books. We should be grateful if authors read their own books. According to this pejorative view of newspaper readers the media is here to tell them what to read, what to believe and what is true in the first place.

A lot of reviews I read trashed this book. Judging by the way they were written, the reason was mainly in expectations, no so much in the book itself. People expected more pages, a plot in its intricacy similar to The Name of the Rose or Foucault's Pendulum. The story is a political satire and since I'm not familiar with Italian politics, a lot of references were lost on me. Numero Zero is written on aproximately 200 pages. I admit I would like to read more of it, but I cannot have everything I want, can I. The ending is left open. If I thought Maia was right and there were no conspiracies, the story would end in quite an unsatisfactory way. However, suppose that Colonna isn't paranoid after all and Braggadocio was right. Than the ending is wide open and I have the opportunity to imagine whatever I please the continue the story, and that is exactly my cup of tea.  

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Nulto številko sem brala medtem ko sem v kavarni čakala profesorja J. Nikoli v življenju nisem nikogar čakala eno uro! Brala sem tudi potem, ko je kava že izginila, tu in tam sem ga poklicala, vendar se ni nič zgodilo. Medtem ko si v knjigi izmišljujejo oz. prirejajo novice, fantazirajo, ali pa tudi ne, o zarotah in vsesplošni korupciji, je profesor J brez telefona sedel nekje na urgenci.

Colonna dela pri časopisu, ki ne bo nikoli izhajal. Imenuje se Domani (Jutri) saj ne želi poročati o dogodkih, ki so se že zgodili, ampak hoče bralcem ponuditi "nekaj več". Ravno to "nekaj več" se silno dopade il Commendatoreju, ki stoji za časopisom, vendar ne zato, da bi širno bralstvo informiral o tem kaj se v svetu dogaja, ampak da bi s "pravilno" predstavljenimi novicami izsiljeval višje kroge družbe. Colonna se spoprijatelji z Braggadociom, novinarjem z nagnjenjem k odkrivanju zarot, ki mu podrobno obrazloži, da Mussolinija navsezadnje niso ubili partizani, ampak da je s pomočjo Vatikana pobegnil v Argentino. To je samo ena od njegovih zgodb. Ko Braggadocia ubijejo, se Colonna ustraši, da ga bodo našli in obračunali tudi z njim.

Morda sem cinična (saj vem, da sem), vendar mislim, da mediji niso tu, da bi nas informirali o tem kar se dogaja v svetu, pravzaprav nikoli niti niso bili za to tu. Težko je razločiti lažne novice od resničnih, še posebej zato, ker večina medijev kopira en veliki vir. No, ja, saj se morda da, le da za to potrebujemo ogromno časa, znanja in dela. Urednik časopisa Domani, Simei, meni, da so bralci v osnovi neumni ljudje. V križankah je Evin mož čisto dovolj težko geslo. Predstavitve knjig naj bodo napisane tako, da jih tudi navadna gospodinja razume. Nihče ne bere predstavitev knjig, tudi knjig nihče ne bere. Lahko smo zadovoljni, če avtorji preberejo lastne knjige. Glede na to, je naloga časopisa ta, da bralcem pove kaj naj berejo, v kaj naj verjamejo in kaj je resnično.

Večina kritik, ki sem jih prebrala, Nulti številki ni bilo najbolj naklonjena. Sodeč po tem kako se bile kritike napisane, menim, da je razlog prej v pričakovanjih kot v sami knjigi. Ljudje so pričakovali bolj obsežen roman, zgodbo, ki bi bila po zapletenosti podobna Imenu rože ali Foucaultvemu nihalu. Nulta številka je politična satira in ker ne poznam posebno dobro italijanske politične scene, so šle nekatere stvari mimo mene. Priznam, da bi rada prebrala več kot 200 strani, kolikor jih knjiga ima, vendar ne morem imeti vsega, kar si želim, ne? Zaključek je odprt. Če bi se odločila, da ima Maia prav in da ni zarot, bi se roman končal precej nezadovoljivo. Če pa predpostavimo, da Colonna ni paranoičen in da ima Braggadocio prav, potem je zaključek široko odprt za vse mogoče interpretacije in nadaljevanja zgodbe, ki si jih lahko izmislim. Po tej plati je ta knjiga moj kaliber.


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