Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Daniele Radogna, I am Italian and I have spent the first part of my life in Milano and the second one on the eastern side of the Como lake. My secondary studies have been in humanities but my deep passion for the power of the abstraction and the hard sciences drove me to study physics at the university.
There I met computers and in 1976 my passion shifted its focus from physics to the software design and development. Passion for the magic of software has been the engine always driving my activities: first as image processing engineer in a research group at the university where physicists worked side by side with physicians, mathematicians, chemists, IT engineers and programmers. Then I performed research and development in the industry in order to develop X-rays imaging equipment for medical and security applications, becoming, at last, a product specialist and a project manager. I was involved in Internet startups aimed to provide e-commerce solutions for the electrical Italian market and, eventually, I started my own companies, in Italy and elsewhere, mainly operating in the web design.
At the core of the different tasks I have professionally performed in my life there is the technological innovation, mainly when it was based on software as enabling technology, and my aim has always been to contribute to the technological diffusion between the innovation producers and consumers. I have been involved in several international cooperation activities between companies and research institutes in order to develop new products and services: it was a genuine pleasure and fun to work with so different and interesting people united by the common laguage of business and technology. Anyways, still today I love to keep on reading books on software and software design and to open my text editor and start the hypnotic game of software coding, using a system language, a scripting language, or a SQL stored procedure. It is a game I simply cannot stop doing.
My main problem with all of this? That I was interested to all the rest too. And books have been the solution for this.
What books have influenced you the most?
Hamlet's Mill: An Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge And Its Transmission Through Myth, by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend This book was a huge discover and thanks to it I was able to understand things that would have been simply out of reach without it. The book is a wide and deep analysis of several human cultures far in the space and in the time looking at the heavens and the astronomy as the source of the myth and looking at the myth as the source of knowledge and the science. The power of the book lies not only in the wonderful analysis and the descriptions that give you a new perspective on facts and works that you already believed to know (for example: Shakespeare's Hamlet), but in its capability to give you a paradigm enabling further understanding of other facts and other cultures, outside the landscape portrayed in the book.
Spiritual body and celestial earth: from Mazdean Iran to Shi'ite Iran by Henry Corbin A beautiful, wonderful book that gives you the opportunity to understand a mind totally different from ours. The book is an analysis of the Zoroastrian belief first and of the islamic Iranian culture after. One could ask: big deal, what does this have to do with me? Quite a lot, I would say. The book explains what is the source of the experience of that culture and in doing so we discover that all our beliefs and our own whole mind is shaped by a revolution that happened centuries ago, a revolution that dropped out the power of the images as the source of knowledge and experience, destroying an intermediate and intermediating layer existing between the mind and our senses: the author gives it the name of Mundus Imaginalis and, by means of it, he helps you understanding what is the true place and context where the main events of the myth and the religions really have happened. This way you are able to discover a sense in hugely important products of the human spirit that the people today was unable to understand before; this way we discover what is a really different mind; this way we learn how difficult is to understand other minds and other cultures and how much study and humility we need in order to look at the world without stupidity.
Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Gustav Jung More than a recap of the Jung main ideas - ideas, we remember, that make him one of the giants of the past century - this book is a portrait of a soul meditating on itself. The theme puts the book in the company of the Agostino's confessions, or the Montaigne essays; more, it has the capability to show us, modern men, a soul landscape that is deeply attractive and, in the same time, is a witness of the fact that there is an inside world that is worth to explore, not only an outside world. Jung shows a possibility of a sense that takes in account our deepest nature, transforming our life in a magic journey towards the discovery of ourselves. Showing the path to a knowledge possibly able to save the individuals, he really deserves the name of modern gnostic.
The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov This is a romance, but it is a very special one. There are books for which it is difficult to comment in terms of objective quality because we were involved in a way that leaves little room for our analytical eye. This is one of them, a book that have struck me in such a way that the only thing that can be said of it is the identity between me and that book, one belonging to each other: a book that is a windows on the soul, which has become part of my personal mythology. The fantasy, poetry, irony, the Bulgakov's vision can not be easily commented, it is a text that I kept on reading with the inevitability of fate. The book takes place at two different levels: in the city of Moscow, where lives the unhappy love of the Master and Margarita, and in which the devil makes its apparition with his servants, disrupting the miserable life of the hypocrites and the opportunists. The second level is the novel written by the Master about the passion of Jesus, a novel within the main novel, in a sort of "mise en abyme", with a special emphasis on the relationship between Jesus and Pilate and their confrontation. Among the infinite qualities of the text are the beauty of his descriptions: a memorable Sabbath and the feast of the great dance hosted by Satan; the melancholy of a midnight ride; the eschatological revelations in the clear light of the moon. I have been deeply impressed by two things: the relationship between the seemingly naive, simple and vulnerable man Yeshua and the power of Pontius Pilate, efficient official of a relentless power machine of which are portrayed in a wonderful way both the appearances and the hidden movements, a machine to which the same Pontius Pilate is enslaved to the point of having to give up the fruits of his extraordinary metaphysical intuition. The ways in which this bond between the two characters is created is perhaps where the mystery is more tangible and engaging, being the very heart of the enigma; the context that is the background to this relationship is defined by both a properly spiritual dimension and a deeply human dimension, psychologically true. Finally, the fact that the novel has been found true at the higher degrees of judgment is a statement about literature, its status, its essence, that can give us a sense of what was his profound meaning and its function in Russia. It is a unique text that merges the deep imagination of the western culture, the concrete historical reality and a timeless spiritual world relived with participation, affirming the strength of the intuition and the role of the literature as witness and teacher.
The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 Bc and Why It Had to Be Reborn by Lucio Russo The book shows how the ancient Greek science, or rather, the Alexandrine science, was in facts a true science, even on the basis of the criteria of modern science; how this science was forgotten for 1500 years because even the best minds were no longer able to understand the content of the founding texts of that science, eventually submerged in oblivion. A book that helps us to understand who really were the giants before us and which also constitutes an important warning about the fact that the most important achievements can be lost a second time. I can say that I feel personally indebted to the author's excellent work because it gave me a clear understanding on how deep are the roots of the science we love and technology we use daily. Furthermore the book give us the opportunity to meditate on topics that are extraordinarily important to us: the miracolous path that guided the modern scientific knowledge; how fragile our achievements are.
Numerical Recipes in C by William H. Press It was long time ago that I stumbled upon this wonderful book. I was programming in C using as platforms Silicon Graphics workstations being involved in R&D activities requiring intensive floating point computations. I got a lot of fun studying this textbook where I have found an in-depth review of numerical computation techniques and ideas, giving me the opportunity to recall and to widen my previous exposure to the textbooks of Lanczos, Hamming, Hildebrand, Smirnov and some other russian mathematicians published by MIR. Furthermore, those methods and ideas were described very clearly, paying special attention to the many traps and errors that could ruin your day when performing floating point computations without proper attention, and this was made with a humorous style that really made me enjoy the reading. The implementation by means of C routines were well done and really useful. Shortly: an unforgettable book joining mathematics and programming: fuel for your mind.
What book would you like to write?
I have no idea if I'll be able to do that, but if there is a book that I really would like to write, this is a poetry book. The root of this wish lies in my interest for the power of images: I believe that poetry is true magic for its capability to create images in the mind of the reader by means of the words. Further, I believe that life and art are equivalent, in the sense that former can be transformed in the latter and vice versa. At last, because to live poetically is what I wish for myself in the long term. So, the aim of this book, if it will see the light of the day, will be not to find readers but to live the emotions and the images able to create a writer.
Published on 2014-02-28