Se non e vero, e’ ben trovato (“Even if it is not true, it is a good story”).
I learned this Italian phrase from a man I met at a bar in Venice Beach.
The man, a professor of Renaissance art and literature, upon finding out that my last name was Trovato, enlightened me to the phrase, and then shared with me a folk tale set in Florence during the Renaissance: “Il Grasso Leignaulo” (or, “The Fat Woodworker”).
In the tale, written by Antonio Manetti, the famous Renaissance architect, Filippo Brunelleschi, conspires with friends to play a cruel prank on a dim-witted woodworker.
The group convinces the fat woodworker that he is not himself, not who he thinks he is, but rather fugitive particles of consciousness that believes itself to be a fat woodworker, but the real fat woodworker was someone else, living an independent existence.
The alleged fat woodworker was terrified to go home, and possibly be confronted by the other fat woodworker, the real one, which would ultimately confirm the truth about who he was, or was not, and then what?
The professor then posed the notion that we were all the fat woodworker, aligning ourselves, with strict allegiance, to specific, fixed identities, and that God, or life itself, was the one perpetrating the existential gag or prank to which most us fell victim.
The professor concluded by saying—To see through the gag, the prank, and to laugh at ourselves, and have a little fun with our so-called identities, might behoove us.
I specifically remember the professor using the word behoove, and thinking how I had not heard many people speak that word aloud in a sentence, and how it fit the professor’s character to a tee.