This afternoon, I will have the great pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Lucio Angelo Privitello and discussing my research. Dr. Privitello is an associate professor and coordinator of the Philosophy and Religion program at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. He is also the President of the Classical Humanities Society of South Jersey.
Dr. Privitello holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Villanova, a M.A. in Philosophy from Villanova, a M.A. in Philosophy from Temple, and a B.F.A. in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design. He earned a Diploma Superiore in Ceramics and Design from the Art Institute in Grammichele, Sicily and has served apprenticeships in painting and sculpture with Giuseppe Benassi in Parma, Italy.
The man is nothing short of impressive. However, he remains, despite his scholarly arena and interests, an extremely grounded person. He is passionate about learning, interested in his students, dedicated to his art, honest, sincere, and one of the most intriguing people I have ever had the fortune to know.
I first met Lucio (and I can call him that as we have become friends and correspondents) in the early 90s. He was an associate professor of Philosophy at what was then Glassboro State College (pre-Rowan University days). I was an undergraduate student. His approach to teaching was so exciting, so dynamic that I have never forgotten his influence on my life. And here we are again, me going to the well of knowledge.
An interesting side note to paint a bit of a picture of the man. He had (and still has) a black briefcase with the power to contain a text or texts on any subject that you brought up in his company. I remember sitting on an old couch in his office on the Glassboro campus. He was smoking his Camel cigarette, leaning back against his chair. His distressed leather jacket (black, of course) was slung behind him. We sat and talk, he and a friend of mine, and somehow the conversation turned toward South American cultures and religious practices. We drew a parallel to the Aztecs and the practice of ritual sacrifice to a project thesis we had in mind. Click go the fasteners on the briefcase and he opens it up to produce a book on Aztecs and ritual sacrifice. This happened dozens of times. It got to the point where we tried to test him. Elephant riders? Check, a fifty page journal article on it. Aboriginal rodeo clowns? Just finished reading a book on it, here you go. Deep-sea line dancing? Here you go. Of course, I’m being facetious, but he did always seem to have the right document at the right time.
This is not surprising considering the inordinate amount of books the man owns. I know, because I helped move him last Summer. I’m not joking when I tell you that we moved two U-haul trucks filled, top to bottom, with books. And these are not the kinds of things you’ll find in Barnes & Noble. These are limited editions of obscure books, written in a variety of languages and translations. It is staggering. I was staggering after moving it all, lol…
I want to speak to him for a number of reasons. First and foremost is his creation of Stockton’s “Philosophies Of Life and Death” course, otherwise known as “True Blood and Philosophy.” The former title is the college enforced label Lucio was forced to apply to his brainchild. The course uses the HBO series, True Blood, to examine the philosophical concepts of life, death and immortality. Considering my core concept of tattoos, as art, to transcend death in a serial immortality practice, this course seems perfect to examine.
Lucio’s background in philosophy and literature, as well as my own knowledge of his interest in all things esoteric and mystical, furthers my desire to speak to him. His background in art and sculpture is also attractive, as his ability to appreciate the concept from a creative stance will open up further lanes of discussion.
Finally, our interview is to take place after his lecture on Marcel Proust, more specifically on his seven volume work, “In Search of Lost Time.” I did some research on the piece and it quickly became evident that there are many themes in Proust’s work that echo concepts I have for my own story. Most importantly: that the work of art can recapture the lost and thus save it from destruction and that art triumphs over the destructive power of time.
As I am friends with Lucio, our interview will be more akin to a very casual conversation in which I try to keep up with his mind. He is truly fascinating and his levels of knowledge are dizzying. Though Lucio can be construed as a “vessel of answers” (Postmodern Interviewing, p. 70), I am close enough to know him that I can employ Jack Douglas’ concept of mutual disclosure (Postmodern Interviewing, p. 72) to create a dynamic exchange of ideas and information.
I intend to discuss:
1. Lucio’s course on Life and Death, focusing primarily on the concept of immortality
2. Proust’s ideas on art conquering time and saving the lost
3. His opinion on art and expression, on the aesthetics of existence
4. His own tattoos and how they play into the concept above.