Martini Quotes

"I'm not talking a cup of cheap gin splashed over an ice cube.

I'm talking satin, fire and ice; Fred Astaire in a glass; surgical cleanliness, insight.. comfort; redemption and absolution. I'm talking MARTINI.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Divine Justice Italian Style

 Roman Crime

      I am guessing that the scene portrayed in the accompanying photograph will not be playing itself out in Italy any time in the near future.  Recently, the Supreme Court of Cassation (which I presume is the Italian equivalent of the US Supreme Court) overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov, a homeless Ukranian man, who pilfered some cheese and sausage from a supermarket in order to assuage his hunger. The sentence imposed by the lower court included 6 months in prison and a 100 Euro fine.  Now if he couldn't pay the $5 for the sausage and cheese, I fail to understand the reasoning of the court in levying a fine 20 times what he couldn't pay in the first place. That being said, at least the six months in jail would provide him with three square meals a day.  In overturning the decision, the judges wrote: 

"The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the merchandise theft took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of need."

“For the judges, the right to survival has prevailed over the right to property,” Massimo Gramellini, an editor at La Stampa newspaper, wrote in an opinion column, adding the court’s judgment “reminds everyone that in a civilized country, not even the worst of men should starve”.

But, perhaps it was the ghost of Victor Hugo sitting in on the Supreme Court of Cassation which turned the tide of this case in favor of this hungry homeless man.   

The Wretched

      I'm sure that there are many Roman Ostriakovs out there in the world, and yet there was the singular fictional character Jean Valjean, who in pilfering that loaf of pane to save his sister and her family from hunger, set off a chain of events which tested the mettle of this heroic character.  But, unlike Roman, Jean Valjean suffered mightily, granted in a fictional sense, against both his conscience and his nemesis. Endlessly pursued by the fanatically lawful Inspector Javert, Jean Valjean was tormented by his unlawful choices and conversely, Javert was ultimately unable to reconcile his belief and duty to the law in the face of the goodness and mercy exhibited by Valjean, leading him to take his own life by drowning in the Seine.  The problem which Hugo sets forth in the preface, he solves with the heroic character Jean Valjean. Hugo viewed the laws of man as a construct of civilization which may fail to acknowledge the divine in man:

"So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality;..." 

And so, Hugo takes us on a 1500 page odyssey as his main character transcends the law of man with his ultimately divine moral "goodness."

As Victor Hugo wrote,

"The book which the reader has before him at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and details ... a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end."


      It is sad to say that in a world that has up to offer something so refined, elegant and sexy as the Martini, there continues to exist the dregs within society, whether of their own accord or not,who are unable to find the simple comfort of basic needs. The breadth of man's troubles lead some individuals down the wrong paths in life and civilization has imposed such laws, a framework if you will, in order to maintain that which is best for the common good.  And so the crime of stealing, for whatever reason, is punishable under the Common Law of man, which is derived in large part from Natural Law, which is, in philosophy, a system of right or justice held to be common to all humans and derived from nature rather than from the rules of society.   It is discoverable through reason and at least according to Aquinas, evidence of God as the ultimate source of good-which leads us back to the question of the divine justice.  It is all there in Les Miserables, it just requires a little thought and insight.  So did the Italian courts get it right? Did Hugo mete out divine justice to Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert accordingly?  

As we struggle to impose a common law of man which in reality is natural and divine, let us consider a Martini to ponder this.

                                     Uncle Val's Restorative Gin - Need I say more?
                                     Cheese stuffed olive- for poor Roman
                                     Thyme- Sweet Savory Time to consider our choices 

Judge for Yourself!

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