Born in Bari (1969), Joe Santangelo has been living in Rome since 1997. He is known in the sporting community as a true warrior of the ring, winner of national and European kickboxing titles in the `90s.
CHINASKI-EDIZIONI has pubblished his first four Thrillers.
ROCKILLER (June 2005)
Media have defined this book a thriller inspired by the story of Cain and Abel, dominated by the figure of an avenger who kills in the name of ‘Rock’, targeting cover bands that play music without any real awareness of the roots from which it originates. The killer does not target a type of music or an artist in particular, but denounces a system that betrays the MUSIC, commercializing and depriving it of its original identity.
The spirit of a Rock committed to the dream of a youth revolution its origins, the love for its deep, compelling drive, haunt this thriller. It demands justice against the greed of consumerism and an industry whose lack of integrity has turned music into a shallow show. Behind the scenes lurk the throb and beat of a grudge never placated - the deep pain of an unpunished crime that divides two different and yet so dramatically alike people: two twins, one of whom has taken control of the other’s life.
“Victim and predator coincide and overlap. Every living person is to be confronted by a ferocious antagonist. The boundary between good and evil is very thin, imperceptible. Wicked men do what good ones think or imagine, the only difference being that what actually happens in the life of a man is the exact projection of his will and his degree of responsibility” - says Joe Santangelo.
Rockiller is a thriller where Music plays a central role. It is not only its soundtrack but also one of the main characters. The tracks which accompany the thriller’s main events have been received with great enthusiasm, from Are you Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix to The End by The Doors, The Cygnet Committee by David Bowie, Northern Sky by Nick Drake, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, The Musical Box by Genesis, Perfect Day by Lou Reed, Wish You were here and Have a Cigar by Pink Floyd and many more.
These performers are present throughout the story. A hymn to Rock music, which reveals to the reader exceptional information concerning the great musicians who have made the history of Rock.
With RocKiller, Joe Santangelo plays with genres and aspires to enrich the Italian thriller scene with a story difficult to forget, where fear, and desire of the abyss, are interlaced in an unsolved conflict until the final moments. More than a thriller, an on-the-road story of men who strive unrepentantly in order to protect their own dreams. A debut Thriller of chasing rhythm, where the final outcome is completely unexpected, a shock for the reader and a blow for traditional justice.
VERBA MANENT (December 2006)
During the course of a humanitarian mission, a boy is killed in the Middle East. On TV screens the war gets promoted as a “peace operation”. It is a misleading TV of shallow gameshows and showgirls. A single man against the media. The Speaking Statues or Rome interrupt their centuries–long silence in order to launch vigorous accusations against the war. The author points his finger at the hype of mass communication, the brief and slanted directives of mass TV, the misleading reports that give us the illusion of taking part in defining something that in reality has already been decided.
“This book is against the Postini, Veline, fatal men and packages which at the end of the day want to give us the illusion we can manage this world and our life with a remote control” - says Santangelo.
The central character of this thriller is a single man against the media. “All my serial killers are in pursuit of noble missions, although using the wrong means” This time the plot resembles that of a Greek tragedy: the main character will remind the world that the value of information is sacred”– says Santangelo.
VERBA MANENT became a case when the fiction turned into reality in November 2006. The same messages posted by the serial killer of VERBA MANENT on the Speaking Statues of Rome appeared in reality on the original speaking monuments. After centuries, the Statues began speaking again, and many answered their messages, bringing to life a tradition that seemed extinct. Since 1600 PD, the Romans entrusted their anonymous criticism of the power and rules of papal Rome to the so-called Speaking Statues. Until November 2006 only the statues of Pasquino and Abate, near Piazza Navona, had continued to speak. Then the publication of VERBA MANENT coincided in an extraordinary way with the renewal of the ancient debate involving 5 other statues located in the central streets of Rome and which had been silent for quite a long time. The messages carry a literary, political and social interpretation: the stone figures can give voice to a city and their reflections are incredibly contemporary. They speak of a Rome that fewer and fewer recognise, of the lack of awareness by the masses of subliminal messages that are fed to us through politics. They speak of unwritten laws, of the farce of a language used to play down or cover those facts that should make us reflect, of the contradictions and false information that arrive every day through the media concerning conflicts experienced everyday all over the world.
Do we know all that is essential for us to know? And do we have all the means needed to interpret our reality? Or isn’t it rather more comfortable to close our eyes and ears and allow that reality be described to us by others? There is more and more often a wide chasm between fact and news, between evidence and media interpretation, between reality and a distortion of it that contribute to the formation of public opinion.
The Preface of "VERBA MANENT"
In his lectures at Berkeley on the subject of “speaking frankly ” and generally in all of his work dedicated to deepen the relationship between words and things/reality, Michel Foucault focused his attention on an ancient virtue which has been codified in ancient Greece and traces of which have been lost by now. Its name is “parresia”, the moral imperative to say everything that one thinks and believes in. The Athenian Democracy was essentially established as “a government of the People”, founded on three main principles: the right of speech (Isegoria), the right of all the citizens to participate in the exercise of power (Isonomia) and their right and duty to render testimony to the truth (Parresia). Apart from the immediate criticism that such an idealistic political theory would encounter in our days, we have to recognize the degree of relevance assumed by “Parresia” as one of the founding norms of a democratic system, a norm to which, the principles of many constitutions still aspire today. The “truth”, in the ancient Greek philosophy books, is called “episteme”, a term derived from the combination of two words: “istemi” (the verb to be) and “Epi” (the adverb above). “Episteme” - therefore – is “that which is above”. It is the firm and indisputable knowledge of the causes and effects of human being, hence a true and universal knowledge. The blind trust of classic civilizations in Episteme stems from the belief that thought, be it discursive/reasoned (Dianoia) or intuitive (Noesis), can faithfully represent the truth and guide its path with logic. It, therefore, corresponds to a fixed and incontrovertible vision of things and of the world.
“Parresia” insinuates the doubt that a developing being can hardly be defined in a logical and indisputable system. It suggests the idea that every man has his own truth and therefore the pursuit of a communal well-being demands that every individual renders testimony to his own perception of the truth. It implies that the truth takes many forms and serves as evidence of the need for a responsible participation by individuals in the world of politics. Socrates is the best example of “Parresia” and of a relationship with life and power that refuses the ethical relativism of the sophists (whose belief was: that truth does not exist, so let us choose what is more useful). He took risks in research and experimentation. Probably it was being married to a shrewish and scolding wife - Santippe – that made him prefer philosophical speculation and research of the truth to other mundane occupations. The fact is that Socrates chose to die rather than compromise and deliver half the truth to those who accused him. He swallowed a hemlock infusion and amen. And in spite of his scholarly ignorance, the awareness of not knowing all that there is to know, he has passed on to his successors the message that truth does exists, but that it consists above all in research – at all costs.
How can we fit Socrates’ message into today’s society?
Our society is based on the principle of Anomy – that is on the absence of rules. Society does not exist! – Margaret Thatcher used to say, with firm and convincing words - meaning that, nowadays, not only goods and services, but also feelings and human relationships are regulated by the same laws that we apply to business and commerce. Both have utilitarian truths to exchange and the bigger the gap between real and perceived risk, the higher the profit. The logic of the markets has invaded our social life and taken over the right to control relationships and events that are all but commercial. Man lies to himself, constantly. Perhaps it would be necessary to establish the intrinsic qualities of the man “capable” of telling the truth and of establishing an Ethics of the Truth or, more correctly, an Ethics of the Research of Truth. It would not be sophistic, but rather concrete. Socrates represents the courageous man who chooses death rather than distort the concept of truth. He warns that the capability of telling the truth is linked to courage, to the risk of losing one’s popularity, a portion of the clientele, power itself. The risk of losing - after all – is intrinsic to the effort of telling the truth.
Instead our society responds to the message of Socrates with the archetype of Odysseus, the incarnation of the cunning man who succeeds in securing a disputable victory based on the art of deceit. “My name is Nobody!”. Gods appreciated it, Polifemo did not escape it, and the terminological deception was transformed in a death trap. Odysseus is the persuader, the leader who wins by taming the senses with a rhetorical representation of the truth (the eyes of the Trojans standing in front of the reassuring effigy of the horse, and after that the Cyclops Polifemo). Compared to the Socratic maieutics and the “Parresia”, his art is better aligned with the requirements of a commercial society where the exchange and the accumulation of profits are the main prerequisites of social cohesion. In this context the use of words becomes crucial. We modern people are made this way, we prefer “Pronessia” (pronhesis: lying – knowing – of lying) to “Parresia”; we prefer the compromise, the easy option to the responsible participation, the creative experimentation in all its possible manifestations, and often and end to itself, to the search for truth. And in the meantime, while playing the childish chemist with nature and our own DNA, we have delegated the responsibility of representing our conscience; we have persuaded ourselves that the practical necessities of managing Democracy must, in name of the Common Good, sacrifice the individual. In this specific case, the Institution has endowed itself with syndicated procedures (interceptions, surveillance, counter-surveillance), systems of mass communication designed to impose a “reassuring and pre-established truth” using the logic of consent and clamour of the crowd; dark places pre-designed for the protection of its citizens. "Citizen". This strange concept, a neutral and passive one, an abstract and collective unit to be governed using cunning strategies, the purpose of which is the numbing of the mind and senses; to be led in a mass action against a generic and ill-defined enemy without having the time to stop and think of the contradictions of these times.
This citizen has become a slave of the Common Good and of the system which claims to protect him. At the end of the day we all speak the same language. ALL of us, winners and losers, those with status and those without (cives non cives) in this big shopping center which is the “City of Excellence ” of our times, where status (civitas) is expressed by the buying power one has.
Man is the slave of a logical construction, the center of which he has forgotten. An oppressive condition in which we find ourselves more or less consciously. ALL – me included! I often ponder on the fact that the moral duty to tell the truth and the right/duty to express one’s citizenship by responsibly participating in the process of decoding such truth, has disappeared from the list of the founding principles of our society.
“Parresia” has been buried from more than two thousand years of history. It is not right!
Verba Manent, J. Santangelo, Rome, November 2006
THE CALLIGRAPHER (October 2007)
A Samurai and a modern warrior. Ideograms written in blood on hemp canvas. A superintendent who follows a trail of pain and death in a “non-place” that could be any of the of the great metropolis in which we are consumed every day in a frenzied state of idleness.
The calligrapher is a man who pursues the rule of the ancient Samurai but has lost his own equilibrium. Every rule has a shell, the normative part, and a seed, the value that the normative part preserves and protects. The calligrapher has lost his way, has convinced himself that the exercise of the rule can be resolved with a formal fulfilment, that the world is to blame for all the injustices he’s experienced.
There are men who still nurture the generous ideals that have made it possible for our species to survive the most disastrous calamities. Values buried like nuggets in mud, covered by the sediment of mass-brainwashing.
The thriller’s plot is based on a generational confrontation of two ways of interpreting the ethics of the warrior, the search for the “value”. Some of these men choose the path of blood. Others that of responsibility. But a father’s mistake is not necessarily paid back by his son. Mishima and Gurdjieff offer the ideological substratum of the storyline whose main characters are a Samurai who pursues danger at all costs, continuously throwing himself into the action and a modern warrior who competes against himself, because only by rising above the surrounding world can we truly transform our being.
Santangelo has chosen to write another “engaging” thriller, as his previous works, Rockiller and Verba Manent, have been called by the press. Stories of men in search of their own place in the world but who often go astray. Stories filled with hope, because man has survived worse tragedies and there’s always a way out.
Redemption according to Santangelo, is always possible through consciousness. It is in the invisible that man loses or wins. When values are corrupted and the rules that have been encoded for protecting them are applied “formally”, one goes through the path of auto-gratification, confusion, irresponsibility. Man loses. And invariably, he betrays himself.
"More warriors, less foot soldiers. I cannot sympathize with those who make a victim of themselves, who do not take up the reins of their own existence and are lead by events. But more than idle people, I cannot sympathize with those who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. How many men nowadays live their lives being conscious of this, men like Falcone or Borsellino, warriors not soldiers! Where they are? Honourable men, who take a decision and pursue it until the end, men like the samurai in Akira Kurosawa’s film (The Seven Samurai) who, in the very instance in which he commits himself to the most dangerous mission, starts its pursuit. The world of industry, of finance as well as politics and public administration needs such honourable and responsible men who know how to do what must be done. Warriors capable of walking out of mass-brainwashing, of offering new values while recovering a past of noble and ancient traditions. And a warrior, we must remember, is the exact opposite of a soldier: he is a man with a dream that does not receive orders. The surroundings in which he acts is one of pure confrontation, thus the appeal of the samurai, the warrior in a world of soldiers. The warrior does not feel love nor hatred; his sword, the extension of his self, is the means with which he transforms himself. Sword and duel turn into means of overcoming an individuality that has become the constraint in our existence". These are the last thought-provoking words of Santangelo.
The Preface of "THE CALLIGRAPHER"
MEN impart imperceptible daily gestures that assume significance only at the end of one’s life. Behaviours, invisible habits that are completed slowly, in silence, and that at the end define the quality of a man. There are those who are dictated by life and time. And there are those who succeed in being the lead actors, the creators of their own existence. This is what I call "living life". It is not easy and it is not for all. I believe that the best ally on this road is death. Yes death, because only death reminds you to live every moment in its fullness, as if it were your last. Here and now. Undertaking such road demands strength, determination and promptness. Being accompanied by death, while alive, is a choice of great responsibility. It means recognizing that the world is not to be blamed for you misfortunes, that if you make mistakes you are held to account.
I have always admired the ancient Samurais because no other caste and social class in the ancient world has so faithfully embraced the idea of serving their own cause without any fear of death. Ordinary men in appearance, their services earned them only one hundred `koku', the unitary measure which defined a certain quality of rice. As for a Samurai belonging to the caste of the warriors was in itself a compensation big enough for living. The honour to serve a Daimyo the pride of war wounds, the discipline of body and spirit through a series of complex rituals, are only some of the great values of a true Samurai. Individuals, often dramatically on their own, facing poverty of means, cold temperatures and situations of great danger, but who in spite all this, preserved intact their pride, willpower and courage. He who fights for his life has something to lose and therefore can step back, become weary and vulnerable; or alternatively he can become invincible, because a man can die only once. In our world, it is indeed arduous to dig up values to which consecrate one’s existence. It is nearly impossible, and in fact nobody does it.
How much better would we all be if we could adhere to a value other than physical existence, the higher supremacy? How would our world be transformed if all of a sudden none of us were capable of lying, faking, fearing isolation, depravation and death? Living life after having eliminated our physical existence, desires, whims, fancies… Living while bearing witness to a superior level of self-consciousness, where the tricks of vanity, pride and appearances do not exist. Without fear, nor spirit of self-preservation. This instinct that many consider a human urgency, a concrete fact without which we would all fall prey of a useless and insane suicidal trap, but which instead seems more of a brilliant alibi to legitimize acts of extreme selfishness. The dogma of an opportunistic religion that, after all, sanctions the existence of fortune and values fate. I wonder which of us would be able to make this psychological leap.
Perhaps only a modern Samurai.
I don’t believe in fate and I don’t believe in destiny. I am the son of consumerism, liberalism, and false democracy. Thus, I could not possibly deliver an objectively valid answer to these questions unless I manage to escape from such condition of subjectivity.
Yes, I confess: I am trying to find a way out.
But the insurrection against rules is still a strong taboo. The system observes us as if we were little mice in a cage and, in the presence of an unpredictable variable, it immediately brings us in a innocuous condition. The system auto-protects us and does not tolerate counterproductive movements. And it’s because of this that I believe that the solution cannot come from the masses, that the real insurrection is a phenomenon that is completed in the invisible, at an individual level.
The masses are always manipulated by the leadership of an idea, by the dream of a single individual. How many times have they succeeded in solidly advancing and overthrowing the system? Very few times in history. And in those cases, always due to individuals who have really felt the necessity for a revolution, have become a single entity with this idea and consequently accomplished it. From the passive space of what was dreamt, these men became themselves active dreamers of the revolution. It is impossible to fail, in these cases.
Is it possible not to move one’s own shadow? The superficiality of our era is demonstrated by the lack of suprise and stupefaction, the inability to love and the oblivion to one’s self. To that pure spirit that, according to Mishima, every man possesses and of which he must simply remind himself.
Nothing surprises anymore, there is no disbelief and love of action in the name of the purest values of a human being: one simply realizes what is happening, turns off the TV, lights a cigarette and…Amen!
Allow me then, to use other characters in my place. Who knows if in time, they would turn against me.
The Calligrapher, J. Santangelo, Rome - September 2007
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
and his first 3 Thrillers (Rockiller/Verba-Manent/Calligrapher)
Who is Joe Santangelo
Short Professional Profile
Joe Santangelo is currently the Head of Development for Foreign Markets at Petroltecnica S.p.A. (Italian Oil and Gas Solutions Provider) and Vice President of MPT S.p.A, Turkish Joint Venture Company based in Istanbul. As Manager of Business Development, Mr. Santangelo has trained his Turkish and Italian Sales Team in the following areas: Global Management, Strategic Management, Market Assessment and Benchmarking, Sales Management, Decision Making, Cross-Cultural Negotiations, International Commercial Law. From 2009 to 2011 the Author was National Sales Director at ATS Mobility – ZEAG AG, a Swiss Company with establishments in Italy. Being responsible for the Parking Systems Business Unit, he developed and executed for the Swiss headquarters and its suppliers, the 5 years Company growth plan, including the training of the entire Sales Force. Before then, from 1997 up to 2009, he was responsible for the Parking Business Unit of AJ Mobility and Siemens AG in Italy. As National Sales Director, he developed and coordinated the implementation of strategies aimed at meeting the annual sales/profitability targets, maintaining knowledge of market trends, customer requirements, competitor actions, and customer base as well as assisting in developing new products and services and revising the existing ones, for business growth. In 2016, Joe Santangelo publishes his first academic book:
Export Management – An Enterprise Internationalization’s Manual – Bonfirraro Editore – Catania/ITA. In November of the same year, Joe Santangelo pubblishes his first Academic book in English:
[BUSINESS IS FIGHT] - Global Management Lectures (CHINASKI XCL), which is defined as TextBook for the relevant Course in Engineering Management (I.A.R.-Italy: International Academy of Rome).