My essentials: Immanuel Mifsud’s cultural picks

No 12 | Immanuel Mifsud, 54, writer, lecturer at the University of Malta

1. Book

I read many books because it is my job to read. That makes it quite difficult to choose one book I have read in one whole year, but if I were to single a book I read some months ago, I’d choose Digital Souls: A Philosophy of Online Death, by Patrick Stokes. The book shows how the concept of death has changed, quite radically, since we started living online.

2. Film/TV

I was struck by Ryszard Bugajski’s 2016 film Blindness. Polish cinema directors and film writers have something unique in the way they discuss profound philosophical and (in this case) theological questions. In a way Polish arts are still haunted by their country’s 20th century history, the suffering of a people because of Nazi invasion and then the Soviet led communist dictatorship. There is constant revisiting and maybe also revising of history, a clear sign of the intellectual depth of Polish arts.

3. Internet

Well, as for the internet I always find myself visiting the same few sites. I’m not a very adventurous traveller of the virtual world and to be honest I am not sure what a social media influencer is. Television ... well I never watch Maltese television because I find nothing interesting to watch; on the contrary the last time I spent some time zapping from one TV station to another I was struck by how poor our productions still are. There are some Italian programmes I do enjoy watching: Chi l’Ha Visto is a favourite which I seldom miss, and then the beauty of such programmes as Passato e Presente and Scritto Letto Detto on Rai Storia. If only we could at least try to imitate these programmes!

4. Music 

I have noticed lately that I listen to much less music than I used to before. And I really do not know why. I do listen my Mahler's (under the baton of different orchestra directors) every now and then, particularly the Second (because there is the whole world encapsulated in it) and the Ninth (because it terrifies me) symphonies. Some months ago I was listening to Anna von Hausswolff and even bought her CDs (I don’t like listening to MP3s... I’m very conservative when it comes to music and books, which explains why I don’t use an ebook reader but still go for the real thing). A song: Brikkuni’s ‘Fomm ir-Riħ’ (but I think that’s more than a year old now, right? I listen to it very frequently.)

5. Place

Well, because of the pandemic I haven’t moved since March 2020. I used to travel quite a lot before then. I miss going abroad, especially to my second home which is the city of Martin in North Slovakia, bordering with Poland. I miss the fresh air, the cleanliness, the greenery, the trees (because there they don’t chop them to widen roads), the Slavic language and cuisine and the cold weather. And also the anonymity I enjoy there.