The importance of being Normalist

“The vital importance of being Earnest” is something that anybody, named Earnest people included, should realized as soon as possible, especially if you live in London.

What happened to me on January the 4th was the importance of being Normalist and the necessity in realizing it promptly, in Tuscany. I went in Pisa, the ancient (and – let me declare – pretty underdog if compared to Florence!) rival of Florence, to sign a contract (as post-doc, what else?) at Scuola Normale Superiore (“Higher Normal School”, or most prestigious Italian Grande École, si vous aimez) that eventually got a branch in Florence recently, which is itself an outrage.

I have never understood what is special about the Normale, but it is widely known to be so. Its superiority is not afforded by being “higher”, it is implicitly assured by being “Normal”. It must be the capital “N” to convey specialty. However, conspiracy addicted people might believe that the N stands for Napoleon, who funded basically the institution. On the other hand, if you just say “Normale” by letting people understand that you are speaking with the capital “N”, something special all the people will suddenly perceive. Even my new P.I. told me frankly: “Hey, beware! We are at the Normale here… [not a normal University]”

By the way, the salary is not higher than other Italian post-doc, which mean, exchanged into £, few coins nowadays. I don’t want to underestimate the advantages (and demanding standards (what a “standard” is if not something reckoned “normal”?) ) that I shall have the pleasure to test, but the following is the very first graffiti I got in Pisa.

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“Normalist die!” Signed: the anarchic extreme left movements. Might the Normalist undergraduates be sons and daughters of the upper class, if not probably among the next ruling political class of the nation (two Presidents of the Republic came from there and many other influent national politicians, as the official website is glad to remember), this is quite probable. For the sake of truth, to which many Anglo-Saxon Universities’ sails devote the Latin “Veritas”, I have to add that as far I know, 19 years old people join the Normale just because they showed to be much above the average during the High School, which is clearly and firmly “high”, but a little “lower” if compared to “higher school”, even when “upper secondary school”.

Regarding me, to be here in my hometown (Florence, not Pisa!) was just a matter of pure luck. May I for this reason live a long, safe and regular life (even outside the Normale, but hopefully forever as a post-doc, unless I shall decide to get a second PhD: it would be still somewhat after the PhD). If there will be something special in my life, well, I hope this shall not be an involvement in a murder (at least as the main targeted character!)