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More about this Site ... roangelo.net

The site has about three thousand to six thousand human, as distinct from robot, visitors a month, more in spring and fall, fewer in summer, or about 60,000 human visitors a year. How many of those visitors find what they are looking for? Judging by the Internet search queries that direct them here, far from all, because, especially in the case of the philosophy pages, the search engines direct visitors to the wrong pages of this site. Keyword matching is not ideas matching, and keyword matching is all a computer algorithm can do: it cannot understand language; it is meaning-blind.

Why does this page exist, and why does this Web site exist?

When I first published my writings on the Internet in July 1998, the Internet was very different from what it has since become. Were I writing this page for that old Internet, I would write: "Because I read what others have written about themselves when I visit their sites, I have written this page about myself. Otherwise it would be all take and no give." But this site had existed for six years without an "about" page.

My entire Web site was originally begun to share the same subjects I study off-line with visitors on-line:

Since then many Internet friends have added material to this Web site, for which I am very, very grateful. I will try to list them chronologically:

And then there is the material that came from my cousin Angelo Abiuso and his family's memories of Gambatesa. Below I have written some things about my cousin as well as about me.

Are we qualified to write about this Web site's subjects?

In Angelo Abiuso's case, that his living roots are in Gambatesa and that he visits Gambatesa more years than not shows that he is, at the very least, in a position to know what he is talking about. He has also studied the methods of geographers at university.

On the other hand, Robert has only been to Gambatesa once (for one week in August 1971) and has never been to Sant'Angelo d'Alife. And his immigrant Italian grandparents are now all long dead. So he would need a very powerful telescope (*Dostoyevsky's suggestion to Turgenev) to know anything about post-historical Italy from where he lives. Instead, what Robert has added to this site is based on historical documents [primary sources used for research] (and some oral history) and on histories written by historians. But he himself has never studied the methods of historians.

Beyond these general considerations? For that you must look at the internal evidence: how does this person write? Does it show care; does it show critical thought? The spirit in which the work is done must show itself in the work itself.
Schubert   Nowadays many people have academic degrees; but these may demonstrate no more than someone's determination to earn a degree. The question remains what Franz Schubert asked when presented with yet another aristocrat (the old degree system): Kann er was? ("What can he do?") This is something the work itself must show.

Who is Angelo Abiuso?

Our Correspondent in Geneva was born in the City of Campobasso, Italy, in 1970. He grew up in both Gambatesa, the birthplace of his parents, and Geneva, Switzerland, and he visits his relatives in Gambatesa most summers (see Angelo Abiuso's stories and photographs from Gambatesa). Angelo teaches geography in Geneva, but he also serves in Switzerland's Protection Civile ("Civilian Protection", or, "Civil Protection") forces: "it replaces the army (which is compulsory in Switzerland), but I am in a team in charge of saving lives in case of an earthquake and other kinds of disasters." He has also lived in Sydney, Australia, and sails on Lake Geneva, in season. We have never met.

Angelo Abiuso (but not in Geneva), 16 February 2003: vacances de ski ("Skiing vacation").

[Angelo Abiuso]

To reach L'hospice du Grand-St-Bernard ("The Hospice of the Great St. Bernard"): "1h 30min walk in the wild, no roads, no cars, no ski lift, weather ugly and cold. We are a few steps from Italy [Valle d'Aosta] ... but far away from Gambatesa."

The route to the hospice lies "in the middle of nothing"; this photograph was taken on the way back from the monastery. The Great St. Bernard Pass is 2500 meters = 8,200 feet = 1.55 miles above sea level (The city of Geneva is at 425 m = 1,400 ft). Angelo is wearing only a wool cap and ski goggles on his head. He could in Switzerland buy arctic-conditions things to wear, but if conditions in the mountains are that bad, they just don't go there.

Over twenty years ago, I received the following e-mail:

Subject: I am from Gambatesa too. My mother is a Valente too.
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 21:00 +0200

Dear Sir,

My name is Angelo A.

While looking on the Internet on a search engine for some information about Gambatesa I have found your site.

I was surprised because Valente is my mother's family name. I printed some of the pages of your site and I showed them to my mother.

She was surprised too. We think that we are probably from the same family. In fact my mother was born in Via San Nicole, a street in Gambatesa where my grandmother has still a small house. My grandfather's name was Francesco Valente and his father's name was Luca Valente. My mother remembers that several years ago "Zio Giovanni", an uncle from the U.S. came to Gambatesa to visit his relatives. Giovanni Valente visited my great-grandfather.

I saw a picture of Giovanni Valente on your site. He looks exactly like my grandfather at 20 years old.

I live in Switzerland.

It would be great if we are from the same Valente family.



Notes: All the Valente from Gambatesa are related. Giovanni Valente was born at no. 14 Via Sannicola. Luca Valente was his first cousin, which makes Angelo Abiuso and me third cousins once (i.e. one generation) removed; we are also related through Angelo's father, but for that you must go back to the 1700s. My mother's family name was also Valente, and Giovanni Valente was her father; but my mother was born in Camden, New Jersey. Also, correction: Giovanni was only able to visit Luca's widow.

Five years later, I received the following e-mail:

Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 10:34:35 +0100
To: roangelo@yahoo.com

Hello Uncle Robert,

Maybe one day we will all meet on the other side of the River Styx as the Greeks used to say and we will talk about two petit petit petit cousin who never met before, writing about people and things they don't know and about a place they don't live.




Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 02:53:20 +0100
To: roangelo@yahoo.com

Hello Uncle Robert,

Di loro e di tante altre cose patrie scriveranno i posteri, cui io ho voluto solo dare un esempio ed un incitamento. Mi auguro di non averlo fatto invano.

from : Family Registrations of Mons. Donato Venditti

We are i posteri Uncle Robert !

Who is Robert [Wesley] Angelo?

I spend my days with problems I can't solve and questions I can't answer.

Note.--I have divided this section into two parts. The second concerns my study of history.


I was born in the far south of California a while ago, but where I now live, when the Quakers lived here, was called West Jersey. I went through the state primary and secondary schools and then after a time to the Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria, which was in those days (and may still be) an academic junior college where the teaching was mostly very good. And it was there that I met the one I shall always regard as my teacher, the one who made me understand why we study at all. I threw away countless opportunities to learn because I had not known that.

From Alexandria I should have transferred, through correspondence course, to St. Ambrose's College, Oxford ("When Greek Meets Greek"), where my teachers would have all been books I read alone in my room, and thoughts I have had in many places. What matters is to learn how to learn: then you can teach yourself, which you will have to do if you are going to learn anything in depth.

Rather than that, however, from Alexandria I came to Georgetown University (B.A.) in Washington, D.C., where the teaching was not good, which I might not have taken so much to heart if I had known the end of Plato's Euthydemus at that time, but I did not. (I'm quite sure they thought no better of me than I thought of them, I think far worse.) The university library, however, had an very large collection in philosophy, and also in the old lives and writings of the Catholic saints, which, because I lived near the university, I was able to use for several years after I graduated. (Worthwhile exceptions: a course about Kant and Fichte, another about Cultural Anthropology, another about the History of Fine Art (painting), and one last about the Philosophy of History.)

The graduate degree (M.S.) I have is from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From this school I derived the greatest benefit: I learned to conscientiously study a subject in which I had no great interest. It was extremely worthwhile intellectual self-discipline, however, and I am thankful for that.

I will always be deeply grateful to my parents for having given me so much opportunity to study, an opportunity our poor benighted ancestors never had.

Beyond this I lived in Haiti (1962-63) and in North Africa (1971-73). I have also been very cold, very wet, and very lonely in Britain (1980), but in southern Germany (1972) not so cold.

If I could have chosen any upbringing for myself I would have chosen to be educated as a classicist.

I have only had one hero, and that is the historical Socrates, and that since I first read Plato's Apology, when I was a boy, although my own picture of Socrates is in some ways closer to Xenophon's. But some of the thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein (in my jargon, "logic of language") and of Albert Schweitzer (thoroughgoing reason, nowhere silencing thought, and an ethical versus an explanatory religion) is also very important to me, as is Immanuel Kant's distinction between concepts and phenomena ("Percepts without concepts are blind"). But, in my view, there are eternal questions without answers, and these, and not merely logic, are the soul of philosophy: philosophy exists, not because of language mystification only (Wittgenstein), but because of man's existential condition.

That I should ever have wanted, as when I was a child I did, to become a professor of philosophy seems to me to have shown an appalling lack of self-knowledge, as well as lack of understanding of who and what Socrates was. (In any case, all I have in common with Socrates is an old man's panza; I wanted to be a philosopher too, but I didn't make it.)

Now in America I am "Robert Wesley Angelo", in Italy "Angelo Robert Wesley". Although I am a citizen through Italy of the European Union, I have lived most of my life in the United States of America.

[A photograph from Scotland I took, of a house where Robert Louis Stevenson lived in summer 1881, a bit less than ninety-nine years before my visit there | A photograph from England I took, of St Paul's Cathedral, London: "Save St Paul's Exhibition", December 1971]

Self-Critical - My Study of History

I would rather not claim to speak with authority in anything that I have written. In philosophy, a claim of authority is nonsense; there is no authority in philosophy except the light of natural reason and the facts in plain view. But in historiography ... it is another matter. Because whenever we try to state historical facts, the question of how reliable we are as a source has to be faced.

How far can I be trusted with the historical record? In the case of primary sources, I have tried to be scrupulously accurate, aware as I am that mine may be the only airing many documents will ever have. For oral history, on the other hand, I have had to rely on my memory of conversations that happened usually hours, sometimes days, months or years, before I recorded them. There will be mistakes.

In my use of secondary sources (history books e.g.), on the other hand, I have not always been so responsible: I have often been too willing to rely on a single source ... and to fill any gaps in that source with whatever I thought reasonable (plausible). How often have I done this? I don't know, but enough to be wary

I try to make very faithful-to-the-original translations. However, my Italian is entirely self-taught and not perfect. If you can read Italian, here is an interlinear translation for you to judge: Wittgenstein at the prisoner of war camp, Montecassino, Italy, 1918-1919. Likewise Campanili Molisani (Italian), and Chez les Pâtres des Abruzzes (French).

[Lake at sunrise, November 2002]

Reflections in a lake near where I live, in November at sunrise
[More Photographs of the lake in November | Photographs of unusual wasps and their unusual nest at Strawbridge Lake Park one summer]

Your Comments Requested

"When people like me look at a home page, in two seconds you must decide if the page is connected to what you are looking for or not. Most of the people are not fluent in English so the top of the home page must be as simple as possible. Remember what I did. I was looking for information about (Valente + Gambatesa) and I discovered you." (Angelo Abiuso)

• You can write to Robert [Wesley] Angelo either using Internet or postal mail. I'm sorry to say that I have not followed my cousin's sound advice to keep my Web pages and sentences simple. The Internet is not a book.

The URL of this Web page: https://www.roangelo.net/moresite.html
Last revised: 10 October 2016 : 2016-10-10

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The site image [Drawing of Pinocchio] is the marionette Pinocchio following a dim light inside the pescecane ("big fish") that has swallowed his father Gepetto.

Site History

This Web site first appeared on the Internet on 15 July 1998 at home.earthlink.net/~roangelo, then until June 2001 at sites.netscape.net/roangelo, neither of which now exists. "WhoIs roangelo.net?" DNS reports can be found through Internet searches. I have never liked the domain name "roangelo.net".