Francesca Spiller - June 2020

It's very difficult to say what will remain of this time. I believe what will remain will be a sense of precariousness, awareness that our ways of life are not immutable and that things can change drastically, without warning. Some gestures will probably remain, those which we will have so internalized that they will become unconscious, automatic, habitual, like distancing, and I worry that there will be a dose of mysophobia, a generalized fear of the invisible!

We're building bridges from the inside of our houses to the outside mainly with technology, temporarily shifting into the digital world some of the things we used to do in the physical world, primarily communication. Our being together, our sociality will perhaps become more selective, in the sense that, for a while, we'll only meet with the people we're longing to see again! These months have also allowed me to observe the behavior of friends and acquaintances, their various modes of reactions to the problem, finding in some of them a common sensibility and in others, a distance. The common spaces are surely more precious now, they will represent a field of experimentation to rethink experiences and cultural activities that we used to carry out in closed places, and it will certainly be the same for the Reading Room and its meetings, talks, presentations. The common spaces, even more than before, will evoke an individualistic and collective responsibility.

Man's relationship with nature itself will have to be revised, even though I suspect a further exacerbation of certain pre-pandemic ecological rhetoric, an accentuation of the emphasis on individual responsibility that is summed up in the demonization of the plastic straw and other annoying simplifications of complex problems. I believe that it is the political decision-makers who must take strategic decisions in this sense, taking advantage of the signals that nature is giving us.

During this time you often hear the questions "What are we learning from this time? What will be remaining from this experience?" At the end of this period of emergency, I would like there to be a change, an awareness, even though I believe we will make the same mistakes as before. I trust, however, that at least some good habits, which only a pandemic was able to introduce to Italy, will remain, like orderly queues!

Francesca Spiller - founder of Reading Room