Mauro Ferrari - Giugno 2020

What will remain of this time…

The real is within the domestic microcosm. I can't help thinking of those who have (could have) open spaces in which to move, walk, cultivate, and of those who have seen difficulties, tensions (remote teaching is not for everyone, then there is domestic violence, compacted spaces for children, loneliness for the elderly). And yet. Yet beautiful energies, collaborations, generosity, a silent and supportive mobilization that overcame the challenging path in which we found ourselves and set unexpected creativity in motion. It seems like a re-proposal of the creative game of OULIPO, articulated by the motto "we are like those little mice that build the labyrinth from which they are trying to get out". Because in the awareness of the limit, or in the limit of presumed omnipotence, lies a resource for creativity (for Calvino, Perec, Queneau, these were self-imposed limits, grammatical rules; for us, a sort of unexpected training). Here, to train ourselves for the unexpected by re-inventing ourselves. For this, perhaps, we needed this suspended time. With all its ambivalence (another resource that’s available, ambivalence).
Ah, the phone, the web. I don't dare to imagine myself without them. Slavery? Opportunity? Companionship! So many messages, phone calls, Skype-calls. I discovered that it's possible to teach online (terrible, but possible), I was able to attend lectures, conferences (pardon, webinars), to be simultaneously in Venice and Lugano, Florence and Cremona, in the plains and on the Apennines, without moving (well, sure, I miss walks). Energy saving, definitely green; loss of physical contact, and there is no remedy for that. But I was able, in the dilated times of the enclosure-seclusion, to re-establish priorities, send messages, stay close to those who were fragile; I even became a "carer". Once the time of jogging was out of the way, there was, paradoxically, a "proximity without physical proximity", as my friends in Parma call it.
Will the social deficit unleash us? I like to think we could make sense of it, and multiply sweet, slow spaces and times. Try once again to give shape to Alex Langer's teachings, to listen to the voices of the FfF (Five for Future), to have important encounters that we might not find again. Rediscovering ourselves as fragile. Or rather "antifragile", ready for a transformation.
Are we willing to accept the challenge of the Green New Deal or will we still be slaves to the old model of development? An opportunity like this will not come again, to have enormous public fundings open up to an idea of coexistence among human beings, between them and the ecosystem of which they are guests; in less courtly terms, to get out of the shallows of neoliberalism (and its worst variant, protectionist sovereignty) that has helped devastate the ecosystem and to accept, instead of becoming inhabitants, guests that worthy of the name.

Mauro Ferrari - Sociologist, expert in social botany and ecology of migration, lecturer in Social Design for the Master in Immigration: Migration Phenomena and Social Transformations. Ca' Foscari University, Venice.
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