Status of Crisis
I’m trying too to move from the particular—this atmosphere of stagnation, this crowd of unemployed people, the flood of useless words coming from the media, the lack of hopes re-emerging after mid-August holiday—to the universal. Not because I suddenly became able to do that, mind you, but just to escape from the narrow reality of this morning. The reading of the newspapers has been particularly unsatisfactory, I have to say, not tempered by the good coffee and the Grecale breeze (the Grecale is a blessing, it means ‘no Sirocco today’). Maybe the reason of this thought is just my dissatisfaction. Anyway, I don’t want to bother you speaking about the quality of the Italian political and economical communication—it’s a lost battle.
Nowadays, the artistic point (responsibility of the artists and men of culture) is not how to console the suffering of the people—the risk is that the title of the work will become soon “how to take advantage of it,” or “how to manipulate the losers”—but how to face the general crisis and especially the one of the western culture. Paraphrasing a recurrent advertisement of this summer, which nicely asks at lunch and dinnertime: “Is your body at the mercy of diarrhoea?” I think that the western culture is at the mercy of a lost identity, desperately searching for a new voice, a new dream.
Usually, the artists played an important role in times of deep crisis and historical changes. They could provide a clear view from above and anticipate the exit path or the escape key, as well as the future developments, thanks to their sensibility. But today, also the artists seem ‘embedded’ in the same already-built pattern, scared by the lack of certainty, however less free than before. Which voice do you remember that predicted the real crisis? Which author understood the impressive connections between an exploding economic crisis and the fading of social and moral values? Which book analysed the change of the paradigms that are acting like a strong tide destroying existential certainties? Can you quote an essay that could work as a synopsis of the next five, ten years, possibly giving us a to-do list?
I re-think of Calvino and his utopian concept of ‘lightness:’ a poetic and enrapturing idea, sure, but totally unfitting with the real situation. This century is everything except ‘light.’ This century is heavy, hard, and violent, not in terms of genocides but of erasure of whatever institution, pillar, and truth.
I think that the first memo is not ‘lightness,’ and the first lesson, by this century, is ‘solitude.’ Each one of us is alone, as never before. Alone facing the new challenges, discouragements and anguishes, the growing injustice, the low readability of the future.
We should find a new Rosetta Stone to understand what is happening.
Moreover, there is an over-production of essays, articles, and books. And they are all like the sport gazette of the day after, ready to explain what happened in the Sunday match, but inadequate to prophesize, to anticipate the next Sunday, and dispel the fog.
I believe that the actual society can make a rapid turnaround starting from its mistakes, its failures, on condition that the true reasons of its defeats be studied, recognized, and clarified. And immediately I start thinking of Vittorio Alfieri, the founder of Italian tragedy, 1749 – 1803, and his firm exhortation “Ritorniamo alle Storie!” that literary meant, pay attention, “Go back to the facts,” not to the tales.
When the confusion is high, and the changes dramatically quick and intense, it is mandatory to return to the fundamentals, the basics. We are bombarded by interested comments (fog) when we only need the facts.
Which is the right way of escape from this epochal crisis?
How can we return to the facts?
The only answer I can dare, the only field of effective investment, the only battle we can plan together is Education, Education, and Education again.
In a temple invaded by merchants; in a calcified, after-bomb panorama; in a system to reset, and in a story to re-write starting from a new zero, our priority must therefore be Education.
In order to re-create excellence and defend our ability to understand history and events, dispel the mist—that is not a casual phenomenon, but a well-projected condition—, clarify the situations, and find the possible ways. Acting together, as men of culture, and not getting it apart.
Education must be the New Deal, the barrier against the barbarians, the incompetents, and the false prophets—who are the winners today.
Is there another way, please, another tool than Education?
My coffee is cold. I’d like to be smart and brilliant to face this day, but I haven’t got other recipes. What a pity.