“Avid-19”, a pandemic in the anthropocene era
Marco Papa, Rebirth/Third Paradise ambassador, opens up about his personal experience of the quarantine, sharing his reflections on the social perception of the Coronavirus at both local and national level. He also analyses the global socio-political impact of this crisis, drawing attention to a few aspects of a nature other than economic and sanitary.

I haven’t been writing for a long time.
And that’s not because I don’t have anything to write about or I don’t know what to say: Tiziana and I are fully aware of the fact that we are privileged in being among the lucky ones not living in cities in this difficult moment. I think about those spending their days between four walls, dealing with the necessary restrictive measures imposed by the government, with themselves and their fragilities, in a condition in which time suppresses space. I think about all the inconsiderate arrogant who keep going out, entertaining a personal vision of a general oligarchic conspiracy to be faced with egotism, nihilism or the pseudo-revolutionary attitude implied in a 6 pm aperitif.

I have so much to say and write about that my journal seems to be looking at me from the desk or disappearing for days, leaving its outline in the dust, the pen is nowhere to be seen and my mind is finding it hard to come up with an organised list. I eventually muster up courage and do it, writing spontaneously without any style or manner, or research, or fear of being misunderstood, judged, disregarded.

For the past few days I’ve been scared, and feeling like a misfit: in spite of the government’s ordinances there are still people who couldn’t care less about the sacrifices of others, be it out of ignorance, fatalism, disenchantment, as if diseased, suffering and dying human beings were a mockery. Last week one of our dear friends’ husband died, leaving his wife, also infected and currently being remotely video-monitored by doctors, fighting for her life, and a nine-year-old daughter, who doesn’t know about her father, and is looking after her mother alternating tears and hope. I wouldn’t normally share such a sensitive situation out of respect, but I’m furious, and yes, I’ll admit it, I’m terrified: not for myself, but for those who are fragile, those who usually struggle to get to the end of the month and are now struggling to get to the end of the week, those who have to choose whether to eat or feed somebody else, whether to protect themselves or others.

Will our way of living change?
Will a “day after” clear thinking prevail at the end of what we are just starting (with a stress on the ‘just starting’) to go through?

Half of the world’s population is in isolation. And what about the other half? Norway is on lockdown but Sweden isn’t. Turkey is refusing to provide data on the epidemic. The same country that since 2005 has been going back and forth on the diving board of an Olympic-size swimming pool wearing knitted slippers, and that in the last few hours has freed from its jails thieves, murderers and rapists, but not journalists and Erdogan’s opponents!
In North Korea you can still make travel arrangements…!?
I know people who go out three times a day without a mask and refuse to wear it because “they don’t agree with imposed measures”. I wonder if I should report them or hope for the state to punish them.

Thankfully, TANA is in a hamlet of a town with about 800 inhabitants, and my next door neighbour is 400 m away. You’re probably thinking: “Lucky you!”. I’ll tell you what’s happening here, starting from the weather. We can’t work out what season we are in: cherry and prune blossoms are telling us that it’s April, the oaks’ dry leaves that it’s February, the roses that it’s May, the snow that it’s January, but only once a week! Temperatures are ranging from -7 to +21! When it’s +13 the perceived one is -6!?
I’ve had a strong pain in my chest and in my joints for a week, due to a muscle pulled while I was trying to save 200 trees for reforestation from a sudden frost: I’m not even going to try to make sense of any of it.

What I mean is that in destroying nature we are destroying ourselves as well!
And, while I’m writing, I can hear, not too far away from me, the noise of chainsaws, which around here are a symbol of phallocratic practices: woodsmen keep felling secular trees, setting woods on fire to cover their traces…

You can’t help wondering: is it urgency, survival or abuse? Economic gains?

Broadening our view from TANA to Europe to the world:
How many people are investing on and profiting from the death of others?
How many investors are counting on a future the same as the past?

My way of living will change, and so will Tiziana’s and the one of thoughtful and responsible people.
But nothing will change, if we don’t actually devote ourselves to civilisation and to fostering the common good.
Nothing will change, if economy is not reinterpreted as an integral part of the culture of the means and not of the aim: a ‘must’ intended as something you have to do and not to have, an added value as a real addition and not an ideal of value! It’s too easy to exploit the language of social leverage! But it’s even easier and more barbaric to exploit the youths’ desire to grow, to mould them so that they feed the market system!
Why is it still called a “job” and not a “role” in civil society?

Why not reintroduce civic education, integrating it with compulsory environmental education?
The ups and downs of the stock market indicate gains and losses, obviously, but not everybody understands that a plus and a minus will never make three, but many ones and none for everybody.
Addends, dividends, indexes, bonds, shares.
Inequalities, buying power, exploitation of fear, through formal and aesthetic logics for use by the chosen few with relevant and revealing skills of communicators of what might happen: probabilities linked to statistics and to a pre-Aristotelian and definitely prehistoric syllogism.

The truth is that man has brought the cave along with him, without realising that its walls were protecting him from himself and his mistakes, his atrocities, inviting him not to forget what feeling protected and respecting the natural shelter the Earth offers means. Man is the only animal insisting on being his own master, on exercising control over his own choices and therefore over the others’, in a perverse endemic and anaesthetic game of daily and fake triumph of inadequacy to evolution.

Outside the man, discreet and patient (every day less so), is “Mother-Nature”, whose elementary architecture could provide an attentive observer (and listener) with the key to decipher a new harmonic economy. We just need to look at a wood, without having the presumption to analyse it from a human point of view: everything is connected, in an active and perceptive collaboration whose tension between appropriate polar opposites transforms the thrust to the sky into a radical stability, whose memory creates an example of that network everybody is talking about but of which nobody dares to be active part and testimony. Light, air, earth, fire and water, the sun and the moon, they all collaborate in making each other stronger and becoming one.

This is what we have forgotten: that we are all part of something else.
Arrogance is still mistaken for presumption, but the only people confusing the two are the passive or the ferocious, the envious or the masochist. In schools, those who should teach humbleness in learning punish sensitivity as an unproductive indisposition: they develop future employees, the best engineers, the greatest architects, the smartest lawyers, the boldest managers, but not the human beings taking on these professions. The term ‘collaborator’ is more and more used, a softened version of the term ‘slave’, but we are neglecting the fact that our dependence on dissipative idleness and on all non-essential practices is enslaving us to a more and more dangerous avidity.

To have or to be? Fromm used to say it and now Bolsonaro, the current president of Brazil.
The latter is claiming that who doesn’t dare to leave their home is a coward!
That is, who’s not as deranged as he is doesn’t deserve a future!
To have or to be?

Let’s try and take into consideration time and space.
We can say that time is what goes by, the past and what is yet to happen.
But what does time have if not exclusively itself?
Let’s now consider space: it’s everywhere. But what does it have? Again, itself.

f space and time are alike, why choose “to have” and not “to be” then, knowing that we can change, that we have the opportunity to realign ourselves in the right direction?
Change, in Michelangelo Pistoletto’s vision, is here and now.
We only need to want it and bring it about!
This is really the time of Demopraxy!

Cover image: two pictures of the same tree taken less than 24 hours apart (morning and night). It looks like seasons – not a day – have gone past…