What language will you speak?
I think that language is the most quickly changing social aspect and that, through the development of slang, it often creates a generational gap. This is why I struggle to imagine a near future in which we will all go back to enjoying what is going to be a new normality. We just need to retrace the last twelve months to see how tones and ideas have changed: from the colourful rainbow of hope to the sombre mood of disillusion to the opaque grey of tiredness and frustration. Funnily enough, the key words of this period for me represent the colour green, the bud of a new epoch ready to blossom. “Lockdown”, “droplet”, “cluster”, as well as “patient zero”, “family members”, “ministerial decree”… and the list could go on and on.
More or less understandable terms that have overcome age differences to enter into the daily language of a totally levelled population, in which neither social status, job, religion, colour, political belief nor any other element of distinction is important. Everybody is subject to the same rules, everybody has ended up having to deal with themselves. And not only in Italy. This makes me think that the language of our exchanges will be more universal, since peoples have been brought together by the same experience, the shared moods, a desire for redemption and for a return to ordinariness everywhere in the world. We have all engaged in simple, everyday tasks, which have often been the only pastimes left available (I’m thinking, for example, of the trend of home-baking bread). Unable to leave our towns, our provinces, our regions, we have all re-entered our communities. We have all had to cope with lower incomes as a consequence of forced closures, lack of work, the rapid worsening of the economic crisis. Finally, we have all learnt to be more empathetic, simply because we have had the opportunity to experience the motto that reminds us that we should try to walk in the other person’s shoes before judging.
It hasn’t all gone well, but I think that a language speaking of creativity and rebirth is just around the corner, as it always is after a major crisis. A synesthetic language that involves the whole body and communicates through posture, sounds, images, smells, textures and flavours. A language that will have learnt to use softer tones, because we are all tired of who shouts and stirs anger and desperation on social media. A language that will acknowledge the value of each individual, because we now know that we can’t take anything for granted, least of all the air we breathe and that we are still obliged to filter. A language that recognises the value of small gestures like a hug or a more formal handshake. A language able to make many more voices heard, because I think that one of the legacies of this historical period has been the opportunity to listen to the most diverse opinions, to rely on our critical sense, to force ourselves to reason and dream, not having anything else to do. One day we won’t be inundated with virologists, experts, technical-scientific commissions, and all of a sudden there will be an empty space that will need to be filled by someone with something to say, to share. Will we speak the language of the heart and of emotions? That would be nice. What is certain is that after this experience surreal narrations will sound less implausible, simply because we have lived through events that up to 13 months ago we would have considered to be impossible.