My friend, M.Teresa Petrigliano wrote this piece I fully agree with and want to share, in English and Italian

A wave of irrationality is crossing the squares and in this case also the ports. 

It is an almost natural result of pandemics.

“Every time we’ve been facing a pestilence,

extreme forms of irrationalism, fanaticism, gurus and sorcerers have exploded.”

Marco Revelli

The Covid-19 pandemic has grafted onto an anthropological landscape in full mutation and confusion, has accelerated the implementation of biopolitical control and surveillance devices, has uncovered Pandora’s box not only of existing inequalities but also of some pockets of return illiteracy that social networks have nurtured. 

The paradigm of health as a collective area to be protected has been overturned and a new war between the poor has exploded, presenting all its contradictions, thanks to a management of the pandemic that has favored the interests of large capitals without taking into account a population exhausted by the virus and from its repercussions: a collapsing health system unable to cope with basic care, medical and nursing staff sent to the slaughter and harassed by daily media and non-media attacks, forms of precarious employment despite the announcement of major hiring maneuvers during the months of the first wave; insufficient welfare was put in place and the new measures put in place by emergency decrees seemed structured ad hoc to create more exclusion and rekindle the resentment of already marginalized social groups. 

Industrialists, for their part, downplayed the scope of the pandemics well before conspiracy theories and individualistic outbursts came on the scene, and kept factories open to keep up with the production – of course, this meant that public transports were crammed all the time and became one of the most dangerous hotspots for workers and people who can’t afford a private car . Then when the spread of conspiracy theories and street demonstrations put productivity at risk, they decided to join forces with governments to push in the direction of contradictory measures that have little focus on health and a lot of focus on security, leading to a poisoning of public debate that has not helped people understand the importance of social distancing measures and the need to care for each other by getting vaccinated as much/soon as possible.

Conspiracies are the most immediate reaction to complexity, in times when “do your own research” does not mean studying and testing one’s logical and critical skills but means flattening the level of discussion and putting on the same level the anti-scientific opinions of the guy next door and the scientific and peer-reviewed publications of a university researcher. 

De-accountability and conspiracy theories (“they all want us dead; they all want us at home; they want to kill us with vaccines”) are the simplest shortcut to get to grips with a world that is now undecipherable, because conspiracies strike a chord with those who are feeling victims of the present chaos, of a future full of anguish, reduced to mere “extras” when they are put in front of governance mechanisms that they cannot understand and from which they feel excluded. In this sense, it is not even surprising that in this large a-specific cauldron, old alternative hippies find themselves marching alongside people who protest for the landings of migrants, who want to get rid of basic income and welfare, who have never paid taxes (except when it comes to rushing to apply for subsidies from the European recovery fund).

When I saw the TV reports of the street demonstrations, I found it ironic but very representative of the state of things to see how protesters burn the paper green passes, it is something that portrays the detachment from reality of these draft dodgers and their level of awareness and information: the green pass is digital, immaterial, burning a paper one means nothing, you are still in the mincer like all of us, whether you like it or not. It is of little use symbolically pointing your feet and shouting at the “health dictatorship”: let’s contain the contagion, let’s protect ourselves, then let’s tackle the matters of principle related to any forms of social control, but please do not forget that having a vaccine and showing proof of that is not a “dictatorship”.

At the same time, the political impact of the no green pass movement should not be underestimated, but not in the sense of accepting their fears, which have nothing to do with science: those who believe themselves to be rebels against the “health dictatorship” are actually functional to the real novax, those who sit on boards of directors and governments and decide on pandemic management policies. It goes without saying that these policies will never have as their objective the public health, the protection of fragile and poor people, a paradigm shift of the ways of production. The objective of neoliberal policies is to safeguard the existing model of capitalism, behind the facade of a paternal global device that makes you vaccinate not only because it is a recognized health facility but also because in this way you can continue to get on a public crowded train, go at work – in huge offices open which with the take root of hybrid and smart working forms will increasingly become simulacra of a bygone era – and then go home or in bars and consume everything.

The conspiracy theories ultimately are nothing more than a substitute for a rational critique of pandemic management policies, and since we are still white and Westerners with entrenched privileges, we prefer to focus on a screaming and presumptuous minority rather than to face the problem of radically rethinking the alternatives we have before us, like the relationship of science with politics and communities, starting precisely from the non-scientific belief systems functional to the tightening of biopolitical control. 

In order to breach into the simplest souls, the novax and no green pass wrap themselves in the cloak of anti-authoritarianism and libertarian instances that have never historically belonged to them, in an unprecedented convergence between extremist right-wing fringes advocating for an idea of ​​individual liberty (very close to the Trumpian one) freed from any bond of social responsibility, and a neoliberal left that has ended up putting the authority of the father-state before democratic participation.

On a personal note, I share my life with a person considered to be at high risk of major consequences if they were to contract Covid; I myself am at risk, as a carrier of at least a couple of autoimmune diseases. But I am also part of that quota of Western privileged people who have free access to the vaccine, as opposed to millions of other people excluded from any form of vaccination protection, and I am able to work from home anytime I want so I can avoid crowded and unsafe places.

For this reason, when it comes to the so-called “health dictatorship”, no green pass and novax movements, skeptics of all sorts and sorcerers of ivermectin, the rhetoric of personal freedom does not work with me. How spoiled and capricious does one have to be to refuse the only possibility of protection currently available? We’re all in this together, it is a question of collectivity and solidarity, it is a question of holding together the shreds of a torn social tissue that is now reduced to a thin layer, too fragile to hold together the contradictions of an inhuman and unbalanced system that helped generate the pandemic and then used it to continue to swallow lives and money.

I would like the failure of solidarity and social bonds to be denounced with the same emphasis with which the small groups of conspiracists against Big Pharma and the propagators of lies about vaccines are denounced, and that instead we’d make it about suspending patents, decentralizing the production of vaccines, working on communities to build a concept of physical and mental public health as a common good, the only viable solution in a time when fanaticism and irrationalism threaten the cohesion of civil society and expose the most vulnerable to the danger of lack of care, support and solidarity. I remain deeply anchored to a dialectical and materialist explanation of social and economic disparities, and the pandemic has shown, if still needed, that if we are not ready to question the “normality” we took for granted, with all its contradictory paradigms, with its constant race to the massacre, then other terrible mechanisms could get underway and act undetected on the weakest parts of society.

Un’ondata di irrazionalità sta attraversando le piazze ed in questo caso anche i porti. 

E’ un portato quasi naturale delle Pandemie. 

Ogni volta che ci si è trovati di fronte ad una pestilenza, sono sono esplose 

le forme estreme di irrazionalismo, di fanatismo, i santoni e le fattucchiere.

Marco Revelli

La pandemia di Covid-19 si è innestata su un paesaggio antropologico in piena mutazione e confuso, ha accelerato la messa in opera di dispositivi biopolitici di controllo e sorveglianza, ha scoperchiato il vaso di Pandora non solo delle ineguaglianze esistenti ma anche di alcune sacche di analfabetismo di ritorno che i social hanno nutrito e . 

Il paradigma della salute come ambito collettivo da tutelare è stato rovesciato e una nuova guerra fra poveri è esplosa presentando tutte le sue contraddizioni, grazie ad una gestione della pandemia che ha favorito gli interessi dei grandi capitali senza tener conto di una popolazione stremata dal virus e dalle sue ripercussioni: un sistema sanitario al collasso incapace di far fronte alle cure di base, personale medico e infermieristico mandato al macello e vessato da aggressioni quotidiane mediatiche e non, precarizzazione dei contratti nonostante nei mesi della prima ondata si annunciassero grandi manovre di assunzione;è stato messo in atto un welfare insufficiente e le misure passate con lo stillicidio dei provvedimenti di emergenza sono sembrate strutturate ad hoc per creare esclusione e rinfocolare il risentimento delle fasce sociali già marginalizzate. 

Gli industriali, dal canto loro, hanno sminuito la portata delle pandemia ben prima che entrassero in scena le teorie complottiste ed i rigurgiti individualisti, hanno tenuto aperte le fabbriche per continuare a produrre e hanno continuato a stipare di persone i mezzi pubblici per raggiungerle. Quando poi il dilagare delle conspiracy theories e delle manifestazioni di piazza ha messo a rischio la produttività, hanno deciso di far fronte comune con i governi per spingere in direzione di misure contraddittorie che poco hanno di sanitario e molto hanno di securitario. portando ad un avvelenamento del dibattito pubblico che non ha aiutato le persone a comprendere l’importanza delle misure di distanziamento sociale e della necessità di prendersi cura gli uni degli altri vaccinandosi il più possibile.

Il complottismo è la reazione più immediata alla complessità, in tempi in cui “do your own research” non significa studiare e mettere alla prova le proprie capacità logiche e critiche ma significa appiattire il livello della discussione e mettere sullo stesso piano i proclami anti scientifici della signora del terzo piano e le pubblicazioni di un ricercatore universitario. 

La deresponsabilizzazione e la teoria del complotto (“ci vogliono tutti morti; ci vogliono tutti a casa; ci vogliono uccidere con i vaccini”) è la scorciatoia più semplice per venire a capo di un mondo ormai illeggibile, perché fa presa su coloro che si sentono vittime del caos presente, di un futuro pieno d’angoscia, ridotti a semplici comparse rispetto a meccanismi di governance che non riescono a comprendere e dai quali si sentono esclusi. In questo senso, non stupisce nemmeno che in questo gran calderone a-specifico, vecchi hippies alternativi si ritrovino a marciare al fianco di gente che protesta per gli sbarchi dei migranti, che vuole eliminare il reddito di cittadinanza, che non ha mai pagato le tasse (salvo correre a richiedere i sussidi del recovery fund).

Quando ho visto i servizi in tv delle manifestazioni di piazza, ho trovato ironico ma molto rappresentativo dello stato delle cose vedere come  manifestanti bruciassero i green pass cartacei, è una cosa che rende la misura dello scollamento dalla realtà di queste sacche di renitenti e il loro livello di consapevolezza ed informazione: il green pass è digitale, immateriale, bruciarne uno di carta non vuol dire niente, siete comunque nel tritacarne come tutti quanti noi, lo vogliate o no. A poco serve puntare simbolicamente i piedi e gridare alla dittatura sanitaria: conteniamo il contagio, proteggiamoci, poi affrontiamo le questioni di principio legate alle eventuali forme di controllo sociale, fermo restando che farsi un vaccino e mostrarne il certificato non rientra nella dittatura.

Allo stesso tempo, non bisogna sottovalutare il portato politico delle piazze no green pass, ma non nel senso di accogliere i loro timori, che scientificamente non hanno nulla di fondato: quelli che si credono i ribelli contro la dittatura sanitaria sono in realtà funzionali ai veri novax, quelli che siedono nei consigli di amministrazione e nei governi e che decidono le politiche di gestione della pandemia. Inutile dire che queste politiche non avranno mai come oggetto la salute pubblica, la tutela dei fragili, un rovesciamento di paradigma dei modi di produzione. L’oggetto delle politiche neoliberali è quello di salvaguardare il modello di capitalismo esistente, dietro la facciata di un dispositivo globale paterno che ti fa vaccinare non solo perché è un presidio sanitario riconosciuto ma anche e perché così si può continuare a farti salire sui mezzi pubblici affollati, a produrre e consumare nei locali, a tenere aperti enormi uffici che con il radicarsi delle forme di lavoro ibrido e dello smart working diventeranno sempre più dei simulacri di un’epoca passata. 

Le teorie del complotto dei vari cospirazionisti in definitiva non fanno altro che sostituirsi ad una critica razionale delle politiche di gestione della pandemia, e dato che siamo pur sempre bianchi (e bianche) occidentali dai privilegi radicati, preferiamo concentrarci su una minoranza urlante e presuntuosa piuttosto che affrontare il problema di ripensare radicalmente le alternative che abbiamo davanti, il rapporto della scienza con la politica e le comunità, a partire proprio dai sistemi di credenze non scientifiche funzionali all’inasprimento del controllo biopolitico. 

I novax e no green pass si ammantano, per fare breccia nelle anime semplici, di antiautoritarismo e istanze libertarie che non sono mai storicamente appartenute a loro, in un‘inedita convergenza tra frange estremiste di destra diventate fautrici di un’idea di libertà individuale (molto vicina a quella trumpiana) sciolta da qualunque vincolo di responsabilità sociale, ed una sinistra neoliberale che ha finito col mettere al primo posto  l’autorità dello stato-padre davanti alla partecipazione democratica.

Io condivido la mia vita con una persona considerata ad alto rischio di conseguenze importanti se dovesse contrarre il Covid;  io stessa sono un soggetto a rischio in quanto portatrice di almeno un paio di patologie autoimmuni. Ma faccio anche parte di quella quota di privilegiati occidentali che hanno accesso gratuito al vaccino,al contrario di milioni di altre persone escluse da ogni forma di protezione vaccinale. 

Per questo motivo, quando si parla di dittatura sanitaria, di no green pass e novax, scettici di ogni risma e stregoni dell’ivermectina, la retorica della libertà personale con me non attacca. Quanto bisogna essere viziati e capricciosi per rifiutare l’unica possibilità di tutela che attualmente abbiamo a disposizione? We’re all in this together, è una questione di collettività e solidarietà, si tratta di tenere insieme i brandelli di un tessuto sociale lacerato e ridotto ad una trama sottile, troppo fragile per continuare a tenere insieme le contraddizioni di un sistema disumano e squilibrato che la pandemia l’ha generata e usata per continuare a fagocitare vite e denaro.

Mi piacerebbe che con la stessa enfasi con cui si denunciano i gruppuscoli dei cospirazionisti contro Big Pharma e i propalatori di menzogne sui vaccini, si denunciasse anche il fallimento della solidarietà e dei vincoli sociali, e si parlasse di sospendere i brevetti, decentrare la produzione dei vaccini, si operasse sulle comunità per costruire un concetto di salute pubblica fisica e mentale come bene comune, unica strada percorribile in un momento in cui fanatismo ed irrazionalismo minacciano la coesione della società civile ed espongono i più fragili al pericolo della mancanza di cure, supporto e solidarietà. Rimango profondamente ancorata ad una spiegazione dialettica e materialista delle disparità sociali ed economiche, e la pandemia ha dimostrato, se ce ne fosse ancora bisogno, che se non si è pronti a mettere in discussione la normalità data per scontata, con i suoi paradigmi contraddittori, con la sua costante gara al massacro, altri meccanismi terribili possono mettersi in moto ed agire indisturbati sulla fasce più fragili della società.

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Difficile morire

many years ago i worked in this movie

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Francesca Fini and Me

Digital art videos used to be called amateur films, those researching visual endeavours by Stan Brackhage, Maya Deren… Then some mainstream blockbuster movies would incorporate the catchiest ideas into commercial stories, as Kubrick in 2001: a Space Odyssey 2001 using Brackhage  visual timing  …or Tarkovsky, who implemented original aesthetic time and space movie narrative, considering all the film art that had invented its own language …

Francesca Fini is a baroque artist. PLANET PINK / PANOPTICON1 needs you to focus as if studying a Bosch painting: it is endlessly offering  us new details and interpretations.  Why  pink and not red code, for women’s art? Because colors tell the difference of alertness, but alert it is. With the same pace, like the rhythm of a cradle, from left to right, her figures, animated images and symbols, rock and roll…or they waltz, one step ahead two behind.  They surprise, they make us laugh, or bewilder us. Sometimes they frighten us too.   It’s the standard chosen set of favorite Fini symbols, the writhing octopus, the Mona Lisa, monkeys, baroque-era art classics and America with her fake sweet  smile… but they interact and talk in a different way in different moments. Like having a choir that sings  songs of hybrid genres. 

This is a collage movie, I recognize it as Francesca Fini  collector. It is  a baroque dictionary/circus, moving pieces of an elaborate artistic machine. And very romantic and emotional, with a lot of water and fluids. Coleridge’s  “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” as a voice-over tells us a timeless story which becomes a poetic commentary on Fini art.  So many classics are shaken, broken and reinterpreted in her obsessive girotondo of cultural visual heritage: among the heavy centuries, the typical moments of feminine art,  which exploded freely mostly as doubts, questions and reinterpretations.  The Pre-Raphaelite painter Millais honored Ophelia for her moral beauty in death, but what Ophelia didn’t go crazy and drown in her ladylike way, but instead  gave an activist speech? What if Ana Karenina didn’t commit suicide but became a lesbian in Venice (Tolstoy saved her ladylike honor by killing her with a train)…  What if…so many questions, parallel uchronias… so much work for us women to do…so let’s do it with intelligence and elegance in pink or red! And all the  colors! Art is a rainbow code!

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A Castle

We had a castleA virtual one…xxxx

My favorite home castle was in  Cairo, where I grew up as a little girl. I imagined myself as an Ottoman princess from centuries ago, in veils, dancing with dervishes, riding horses in the sands, listening to the singing of hodzas.  Childhood lasted for years, and  my castle life was not a dream.
   Years later I read about a virtual castle, in the novel Holy Fire, which happened to be written by Bruce Sterling, my husband.  Decades ago, he speculated about future virtual life in a “memory palace,” owned by an old woman, Maya, who extends her lifespan and then takes on a new existence as a young European woman. 
   After we were living as a couple, my husband and I happened to spend some time in the castle-like garden villa of the Savoy Duchess, Madama Cristina. She called this massive retreat her “Royal Vineyard.”  This towering brick and marble edifice was long abandoned by royalty, but the thick walls oozed history, with old paintings, frescos, wooden statuary, and a surrounding park with giant trees, a pond, and dry fountains.

   When pandemic hit the world, every home became a castle under siege from the new virus, or else it became a prison of sorts, or maybe a virtual palace, if you had enough connectivity.  Historic events had favored the virtual empires.  The analog real castles of the past seemed more archaic than ever, empty tombs when human life, our culture and our business and our government, were all immaterial data flows. 

  Real castles are decaying anyway, every UNESCO World Heritage monument all over the world.  Nobody can afford them, maintain them, they lack daily function and purpose.  The old owners are  impoverished or dead, while our new aristocrats build modern extravaganzas like the Apple Headquarters or supertall skyscrapers.   
    The new castle lovers build online metaverses, with electronic artsy means of robot blocks and voxels… Thus they fulfill the architectural dreams of the ages, and a screen and a wall is somehow enough to inhabit, and to furnish your dwelling place, to pass from technological daydreams into a profound sleep where consciousness reigns no more, and the fantasy layers of the hindbrain take command of slumberland.
     That’s how we survived the  other plagues and the other unthinkable disasters.  With technical means, with poetry, with art, with dreams, with tech art.
    For a few years, my husband and I had a dream home, “Casa Jasmina,” our self-declared “house of the future,” where speculations could be realized,  in an abandoned building.  Casa Jasmina was in an empty car factory instead of an empty baroque palace, but Torino has plenty of both of those.  We had only battered concrete walls, flocks of pigeons and  some internet, but once we inhabited that space, but we managed to make soirees and parties, so as to confront what was to come.  
   Our theme was open-source connectivity, and in a couple of years, with the enthusiasms of local and international geeks artists and friends, we had a a testbed of a different way of life.  
    The Casa Jasmina project ended, but after our experiences with connected objects and their affordances, we found it easier to endure the involuntary experiment of a pandemic quarantine.  We had the privilege to be among the first to live in a housed network instead of a “networked house.”  We also had some well-founded notions about life in epidemics, since our castle sponsor, Madama Cristina, had survived the Black Death. 
   To read about plague is not to live it, and this Covid epidemic was ours to survive, or else not.  No two mass disasters are ever the same, and the activists, artists, writers, creators with no place to create but the living room couch, we made the most of what we had left to us. 
  We learned a lot through having less, the petty fears of daily living are eroded by the body-counts… We made new alliances and friends, by cutting the bullshit and finding new priorities. Every day was bucket list of new ideas. Every morning we woke up in a different skin. “Every day was a gift, every night was an orgy.” We imagined and lived our virtual splendid castle of epidemic isolation.
   We have learned that material objects, our furniture and gadgets, our tools and toys, must have emotional value for us.  They have to efficiently perform their function and they have to be beautiful: using that criteria, we rid ourselves of our house in Belgrade.
    Our Zemum apartment was a castle of sorts, too; it was four stories up in the air, lined with classic writerly books and had a swell view, but we got rid of almost everything in it except what we loved most: my piano and his lamp. “The elephant, the heel, and the key,” as we say in Serbia.  The necessities of the body one can find anywhere, but the luxuries of the soul are precious rarities.
    A global traveller, as I have been since childhood, has some practical commonality with the homeless on the streets of the world. I never yet joined them, but for years I felt that the homeless ought to be virtually mapped, like urban monuments, and that I ought to mingle with them and do that. That was the art therapy of beatnik hobos, a statement of freedom from the material world and its politics and policies, which put the homeless there in the first place.
  Our material world is never entirely material, for, as the art world knows,  context, history and provenance give things great value. The myths, the dynamic, the aura of a thing. Capital flows, which are immaterial, drift from the real to the virtual and back again at the speed of light, and every manmade good, from the Mona Lisa to a bottle opener, was a concept first.
     Concepts become material through acts of implementation, through design actualized by the forge, the lathe, the injection mold, the laser cutter and the 3DPrinter. The material values derive from a market’s opinion of their worth. It’s the modern reversal of what we used to believe in the past, that castles of iron and stone were true strongholds, while our castles in air were merely our clouds and bubbles. 
    Fantasia al potere; beneath the pavement, the beach; all power to the imagination.

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