How are you?

Reflections about these unprecedented times after a short online conversation with Elisabetta Alicino

Post di Massimo Sarti - 10/2020 · 4 minuti per leggerlo

Recently I had a quick online chat with my friend Elisabetta Alicino, and she ended the first sentence with:

‘How are you? How are you living your work and this time?’

Quite rich question, which catalised in me the following reflections.

Things haven’t gone so badly for me all in all. Luckily for me the type of work I do is oriented to the transfer of memes (in the sense of Richard Dawkins, not the one trivialized by the internet 🙂) and not of atoms/molecules, although when I was in the physics class I used a lot of physical material form my experiential training.

So I can’t complain.

It took me little time to change my model of value proposition or, if you prefer, to adapt to the new conditions imposed from outside. I try to stay on the positive side, even if this new way of working is not really easy for me.

Sitting all day in front of a couple of bright rectangles in which there are other tiny squares where you can see faces and fragments of their private life, the coat rack, the kitchen, the paintings, the books, empty walls, a vase with flowers, the children, the cat, the dog, the background noise…

I use only two of the five senses, sight and hearing, among other things also in a limited way: I miss the other three, the sense of smell, the smell and scents of people, touch, markers, post-it, blackboards, lego, balls, ropes…, and yes, the taste:

  • when you have coffee from the coffee machine with your colleagues or with the participants in your course and comment on how much it sucks,
  • when you go to eat in a short break with them in a small restaurant or pizzeria and tie the taste for a long time to the people around you, to their faces, to the conversations you have had…

I miss proxemics, osmotic communication, non-verbal communication, observation of behaviour: for months all my interaction has been reduced to observing photo-video-snippets where you repeatedly remind them to close the microphone so as not to disturb.

The names and faces of the people with whom I interacted intensely for a couple of days or a week quickly fade away, “and all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain”.

Well, anyway, I consider myself lucky: I kept on working and billing. Not so much, but enough. I transmit as much as I can, I receive as much as I am able to receive in my brain, I arrive very tired at the end of my working days and, yes, I admit it, I can’t even read a book as tired as I am.

And I’m accumulating them, moderating my bibliophilia and compulsive buying, my wishlist on amazon now expands immeasurably and perhaps corresponds to a couple of years of earnings.

It’s a strange time we’re living in

Elisabetta wrote. I agree with the adjective strange: in the English blogs/newspaper unprecedented times continues to recur very often and I would say improperly and repetitively, unprecedented is really excessive, very clickbait.

Yes, strange sounds more appropriate to me. Maybe we are just living a rite of passage imposed by nature.

Could the next rite be that of the consequences of climate change? If so, it will be much harder and certainly much more unprecedented.

We are leaving a huge debt to our children and grandchildren. I trust they will be better generations than ours.

Thanks for your time and attention.

Suggested music for this post: Robert Glasper: Better than I imagined