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This topic is referring to some considerations about the “screens”.1

 

I’d like to start with some remarks about the “screens” and I mean all kinds of “screens”, that, starting from the cinema, have succeeded in extending themselves, in particular towards the young generations, till absorbing a relevant part of our everyday life-time, from the television to the computer, from the tablet to the iPhone. To face this topic, I’d like to begin my speech telling a story happened to me some months ago, as an unbeliever and thoughtful spectator. The fact: one day, while I was going back home by train from Milan, the city where I teach at the Academy, I saw a young couple having a seat in front of me, in the same wagon where I was. They were 17/20 years old, obviously engaged, considering the mutual gestures of tenderness. Well, I was pushed to reflect by the fact that during the one and a half hour journey from Milan to Verona, the two young - he holding his tablet, she holding her iPhone - didn’t give a look to each other cause were devoted to handle with their personal technologies. I mean that, not only, they didn’t give a look to each other but also they didn’t give a look outside through the window and they didn’t give a look to anything or anyone inside the wagon where they were sitting. Actually, sometimes they took hand in hand or they showed each other things from their personal technological “screens”, smiling and commenting even rarely the provided content; nevertheless nor one time they gave a look to each other to chat away from their technological “screens”. The same night I was dipped into the reading of the Ancient Greek Myths, directly and not, focusing the topic of the “mirror” cause I considered that such a common object was and mostly is, then as nowadays, the most similar technological object allowing us to observe ourselves and our surrounding reality in such an illusionistic and current way that still today both kids and animals can hardly distinguish the diaphragm between the so called reality and illusion. And it needs to be underlined that the relationship between reality and illusion is, with no doubts, one of the hinges – if not its ‘natural’ field – on which the artistic activity has always moved. The reading brought me to isolate three Ancient Greek Myths among the most paradigmatic and valuable ones: I’m referring to the Myth of Perseus, of Dionisus and obviously of Narcisus. About the Myth of Perseus I’d like to remember the event that inevitably characterizes it with more strength: I mean the killing (by decapitation) of the Gorgons Queen, the only mortal, Medusa. She represented the “Reality itself” and the “Intellectual Deviation” at the same time, in fact it was not possible to look at her directly in the eyes, cause for human beings this act had as direct consequence their death and their transformation into a stone. Perseus was able to kill her by pointing his arm armed by a sword only thanks to a shining and reflecting shield, given to him by the god Athena, who was suffering an ancient and never died jealousy towards Medusa. From the Gorgon’s blood was born the winged horse Pegasus: after its birth, the horse flied on a mountain and there, after hitting a rock with its hoof a source gushed where Muses were able to drink, the same Muses which were the mythological inspirers and the elective ‘mothers’ of ‘Tèchne’, of the Arts, and properly of the fruit of ‘wit-talent’ in every sector of the life of all elements belonging to our specie: the skill to fit to our ‘survival’, designing and factual ‘resolutions’, directly applicable to a single person’s life, and properly to the entire collectivity. About the Myth of Dionysus, the god of the source and spirit of life, I’d like to remind you how the Orphic Myth describes the death. According to the Myth story, the Godchild - spirit and afflatus of life - was caught by the Titans while ‘playing’ and was reduced in pieces. Still the details of the murdering methods are quite interesting. The Titans, while Dionysus was sleeping, lying down on a ‘mirror’ water shore, spread his face with gypsum and clay. At his awakening, the Godchild head himself towards the water ‘mirror’, to have a wash. When he was there, he saw his own reflection, and in the process of 'recognition' did not see the reflection of his face, but he saw and recognized the 'shape of the world and of things'. The concatenation of subsequent events is extraordinary: the Godchild was 'astonished', 'surprised', and in absolute silence, that is to say, without being able to say a word, because of the 'wonder' and that particular 'recognition' denied to him by his divine nature and reason. And it was at that precise moment - and not surprisingly - that the Titans killed him, wounding his fleshes. This mythological detail is quite surprising and amazing, and is considered by the most distinguished scholars the origin of Logos, or the birth of Téchne, and more widely of 'logic' intellectual abilities of the human kind, as well as the ability to dive 'factually' into the life and habitat of the same species, since in that reflection the same Godchild sees not the image of his face, but only the 'form' of that image and therefore, the final 'map' of a part of his body. That is to say, the 'shape' of the world of which he is the native spirit. From there his death originate by 'logic' result. Finally, according to the myth, Narcissus, chased and 'prisoner' of Nymph Echo’s love, found himself one day on a water 'mirror' and not knowing to be in front of himself, he admired that picture until he could no longer look away. As under the influence of a powerful hypnosis, he sent to the same image kisses and caresses, til dipping his hands into the water to touch that sweet face. Of course, at the first 'physical' contact with the water that image disappeared, to appear again after long moments distinguished by a growing and unstoppable 'abandoning anxiety'. Narcissus stayed for a long time at that source trying to grab that reflex without realizing that the days flowed inexorably, forgetting even to eat and drink, and supported only by the thought that the evil spell, that allowed the image to escape from him, disappeared forever. Finally Narcissus died at the source that gave him the Love, longing for a hug from his own image. So when the Naiads and the Dryads came and took his body to place it on the funeral pyre it is said that in its place it was found a beautiful white flower that took the name of Narcissus. I guess I do not need to add anything to this brief reconstruction of the mentioned Myths to recognize a possible relationship with the observation of the behavior of our young generations in the specific relationship with new contemporary technologies, as I explained in the initial anecdote. More widely, the mentioned Myths represent the cardinals vertices in Greek and Roman Culture of the relationship between 'reality' and 'illusion', and in this context, inevitably between 'Life' and 'Death'. More precisely, in the reflection under examination about the 'screens', the Cinema has produced 'projective' models which started the 'formation' of behaviours and 'invasive' patterns strongly opposed to compliance with Local Cultures - intended as possible and valuable differing 'resources' - in different longitudes and latitudes of our planet. Even more this process of 'standardization' has been pursued by the television media, up to produce simulacra of 'collective identity' even in technologies related to the advent of computers, tablets, and of a kind of private connectivity contained in modern iPhone, or similar. For sure you've noticed it, but the overcrowded 'Blogs' are collecting and 'radicalizing' the ‘projected and self reflective thought’ of the very and different 'communities', which invariably tend to reject definitely the 'comparison' between different opinions. 'Self-Representation', in this process, has replaced 'Dialectic' and the direct comparison with those who are different from the self, in a frustrating and certainly preclusive way. There are young people today claiming 800 and more 'friends' on Facebook, but as a daily practice they’re living alone and isolated in niches increasingly alien to the collective and social dynamics. Finally, I personally note, that this process – maybe - is not the son of ‘Téchne’ that history has taught us to know, but rather a 'deviant' effect of it, and opposing myself is not my personal task for sure. However, it’s certainly my duty as an intellectual and artist to bring to your attention the possibility of a serious reflection, since we are directly entrusted with the task of training, in contact with life and work that surruond us. In fact, the argument just mentioned led me to write many more pages than those I presented today, inevitably touching the themes of Téchne, and of the necessityt to start a serious discussion about a much-needed - from my personal point of view - revision or audit of the same structure of the Research and of the High Education System, nowadays applied in almost all areas and universities in the world. However, some people argue that the time is not endless (...correct, and especially during an International conference... and I totally agree ...). So, I will stop here. Thank you. "The work that endures is always capable of an infinite and plastic ambiguity: is everything to everyone (...), is a mirror that reveals the traits of the reader and is a map of the whole world" Borges, 'The first Welles', from 'Other Inquisitions'

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