… we feel dissected, a term that here means that fragmentation into distinct parts that dissolves unity.
A Gregorian year has already passed since the beginning of our journey – a year consisting of 73 articles and their associated illustrations, twelve magazine covers, two meetings in attendance (despite the notorious difficulties of our time), one presentation of the project to our readers and six debates on our ClubHouse profile: these are the fruits so far.
In addition to all this, the number of wonderful human beings who have collaborated with us in various ways this year, each bringing their own essential contribution, has continued to increase: I would like to express my eternal gratitude and esteem to them. It is thanks to the constant efforts of all of us that we have been able to achieve a certain consistency and fluidity in our – forgive the expression – ‘production’ processes, but above all a breadth of themes and a depth of reflection that we hope will be as enjoyable and stimulating for our readers as it is for all of us. I would like to also thank our dearest readers, without whom we would only be a vox clamantis in deserto (‘the voice of one who cries in the desert’).To put it mildly, these reader friends average 1,500 a month, with snowy peaks of 3,500 and deep-sea trenches of 200 – I use these metaphors by the way, because in the summer our readers seem to escape to explore the world, and after all, we think it’s only right and fitting.
We thus present our ledgers with naive sincerity because they mirror our project: we have no external financiers – known or unknown – nor sponsorships: we win over our readers one by one, and each one of them is meaningful. Of course, in some ways we also try to raise some funds – we don’t live on bread alone, but a few aperitifs every now and then make us jolly. However, even this parallel funding project is managed with the same care and personal dedication that we put into La Livella. Our greatest fear is to fall back into those dynamics that we too often find in other places: for us, money is still a means – however necessary – but never an end, let alone the ultimate goal.
Our short-term wishes? To implement the Science section, to turn a flagship into a bouquet, and to set up an Economics section as soon as we are certain that we will be able to have adequate content to meet the level of quality that is essential for us.
In the same vein of sincerity, as the project’s director I would like to say something that can be gleaned from a deeper perspective: we feel dissected, a term that here means that fragmentation into distinct parts that dissolves unity. We too feel alienated and at risk in this hysterical and uncertain time in history. Compared to any other dimension, the one that concerns us most is the transformation of the individual from subject to object of study. This is happening universally in marketing, that is, in a branch of the discipline that studies economic relationships between individuals – and Marx believed that economic relationships were the basis of every other kind of relationship between people. The fundamental value of knowledge has also been recognised in this field, but it is not certain whether this is to be understood in a positive way or not.
‘Know your audience’ is the new commandment that has replaced the more ancient and Apollonian ‘Know thyself’. In a society that Guy Debord already defined as ‘spectacle’, knowing one’s audience is essential. For this reason, new methods and instruments must always be devised to collect and analyse information in order to obtain the most realistic image of the individual public. Once this detailed identification chart has been obtained, it is a simple matter of designing formats and contents capable not only of capturing all their attention, but also of arousing their needs, impulses, and behavioural patterns. But how do you get all the required information? This ‘data’ is collected every time we operate in the virtual and physical world, i.e., every time our social interactions involve some computer medium (consciously or not). Therefore, not only a computer, a mobile phone or a TV set, but also a simple ATM or a motorway tollbooth. All this information is gold-by-the-numbers and is a product that has an entirely dedicated daily and global market. What is not yet fully understood by most people, however, is that this data is us: each of us is a butterfly pinned to the cork board of the society we have formed.
In the city where I live today there is a riverside promenade that is particularly popular among my fellow citizens: water, lush vegetation, and friendly river animals. A few years ago, on the inner walls bordering this promenade, was a graffiti which stated: “Only Google knows you like mamma”. Today I feel a bit wistful thinking about the truth of these words, about mothers, our primary and universal point of reference, being displaced by a search engine – however exciting, omniscient, and efficient it may be. The idea is, however, that those who run these big search engines have such a deep and true knowledge of who we are (of our desires, aspirations, inclinations, preferences, tastes, perversions, and fears), that one would think they know us not only as well as our mother, but much more. The problem is that this relationship with large digital subjects is inhuman: they know everything about us, we know little or nothing about them. We are like little children, who in their childish naivety reveal their every thought, gesture, and emotion to their parents; yet on the other hand, they have no idea of the gestures, thoughts and emotions of the adults around them. Try to understand me: mine is not a denial of the beauty, pleasantness, and comfort of the WWW, but an assumption of a necessary and inescapable doubt. Technical and technological changes are so rapid that ethical-moral-existential thinking cannot keep up with them. For this reason, I would not like the predictions of a certain prophesy, which was foretold almost a century ago, to come true: the human being is no longer the end of history, but a replaceable and fungible servomechanism. What then is the purpose of the technical apparatus? The same as that of power, and of every other form of life: self-preservation and growth to the maximum of its possibilities. The question is: what role do we play in this race of technology towards its own apotheosis?
In this context, it is necessary to take time to doubt and question; the feeling is one of a general lull in the soft cushion of one’s own comfort – the pinnacle of our society’s prosperity risks being the lining of its coffin.
There are many other, perhaps more pertinent, questions that stimulate our conversations: how might the growth of the cryptocurrency system affect the power of nation-states? Why are young people so fascinated by it? Is it a sustainable and fair type of economy that could replace the current one? After the pandemic and the subsequent social fractures, do we still have an interest in the well-being of others as well as ourselves?
We shall pay attention to these questions, and if necessary, address them with our keyboards, because the media and the mass media of today seem inadequate for this purpose: the same scandal about the massive leakage of sensitive information involving Meta, the new name of Zuckerberg’s company, can only confirm the existence of a will, or at least a deliberate laxity, about the circulation of unverified news. In other words, it seems that today’s modus operandi is to throw smoke into the news space and blur the concrete links between ‘meta’ and physical reality. La Livella Magazine, therefore, will take all the time it needs to practise doubting even in 2022.
Happy Holidays from almost all of us!