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Grafica e comunicazione

Shall we contextualize?


We begin with a brief preamble before getting to the regularly scheduled boring “Snapshot” or newsletter. The preamble, however, is here for a reason (it’s contextualized) but also happens to be joyful and takes its cue from the recent addition of examples of work that we have completed in the last few months. Scrolling through the list and selecting 4 photos to accompany the descriptions, all the hard work came back into mind. This and the luxury of being able to work with people and brands of superior quality. Our good fortune is even more evident when you broaden your gaze (contextualizing, in fact) and take into consideration that in our field quality is often sacrificed in honor of profit and haste, i.e., return on investment.  We are fortunate to collaborate with a fine-dining Italian restaurant, which belongs to Gaudes, a strong group rooted in the Vicenza area and made up of successful, yet kind entrepreneurs; the fortune, as a result of the aforementioned collaboration, to work alongside one of the most talented chefs in Italy, who recently decided to open the restaurant of our dreams (Locanda Grandi in San Bonifacio); the fortune to work alongside the Claudio Cerati from Parma, salmon master with an unparalleled product - incomparable, not only because it is very good but also because there is nothing like it on the market (Upstream Cured Salmon); the fortune of working  alongside an enlightened Veronese winemaker who looks after its own vineyards with paternal affection, producing wines with a strong yet delightful character, quite similar to the winemaker himself (Daniele Piccinin, deus ex machina of Muni); the fortune to work alongside Stefano Perugini, owner of Primopan, from Battifollo, Cuneo, proprietor of the recipe for the best biscotto in the world (not only in our humble opinion); the fortune to work with Giulio Menegatti, creator of GMF brand and importer of an impressive list of French wines. And finally, we are fortunate to have contributed to the expansion of a large group which, even if it doesn’t have to do with the pleasures of the table, has long been a recognized as an Italian excellence,  Twinsnetwork, which owns the brand Brado, industry leader in office chairs. After this long list, which is more an act of gratitude than ostentation, we can venture, with all the necessary precautions, into the dark meanders of the Snapshot...


"Stupidity comes from having an answer for everything. Wisdom comes from having a question about everything." Wise words from Milan Kundera found in his masterpiece "The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” which I just reread for the umpteenth time. ("A good reader, a great reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader," says Vladimir Nabokov.) I must thank Kundera for giving me this inspiration to title this Snapshot with an unnecessary question, or at least what if brings into consideration. Why, in fact, submit to the pain of contextualizing in a world that requires, to anyone who aspires to be successful, dry and quickly formulated answers? Answers that are daughters of a solid and indisputable collective prejudice imposed from above? As far as we can remember and from our precarious studies, in a democracy the fashion of the dominant thought as the guiding star has never seemed to be as ubiquitous as in the present day. Why, therefore, undertake the always problematic "act of contextualizing,” typical of the dialectical method, which begins exactly with the activity that kept children awake before digital sedation: the art of asking? Why waste time to submit to a commitment capable of arousing doubt, the cause of certain failure?

Questions that we, specialists in contextualization due to professional deformation (and therefore, even to our own detriment, sworn enemies of conformism), ask ourselves at every turn, forced to live in doubt of everything. After all, someone out there has to ask the questions in hopes of occasionally avoid banality. Therefore as specialists of "questioning contextualizing", we force ourselves to research every topic that attracts our attention even minimally, almost by Pavlovian reflex. Here is one example among the many, but one of the most marginal, and for this very reason we consider it exemplary.

For many years now, I have had the pleasure of speaking with a Nigerian girl who immigrated to Italy with her mother at an early age. We chat from time to time about the quality of life back in Nigeria. I ask questions, out of pure curiosity, because I continue to read conflicting regarding the social condition of Nigerian women, which still seems to us today similar to that which had triggered her mother to leave the country at the time “at any cost and to any place, not to stay there to rot.”

The articles I have read online in recent years are varied and of various political orientations, but the information that emerges is always the same: woman relegated to the margins of society; discrimination and gender-based violence; violation of elementary rights; female slavery with male privilege, unpaid, or very poorly paid labor; induced illiteracy; tribal subjection, just to name a few. Then there are the real atrocities such as the practice of granting a child as a wife, evidently without her consent; rape for the purpose of selling babies; mutilation of the genital organs. Evidence of these barbarisms can easily be found online - a network of information that I usually deem to be untrustworthy, except when, as this time, the unanimity of voices of different tones takes over.

Well, in this scenario I was struck by the statements of an Italian girl from a Nigerian family (this, trivially, was the foothold that determined the correlation - which pairs with contextualization), who grew up just stone's throw from my home in Padua. The girl, who became rich and famous thanks to her undoubted sporting merits within the Italian national volleyball team, complains of having suffered, in past years and in recent times, serious racial discrimination: some unfortunate jokes from certain schoolmates, some petty comments via social media (aka, the gymnasium of globalized hatred) by certain pseudo fans; as well as having seen, as a girl, her mother being passed by others who arrived after her in service at the cheese counter. These are undoubtedly signs of lack of culture, education and intelligence in a country that considers itself, rightly or wrongly (for us, wrongly), civil, as well as democratic. Should I dare call Italy deeply racist? 

Contextualizing we cannot in fact fail to evaluate the wrongs suffered by this girl in the same way as other Italians lacks culture, education and intelligence. For example, being mocked by a classmate for stuttering, or seeing a mother, an uneducated housewife treated with vulgar condescension by a pompous junior high school teacher. Experiences that we could even complain about on social media, in an attempt to seem à la page - and perhaps even under the pretext of motivating, and justifying, flaws and psychic disturbances currently underway -, but which we do not perceive to be more or less trivial and annoying than many others currently taking place at all latitudes, and in all possible colors.

And these trivial evils are nothing compared to the atrocities man is capable of (in the sense of men, women, and all genders: today it’s better to specify this just to be sure). We believe that Thomas Hobbes was not wrong considering humans in their "natural state" to be nothing but lumps of selfishness, armed against each other with the only goal of survival (Homo homini lupus). Humans who, over the course of evolution, understood good only as an opportunity. Civilization itself (in the broadest sense of the term), which with its ideas and regulations prevents humans from killing each other, is considered by Hobbes a mere form of organized opportunism. It follows that even those who aren’t producing high content, such as Hobbes, can’t avoid considering it the great remedy, indispensable precisely for limiting the natural state, i.e., the instinct for natural conservation.

And it is precisely for this reason that to make us more empathetic and collaborative, we need more culture, more education and more intelligence (and perhaps, conversely, less tweets and hashtags). More culture, more education and more intelligence would be needed for all men, women and people of all genders, starting from birth in every part of the world. However it seems that culture, education and intelligence are in a serious recession, sacrificed on the altar of an alleged "specialists" that require us to be very well versed in a single, specific topic and ignorant to the rest of what is happening and has happened in the world. Jumping to my conclusion: by reducing everything to racism, or by mistaking the effects for the cause, we think we are doing a terrible service to humanity. 

Let’s take this a bit further: what if we contextualized everything we read, fed to us by the excessive power of conformist political media? We would casually share heretical contextualizations - followed by as many hypothetical assumptions resulting from the simple act of contextualizing. If we contextualized the figures that have characterized the course of our civilization over the course of human history, would we really knock down statues and burn books, even metaphorically?

If we contextualized gender within a harmonious vision of the endogenous (biology, physics) and the exogenous (sociality, culture), would we really need to include it as the most important subject to be imposed on our children? If we contextualized the problems of the environment according to a paradigm shift that also takes into consideration (albeit marginally, for God's sake!) geological rhythms, and not exclusively human generational rhythms, we would truly continue to make last-minute decisions to the detriment of the less well-off and the poor, as if it was their doing, and not the multinational companies, the main culprits of environmental degradation?

What if we contextualized the war in Ukraine, the thorniest subject at the moment? We could very well do it in two different ways, looking to the past and looking to the future. What if we look back in time, scrolling through any political written history (and I mean real documented history without inference, deduction, conjecture, inference…) from the collapse of the Berlin Wall to the Russian attack of last year; and what if we looked ahead to the definitive consequences of a very possible nuclear missile that would be unappealable for our planet and mankind. Well, we ask ourselves: in the face of this duo of very trivial contextualizations (which no powerful person in Italy has taken the trouble to evaluate, at least up to now), would we really continue to send weapons to those desolate lands, instead of looking for ways to find peace?

And if we contextualized fascism (another popular topic) in the time frame that goes from its harbingers, or from the Free State of Fiume to the inauguration of the last Prime Minister, we would truly continue to treat the issue as if another march on Rome was imminent? – with everyone of electric scooters, this time of course. What if we had the strength to contextualize the overwhelming power of multinational financial speculation and its main armed wing that falls directly on humans, or the technological domain in view of an artificial intelligence spread over everything, trying to measure the impact it has, and above all will have, on the lives, work and dignity of all of us poor devils? Would we really continue to play around with hi-tech gadgets instead of taking to the streets to make some noise?

Dulcis in fundo: if we could contextualize the public health reforms in Italy of the last few decades by measuring them from the bottom up (both geographically and socially), we would really continue to have faith in those who designed them and implemented - the same ones that lead us to "believe" in science as the only true religion of our time (and with regard to the various health and school reforms, one thinks of the misunderstanding linked to the verb reform, clearly understood in the third meaning: " discharge from service due to incapacity"). We could go on for a week with the "ifs" and the "buts"? A totally useless conversation that I would gladly avoid if I could. 

Ultimately, and here we will try to make a brutal synthesis (another trendy exercise): what if we had the courage to contextualize ourselves in a society of other humans, therefore not composed of warring avatars but by a sum of poor perilous creatures (thus denying the Hobbesian theorem, which in reality has never completely convinced us), would we really follow the horrendous fashions that, in waves, are propelled by the political force of persuasion, or imposed through the mediatic force of rhetoric and the purest propaganda, whose positions are indispensable and therefore imperative? A question that would end up being further reduced to: indispensable to whom?

16/03/2023 Filippo Maglione