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This September marks the thirtieth anniversary of our studio. We will begin the celebration by reflecting on global disorder, since it is currently a major issue.
In the summer of 1984, when I first crossed the threshold of a graphic design/advertising studio, the first computer with a graphical user interface and mouse, the Macintosh 128K, had just been created. Except for the creative use of the photocopier, it can be said that the methods and tools used in a graphic design studio did not differ much from the methods and tools used at the Academy of Fine Arts, which I was attending at the time (pencils, felt-tip pens, brushes, crayons, graphic pens, airbrushes ...). Towards the end of the summer of 1989, when I finally opened by own studio, the epic transition from hand-made to digital were already well under way, so much so that shortly after opening, albeit reluctantly, we adopted the system called Mac, which still dominates our professional lives today.
In thirty years, the world has been transfigured. And the year 1989 could be considered the turning point of change: globalization and digitalization took hold that year. To prove it, simply look at the basic news stories. On January 15th in Prague, during the commemoration of Jan Palach’s death, hundreds of demonstrators were arrested, including Václav Havel. On March 13th, the document “World Wide Web: Summary”, which established the birth of what we call the Internet, was presented by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in Geneva (and was considered “vague but interesting”). On April 18th in Beijing, the student protests began in Tiananmen Square. On September 14th in South Africa, the new president Frederik Willem de Klerk opened up to the abolition of apartheid. On November 9th in Berlin, the wall that divided the city since 1961 fell symbolically and physically. On December 7th in the Soviet Union, Article 6 of the Constitution, which defines the role of the Communist Party as a guide for society, was repealed. The year closed where it opened in Prague: Václav Havel became President of Czechoslovakia.
I wanted to begin and end the list of events with occurrences that took place in a beloved city and could be considered less important compared to the others, but still able to describe the rhythm of change. In eleven months, without going through a real revolution, a dissident demonstrator incarcerated by a dictatorial regime became the President of the Republic of that same country. What is striking about the listed events, which were capable of imparting a revolutionary force as has rarely occurred throughout history, is their "dialectical" and, all things considered, peaceful character: a demonstration of unarmed protestors; the presentation of a scientific document; another demonstration of unarmed protestors; a political openness to the social world; the fall of a wall, essentially a symbolical moment or happening; the repeal of an article of the Constitution. This is what happened more or less, and the world began to become what it eventually became.
The process of globalization was therefore carried out under the aegis of our rationality. By "ours" I mean Western civilization, capable of transmitting to the world the idea of rationality (through the lògos) as a critical discussion, that is as dialectic: a discovery of the Greeks, perhaps the most important innovation of all time, generating the famous triad on which our civilization is based on and a good part of our well-being: philosophy, science, technique, precisely in this order. The possibility of fighting with words rather than with swords is an invention of the Greeks, then welded with Christian idealism, capable of understanding the other from himself (the so-called neighbor), no longer as a means but as an end (the second commandment of the love of Jesus of Nazareth). Dario Antiseri, an Italian philosopher with admirable synthesis, has come to affirm that Europe is Socratic in its mind, and Christian in its will.
It seems obvious: the global affirmation of a system based on foundations, or rather values so powerful that they can only turn into a huge success. So why all these tears, these conflicts? Why does globalization appear to us today the opposite of that universal republic that Kant thought of as the end of our adventure?
To address this point, we turn to Italian philosopher and politician Massimo Cacciari and as he gets older, he is finally starting to write with the intention of making even us common folk read his work - gratifying us, with benevolence, of an inheritance that he knows we do not deserve. He affirms that globalization and rationality have in the meantime become disjointed. They have been uprooted, rather than aggregated, due to a bad human will (utilitarian excess) which leads to a distorted, and in many ways contrary, reading of lògos, the conceptual root of our whole system. In the true sense of lògos the imposition does not waver, and therefore the eradication can be seen as the link, the harmonization. In this way, by force of uprooting, the differences are widening, instead of becoming welded, turning globalization into global disorder. Eradications: from one's own world, from one's roots, from one's own affections, from oneself.
In accordance with Cacciari and based on my limited personal experience, I can say that the process of globalization that I have witnessed over the past thirty years seems to have gradually lost its culturaland spiritualcharacter. This may not seem like much, but they are two simple and bitter little words: cultural and spiritual; and yet it's all. Many Christians used to have a missionary spirit and some politicians used to make an effort to give value to the state, and to the rule of law. It seemed as though many men of culture seriously endeavored to civilize. It really seemed that the process of rationalization and globalization were moving forward, attempting to affirm values and universal ends - even if there the efforts were at times corrupted by forms of willpower with different degrees and colors: it is still a matter of human enterprises, therefore, in itself, to some extent naturally corrupt.
At the beginning it seemed civilization seemed to be becoming more open. That is no longer the case. Cacciari asks: what is the tremendous character of the process of globalization today? And he answers: the absence of ends. And then asks: what is the value that the process of globalization has assumed? And he answers: the continuous growth of wealth (once constrained by factors of distributive equity, today free even of these). Value has therefore become a term with an exclusively economic meaning. (Is this rationality, by which the sun would be stop shining because it does not produce dividends? - Keynes asked). Cacciari ends with a rather vague, but hopeful motto. "However, the essential dimensions of our own logos can still be heard, or re-examined, after having perhaps forgotten or removed them".
More concretely, I believe it is necessary first of all to address the most important cause of the disease, well described by Antiseri: the poisoning of the springs. The source of our civilization is polluted by an educational system that no longer works. The downgrading of the humanistic teachings represents a robbery of historical, philosophical, moral, poetic, literary and artistic awareness: a robbery of democracy. From this poisoned source, rules and institutions built to defend the freedoms and dignity of every man and woman end up losing consistency. Men and women are, more and more, relegated to cultivating a void form of narcissism and "by using the maximum capacity of their imagination manage simply to say ok. (H-G Gadamer).
If you no longer believe in the battle of ideas, but only in the battle of wealth, which will sooner or later lead to the sword; if we continue to poison the sources of knowledge by eradicating our thinking; if the highest lesson of Christianity rests at the mercy of a man who has returned half and no longer ... "all our culture goes away, and then we will have to go through many centuries of barbarism" (T.S. Eliot).
26/02/2019 Filippo Maglione