Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Coronavirus: borders, citizenship, mobility

This pandemic will impact all of us enormously, and in a variety of different ways. I do not dare venturing into areas I do not know, so my thinking has been focused chiefly on borders, citizenship, and mobility. Here is what came out of it.

In a first article, published on GLOBALCIT together with Jelena Dzankic, we discuss the role citizenship plays in the context of public health responses to emergencies, including evacuations and quarantines, travel and socio-cultural constraints. In a second article, published on the blog of the nccr – on the move together with Joëlle Moret, we write that the current crisis of mobility further reinforces social and national inequalities. In the infographic, which we realised for the nccr – on the move together with Andreas Perret and Jelena Dzankic, we show the quick diffusion of border closure globally and the categories that are most frequently exempted (nationals, residents, diplomats, transport personnel, family members of nationals…).

This is a small contribution to understanding what is happening in the world these days. It has little to do with the medical social implications of this virus: there are other people who are much better situated to explain that. But it is important because, I am afraid, the sudden restrictions to borders introduced in the last few weeks won’t disappear overnight.

Weekend long reads, March 2020

Lauren Collins, The anguish and solidarity of Paris under lockdown, The New Yorker. Kenan Malik, Coronavirus exposes society’s fragility. Let’s find solutions that endure once it’s over, The Guardian. Owen Jones, We’re about to lear a terrible lesson from coronavirus: inequality kills, The Guardian. Ivan Krastev, Seven early lessons from coronavirus, European Council on Foreign Relations. Adam Chandler, Let’s politicize the coronavirus crisis, The Washington Post.

Morire soli

Scrive Simone: “L’unica forma di provare dare chiavi di lettura socio-antropologiche al tempo che stiamo attraversando, almeno in questo qui e ora, è quella di partire dalle micro-storie che stanno sotto il velo dei numeri di contagi, decessi e guariti da cui siamo continuamente bombardati. Le storie di chi si è ammalato, di chi presta lavoro di cura in ospedale e fuori, di chi deve uscire di chi deve star chiuso in casa, di chi una casa non ce l’ha e di chi non ci vuole stare. Se guardiamo, ad esempio, all’emergenza sanitaria non è solo la mancanza di letti di terapia intensiva che può far capire la tragedia sociale che stiamo attraversando ma il fatto che un/a volontario/a, un/a infermiere/a e un/a medico debba ergersi, senza che sia suo compito, e senza essere stato addestrato/a a farlo, a giudice di vita o di morte. Se osserviamo i decessi, non è l’immenso numero di questi giorni che sovverte l’ordine sociale, giustificando le misure di restringimento delle libertà individuali, ma il fatto che alla morte sia negata la propria natura sociale di rito di passaggio. Spesso si muore soli, ma solo in circostanze a-normali si nega la celebrazione sociale del passaggio, rendendo incomprensibile e incommensurabile la perdita“.

E poi questo articolo.

Quarantena, appunti

Con Arianna.

Cuciniamo: tiramisu (idea di Pierluigi), ragù (idea di Luca e Marco), pasta al pesto, cosce di pollo (idea di Daniela), zuppa d’aglio e zuppa di lenticchie (idee austriache), tartare di salmone (idea di Marco P), polpette di melanzane, zuppa di ceci, risotto di zucchine, piselli con carciofi, polpette di spinaci, risotto al Saint-Émilion (omaggio all’ultimo capodanno), crespelle, zuppa di salmone (omaggio a Johannes).

Corriamo: brevi escursioni sulla collina che porta al Sacro Cuore salendo dal versante nord, quello meno conosciuto ma anche più bello. Passiamo dalla Square Joel le Trac, Maison Rose, Lapin Agile, la vigna di Montmartre, place du Tertre: sono luoghi incantanti, sempre, ma in primavera e con le strade sgombre ancora di più. Quando verrete a trovarci ve li faremo vedere.

Lavoriamo: quanto e forse più di prima, con gli occhi piantati sugli schermi.

Messaggiamo: io ho iniziato a usare Whatsapp assiduamente. Si scherza quanto possibile con tanti amici e parenti. Una quarantena senza internet sarebbe assai diversa. Ho anche sentito cari amici con cui ultimamente si erano persi un poco i contatti: Pierre-Alban e Roberto.

Leggiamo: Arianna divora Metà di un sole giallo di Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie e lo consiglia a tutti. Per me niente libri purtroppo: sono ossessionato dalla situazione attuale e le sue conseguenze in termini di salute, economia, finanza, mobilità, migrazioni. A tal riguardo consiglio due articoli comparsi su The JacobinThe Guardian. Vorrei anche segnalarvi un’espressione che ho appreso dai giornali in questi giorni: “nose-dive“, riferita all’andamento delle borse (e dei miei risparmi).

Smoothie: uno al giorno, ricordando Pietro.

Balliamo: rock and roll (più o meno).

Pensiamo: arrabbiati, a quando tutto questo già succedeva in Italia e la Francia guardava con condiscendenza. Qui si rivive lo stesso film, ma con circa dieci giorni di ritardo.

Idee per i prossimi giorni: ricominciare a giocare online con amici, disegnare, .

Roccia solitaria

Vicino a Scex Rouge, Glacier 3000, con Yvan, Jean-Thomas, Maria e Quinn, ultimo fine settimana prima della quarantena (8 marzo). Dietro alla roccia c’è un rifugio, talmente piccolo e nascosto che non riesco più a ritrovarlo nemmeno su Google.

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Ganghoferlauf in Leutasch

I spent a weekend with my father between Innsbruck, Leutasch and Seefeld in Tyrol. It felt good.

***

The train ride between Zurich and Innsbruck is spectacular: Zürichsee, Wädenswil, Walensee, Vaduz, Feldkirch, Bludenz, St. Anton (the Arlberg Valley and the Voralberg). It is not the first time I take this train; but finally I take some pictures looking out of the window.

I arrive in Innsbruck in the late afternoon. My father picks me up: we drop our backpacks and drive up to Leutasch to check the ski tracks and get our race numbers. My father had signed us up for the Ganghoferlauf. Despite being being absolutely unpronounceable, this is the biggest cross-country event of Austria. My father had wisely decided to participate to the 25km, supposedly a piece of cake in comparison to the 60 km of the Diagonela and the 70 km of the Marcialonga.

One day before the race, the organisers decide to exclude participants coming from four Italian regions (Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto) because of the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. My father and I do not come from those regions, but I ask him to keep a low profile: Italians do not get very good press these days. Upon arriving to the place where we were supposed to get our race numbers he starts yelling ‘Adele, Adele!’ and runs across the queue to hug a race aficionada he knew. Later he seems to take a certain pleasure coughing loudly and swearing in Italian ‘Mannaggia che brutta tosse!‘. People keep a distance from us.

On Saturday morning we arrive at the starting blocks at around 8:40. We entertain phone calls with mother and friends right before the departure. We play it cool.

Ganghoferlauf_1 (5451)

It is a beautiful landscape. The snow is fresh, but difficult to ski. It tends to stick under the wax, right below the skis. On top of the first hill I must to stop together with other participants to clean up my skies. My father does not care much to wait for me: he rolls on, happy as a kid in his ninja outfit.

I chase. I get on the second hill and must stop again. This time, though, I decide to clean my skies a little further on, at the beginning of the downhill. Big fucking mistake. I clean my right ski alright. I am about to clean the left ski, but I realise it is no longer there. It is going down the descent already. What do I do?

I chase it with my right ski on. It is possible, after all.


Alas, I am no Bode Miller. I am too slow. So after 300 meters I stop, take out my right ski, and start running behind my left ski. Now it looks more like this.

Other participants are overtaken by a lonely ski and then by an Italian guy who runs down the hill like a little devil screaming ‘Achtung! Achtung!‘. They seem uncomfortable. Go figure.

I catch my ski after 1 km of descent. At that point, I am pretty much done for it. But I continue and rejoin my father. We roll joyfully to the finish line.


The next day we go for some backcountry skiing to Glungezer Hütte (2677 m). We take a lift in Tulfes (922 m), then start walking in Schartenkogel (2.055 m). It is not much of a walk, but the weather is cold and windy. By the time we get up we are half frozen. The last steps are fun, as you have to hold yourself to a rope. I managed to take a quick shot of my father climbing up. I hold the camera in the wind and the snow. Quite a feeling. We order two memorable soups that I will try to imitate once I am back home and we prepare for the descent. The weather has cleared up. It is now bright and calm. The afternoon is swell.

In the evening we drive back to Leutasch and we land in the sauna, which is wonderful. Also remember to go eating at Weinhaus Happ. Notes for the next time we will be in Innsbruck: di Wilderin and Karwendel.

On Monday we go backcountry skiing again, but the wind is now too strong and we prefer to stop. We visit the Kaiserjägermuseum and the Tyrol Panorama, home of the beautiful Gigantic Panoramic Painting depicted below. These museums are located right below the spectacular Bergisel Ski Jump (I did not manage to take a picture myself, so I am using Michielverbeek’s).

Upon returning to Neuchâtel I am content. I still cannot pronounce Ganghoferlauf.

Weekend long reads, February 2020

Alice de Brancion, On a visité Le Louvre avec un regard féministe et c’était passionnant, Les Inrockuptibles. Alice Gregory, How Dorothea Lange Defined the Role of the Modern Photojournalist, The New Yorker. Lindsay Crouse, My Ex-Boyfriend’s New Girlfriend is Lady Gaga, The New York Times; Lauren Collins, Was Jeanne Calment the Oldest Person Ever Lived – Or a Fraud?, The New Yorker; Julian Lucas, Can Slavery Reenactment Set Us Free?, The New Yorker.

Macabre dancing

I discovered the Joy Division thanks to Marco, Leila and Niels in Torino, at Blah-Blah. I knew them before, as we all do, but I did not really understand what they stood for.

Two years later I found So This is Permanence during my visit to Shakespeare and Co. It is a volume of Ian Curtis’s notes and crossings outs on the original lyrics. It stands as a testimony of the influence of the likes to Rimbaud and Kafka on Curtis’ worldview.

A few months later, Jean Thomas insisted we watched a movie on Ian Curtis life: Control 2007. He sold me the movie not because it was about the Joy Division, but because it had a wonderful photography. That’s right. The movie, in black and white, is directed by Anton Corbijn, who had worked as official photographer for the band.

And then, some time ago, I stumbled into a short article by Fabio Zuffanti of La Stampa. I discovered a few other things that I did not know before. For example, the name Joy Vision comes from the sexual slavery wing of a Nazi concentration camp mentioned in the 1955 novel House of Dolls. The article also highlights the connections between Joy Division, David Bowie, and Albert Camus. And it finds the right adjectives: haunting, oppressive, claustrophobic (the sound); far, reverberating (Ian Curtis’ voice).

Grüne Papeterie

Shortly after NYE in Bordeaux, Thomas and I rejoined in Berlin. He was traveling from the South-West of Europe all the way up North to Copenhagen. We spent three days around Kreuzberg together with Anna and Felix (Jonas also made an impromptu appearance). It was grey and rainy, but we had a jolly good time.

If you are in the area, then go to Kvartira 62 for some vodka with pickles before dinner; Gong Gan for Korean bowls with Lego or Schwiliko for Georgian sources made with herbal roots; then head to die Kommune for Turbo Mate and finally visit the Hotel, where you can play team-chess until 2:30AM.  From there, we suggest you move to Tresor: apparently the bouncers have a very loose policy and let everybody in (Alas, we were not). Also, buy some drawing material at die Grüne Papeterie before they close it down and then go for a walk: you might bump into something that strikes you as beautiful. If you have only one museum to pick, then my informed choice would be die Berlinische Galerie – Anna and I were lucky and found a Bauhaus exhibition there.

On one of the pages of my paper I scribbled a little poem: “Silenzio / Improvviso battito d’ali / Uno stormo si leva nel cielo azzurro / Sferragliamento su rotaia“. Then I wrote down a list of ‘Things that make me feel I am in Berlin‘: candles, the s-bahn passing above your head, sneakers, musicians in the street, graffiti, bars that are more like apartments with open doors, a lot of queer and postcolonial books, smell of roasted meat when walking on the street.

Landwehr Canal

Prima luce del mattino che esce dalle nuvole, riflessa sulle finestre delle case, che sono gialle, eleganti ma semplici. Si direbbe un primo, fragile squarcio di azzurro. Sopra alle case uno stormo di circa cinquanta uccelli volano in circolo salendo dal basso verso l’alto. Davanti alle case c’e’ un ampio marciapiede in terra battuta con tante pozzanghere. Il marciapiede è affacciato su un piccolo fiume, forse un canale. Salici piangenti marroni e senza foglie, un ragazzo che fa jogging, una ragazza che scatta una foto al canale. Nel canale si vedono delle increspature: l’acqua scorre lenta ma costante. Sull’altra riva ci sono circa venti cigni che riposano placidi, una barca semplicissima (un guscio di noce) abbandonata sulla riva; dietro, un grande prato e un monumentale palazzo ocra in stile classico con torri circolari e una serie di finestroni.