neither this nor that. educating to diversity
Most important is to understand
you can always make mistakes
but often it doesn’t mean
that what it seems is like what it looks…
(Enrica Maria Agostinelli)
From my introduction
Nè Questo Nè Quello (Neither This Nor That) is a collection of different short stories about boys and girls, men and women, people who work, bump into each other, make plans, and live. The publishing company Libre intends to offer, thanks to this book, a space open to reflections on people’s life plan. This life plan can be metaphorically represented as a tree with several branches and twigs, sometimes with a big trunk, other times instead with a thin as well as strong one. The life plan consists of encounters, wishes, ambitions but also of weaknesses, misfortunes and disappointments. In few pages, this is the strong as well as light message that the two artist-authors tell in this book. They deal with the land and the environment where our metaphorical tree happens to live without choosing it, but starting to choose immediately after and following its own destiny in the relationship with the others thanks to the different choices, the continuous progress, the modification, the change that is typical of growing up.
More than a book about what, it is a book about how. To be or not to be evolves into how to be and the authors make it legible through the refined simplicity of the images that accompany the narration in rhyme. The construction of your own life plan just follows the thread and the weave of the evolution of your own identity. This process encounters and collides with stereotypes, standard thoughts and ways of thinking, and cognitive depressions where your conscience seeks refuge when curiosity hushes. Whereas, it is important to think and to show that things are not what they look like. In particular, what appears is not finished there but it is richer and bigger than what it seems. The points of view of the curious eye multiply, they open up, they become various and open to conscience, welcome and relation. Neither This Nor That offers unconventional and deep points of views about the various possibilities in life. They are staged by characters with a great humanity in their glances, gestures, and thoughts. The strong, brave “normality” of the girl who trains in her pram; the sensitivity of an adult who is not afraid of showing his own frailty to his children and of accepting their consolation; the working places (the garage) and the hobbies (knitting) that are experienced in an unconventional way by women and men who are free to do what they are fond of: these are just some examples of the great humanity of which Armini and Vitale offer us a sample. It is a book about humanity, a true humanity full of a lot of hope as it often happens when facts are told by artists, who are oblique interpreters of a factual reality that can never be only one. They deal with hope, but a real hope: sometimes bitter, when it encounters inevitable destinies, sometimes anyway perseverant and determined in offering what Tiziano Sclavi calls a possible “otherwhen” . Neither This Nor That is full of irony. This witty, harmonious, delicate irony accompanies the reading and causes an expected reaction that is however disclaimed by the deconstruction of the stereotypes narrated through images. Thus, the authors enjoyed playing hide-and-seek in front of the call of the stereotypes, and then showing up in different shapes and ways exciting a sense of surprise and arousing a new thinking, too. They generated a real and realistic new chance: exactly, an “otherwhen”. Anyway, this book is also — and perhaps especially — a playing with art and philosophy of art. Armini and Vitale get back to and develop the idea of Guy Debord saying: We place ourselves by the other side of culture: not before it, but after it. We claim that we need to achieve it by going beyond it, as it is a separate sphere.
Indeed, this text is not separate away from the world where it is set. Culture becomes like a means to get one’s hands dirty in and with society by proposing a narration which enters the nerve-centres without being impetuous or — better to say — with a delicate, smiling, almost zen thought. Meanwhile, this book asks the reader’s thinking head an essential question: what happens to our view, in case we eliminate the filters of stereotypes? The answers are to be found in the listening. As Marianella Sclavi states A good listener is an explorer of possible worlds.
Just a short note about the narrative rhythm. Neither This Nor That is a fluent, fast, and easy text that goes straight to the point without any frills; it is pulsed with people and characters who appear and disappear like in a sort of paper videoclip. This is a book to read by yourself, but especially a book to read together, it is open to numerous interpretations and to cultural discussion. Reading together like a sign of relation, of closeness. In fact, as Armini and Vitale claim, some things should be done in two.