My experience of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy

By Antonio Karim Lanfranchi

In many ways, the psychological impact of the pandemic is still often treated as a parenthesis that we prefer to forget. At worst, it appears as a brief discontinuity in the linear trajectory of modernity, a temporary trauma to be reintegrated into the uniform scheme of normality. Or as a transitory flaw in the economic production of bodies for profit and growth. In this article, I gather my reflections on the pandemic as an opportunity for change, as a wound that can open up to another, unknown dimension; not a collective traumatic event to be forgotten or reintegrated, but an apophatic opening and thus a real prospect of systemic crisis. Based on my personal experience, I describe my discovery of the natural proximity of illness and death and how only the collective experience of mourning can honour memory without denying or repressing the common vulnerability. Acknowledging that our lives are not completely our own puts us in a position to actively affirm our interdependence, to be able to open ourselves to an alternative to the dominant apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic theology and its paranoid drifts. The Compost thus becomes a paradigm of collective consciousness, not towards an ecology of systemic sustainability, but as a ‘being with the other’ that respects the unknowable and can open to change.

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