“I am just a technician”

the islet of calm before the storm

After the enchanted summer parenthesis, which included September and October and when I read, saw friends, and swam in the sea, it is time to face the reality. The second corona wave, tragic events in many countries, and twilight of democracy all over, with a feeling that digital technology not only does not help us to combat the virus and protect the most vulnerable, but often serves the opposite goal, helping to exacerbate inequalities and foster division and violence.

I have been reading the volume of short sotires Tutte le cosmicosmiche (“Cosmicosmics”) by Italo Calvino, written in the 1960s. It assembles his modern cosmogonies, some funny, others dystopian.

In one of them, the protagonist Qfwfq and his female friend are kidnapped by a bandit Bm Bn amidst a major cosmic change, which will destroy most of their world.

Suddenly, in the last moment of calm before the storm, a scientist enters the scene. He introduces himself as an Inspector of High and Low Tides and explains that, according to his calculations, only their islet is going to survive. The protagonist wants to share this piece of information with everybody else, but is brutally interrupted by the bandit, who wants to be the only one to profit.

When Qfwfq seeks solidarity from the Inspector, the Inspector replies that he is ‘a technician’ and hence would put his knowledge at the disposal of whoever is ‘in command’.

Io sono un tecnico. Se qui, come mi pare d’aver capito, è il signore ad avere il commando,  – e fece un cenno di capo verso Bm Bn, – è alla sua attenzione che vorrei sottoporre i risultati dei miei calcoli.

Dangerous words, dangerous attitude, alas also typical for our own times.