The Philosophy Festival

castello in rosaIn the month of the pink sunset

I have been passionate about this philosophy festival since its first edition in 2015: I was in Ischia in the last week of September, lost in this wonderful atmosphere of change that the island offers with its livery of unique colors. Where I come from, a small city in northern Europe, we are always lurking in September, thinking that the weather will soon change abruptly, leaving space for the autumn colors, the leaves that accompany the rivers in gravity, in a course of fresh water, inexorable, in continuous movement, fast and greedy of past.

I realized that this island hosted an event like that because I was attracted to some signs that were placed on street lamps (unusual location, but - I must say - caught my attention). On these, there were some aphorisms signed by young people, I think they were between 10 and 18 years old, and they showed ethical reflections.
I was impressed! “La Filosofia il Castello e la Torre – Ischia International Festival of Philosophy”, even the name of the event seemed singular.
In Italy, there are several similar events. I had the pleasure of following some in first person and not just through social media. Socials! The more I stay away from it, the more I realize it’s a healthy thing! I believe that in the screens there are parallel realities that are often not real and that, as far as I am concerned - in contravention of an existing theory among contemporary intellectuals, which intends to demonstrate that even idiots have power of expression through media means. I say the opposite: through the lackluster writing imposed by the blue or red bulletin boards, stupidity transpires in an even more evident way. I would therefore advise them to keep writing!
Following instead the aphorisms of these guys, I found intense thoughts, opposed to the nonsense disseminated online. I then realized that in young people there is a simple and genuine philosophical substance. I find it fun to meet “real showcases” on the street.
This festival aims to change society at the base, through a strong pedagogical footprint that creates synergy. The awareness campaigns are alive and I think they meet in the boys a voice of strength, unique and direct. The month of civic sense seems like a good idea to export.
The first year the campaign had as its theme “Guida Si-Cura”, which was actually designed to influence the way in which you drive through the streets of this island. I know it is very difficult to drive here, that’s why I gladly walk. I do not think that its readers, given the current situation, have absorbed the awareness campaign. The second one was “Vivere in Comune”, a way to highlight what are the differences in the city nucleuses, then scholastic, work and administrative of an island that boasts as many as six different municipalities. The third year I was really impressed by the chosen theme: the Assenza del Bello. I thought it was impossible to talk about the absence of beauty in such a place. Then following the aphorisms of the boys, walking and reading them on the street, I began to understand what community reflection meant: if we do not respect the place where we live, how do we keep it as beautiful as nature gave it to us? I saw photos of the island without the Aragonese Castle and vice versa. One sentence among many impressed me: “I would never go to live elsewhere and even if I have economic problems I will stay on this island”. In the picture that accompanied the aphorism there was the Castle, the bridge that connects it to the island, but there was no island. Actually, it seemed to me quite raw. The truth is without veils, without mediation when it arrives, you cannot challenge it, foresee it, and you cannot hide it from yourself.
I met the director of the festival with his collaborators to find out something about the new edition, as well as wanting to know what will be the theme of the month of the civic sense of this edition.
“Natura Umana” will be the topic of discussion: over a hundred scholars from all over the world called to reflect together with the public. The concept will be addressed not only from the philosophical point of view: there will be biologists, journalists, writers, art exhibitions, workshops, concerts and even yoga classes. This year, then, there will be a conference opening in Naples on September 15 at the Maschio Angioino and it will be a biologist to open the dances of philosophical thought, Carlo Alberto Redi. The most famous guest will be Massimo Cacciari who will give a lecture entitled “Physis” (Nature). The awareness campaign? Here it is: #iosononatura. Who knows if Prof. Cacciari thinks being a natural being?
Since this festival wants to act on the social fabric, using philosophy explicitly is interesting. To think that philosophy can change the world is right, I do not know if essential. Many are linked to the belief that philosophy is an appendage of modern science. The festival team, however, believes that philosophy is one of the few things capable of changing people, of putting them together in an “unconscious” way.
In the program, there are very young speakers, referred to as “Young Thinkers”, young people who try their hand at conferences for the first time, led by the professors. This festival wants its strength in young people and this can only be a good thing. I was finally able to get from Maria Rita (one of the Festival’s collaborators) the cover sentence of the awareness campaign that inaugurates the month of civic sense. Here it is to you: I am nature because I reason, but both in a way we say good and in a bad way. We think that nature does everything for us but it is not so and when prof. said it, I thought: “Nature is right, because we exploit it too much. But, dear nature, do more often pink sunset!”
A phrase incisively sweet and dense. As a foreigner, I wonder if the inhabitants of the island read it as I am doing: do we reason like nature? Can’t we be non-natural? Good or bad? Who says he is bad? If nature was right - as claimed by little Roberta - should rebel against our presence? Maybe it is already doing it through the disclosure of our little common sense.
At the end of this little story, written with great enthusiasm, I find myself affirming Socratically (I am writing this just to please the philosophers who will read) I don’t know much of what is happening around me. Was it the claim to write something that resembled philosophy? What interests me about this story, however, is that as a foreigner, writer and lover of Italian culture, finding places and people who wonder about themselves and how they can improve their human condition, makes me feel at home.
Too often, we look at Italy as a nation torn between north and south, led by people capable of being unique, but less collective in their way of thinking and acting. If I were a philosopher, I would involve in politics and the Ischia festival seems to me to go in this direction: education! If I were Italian, I would involve in the State, constituting myself in the thought of collectivity.
One last thing, with regard to the phrase of little Roberta: after all we are passing through this land and if beauty can save the world - I wonder - who will save the human being from his presumption?
Yet, dear nature, even if you are not right, if I am not right, if we are not right, I ask you to make the pink sunset more often.

P.S. Sorry if I was too ironic, but I am not a philosopher, maybe.




Di Claude Gieger

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