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Sand, shock and a labyrinth

The pulverization of contemporary desire

Paolo Ruggiero 


People talk of the fragility of relationships. Sometimes they evaporate as quickly as petrol, yet leave behind inflammable traces. 

An SMS. An email. An unanswered call. A goodbye in Arial 12.

«Il like you». «Me too». But then. «Sorry... I've had second thoughts». «?». «Perhaps it'd better if we didn't see one another». 


This is the fluorescent scenario in which words as sensitive as nitroglycerine confront facts and actions. What will count more? Her last SMS or surprising her with a still-warm fresh pastry from the baker's? 

You put your shoes on. You go and see. You meet. You dispel any drift into the absurd with a laugh.


It is obvious that it is all too easy to create, in just a few lines, scenarios of sand which in ten minutes become detached from reality, pricking senses of pride, susceptibility and misunderstandings. If one allows oneself to get carried away it is all too easy to send unheard of things. You open your email and you find an "I love you". No: "I hate you". There are those who touch live wires to experience the thrill of a shock. Just to see what it's like. 


After a memorable night, after perfect moments, one tries out the reaction to a senseless "googbye". One tries to operate the contradictory levers in an attempt to open unexpected doors or to flush out the other. 



But these strings devoid of physical dimension or even just the rhythm and pauses of a telephone conversation are attempts to stroke unreal aspects of a relationship. 

It is a characteristic of contemporaneity: curiosity about the world finds constant, accessible gratification. 

We download Martian soil into our desktop, but we probably can't even rustle up a Carbonara.


Awareness, self-analysis and lucidity: certain things reawaken the taste for a complicated chase. 

All the better if the "prey" does not allow itself to be captured that easily (God forbid: that would make it weak, banal!) 

What eludes us is the very thing that has us hankering. That's nothing new. «Are we or are we not what we are lacking?», said Carmelo Bene.


«Waiting for an SMS, a call or an email satisfies our craving for novelty. The uncertainty of receiving a reply creates a thrill and this releases dopamine, the pleasure hormone, the key hormone in triggering modern addictions», maintains neurologist Rosario Sorrentino. 


However, there is also the "non-addiction" factor. Relationships are currently crisscrossed with the fear of seeing one's autonomy limited. We are seated at the great keyboard of possibilties. 

There is one thing we like: the feeling of being able to choose. We live for the present. Also because planning has rebounded off a world which, for the moment, seems rather unstable and in manual drive mode. Every relationship we enter harmonizes with an aspect of our personality. One (or several), but not all of them. And this is what sanctions not granting "exclusivity". 


«But communication is also based on trust and long-sightedness in identifying the hidden nature of the other person and understandig what you want to share together», explains psycotherapist Françoise Sand in the book-interview "L'âge du labirinte", recently published in Italy by Feltrinelli.


Sand targets the generation birth from '68 to '78 (but the exceptions are not rare): «You could strike out in a thousand directions and you would find it difficult to settle for just one. Yes, your generation does appear to be afflicted by a dispersion of desire».


Generation labyrinth, in fact. Because their representatives take even longer than ten years to find their way and more stable contentment. A large community of people in the know, at the peak of their psychophysical potential, who instead of exploiting it often allow themselves to become inhibited by the enormous freedom they have. 

And it has fun, too, during the wait for a better opportunity.