I know that every generation has its own problems, but today I’d like to say something about my generation. I am talking specifically about those who were born in Italy, who are now about 30 years old and who have to deal with a work-market that is frenetic and stale at the same time; so contradictory that it often puts their backs to the wall.
Anyone born after 1989 with a dream realizes fairly quickly that he or she is cannon fodder. And, as a cannon fodder, your options are basically these two: mimesis or martyrdom. By mimesis I mean that you, in fact, become like your own abuser.
There are of course variations, depending on the person's range of action or ability to lie. Let's say you fall into the category when, to save your own back, you torpedo a colleague. Or when you over-act to please whoever is in that moment your boss. Or when, in any form, you give in to the logic of ‘it's a cruel world, you either eat or be eaten'. The most exhausting part of this process is trying to keep the myth that you are actually a good person.
The second category is empty, in the sense that anyone who belongs to it has either stopped trying or has committed suicide. I don't want to sound dramatic: it's simply what happens. It hurts to lose, that's why people don't talk about it.
It is a biological instinct, and certainly more than understandable. The problem is, however, that there is no pain that does not leave a trace. Whether individual or collective, personal or of others, ignoring these marks will not make them disappear. On the contrary; pain, like any kind of energy, needs transformation, and in fact I am here to talk to you because we need to talk about loss, and only a loser can do that. These words would not make sense if I and the people who inspired them were happy people today. And neither would it make sense if we had stopped trying. It only makes sense because we have lost, until today.
Is this my swan song? A testament? A prayer? A blasphemy? Just an act of therapy? As far as I know, it's mostly the only thing I could think of, which, by the way, didn't even occur to me.
Why am I talking? To create a third category, that of those who have lost but are not defeated. What's the difference, you say? Apparently, none. But the Nobility of Failure by Ivan Morris provides an interesting definition of the defeated.
The man whose profound honesty forbids the operations and compromises so often necessary for earthly glory… Throwing himself into his painful destiny he defies the dictates of convention and common sense until the extreme moment when he is defeated by his enemy.
Defeat thus becomes proof of innocence, capable of arousing respect for “those men who cannot or will not bow before the degraded divinity of success.”
I therefore speak to you as an act of resistance. Resistance defines those who are losing but have not given up. We want to win as we say. That is why we lose miserably. It might not be a happy ending; but it is not actually an ending either.