A few years ago, I heard the theory of «The Gutenberg Parenthesis,» developed by the Danes Thomas Pettitt and Lars Ole Sauerberg. I was fascinated by the idea that a technological change, such as the invention of the printing press, not only produces a radical change in the way we have of being and thinking, but also that the technological change in which we currently are, the Internet, leads us to a way of learning and of thinking similar to the one that existed before the press in the fifteenth century. Before the press, orality was fundamental. In contrast, during the centuries where the printed (and contained) letter was the only form of thought distribution, orality became secondary. And then, with the arrival of the internet, this other form of «orality» (with Google and social media) is again fundamental in the way we have of relating to one another.
These days, I reflected on how much the professional realities I know are changing during the pandemic. I thought about the survival of professions related to cultural events, and in the adaptation of this new way of making a stage out of our home. I also thought about how the actual overdose of digital cultural content will affect the way the next generation creates. And I thought about the teachers who make a classroom out of their room while they struggle to catch the attention of some students who are as fed up as they are about this situation.
Following Pettitt’s theory, I want to think that the pandemic is also a parenthesis, and that this way of feeling, creating and communicating through social media is a temporary consequence. And when all of this passes, we will again appreciate the beauty of orality (and of making a stage out of our garden) but hopefully, without a screen in between.