Tag Archives: Guido Dotti

We Are under Care, Not at War
For a New Metaphor for Today

by Guido Dotti

Nurse holding a patient's hand

No, I will not resign myself. This is not a war; we are not at war.

Ever since the dominant narrative in Italy and in the world about the pandemic has assumed a war terminology—that is, immediately after the health situation in any given country changes drastically for the worse—I have been looking for a different metaphor to describe adequately what we are living and suffering and at the same time to offer elements of hope and of sense for the days ahead.

The recourse to the war metaphor has been pointed out and criticized by some commentators, but it has a fascination, an immediate reach and efficacy, so that it is not easy to stamp it out. With great interest I have read some contributions—not numerous, as far as I can see—that have appeared in Italian media: the article of Daniele Cassandro (“We are at war! Coronavirus and its metaphors”) for Internazionale, the mini-inquiry of Vita.it on “The virulence of war vocabulary,” the entry by Gianluca Briguglia on his blog Il Post (“No, it’s not a war”), and the excellent work of Marino Sinibaldi on Radio 3, who has dedicated one episode of “Language hits” to this very theme and has also introduced a possible alternative metaphor: the “vocabulary of tenaciousness.” The dozens of artists, scholars, intellectuals, and actors invited to choose and illustrate a significant word in this moment of history have furnished a valuable list that goes from “harmony” to “closeness,” but I cannot find there a term that might be a metaphor for the entire narrative of the reality that we are living.

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