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Cursive is disappearing not only from new students’ notebooks but also from our lives; to realize this, just think of all the rebrandings of large companies in recent years. Of all the written content we consume, only a very small part is written by hand and, excluding students, there aren’t that many opportunities to write. In fact, knowing whether or not to read and write in cursive is very little influential nowadays: it is no coincidence that many American States are no longer teaching it.

Nostalgia aside, this change in writing can make us reflect on the progressive loss of details we are witnessing. Minimalism has been in vogue for years now: the street lamps in our streets, the house number plates, the facades of simple stucco buildings and many other examples. This is not a simple matter of taste: the reasons behind this multitude of changes we are witnessing are multiple and interconnected.

First of all, a growing and all-encompassing attention to what is practical, quickly achievable and easily usable. Cursive is harder to read and doesn’t read digitally, so we stop teaching it; mass production of simpler urban design objects saves on design and production costs, so decorated wrought iron railings are replaced by simple steel bars; the packages on the shelves lose their iconic design in favor of increasingly eye-catching packaging, with bright solid colors and bold fonts.

In the name of efficiency we build buildings, avenues, cities all the same which have not only become more bare but which have also, at the same time, given up their identity. American suburbia is perhaps the most irrefutable and dated symbol of this trend: those terraced houses that follow one another in an unavoidable maze are suspended in space, unlocalizable non-places in the open sky.

This passion for uniformity is not intrinsically negative, but it is clear that it cannot be isolated from the context of which it is the product. Ours is an increasingly fast-paced society that no longer has time for everything that does not have a function – or rather, it believes it no longer has. Suburbia is the manifestation of our scale of values: the disintegration of the social fabric seems like a small price to pay for a terraced house and a beautiful garden. Every time a brand decides to change its historic logo with a simple onefuture it gives up that particularity that distinguished it from its competitors and with each identical bench, always produced by the same company and then installed, the world becomes a little flatter.

Perhaps we should try to rediscover, as a society, the joy of complexity, care and attention, even for things that seem marginal.

Silvia De Nardis

We host on Papillon the article by the editor Silvia De Nardis published in La ZANZARA, the newspaper of the G B Grassi scientific high school in Latina, within a collaborative project with the editorial staff.


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