In a famous tv series released in recent years a young boy gets lost in a dark and cold place, populated by dangerous creatures that his friends call “upside down”. This strange place threatens to invade and infect the everyday reality of a small American city. The series I’m talking about is obviously Stranger things, very popular and exciting, but it made me ask the question: why “what is below” must always be represented as something scary and terrible? There are many things which stay below and, in most cases, they are not terrifying at all, but they are something to protect.
In our culture “being below” is synonymous with “having less value” and then it happens that in the common mentality, below there are the people, the workers, the migrants. Therefore it happens that an economic fragility and a lack of power is considered as a human inferiority. They are not people with a different life history, but beings which are a little less human than others.
Below, however, there are also women and here the topic becomes a little more complicated: being sensitive becomes hysterical, being receptive becomes stupid, being physically different becomes weak.
Still below there are also the children because, according to Western logic, they are not yet human beings because they do not know how to speak, because they do not know how to walk, because they are not rational. So, they can be treated like little puppies waiting for them to become men.
Finally, below (or better to say inside) there would be all the unknown world within the mind of each of us. So, below there would be a monster to fear, fight and stem, because if it emerged, it would infect and upset the tranquillity of conscience and the polite and friendly behaviour, the smile of courtesy (or convenience), the quiet living, the letting go.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if people, workers, migrants, students, women and children disappeared? And what would happen if our loves, our instinctive refusals, our dreams disappeared? What would remain of us?
Then perhaps what is below must be protected, but above all it must be understood. Men should stop ruining what’s beautiful about women just because it’s hard to understand, and women should stop treating children like puppies to feed and raise just because they can’t understand them, those in power should stop thinking of relationships with others only as convenient or useless, and we all should care and care about what makes us human, what exists but is invisible, what makes us ourselves, what is underneath.
Thanks to Chiara Fanasca for the translation of this article