In These Distressing Times…

Physical distancing in Montreal in April 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In January 2020, during the early planning of our Special Spring Print Issue, where this editorial also appears, we could hardly imagine that our work, our daily lives, the world as we know it, would be upended by a global pandemic. But here we are.

The sealing of borders, the closing of restaurants, bars, and theatres, and the shuttering of manufacturing plants and schools, has been devastating, both economically and psychologically. No work, no school, no eating out, no live theatre or sports, no live audiences on late-night TV shows. Just grocery shopping with mask and gloves. At least the food supply and the power grid haven’t been affected.

It is bitterly ironic that Italy – a country where handshakes, kisses on both cheeks, and full-body embraces are de rigueur – would be one of the worst-hit countries. Cases are counted in the hundreds of thousands, and the dead have surpassed thirty thousand (as of this writing). But in its despair, the country has provided a template for the world to come to grips with this pandemic, and to emerge from the economic, social and psychological crises (see Francesca M. LoDico’s beautiful narrative here).

“Sheltering in place” and “physical distancing,” terms we will long remember, are the new normal, forcing us to turn to technology to stay connected. Once wary of too much “screen time” or time wasted answering emails, we are now relying on the Internet like never before. At least we have an excuse! Students can connect with their teachers and workers can provide some measure of service to their clients – not to mention the streaming services that keep us entertained. It should come as no surprise that stock prices in tech companies like Netflix, Zoom, Facebook and others are soaring. Virtual aperitivo, anyone?

If there is an upside to the near-cessation of global economic activity, it is the effect on the natural environment. With factories closed, few planes in the air, and fewer cars and trucks on roadways spewing carbon into our atmosphere, the quality of the air around us has dramatically improved. The waters of the Venetian Lagoon have reportedly never been clearer, thanks to the absence of those gargantuan cruise ships (a hideous symbol of corporate hubris if ever there was one).

The publication (finally!) of our Special Print Issue means that the drastic isolation measures in place since March have brought about a significant reduction in the number of infections and deaths, allowing businesses, including commercial printers, to reopen (though we must remain vigilant lest we fall prey to overconfidence and cause a “second wave”).

For us, the special issue of Accenti, the first print issue since January 2015, is an opportunity to reconnect with our readers through traditional print media. The articles collected in the issue present a very rich and eclectic range of subjects, themes and genres and, though the articles appearing in the issue are also posted online, there is always a special feeling that comes from producing and holding a printed magazine. You can order a free copy here (until supplies last).

In print or online, the aim of Accenti is always to connect our readers with the expression of realities and experiences that arise when cultures meet and interact, and, in turn, give rise to new ideas and new forms. Happy reading!

This editorial was also published in Accenti 32, Special Print Issue (Spring 2020).
Domenic Cusmano is the publisher of
Accenti Magazine.

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