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MANIFESTO

The main theme behind Campania Libri Festival is the practice of listening and reading, which every book invites us to do. On the other hand, sociology, philosophy and literature have been thinking for a very long time about the relative out-datedness of books themselves, given an era that seems to prefer other ways of passing culture and knowledge on.  

In his book Understanding Media, 20th century mass-media expert Marshall McLuhan wrote that books – as printed-paper items found in bookshops and libraries – are essentially linked to a phase of “explosion and mechanical expansion”. That same explosion, broke out in the so-called electric era – although McLuhan didn’t know anything about computers, smartphones and the Internet – has been replaced by “implosion and contraction”, both features of the modern “global village”. 

Whatever way McLuhan’s prophecies are judged, his general thought remains fundamentally true: a culture capable to understand the technological infrastructure by which it is supported and made possible has never existed. A so-called technological “idiocy” is therefore a condition that doesn’t affect us directly, since we ignore almost everything about the way in which our devices work. But it does in fact touch every man: every individual is much more subject to the technology he uses rather than being an active and conscious owner of it. Mankind has been aware of how books are produced by reading them for centuries; but it certainly ignored the conceptual and tangible effects produced by the invention of the book first and the letterpress printing later. 

Today, while a new technological revolution is ongoing, making us, so to speak, “idiots” because of the effects of what we grab in our hands (PC, tablet, smartphone and any other form of new digital textuality), in return we have more possibilities to understand what reading meant in our past and what it could still mean now. Whatever reading could mean, as we shift our gaze on the page, while silently whispering the words of a book. What it could mean, for example, reading in terms of rational posture; critical discernment; analytical capacity; attention, and imagination: we assume it and defend it as a fundamental acquisition of the authentic human culture. 

The “Festival della Lettura e dell’Ascolto” is dedicated to the dissemination and promotion of such culture; of its educational, civic, and intellectual value. The main theme of the event is, indeed, Listening, seen as a way of enjoying and experiencing the object-book; as a specific modality of attention (or, in the word of French philosopher Nicolas Malebranche, as a “natural prayer of the soul”). Therefore as a way to listen; to focus on what deserves or captures our attention; to exercise sensitivity and respect, but also to seek the rhythm of life itself and the breath of words through sounds, voices, and noises.  

Massimo Adinolfi

According to one of the most famous mass-media experts of the twentieth century, the Canadian Marshall McLuhan, the book – as a typographic object made of printed paper, placed in bookstores and libraries – is essentially linked to “the explosion and mechanical expansion”. That explosion, which broke out in the so-called electric era – although McLuhan didn’t know anything about computers, smartphones, and the Internet, is now replaced by the “implosion and contraction”, as those are both features of the new “global village” (M. McLuhan, Understanding Media, McGraw- Hill Book Company, New York 1964). 

Whatever way McLuhan’s prophecies are judged, his general thought remains fundamentally true: a culture that has understood the technological infrastructure by which it is supported and made possible has never existed. A so-called technological “idiocy” is therefore a condition that does not affect us, since we ignore almost everything about how the devices we use work but it touches every man. Everyone in fact is much more subordinate to what kind of technology he uses than an active and aware subject. Mankind has been aware of how books are produced by reading them for centuries, but people ignored for sure all the ideal and material effects caused firstly by the invention of the book and then by the printing system with movable type. 

Today, while a new technological revolution is ongoing, making us “idiots” because of the effects of what we grab in our hands (PC, tablet, smartphone …: new digital textuality), we have more possibilities in return to understand what reading meant in our past and what it could still mean. Whatever reading could mean as shifting our gaze on the page, silently whispering the words of a book. What it could mean, for example, reading in terms of rational posture, critical discernment, analytical capacity, attention, and imagination: we assume it, and we defend it as a fundamental acquisition of the authentic human culture. 

The “Festival della Lettura e dell’Ascolto” is dedicated to the dissemination and promotion of this culture, of its educational, civil, and intellectual value. The main theme of the event is, indeed, Listening, considered as a way of enjoying and experiencing the object-book, and as a specific modality of attention (or as a French philosopher, Nicolas Malebranche, said between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries “natural prayer of the soul”). And therefore: to listen, to turn to what deserves or captures our attention, to exercise sensitivity and respect, but also to seek the rhythm of life itself and the breath of the word through sounds, voices, and noises. Massimo Adinolfi 

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