I am starting this ‘sob’ (sort of blog) mostly because I have nothing better to do, other than being a familiar feature in the landscape of my neighborhood as the only sidewalk smoker of the street, but also because I would like to contribute to the confusion and cacophony that rules on the web.
Since being just another foolish whisperer in a maelstrom of voices is too easy, I set up a couple of further hurdles for myself, just to ease my mind. First, I adopted a format (‘sob’) which requires fast thinking and even faster composing, even though I am a slow writer because since my youth I have been cursed with an intoxicating, self-defeating aspiration to the perfect flowing of words, courtesy of late Nineteenth century French poets. Second, to make things worse, I decided to write in English (its American variety), not in my mother language.
Now that I piled up enough excuses, be warned: I will try to glorify imperfection simply because otherwise I will go back and forth between writing a word, deleting it, writing another one, deleting again, and so on, towards the infinity of nothingness. Which, I have to confess, would be morbidly rewarding because it destroys the impulse of communicating.
This flimsy motivation carries a similarly insubstantial idea of my possible readers. Since I decided to get into this, I have been told that I need to have a specific audience in mind, and to keep the style and topics in line with it. Either as a sign of arrogance or as a leap of faith in humanity, I am instead refusing this and other cheap marketing tools, and I will try to speak to anyone who might be curious – like a cute kitten – about this strange idea of Central Corners.
It follows that the style is also going to be erratic. Ideally, I would like to write in such a way that it might be captivating and engaging for anyone. Practically, I know that it is almost impossible because of the differences in interests, cultural subtexts, preferences and whatever else. Anyway, thanks to the globalization of ideographic language, I might be just able to come up with the right mix of intellectual depth and layman clarity, along the lines of something like: ‘To be or not to be’ 🤔. You can now choose the best representation of your current reaction: 😲😬😥😠😰😱😂.
Finally, in theory a blog should either be focusing on a specific subject (nice dads, diapers for dogs…) or proposing a commentary on hot topics (any day of February and March 2020, for example, coronavirus, primaries of the Democratic party in the US…), but I will do neither. I am going to use the concept of Central Corners as an excuse – did I write ‘excuse’? I meant concept – for scribbling about whatever comes into my mind.
And here we come to the point: what are Central Corners?
Central Corners are fundamental peripheries whose importance is inversely proportional to their perceived insignificance (1).
Central Asia, the place that inspired the idea of Central Corners (2), is an example: sitting in the middle between Europe and Asia, geographically it is the fulcrum of the largest landmass on Earth, but at the same time it is widely underrated and scarcely known.
Anyway, while Central Asia had a relevant role to play in the conception of Central Corners, and it will definitely be the subject of at least one post, this is not going to be limited to that region or even to spatio-temporal locations. Central Corners can well be purely metaphorical.
Summing up, Central Corners are either less known but important or prominent but trivial things (3). I know, thing is not a proper descriptor because it includes almost everything – technically it excludes nothing; although, by defining nothingness with a noun aren’t we making it something? Regardless, the concept of Central Corners is just a tool for interpretation. As any tool, short of true artificial intelligence (that would transform the tool into a being), by itself it does not accomplish much: it needs to be used. In this case, through an interpretation by someone who can characterize something as a Central Corner. It may be a unique or a widespread perception – shared by one person (an idiosyncratic view), a few (a counterculture), many (a cultural framework), most (a global phenomenon), or all human beings (human nature, if there is any) – but it remains always a subjective one: of the individual, the group, the species. Since I am proudly part of all these categories (supposedly human, partially globalized, culturally (re)situated, variably minoritarian, idiotically individualistic), I think I fit the bill.
So, what I am going to do is to use the concept of Central Corners for digging into the existential realities of today as they are melting into multiple transient shapes that morph from de-solidifying pasts into their quantum states of the future.
Just joking. That sounds almost like academic gibberish – although, since there is some meaning in it, it cannot be fully academic.
Even more confused than at the beginning? Good! Enough has been said about the idea, it is time to explore its real and imagined geochronographies 😏.
- Technically, they can also be major focal centers whose blatant irrelevance is inversely proportional to the perception of their paramount role. Gossip about various famous people would be an example. I would like to avoid this because I would prefer not to reinforce its ubiquitous presence. Anyway, it is a social media world after all, so no promises. P.S. Sorry for the footnote, it is the academic writing’s curse I carry with me, but I swear I am trying to get rid of it.
- Isaacs R. & Frigerio A. (2019), Introduction, in Theorizing Central Asian Politics, Cham: Palgrave, 2.
- If you are wondering about what the second part of the definition refers to, it means you didn’t read the first footnote. Shame on you! Suffer the curse of every bachelor student and remember that if this was an exam, you might have been asked about the footnote.