Last time we spoke with Dalia, she had returned to her home city of Naples, Italy, after being fired from her job in Berlin. This week we checked in with her to see how she is going and hear more about her life in quarantine.
ON FREE MONEY
(Dalia, pictured right)
Have you heard what is happening in Berlin? It’s crazy. It’s super nice. Super ‘solidarity’. The senate finally unblocked I don’t know how many euro’s right now that will be distributed amongst unemployed freelancers. But there is not any discrimination. You just fill in the document, the application, and then you get this money. The point is that because it is so open and it is going to be so easy to get it, they have organised this online queuing, to a platform or whatever. The whole population of Berlin is basically in line in this queue, so 150,000 people, and we are waiting since days now. Watching our laptops. The server crashes sometimes because, of course, so many people are watching. I’m around number 20,000 *laughs*.
(Ruth, pictured left) Wow, you’re kind of near the top!
Definitely. My friends and I were helping each other to scout for some kind of funds, so I was probably one of the first to know about it. Everybody is asking each other ‘which number are you?’ ‘Number 31,560!’ *laughs*
How much money do you get?
€5000. Total. One sum. And it’s not a loan, it’s a grant. So you don’t need to give it back.
Do you know anybody who has received the money yet?
No. no but I am in contact with a person who is part of a union for artist in Berlin, and she is trying to find, share and circulate as many permissions as she can – getting her hands on documents other people have not seen, etc. Because you do not know what these official documents have requested etc, but she saw it, so it does exist!
It’s very different to the Dutch system. What they are setting up here you have to provide previous tax returns, say how much your rent is etc. So it will be calculated based on your income and expenses, rather than a general lump sum that is the same for everyone.
I really like that they are doing it like this for Berlin, but how can they certify that people really need it? I totally believe that these people really need it, not that they are trying to steal money from the state, but you know? In Amsterdam they sound much stricter. It will depend on how much money the municipality has to go around, of course.
What can people receive in Italy?
Still nothing. If I’m not wrong, they are unblocking some funds at the end of this month, but I don’t know what the criteria is for getting this money. I’ve heard freelancers will get 600euros per month. That is nothing. Like, are you kidding me? What I read in the newspapers is only around ‘OK guys, we have a problem and we don’t know how to fix it. People are continuing to die, and we don’t know why or what to do’. It’s fucking crazy.
This morning I was talking to a friend who is in the west of Germany, and I was telling her that right now I feel like I’m on an island. Because there is this read strip of nations around the North of Italy that is this ‘forbidden zone’, and that is dividing the north and south of Italy from Europe even more. This kind of ‘fire land’.
ON THE ROOM OF HOPE
I definitely want to still go back to Berlin. I’ve been checking flights the past days. My family have been very understanding, they know I have a different lifestyle and they are not trying to change it. There are many flights from Naples to Berlin, and cheap – not just with Ryan Air. Yesterday I was quite sad but metaphorically positive, because I paid my rent in Berlin. At first I was thinking ‘Fuck, I’m paying the rent of an empty room’, but in the end, in my mind, it is paying the rent of the Room of Hope. It’s strange that you have a place that is far away, and it is staying in your mind that you want to go back there. You keep a reason to stay with chamber of resonance, this chamber of dreams. That’s more poetical…
I keep studying from here. Doing my reading, though I am missing having something practical to do. So, my brother and I have started a 2000-piece puzzle.
Yes, I am reading a lot too. I am recovering the ability to read. I am shutting out a lot of stuff. Not having social media anyway makes that by default your natural state, and I am really enjoying the ability, the full ability, to make decisions about what you are exposed to and what you are not. I’m seeing this as an opportunity to focus. Not to be distracted. I still see a divide of two camps; those choosing to take this a window of permission to slow down and revisit what you’ve been wanting to do before (for whatever reason), and those who are hyper-hyper connected. Those finding distractions from the void, from reality, from themselves. How many calls are you doing a day?
One. Just one. I am sticking to my ‘plan’. And there have been days without any calls. But you are the first person I am Skyping with for a second time. I have many friends and it is nice to say hi to them, one hour a day. It is a pleasure.
You’re the only person I have called twice, too. I also prefer just one call per day. It is enjoyable but it is also tiring.
I’m fielding messages. I know they are messages of care and genuine concern; I just can’t be on my phone all day though.
Me neither. At a certain point, something in the conversation is getting weaker isn’t it? The matters of the conversation experience-wise are the same. It’s better to come up with new ideas and then share it.
ON MAKING NEW FRIENDS
Look at this Ruth. I have been making new friends. I started to create a lot of fancy animals in a moment of boredom. It’s from a children’s game. I don’t know where I found it, but I found it and there are these stickers to put on the balloon, cute eyes and mouths. So, I have a lot of friends now that are around my room. No, actually, this is the only one that has survived.
Today is Saturday. I want to do something special because it is the weekend.
Are you still thinking in Monday to Friday, and weekends?
Yes. I don’t feel different on the weekend. but the idea of totally losing the perception of time scares me a bit. It’s a social construction, for sure. I don’t know, I still need to count the days. If I stop thinking of the weekly days I think I could indulge too much. For example, I have totally stopped watching television. I’m not used to watching television anyway, it’s not something I miss but anyway, it’s there. I could start sitting on the sofa and binge-watch some bullshit. I still try to go for a walk, but it is a bit of a military state outside. You need a reason to go outside. In fact, I just wrote something, I will translate it for you, I call it a not-so-fiction story. It’s going to published on Zero, an Italian platform. The story is about how at some point people will start wanting to be dogs. Because dogs can walk, they can walk free. They are the reason people can go outside. It’s the idea of dogs as connectors.
Are people sharing dogs?
There are so many memes. You would not believe. People are not selling but renting their dogs people. Memes of dogs praying to have some rest. In the not-so-fictional story I am quoting Donna Haraway’s Companion Species Manifesto. It is also because I was sensing something… you know how in many catastrophes animals are the first sensors? Like the canary in the mines. I am recognising how in this time no animal is afraid. None of them. It’s more the end of the human world than the animal world.
When I walk in the forest here in the morning there is so much bird song. I was wondering too if they know what’s happening.
I think, no. Birds, they don’t know what is happening. They are noticing less pollution in the air but in general, I think it’s more companion species – dogs, cats – who are sensing it. Those with a difference in the presence of the human in their life. Here you can notice different animals walking in the streets. Two days ago, there were a lot of seagulls going around… of course in Naples it’s not super rare because it is close to the seaside. But seeing these seagulls in the street having fun together, that was funny.
‘Gold teeth and a curse for this town were all in my mouth.
Only I don’t know how they got out, dear.
Turn me back into the pet I was when we met.
I was happier then with no mind-set.’
– New Slang by The Shins
ON ORDERING TO THE HOUSE
We can only speak for ourselves on needing less. We don’t know how much of the population is compulsively buying from Amazon right now. We don’t know. I ordered some books… I am honest in regard to this. And they arrived much faster than they said they would arrive. Four days earlier! Are you following all these talks around safeness for these workers? This is also interesting. I don’t know if I want to speak about it though… you know?
I think about this as we are seeing a lot of delivery food options here in Zurich, and I wonder if people are conscious about what you are subjecting somebody else to, somebody who may be more vulnerable than you. And on the other hand, when you see these UberEATS workers cycling around, perhaps they are very pleased they can still work, and they want the money. The double-edged sword. Which already existed before.
I’m running a pen pal match up through Outsider and I had somebody who wanted to participate but they said they would rather do an email exchange as they were concerned for the safety of the postal workers.
It’s an issue. It’s an issue for sure. But as you say, some people need to and want to work. I would be more inclined to stop if I was certain they were covered – in terms of their wage being covered.
...LATER THAT NIGHT
[In the evening following the call, I received the following voice message from Dalia]
I wanted to tell you about my bad luck and my good karma…it was my fucking time to get this €5000 finally today and I discovered I am not eligible because I don’t have a German konto (bank account) so I cannot get this €5000. I am crying inside right now because it is my fucking fault because I was procrastinating to open a German konto for too long now. Ahhh! So sorry. I am crying inside right now because I was hoping so badly it was my way to get back to Berlin again soon. But that isn’t going to happen. At least my karma is going to be good because I gave my place in the queue to a friend, so he can get the €5000. And I will get nothing, but some good karma, and maybe a dinner.
Dalia Maini is an independent researcher and liminal figure between cultural and survival production. She is learning to see in E-v-e-r-y r-u-p-t-u-r-e a-n o-p-e-n-n-e-s-s. She demonstrates her engagement in cultural life through an ecology of practices devoted to the undercommon or “the fantasy in the hold”. Her researches move between the intersection of social proliferation and strategies of values creation, sensing in the making-by-thinking attitude the force of transformative imagination. She embodies her believes in affects-effects theory, radical poetry, care, endless hope, collective observation, night politics, micro/macro scale, friendship in precariousness. She studies and embodies the togetherness in-becoming, directing her interest in a speculative and active agenda for redefining interaction between human and non human agents for the future.
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