Everything was already there

Without someone to look at us, we have no identity. And to look is, after all, to begin to desire.

by Giulia Pozzobon


Photo by Martina Matencio

Philosophy 06 June 2023

Look at me now — In search of a new identity. That’s where we left off. It was the summer of 2022, and the cover of our latest issue featured a call to action: to look inward to find or rediscover something meaningful to say about ourselves. It was quite a strange time of transition. We had just spent two years in a cycle of running and pausing, facing huge uncertainties and making shaky declarations of optimism. The shock of the pandemic was finally behind us, but it had disrupted all our plans. On the one hand, it had at least made us all feel like we were in the same boat, but on the other, it had left us exhausted and disoriented. We had to take a deep breath and turn back to the basics.

In the last issue of MAIZE, we had examined every aspect of our identities — the visible and the invisible, the digital and the physical, the parts we chose freely and the parts we inherited unwillingly from our roots. We looked at what we claimed as our rights and what we would gladly give up. As we may have anticipated, to talk about subjectivity, we needed to scan the horizon and then refocus on the individual.

The path to this new issue of MAIZE was already mapped out. That phrase gracefully planted on the cover — Look at me now — harbored the future that was to unfold. Without even realizing it, we had implicitly referred to You, the reader, who could see, but more importantly to the Other, who could confirm the subject’s existence.

Without someone to look at us, we have no identity. And to look is, after all, to begin to desire. Sartre would have said that we are slaves of the Other’s look because it frees us from the anguish of choosing what we will be and our “facticity.” But setting aside Jean Paul’s view, we wanted to step up and beyond looking, to a higher and perhaps more liberating level; we wanted to explore the concept of desire. The time had come to reclaim its creative power, so closely linked to our identity and to our transformations as human beings.

Sociologists and psychologists have observed that apathy, anhedonia, and a struggle to imagine the future are distinctive and recurring traits in the post-COVID world. The climate crisis is confronting us with the urgency of reassessing our consumption and lifestyle habits. In the Western world, amidst a wave of quiet quitting and great resignations in pursuit of fulfillment, the workplace is becoming less of a source for it.

Can we still afford to desire? Or is it a privilege we should give up?

The truth is, we can’t give it up because desire is an elastic “function” that encompasses many of our prerogatives: it straddles the complexity of our minds and the instinctive wisdom of our bodies; it bridges the gap between who we have become and the possibilities we have yet to realize; it can even be a sophisticated and dangerous device that involves societies and power.

We felt it was both urgent and auspicious to explore it in depth to sculpt a three-dimensional framework where desire becomes synonymous with awareness and freedom.

But I don’t want to spoil too much!
So go ahead and check out this latest issue of MAIZE.
You’ll find some exciting new changes in both format and content.
But don’t worry; our determination remains the same as ever.