The Power of Imagination

by Silvia Colombini

Giorgio Comaschi and the ability to see differently with irony and fantasy.

"Monday morning, breakfast at Bar Baldi at the corner of Via Arienti and Via Castiglione. There, among cappuccinos and pastries, I learned to know and appreciate irony from the regulars of the Istituto Cavazza who were talking about the soccer game results."Picture by Giorgio Comaschi
Sports journalist, author of television programs, theater texts and books, profoundly knowledgeable about Bologna, Giorgio Comaschi tells of his experience with the world of blindness. Humorist capable of brightening with a joke the dark side of things, Comaschi has discovered that it is often the so-called disabled people themselves who are the most skillful at playing down the importance of the facts of life with intelligence and sensibility.
"For years I hosted a radio program on Rai 2 called: Quelli che la radio. I worked with Enzo Petreni: great talent, incredible impersonator and blind. He had a marvelous voice rich with a thousand nuances together with an acute intelligence, he would get right to the heart of the listeners. The radio is the means by which it is easiest to cultivate fantasy and the imagination.
Two qualities that I consider very important but which unfortunately we often miss these days."
It's Saturday morning in a bar on Via Murri and Bologna is waking up to a spring weekend of shopping, walks under the portico of Pavaglione, before dinner drinks, and strolls in the Margherita Gardens. A city holding on to certain rituals which cannot be given up, cordial but with a look that does not go beyond its walls made of habits, good living and provincialism. A city where the notions of fantasy and imagination do not easily find their place. Comaschi looks around and sighs.
"I don't think Bologna is an open-minded city as they say, in fact, I find it rather closed up, mistrustful. Here, we turn around when we see a car with a licence plate from Ferrara, imagine when we see something or meet someone who is different. In Bologna, everyone lives in their own yard.
I believe that initiatives able to cultivate new perspectives would be greatly appreciated.
Dinner in the Dark at the Istituto Cavazza for example. Unfortunately I never participated, but I believe this is an intelligent and creative way to share an experience among those who see and those who don't.
It's sufficient to open oneself to a different manner of challenging a normal activity like eating. Besides, I think they are rich with influences from the theatre and I hope that the Institute organizes them again. I don't want to miss the chance of participating in them again."
Comaschi is right. Sometimes, caught that we are in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we do not allow ourselves to go beyond the routes we have around us to see our habits in a different way.
"I find the name of your magazine very interesting. To see differently is a philosophy that we should all adopt. It's sufficient only to look up in order to gain the ability to understand how and where we are going and think about leading things in the right direction. It is a matter of sensibility that a blind person is obligated to develop, but that each one of us should learn to cultivate. Here is a person I know who is able to see differently, my friend Dino Zoff. He once told me that he is, first and foremost, a doorman. Someone who is always ready to anticipate, to avoid the unknown and who has learned to use his role of doorman even in his everyday life. To be prepared, to anticipate, to see beyond appearances with the power of imagination for those who see as well as those who do not see, is a gift that no one will ever take away from us."
Breakfast is over, Bologna is still Bologna, but now we are able to imagine her better, some day she will also be able to look beyond Via Emilia. Now, while we say goodbye to Comaschi who has given us the gift of a moment of fantasy, we allow ourselves the luxury of seeing differently this lazy Saturday and to imagine and to hope that words and culture are still able to change the world.