Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”

– The mad hatter’s Riddle, from the novel Alice’s adventures in wonderland (chapter VII), by l. Carroll

Some questions just do not seem to have an answer…

First of all, in this particular moment of pandemic, the one concerning the duration of social isolation.

Still there are loads of hypotheses and very few concrete answers.

Perhaps some enquiries just don’t have an actual answer, or maybe they do?

Consider, for instance, a classic of  English Literature: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Consistently to the whole book’s leitmotiv, which is basically both about the nonsense and the paradox, when Lewis Carroll first  conceived the over-mentioned riddle, he actually imagined no factive answer to it at all. Over time, however, the readers’ interest upon this matter raised so much that the author was, in some way,  persuaded to find a solution to the conundrum, although he will not hesitate to define it as a mere “afterthought”, as he shall claim within the 1896’s Preface to the work.

This same procedure can be also found as far as, nowadays, the modern individual necessitates of an immediate reply to all their inquiries from the institutions: it is preferred to have a partial truth, a non-truth de facto, rather than leave the whole issue to uncertainty and instability.

The actual truth about the Mad Hatter’s riddle is that no real answer is needed.

Nevertheless, following nineteen-century readers’ sillage, I attempted to provide a diverse response, perfectly conscious to betray both the author’s first will, and his subsequent “afterthought”, which resolved the query through a witty game of linguistic and semantic references.

Thus, what actually binds a raven to a writing-desk?

My response? Movement.

We oftentimes forget that everything surrounding us has their own movement. Just because we cannot see it, it does not mean that it is not there: a writing-desk in fact, in its immobility, actually has its own series of particles, which move and join themselves, exactly the same way as a raven does, whose movement just appears more easily perceivable to our eyes, but still not more relevant than the other.

The philosophical concept of becoming as a proper essence of every natural being can formerly be noticed starting from the great Ionic philosopher Heraclitus’s thought, who shall render such principle, though not explicitly within his works, through the expression of πάντα ρεί (panta rei), namely everything flows.

By claiming this, Heraclitus furthermore goes against the Eleatic philosophy, which ventured instead the immobility of the Being.

Such topic results to be very adherent to the current situation, for at the moment, nature is demonstrating not only our absolute inanity within its perfect equilibrium, but also the fact that we are, but very tiny tiles within a far greater mosaic.

It is true, in fact, that while we are homebound, nature does not bother interrupting its perpetual flow. From this perspective, our resemblance to both the raven and the writing-desk is therefore the same.

To conclude, willing not to disturb too much the rules of physics: in nature, nothing is created and nothing is destroyed, but everything is transformed.

Lorenzo Tarchi