Emanuele Camerini

Personal / Beginner's Luck

On October 28th 1998, when he was just eleven years old, Emanuele Camerini got to pick the five winning numbers for the Italian weekly Lotto. That night, back when a blindfolded child could still be entrusted with picking the metal dice cups containing the lucky numbers, he was who determined someone’s fate. 

Luck, the presumed cause of events and circumstances that cannot be rationally explained, fluctuates between faith and superstitions, philosophical inquiry and unending personal quest. 

What brings one to a lucky event is often thought to be an occasion of wealth, which could well undermine the existence of someone who pays close attention to the occurrence of an auspicious, unusual event. In the Art of Life, Polish philosopher and sociologist Zygmunt Bauman writes: “In giving form to our life, are we the billiard cue, the player or the ball? Are we playing, or is someone playing with us?” In other words, does luck really exist? Is it a question of coincidences or is it one’s attitude towards things that makes some people luckier than others? 

Taking these questions as his starting point, Camerini assembles a panorama of different documents in Beginner’s Luck, in order to examine how luck, whether it’s an invention, a product, a promise or an article of faith, conditions and transforms it. 

If the future is a fact, as American anthropologist Arjun Appadurai maintains, and therefore something that can exist not only in thought but also as something planned and constructed, the concept of luck is tied to the concept of possibility. So it’s not a matter of trying to foresee what might occur and with what probability, but to favour “a political, social and cultural environment in which people are used to hoping. Because it is from hope that the various images of the future emerge as do drive drive the possibility to negotiate them.” 

Beginner’s Luck explores on many levels the extent to which the perception of luck influences our personal and collective behaviour. By recounting personal episodes, natural phenomena and popular beliefs, and unmasking otherwise plausible, apparently innocuous commercial devices, its research into the concept of luck opens the way to new approaches and possible connections.

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