This is the first of a series of pieces about the current situation. Coming up: May 18 2020 ‘CV-19 impact: production and reproduction’, May 21 2020 ‘CV-19 impact: popular resistance’
What strikes me is the way in which the CV-19 virus has laid bare things that previously were invisible. It is as if the virus – or its impact on us in all our manifestations, as individuals, as social groups, as organisms – has led to lucidity. The CV-19 impact is elucidation, all elements and processes are seen more clearly; they reveal their inner structure as if in an X-ray. But this X-ray is of a unique sort because the CV-19 impact permits the visibility of the inner and outer aspects of reality simultaneously. It has had the effect of affording us a view that is at once macrocosmically distanced and at the same time meticulously close and interior. The ‘stopping’ of normal activity has enabled a perspective that is at once cross sectional and topographical. It reminds me of the quality of perception gained in theatre art by the use of ‘Verfremdungseffeckt’ as it is described by Brecht or the gnoseological outcomes in Boal’s work of the use of analogical induction in the confrontation of reality by its image. The CV-19 is like a searingly enlightening freeze-frame. All elements tend to show their essence under the impact of its gaze. Our society becomes more like itself. We become more like ourselves.
I have become more isolated not epidemiologically (that as well) but more separated from those I live amongst. The already existing view that I have of the political elites, the prevailing values, beliefs, interests and the common sense of my society have become more unacceptable and somehow unbearable. More unbearable because their ignorance and insentience appears to me to be more socially dangerous. They are consonant with a dreadful lack of sense, a kind of lumbering folly, delusional grossness. I think I have a sharper sense than most of the need for this regime’s displacement because I even identify their forms of kindness as menacing. The CV-19 impact has made me even more extremely opposed to what I consider their stupidity and made me even more convinced that it is necessary for life that they should be removed from power. I’m not just talking about the odious creeps who are their political servants, the Tories, but the awful monarchy, the millitarists, the corporate flunkeys, the visionary leaders, the charismatic managers, the ludicrous factotums, the whole apparatus. And this is because the CV-19 impact has revealed even more certainly what bungling, murderous oafs they are.
Of course this at the same time reveals me to be a grumpy irate outraged ageing know-all who will not accept anybody’s opinion if they don’t share my prejudices.
The CV-19 impact has revealed our existence as a species like never before, it has shown us our extinction, it has warned us that our relationship to ecosystems will continue to produce these impacts, it has shown us that our little corner of the globe is molten with kindness and human generosity all of which, as with all public goods, is predated on by an omnivorous greedy oligarchic elite, that the syrup of collusion in which we are stuck is made up of structures that seem to be prehistoric and can never be changed; our isolation itself is somehow embodied in this cursed island kingdom, this throne of idiocy, clearly not a fortress against infection, ‘bound in with shame with inky blots and rotten parchment bonds’. Shame yes, shame.
Of course I cannot expect people to agree with me. What I am saying is disagreeable. It may even be destructive of the vestiges of solidarity that hoodwink people into humble submission and like a disappearing twinkle lighten their penumbral stupor. We are symbolically back in the ‘Great War’ trenches where my grandfather served, where we shiver at the danger posed by the enemy but quake with fear at the awful officers who are in command. There is no comfort in this for me. Letting off steam is good for locomotives.
I am aware of the need for optimism and looking on the bright side, of appreciating all the wonderful people showing solidarity and kindness through the mutual aid movements and in the voluntary, dedicated, and professionally engaged cohorts of the health, care and educational sectors. Of course there may be an enhancement of the general opinion people have of them and the status they gain may be regenerative.
Unless we advance our knowing and wake up and look at what our rulers are doing, they will be ground back down into the position of skivvies for the brutal marketeers of trickle down.