Quarantine Fragments

June 2021

Do you ever watch videos about flight disasters before flying? Impulse to destruction; Freud attributes this sort of behavior to an attempt to conquer death. Or get close to it.

A few fragments from my notebook. Non-sequitur like that sentence and this one. The past eighteen months are one long non-sequitur, and that makes no sense and all of it at the same time if you know what I mean. Do you know what I mean? Plato says the ideal city would be run by philosophers kings—he is deeply skeptical of democracy. For this, later philosophers said he is a proponent of fascism.

Maybe he was too optimistic about what philosophers can do. So, I read The Republic and record a song… Can’t sing. Do it anyway. This from my notebook, March 2020:

A small group of us gather to talk action plans. More join via web conference. We discuss safety practices: hand washing, event cancelations, social distancing—everyone cringes at the phrase. There is a discussion about China’s response and how it compares to the United States. We try to understand what happens next. The subway will be shut down, that seems given, more businesses will close. As bars and restaurants close as a cautionary measure, or simply because no one is willing to go, people in the service sector will struggle to pay rent. Those who are already confined to their homes due to health or age may not get the services they need.

Everyone went through quarantine, so I hear it’s not remarkable and won’t be in our art very long. What did you do on day one-hundred? The same thing you did on day two. See that in light of this fragment from Hunter Thompson writing about Nixon in 1974:

How long, oh Lord, how long? And how much longer will we have to wait before some high-powered shark with a fistful of answers will finally bring us face-to-face with the ugly question that is already so close to the surface in this country, that sooner or later even politicians will have to cope with it?

The shark will ask tacitly: is this democracy isn’t worth the trouble? About fifty years, it would seem. The stillness of the present moment feels uneasy. The shark has friends. What would Plato do? Impossible to answer of course, and quite possibly not what we’d like. Thompson was echoing King David in disappear about his son Absalom’s rebellion. Who is the father of our Absalom? The answer depends on your politics, which may be a problem philosopher Mark Fisher would have had a thing or two to say about it.

There is talk of supplies. A shortage of paper towels, toiled paper, cleaning supplies, food stables. One person discusses efforts to make sanitizer and the trouble with obtaining glycerine and isopropyl alcohol. Another reminds us that regular soap is effective in killing coronaviruses. Those fortunate enough to have access to farms upstate should be able to get food, assuming it’s possible to travel, which seems… the conversation goes quiet again. In the silence, a person on the video chat coughs. No comments. No one knows how far this goes. What comes next.

Quarantine ends. Everyone went through it together, so no one has anything to say.