Pandemical Discourses 4: weekly digest- Can you really see the whole world through your window?

Inequality Covid by Shannon Maree Torrens
26th April 2020
1st May 2020

Firstly, another important announcement following on our last Pandemical notice about Creative Scotland’s Bridging Bursary scheme –it is that The Royal Scottish Academy have announced they will put up 8 awards of £2500 each to artists for their personal responses to the Covid-19 Pandemic Royal Scottish Academy Pandemic

 The New York Times could well have submitted its page ‘The Great Empty’ in for that RSA award. There’s a definite prettiness going on here, a kind of Coronaporn, wherein we all recognise the standard poses, indeed the article even speaks of  ‘The romance of ruins…’.  So here we see the great capital cities of the world emptied out by the virus –but will they be brought low by it? Is it truly an Ozymandias moment? New York Times – Great Empty

In the same city, in the New Yorker Olga Tokarczuk takes a more personal –introverted, home-buddy view of the change of pace during the lockdown in ‘New World Through my Window’. Might it not be the case, she asks, that we have returned to a normal rhythm of life? That it isn’t that the virus is a disruption of the norm, but rather exactly the reverse—that the hectic world before the virus arrived was abnormal? Could be, we wonder, but when we see ‘wild’ animals like foxes and goats in our city streets why exactly is that a good sign…?New Yorker -World Through My Window

And in the same publication, the themes of inequality and mortality explored by Shannon Torrens in this week’s COVID Column ( The Drouth -Shannon Maree Torrens  ) are taken up by Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on black America. New Yorker – The Black Plague

And to dispel any further exceptionalism – as virulent as covid itself, this report by Libby Brooks for the Guardian signals a humanitarian tragedy affecting asylum seekers, right here in Glasgow. The Guardian – Glasgow Asylum Seekers

It is not difficult to find prognostications of doom, gloom and economic collapse for the world. This one by Adam Tooze in The Guardian is rather a retrospective however, with a detailed narration of the day-by-day story of how the international financial world came to the brink –and the actual collapse of global financial markets – in the third week of March. ‘Built for growth’ writes Tooze, ‘the global economic machine was being brought to a screeching halt.’ (And unlike 2008, we might add, Gordon Brown was no longer in position to save the world again!) The Guardian – Corona and Global Financial System

Anthony Scaramucci seems to agree here in interview on that assessment, and puts algebra on the scale of the catastrophe. By his calculations: Covid-19=9/11+2008.  But he also says that the message to the people is that the US government will be there when they need their government to be there… Scaramucci – Corona and Financial System

For Paul Mason, on Al Jazeera, the catastrophe has a major silver lining, although the trope about Covid as a catalyst for the end of capitalism, just as Black Death ultimately meant the end of feudalism seems to be taking on the value of cliché  now… Al Jazeera – Paul Mason Opinion

Finally, writer and composer, Gaël Faye, from the Central African Republic of Burundi, looks at the ‘never again’ tropes in a more cynical light. Is it surprising that someone from that war-torn region should be so sanguine about possible lessons learned from the Covid-19 virus? His apparent pessimism should be a provocation to any eurocentrically complacent prognostications… France Inter – Gael Faye, Burundi