Pandemical Discourses: your weekly digest

Another Government Initiative
7th April 2020
Pandemical Discourses 2: weekly digest- ‘All that Hankering…’
15th April 2020

Every week, we’ll be offering a digest of some of the Coronovirus commentary that has caught our eye. We do not pretend to cover all the work being churned out at present (in fact, today’s offering is a measly six selections) but we do attempt to pluck what is interesting, informative and off-kilter from the wider Coronaviral currents.

So to begin then…In The Financial Times Arundhati Roy looks to India and  the social, political and cultural tectonics of such crises -namely, the doorways that open to good or Ill. (‘The Pandemic is a Portal’)

There seems a determination, at least in these early weeks, to frame the crisis in terms of some kind of opportunity. In the  New York Times Megan O’Grady considers the  pandemic Spanish flu and it’s impact on visual art, from Breugel to Munch   ( ‘What can we learn from the art of pandemics past?’)

Historians might want against cheap and easy comparisons between highly complex events separated by centuries of development and progress. Medievalist Eleanor Janega’ s Going Medieval blog is essential for those who enjoy snarky- sometimes snarly – mash-ups of social commentary, R&B and rakes up aspects of the Middle Ages Huizinga left to compost in his leaf-pile. Janega gives short shrift to the more facile analogies doing the rounded, but also some crumbs – or germs? – of hope, grounded on a firm basis in historical research. (‘Not every pandemic is the Black Death’)

We need hope. But let it be the real thing, not the kind manufactured by spin-doctors and Russian Bots. This week we have been induced to tug the forelock and applaud a ventilated UK Prime Minister whose track record on them crisis is yet to be established. This clear eyed, informed missive from the British Medical Journal explains exactly why our critical faculties need to be retained, regardless of our leanings or feelings. ( David Oliver, ‘Silencing NHS staff who speak out is sheer stupidity’)

Never more so than across the Atlantic, where the US president seems determined to manufacture a tragedy outmatched only by his monstrous ego. We can recommenced many fine articles but the cartoonists producing daily comics for The Nib had some a fine job of tracking the horrific absurdism of Trump’s ‘stewardship’ of the crisis. (Tom Tomorrow -and other cartoonists)

Comics, as with all all cultural productions (including we ourselves) are struggling to deal with a locked-down world, none  more so than Cinema. Guardian writer Catherine Shoard provides this timely survey of the initial impacts on the film industry. A portal for sure – but Will the door re-open? (‘Over one hour everything was cancelled’ – how coronavirus devastated the film industry’)

Now please, go and wash your hands…