Time has become a flat circle. Day and night have melted into one another. Each hour simultaneously becomes the last one as well as the next. Reality increasingly becomes unreality. It is as though we have all been unknowingly transported to an alternate unfolding dystopian existence, something akin to the trance-like void of the Sunken Place (from the horror movie Get Out), or the parallel dimension of the Upside Down (from the Netflix TV series Stranger Things). Our deepest nightmares seem to be projected back to us daily in a never-ending Breaking News loop.
Speaking of movies, I recently got round to watching Bird Box, which originally came out in 2018 and caused quite an online discussion as to all the symbolism the movie cleverly contains. However, watching this movie in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic seems to add a whole new layer of text and subtext, making the movie much scarier than it was perhaps intended way back in 2018, a time when things were, you know, normal.
Another movie I saw, just today in fact, was The First Purge. As with Bird Box, this too is a movie from the distant realm of 2018. Watching it today, whilst there are riots all across America due to the horrendous murder of George Floyd, again adds a completely different dimension to this particular movie-watching experience, to the point where the movie at times resembles more a documentary than a work of fiction.
And it seems I am not the only one having anxious troubles about the nature of reality. Professor Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, a very clever man indeed, is also concerned about what is going on, especially in the current administration occupying the White House. His quote, along with others, can be read below.
So, before the inevitable second wave sweeps us all away, please find below a selection of quotes (some are funny, some less so) that may or may not ease tensions, reduce confusion, and provide some much-needed clarity. As best as one can given, you know, all that is going on right now, enjoy!
At the Praram 9 hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, two newborn babies are given mini face shields to protect them against COVID-19 while they travel home from the hospital…
In reality, Donald Trump doesn’t run the government of the United States. He doesn’t manage anything. He doesn’t organize anyone. He doesn’t administer or oversee or supervise. He doesn’t read memos. He hates meetings. He has no patience for briefings. His White House is in perpetual chaos. His advisers aren’t truth-tellers. They’re toadies, lackeys, sycophants and relatives. – Professor Robert Reich, 31 May 2020, from theguardian.com
About 12,000 years ago, human domestication of the natural world began in earnest with the intentional cultivation of wild plants and animals. Fast forward to today and our dominion over the planet appears complete, as 7.8 billion of us multiply across its surface and our reach extends from the deep-sea beds, which are being mined, to the heavens, where we are, according to Donald Trump, dispatching a space force. Yet as has been made clear by a recent litany of disasters – from the coronavirus pandemic to America’s deadliest wildfire in a century – there are forces that cannot be domesticated. Indeed, our interference with the natural world is making them more liable to flare up into tragedy. We created the Anthropocene, and the Anthropocene is biting back. – Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano, 05 May 2020, from theguardian.com
Do weeks even still exist? I mean the calendar has always been a mutual suggestion that we all just go along with, but with what’s happening right now—the virus, the quarantine, the galactically deranged president stressing the whole world out with his daily fits and embarrassments—the concept of time has never been less important. I’m writing this on a Friday morning, I’m told, but who knows if that’s true? Who would even care? Does it matter when I’m writing this, or when I post it—assuming hastily assembled galleries of other people’s tweets “matter” to any extent whatsoever? Or is this just another in a litany of trivialities I’ve devoted my life too—one more insipid bit of business to rush through before I can get back to my true calling of lying perfectly still in a bed while staring at the ceiling and crying softly? I dunno, bro. – Garrett Martin, 17 Apr 2020, from the pastemagazine.com article Tweets Of The Week
Everyone knows corona is no walk in the park, because you literally can’t walk in the park. – Bill Maher, 17 Apr 2020, from the TV show Real Time With Bill Maher
I don’t know it for a fact that the Kardashians are deciding which sister to sacrifice to the virus to stay relevant, I just know it’s true. – Bill Maher, 08 May 2020, from the TV show Real Time With Bill Maher
I think this is going to scramble our politics in a lot of ways. And one thing that I should say, and I think any honest person should say, is that if we all emerge from this situation with the same convictions that we’ve had before, it means were just not thinking. And so this has prompted new thinking on my part, I’m sure it has on yours. But we need to maybe move out of all of our respective ideological boxes because what just happened was 1929. Things have changed. – Bret Stephens, 01 May 2020, from the TV show Real Time With Bill Maher
I’ve read that COVID-19 can live on plastic for over three days. So if you’re in Beverly Hills, don’t touch the women. – Jay Leno, 29 May 2020, from the TV show Real Time With Bill Maher
Like Buzz Windrip, the fictional fascist president in Sinclair Lewis’s novel It Can’t Happen Here, Trump’s underlying fascistic essence is cloaked to some degree by his blustering buffoonery, his strange theatrical clownishness. Even more than three years into his supremely lethal, racist, sexist, eco-cidal and arch-authoritarian white-nationalist presidency, many Americans continue to laugh him off as little more than a fool and comedian. But there’s nothing funny about the Trump presidency. It’s been as seriously awful as a national and global heart attack and anyone who still finds it funny needs a check-up from the neck-up. Donald the Danger Clown has been doubling down on authoritarian rule under the cover of the COVID-19 crisis that he helped fan across the land…God help us if Danger Clown and his backers and allies are the New Normalcy. – Paul Street, 17 Apr 2020, from the counterpunch.org article Danger Clown And The Return To American Normalcy
New rule. The Muslims going to mosques in Pakistan, the Christians holding services in the south, and the Orthodox Jews having funerals in Brooklyn, have to agree that whichever faith loses the fewest members to COVID-19 is the one true religion, and the other two have to go away. Finally! Finally, we can settle this once and for all, although I’m not going to pretend it makes up for cancelling March Madness. – Bill Maher, 01 May 2020, from the TV show Real Time With Bill Maher (this particular new rule was called ‘Need For Creed’)
Our chief executive is, indeed, bumptiously dishonest, a manure-shoveler without precedent in the modern presidency, a man with little capacity to handle even a mildly inconvenient truth. No one expects a truthful and realistic appraisal of the crisis from this president; any sensible person should look elsewhere for the truth. – Ross Douthat, 07 Apr 2020, from the nytimes.com
Science does not obey the laws of politics. – from the 2018 movie The First Purge
The first couple of weeks of all of this I was very much glued to the news, I was reading everything I could, the radio was constantly on. And then I thought “Oh God! Watching a lot of the news is like eating fruit, in that it is good for you, but only up to a point, because after that it gives you the shits.” So you have to limit it, you have to eat it in small portions. – Charlie Brooker, May 2020, from an interview on BBC Newsnight, referring to the pandemic
The vast illegal wildlife trade and humanity’s excessive intrusion into nature is to blame for the coronavirus pandemic…We are discovering two to four new viruses created every year as a result of human infringement on the natural world, and any one of those could turn into a pandemic…This pandemic is the consequence of our persistent and excessive intrusion in nature and the vast illegal wildlife trade, and in particular, the wildlife markets, the wet markets, of south Asia and bush meat markets of Africa…It’s pretty obvious, it was just a matter of time before something like this was going to happen…This is not nature’s revenge, we did it to ourselves. The solution is to have a much more respectful approach to nature, which includes dealing with climate change and all the rest. – Professor Thomas Lovejoy, Apr 2020, from theguardian.com (Lovejoy coined the term “biological diversity” in 1980 and is often referred to as the godfather of biodiversity)
When you are looking at the coronavirus pandemic, you have to sort of think ahead and say that if the Great Depression is what gave us the rise of fascism and a certain Chancellor in Germany, what is the next Great Depression going to do to our politics? We were already moving in a populist and neo-authoritarian direction when the economy was relatively good. What happens when you have tens of millions of people who are out of work and desperate, not just economically but also politically? So people have to start thinking about the balance of risk. That’s something no one likes to contemplate because they say if you balance it in one way then people are going to suffer and people are going to die, and that is almost certainly true. But there are risks to simply pretending that we can hold our breath forever and not hurt ourselves. Right now this is a strategy out of the Vietnam War, we’re trying to destroy the village in order to save it, and I don’t remember that ending very well. – Bret Stephens, 01 May 2020, from the TV show Real Time With Bill Maher
Wow, this, this COVID-19, I tell ya. I didn’t see COVID 1 through 18, so I don’t really know, uh, what this is all about. – Patton Oswalt
The Census Bureau is now reporting that a third of Americans are showing signs of anxiety and clinical depression. And they’ve gained weight. A third of Americans are now half of Americans. – Bill Maher, 29 May 2020, from the TV show Real Time With Bill Maher