Coronavirus

Everything Must Go

I realized I could no longer discount my feelings

Sometimes you could see where someone had fingernailed away the successive stickers to confirm the original discounted price, in the service of some private calculation or intimate feeling. In this peeling, there was some kind of retracing of the chain of events in capital and carbon that had accumulated into the original prices: cost of material extraction, cost of the labor of manufacture, cost of shipping, cost of marketing—plus obsolete speculation about what the market would bear on top of that.

The Bioeconomics of Covid-19

The Bioeconomics of Covid-19

How, exactly, do we value a human life?

Both the left and the right perceive the need for data rapidly collected, centralized, analyzed, and deployed in preventing and arresting epidemics. But they diverge on how to do it. The left argues that public health, a fundamental public good, can only be accomplished by a well-funded, attentive state. The private sector cannot and does not—or should not—be interested. If health care were free and universally available, it would generate no profit.

On a Seaside Bench

On a Seaside Bench

No wonder coastal Kent is nicknamed Brexitland

Since the start of the pandemic, the seaside bench has temporarily replaced the pub as a location for all kinds of social intercourse. Old friends sit at opposite corners of a bench conversing with each other. They bring a bottle of wine each, together with their own glass. If a third person joins them, they stand at a social distance but close enough for the three of them to feel like they’re buddies. The scene is reminiscent of Moscow alcoholics congregating around a park bench to share a bottle of vodka.

The Earth Dreams in Ritual

The Earth Dreams in Ritual

I’m developing an intimate relationship to weeds

What was I doing on Zoom? Everyone was outside. Doing the Corona Waltz: six-foot radius, smile, nod, little bow. It was at that point that I started to dream with the planet. I noticed weeds for the first time, as if they were long-lost little friends. Weeds also live in liminal space: ignored, trampled on, not even seen. And yet they grow together, egalitarian, in resilient communist clusters.

Consequences of Deferred Maintenance

Consequences of Deferred Maintenance

Pandemic time

What the deregulatory and deconstructive impulse share is a distinctly temporal quality, instilling the slow seep of future degradation even as immediate consequences are typically nonexistent. Killing long days by walking across New York’s many structurally deficient bridges, it occurred to us that this is how Covid has felt, too, even if deregulation is only one of a litany of factors that led to the US’s inability to respond to the pandemic in a responsible or even minimally humane way. The slow creep of emergency that attended the pandemic’s arrival in February and March—and the halting, dreadful recognition that its sped-down time would persist for weeks, then months, then years longer than we’d ever imagined—has as its echo the relative imperceptibility of deregulation’s extended-release effects.

Austere Moral Economy

Austere Moral Economy

AMLO’s politics of wanting it, badly

Mexican critics have raised concerns that AMLO and Morena are little more than a recycled PRI, pointing to AMLO’s formative political years and to Morena’s scale of control. What is different about AMLO, however, is his cult of personality and his distaste for the separation of powers.