It feels a bit pointless writing a newsletter when there is virtually no news apart from the coronavirus. It’s becoming absurd to watch or listen to news broadcasts in which the sports section is devoted to stories about what else has been cancelled or is about to be cancelled. Then there are the stories about which sporting superstars are taking pay cuts and which ones are not.
Meanwhile the government struggles on from day to day, wondering if there’s anything else that needs closing down, while speculations about the post-virus environment have begun. Foremost is the concern about a world in which surveillance and social control are normalised in a new and pernicious way. It’s easy to believe that leaders who have enjoyed using emergency powers might be tempted to extend the ‘emergency’ for as long as possible. All for our own health and safety, of course.
It seems plausible that the crisis will encourage the further uptake of automation, putting more and more workers put of factory jobs. Meanwhile, the recession will ensure that wages remain in the dodrums for years to come, apart from huge sums that CEOs will pay themselves when their share price starts to bounce back.
Some have fantasised that this lockdown will allow people to develop a taste for quiet, domestic pastimes such as reading a book. It’s more likely that it will turn them into unstable personalities who drink and brawl from sheer boredom. We’ve created a society in which people don’t know what to do with themselves when their normal sources of distraction are cut off. If we’re shuttered away too long civil unrest is the likely outcome.
We can, at least, be reassured that Scummo will be praying for us. He has recently been comparing himself to Moses. Specifically “It is a moment like when Moses looked out at the sea and held up his staff.” I assume he’s talking about the moment when the Red Sea sweeps back over Pharoah’s men once the Israelites have gotten to the other side. Are we the Israelites and the virus Pharoah’s legions? He might also recall how the cranky Old Testament God turned on Moses and told him there was no way he’d making it to the Promised Land. I’d like to think of this as an allegory for the next federal election.
As I’m prevented from reviewing new exhibitions and film releases these postings are turning in different directions. The art column looks at the growing globalisation of contemporary art, and asks if indigenous art can also be accepted as internatonal art. The film column delves back 100 years, looking at the hit movie of 1920: D.W.Griffith’s Way Down East. As the lockdown continues I’ll keep delving back into the past, looking for topics of interest. My problem is that I’m interested in almost everything and the lure of the esoteric is strong. The newspapers impose a certain discipline on a writer, but an unprecedented (and slightly intimidating) freedom beckons. I’d be happy to listen to any suggestions.