Another year, another lockdown, another bad news, the ambiance is apocalyptic. With the outbreak of new variants and economical cataclysm, one can’t help asking what would come next. Oddly though, Covid19 being this unfortunate event, imposes spiritual practices.
It is a scientific truth now that the coronavirus spreads through sneezing and speaking droplets. If the world shuts up for fifteen days won’t we be able to win over the virus? Silence is a spiritual discipline.
Another scientific truth goes about social distancing, another wrong word for physical distancing. Learning to be alone is a spiritual discipline.
Lastly, we know that overeating leads to chronic diseases. Since the virus outbreak, food awareness was spread; less is more. Here is also the importance of fasting, known with the fancy word intermittent fasting or simply IF. Fasting has been around for thousands of years as a spiritual practice in all religions.
Being alone, quiet and in a fasted state is a meditative spiritual practice.
Biopolitics is made of bio meaning life in a vital sense and politics. The word politics comes from Greek polis, city or State. Combining these two words, biopolitics is the power of the State over people’s health as shown in public heath policies, sanitary strategies, awareness, ministries and so on. Biopolitics is an intersectional field between human biology and politics. It is a political wisdom taking into consideration the administration of life and a locality’s populations as its subject. To quote Michel Foucault, it is “to ensure, sustain, and multiply life, to put this life in order.”
2020 was by far the year of biopolitics since the outbreak of covid19 and the vaccines strategies and race between countries as a new type of international politics: whoever produced the most efficient vaccine wins internationally. In other words, a strong country is defined by a strong vaccine. Politicians have become the marketers. However, many people around the world are reluctant towards the vaccine; did anyone analyze this new phenomenon of global mistrust?
Furthermore, does anyone have answers about the origins of covid19? Once, the bat was blamed. Then, it is said it was man made. Then, it was about global warming and massive deforestation. Then… Then….
Should we expect from now on that wars and politics to be defined by pandemics?
Words are revelations of the thinking process. A single word can speak thousands words about a new shift of mentality. Moreover, a single word can define an era, its challenges and its bright side. 2020 is no exception: it will always be remembered as the year of the pandemic as it is its main word. Let’s check the more important words of this year.
According to a quick google search, the list is very long and obviously some words can vary from one country to another depending on each country’s problems. However the common ones are:
Pandemic (which is an epidemic that has escalated to affect a large area and population) caused by the Coronavirus, later determined as Covid19 as a new generation of the coronavirus family.
Covid19 forced the world to be in quarantine (a state of enforced isolation designed to prevent the spread of disease) which gave us later the words lockdown and curfew as governmental ways to face the spread of the virus. Speaking of which the following words are direct results of the illness whether it is symptomatic or asymptomatic. For that sake, a PCR test have to be done to make sure if one has gotten the virus or not. For all these reasons, people have to wear masks and/or face shields, respect social distancing (which is more of a physical distancing) and hygiene instructions.
The direct consequence of the pandemic was shifting the way of life to adapt to the new worldwide situation. Therefore, work became work from home or remote work (and for that sake read my previous post about this subject Why does my food taste like emails? ), teaching online and selling online. Hence the frequent usage of words like Zoom call, Skypecall, Video call.
To sum up 2020 in one concept, it is the year of Biopolitics like never before.
As Christmas holidays are couple of days away, I can’t help but thinking about the phenomenon of life flipping and inverting spaces and time. Holidays are better spent away from home because home has become an office. Hence the title of this post.
Suddenly, a new wave of meanings and ideas are invading our lives, even to its private intimate core shelter that is home. Suddenly, many of us realize that we don’t have a work place in our houses. Basically, we work, eat and sleep in the same place; eyes glued to the screen and haven’t we all fell sometimes on the keyboard?
The utopian fantasy of creating a disciplined society, something history books witnessed in Nazism and Soviet Union, has never been better executed than these days worldwide. The scenery of lockdowns, social distancing and masks reminds us of science-fiction movies. However, on the inside, things are shaky. Being completely submissive to a monitoring system (or systems) is a wink to George Orwell’s 1984, where pasta can taste like emails. The utopia turned to a dystopia.
The name of the game is : biopolitics. Biopolitics is a concept invented by French philosopher Michel Foucault in which he explained how the State has power over our health, bodies, the social body and now through covid19 patients tracking apps, vaccine, climate change and so on.
On this Christmas eve, I really wish to all of us, less confusion and more clarity and peace to the soul.
Talking again about the lockdown is not a pleasant subject; what else can be said? What more advices can be given to overcome it? None of us saw the lockdown coming again.
The lockdown is in between fighting the pandemic and the full control of the State over people. Whilst the quarantine is necessary for saving people, it is at the same time a political act. So, it is health versus freedom. According to a study done by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics of the Georgetown University in 2014:
“Implementation of medical quarantines in America brings into conflict various legitimate arguments regarding who, if anyone, should have the authority to restrict movements of citizens. Quarantines are not new, but they exist now in a world with new dangers and new opportunities for abuse”.
How to fight the pandemic without individual freedom restriction?
Worldwide, everyone is wearing a mask; even the Venetian carnival couldn’t imagine it. The eyes without a face syndrome had become synonymous to citizenship. By uncovering the failure of the world medical system, facing a pandemic is a confusion between a patronizing totalitarianism and medical emergency.
Until now, the origin of the pandemic is still unknown. However, what is clear now, it the fault of capitalism in its current form, at least for the last 10 years. When absolutely everything is salable, including people’s health and freedom, then Covid19 did us a great favour in spite of its ugliness. The virus demystified what we thought was the ultimate success. The “phantom of the opera” in its 2020 version.
2020 is the Halloween year: the US presidential elections anyone? The uprise of racism and fanaticism? Decapitation of a history teacher down the street? Corruption? Climate change and pollution?
Wearing masks helped unmasking the perverted political systems.
Street Photographer and Visual Artist Federico Righi is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this photo essay. From the project ‘Covid 19 — The Social Distancing’. To see Federico ’s body of work, click on any image. My daughter had to learn to use a six-computer when she hardly reads and writes. […]
Due to the massive work of cleaning, sheltering, helping and rebuilding after the Beirut port explosion that happened on August 4th, unfortunately the covid19 cases skyrocketed. There are on average 500 new cases every day. Therefore, the government decided for a two weeks lockdown for the following reasons:
The explosion destroyed three major hospitals and patients were relocated in different hospitals. This leaves us with less hospital rooms/beds to treat covid19 cases. In addition, hospitals are already crowded with injured people and ill people. A big hospital that was slightly destroyed had to treat 700 injured people the day of the explosion!
The covid19 cases are spread out; the government couldn’t isolate some affected regions. However an exception was given to Beirut, precisely to the area of the blast, so work can still go on.
My personal opinion is that the government doesn’t want more protests down the streets.
With that being said, here we are again in quarantine. Although I was out and about on some occasions but following all restrictions of the covid19, the idea of being in lockdown again is hard to swallow. I am spending my time between working out, working online, some gardening and nature photography. I still visit some close friends.
2020 is definitely the year of change. Whoever is still clinging to the previous normal life, will find it hard to cope with what was referred to as “the new normal”, a post I wrote a while ago that you can check it here: The new normal
When art tells reality and predicts the future with poetry, imagination and music (all in a broader sense), it fulfills its highest role. The Division Bell is my favorite Pink Floyd’s album, contrary to many people’s opinions out there. The song High Hopes describes the world we knew, and to push the interpretation further, the world before the pandemic maybe:
Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were youngIn a world of magnets and miraclesOur thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
And the global sanitary shift started the division of our life into old and new normal, taking our dreams away:
The ringing of the division bell had begunAlong the Long Road and on down the CausewayDo they still meet there by the CutThere was a ragged band that followed in our footstepsRunning before times took our dreams awayLeaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the groundTo a life consumed by slow decay
Back then the grass was greener and the memory of our old life brings light images to our minds:
The grass was greenerThe light was brighterWhen friends surroundedThe nights of wonder
Yes, we all dreamed bigger because we thought the world was somehow safe and ambition was indeed unsatisfied, actions were endless, restless global movements:
Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind usTo a glimpse of how green it was on the other sideSteps taken forwards but sleepwalking back againDragged by the force of some inner tide
At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world
Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There's a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we've been so many times
The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river
For ever and ever
It is a beautiful song, deep and rich with meanings like all Pink Floyd’s and to keep the pleasure ongoing, that’s the link to the musical video:
In the Preface of The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant asks three questions that gave the fourth one. His project is an enquiry undertaken by Pure Reason to search out the limits of Pure Reason. The questions are the following:
What can I know?
What ought I to do?
What may I hope for?
What is man?
I will start with the last one just to figure out how we can answer these questions today.
What is man? Or what am I?
I was told by reading Kant and other philosophers that I am a rational being, capable of speaking (Aristotle), living through dialectics so that the Universal Reason can establish itself in the world (Hegel), among other definitions. How did it serve me today?
Since the 20th century, rationality is technical or technological and we are submitted to machines and algorithms. All other fields and walks of life evolve and revolve around infotech and biotech with a progressive absence of critical thinking. I love the Kantian project and I believe Kant is one of the biggest philosophers ever, but we are more emotional and practical beings than highly rational. How can the critical thinking “function” with the massive amount of news and fake news by the minute?
What can I know?
Everything and nothing thanks to social media. It all depends on how we use this tool to our full potential. Potential can differ from one person to another; however technology can be a wonderful tool to learn new skills and to be updated.
What ought I to do?
Other than surviving on all levels, I think ethics are the name of the game for the present and the future. It lies on freedom and courage to step forward and be responsible for the whole world.
What may I hope for?
That’s the most difficult question especially today when the world is stuck between the pandemics and the economy crisis. I think by willing to be flexible and accepting that change is inevitable, by willing to work differently and having a new perspective on life, can we hope for a better future.