High Hopes by Pink Floyd: Did they see the global disaster coming?

07e7d7db91fb0670df44e17b4d4d0090

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 young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our 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 begun
Along the Long Road and on down the Causeway
Do they still meet there by the Cut
There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before times took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To 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 greener
The light was brighter
When friends surrounded
The 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 us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged 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:

The four questions of Kant and their eventual answers today

download

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.

The new normal

TOPSHOT-BRITAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS
photo by livescience.com

 

This new concept is everywhere now, underpinning new behaviours, new reflexes, new apprehensions and a new way of life. The so called “new normal’ is a normal reaction to an aftermath.

Knowing this fact, why to hate the new reality?

Reality is a complex concept. The etymology is Latin, res, which means “thing” (for example, the word republic comes from res publica, public thing. A dictatorship calling itself a republic is a contradiction of words). Therefore, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic notion of them.

Zooming in, it is clear that reality is made of different layers: social reality, political reality, public reality, personal reality, environmental reality, individual reality and so on. A repetitive collective action defines the norm or what is normal or abnormal. Wearing a mask has become a new normal as a planetary and an individual repetitive action due to the birth of a new layer: the pandemics.

This powerful new layer threatens all the other ones. Consequentially, new behaviours and ways of thinking and living have already taken place.

Is our life better or worse now? 

So far, we hate it. Humans are creatures of habits and rituals and the latter played a major role in cultural and social cohesion as well as in cultural differentiation throughout history of mankind. It goes for our safety, our sanity and our survival. Even our cells are units of habits. What is a disease other than a disruptive phenomenon in the genetically programmed organism?

The problem is, humans are not their cells. They are their own minds, emotions and desires. Only a human mind can be in denial of an actual threat while an organism can’t be so.

Modern philosophy defined humans as rational beings but we are not or at least not all the time.

We seek pleasure and we fear pain. We function by reward and punishment. If we were only rational, we wouldn’t be depressed facing the new normal.

If ever the pandemics would disappear forever, its consequences on the different layers of the world reality will remain. The new normal will eventually become the normal.

 

The fascination of bats

bat-albrecht-durer
painting by Albrecht Durer 

Bats are peculiar creatures, a strange hybrid between a mouse or a fox and a bird. The flying freak sleeps upside down during daytime and gets active during nighttime. There is no doubt this animal was, and stills the object of many fantasies. Therefore what are the main fantasies on bats?

In Biblical tradition, bats were believed to be messengers of Satan.  The Puritans believed that if a bat flew close to someone, somebody was trying to bewitch them. This is the reason why one might see bats sculptures on the outer walls of Gothic churches in Europe.

In 1897, Bram Stoker wrote his Gothic novel Dracula, introducing the character of Count Dracula and established many conventions of subsequent vampire fantasy. Stoker was inspired by European myths about vampires and some types of bats that solely drink blood. Dracula inspired more fiction about bat behavior like vampires. The success perpetuated the fantasy and the fascination of bats.

Then in 1939, the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger created Batman, a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books. Originally named the “Bat-Man,” the character is also referred to as the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, and the World’s Greatest Detective. Unlike Dracula and the common idea of bats, Batman is a hero fighting criminals and bringing justice to the world.

Just to name these examples among many others, bats became a narrative symbol in our subconscious mind, explaining both fear and fascination of these creatures. It pushed more and more people around the globe to approach bats, studying them, domesticating them, killing them or even eating them. To Chinese, bats are a symbol of happiness!

A bat is an infected animal but due to its immune system it can live with viruses. SARS, MERS, COVID19 are said to have been transferred to humans from bats because of human interactions with them.

A bat, like any other creature, is crucial to the environment equilibrium. We should save bats by letting them be in the wild. Don’t hug a bat, don’t kill it, don’t eat it, and don’t get close to it.

Can we leave bats alone?

 

 

Six lessons learned from the Covid-19 lockdown

empty_street_pandemic_1024
photo by sciencealert.com

As countries are preparing to go back to normal life, I can’t help looking back to the lockdown experience as a period of time where I was forced, like the rest of us, to new habits and ways to survive and live through this strange pause. I have learned important lessons for life whether there will be another wave of Covid-19 (I hope not) or not.

Here are the lessons I learned:

  • Step away from news. In stressful times like these, being constantly glued to your computer or phone and reading/watching news is not the best thing to do. In spite of being tempted to do it, and just for the record, fake news outnumbered the true ones. So, let alone being obsessive about knowing more can cause stress, but also not all is true. I limited myself to one hour per day to read or watch the news.
  • Don’t binge eating/drinking/smoking. This is the time not to mess with your body for the sake of immunity. adds stress to the body which decreases immunity.
  • Have an activity, a hobby that makes you happy doing it on your own. Whether it’s gardening or drawing or cooking etc., happiness is achieved first in solitude then shared. If you only rely on others to make you happy, then a lockdown will make you bored to say the least. Boredom is another word for anxiety.
  • Learn DIY skills to fix and repair things in times where you cannot bring in any helper to do it for you. And in general, learning new skills is good.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of a great novel to make days/nights shorter and to shift your mind to a different world.
  • Keep the contact with the loved ones. Nothing beats human warmth even if it is virtual. Physical distancing is required, not social distancing.

Again, let’s hope and pray that a second wave of the corona virus will not show up. Until then, stay safe.

Can I steal a face mask to protect my family?

surgical_mask_still_life-1296x728-header2
photo by healthline.com

 

Responsibility has never been of this amplitude.

As citizens, we were taught to be responsible towards ourselves and others. However, citizenship’s responsibility is more abiding by the law for a smoother organized life in society. A transgression of the law leads to punishment and repair.

Suddenly, in this peculiar pause, a walk outside has become an individual and a collective moral question. The dilemma is this:

Can I steal a mask to protect myself/my family? Or, in absence of a mask, can I walk outside uncovered?

Stealing is universally criminal. Foolishness, taken to a certain extend, in time of crisis is as criminal. If ethics are made of somehow universal principles (truth, respect etc.), never before, wise practical and casuistic ethics (i.e to wear a mask) has become a universal principle. Therefore, in this precise matter, stealing a mask is less harmful than to be face uncovered outside.

We might save the world by stealing a mask!

 

The paradox

wp-1586713727606.jpg
photo by @dvjkaa
Where do we go from here
When the mind is not clear
The night is long
But the sun is shining bright
The storm is within
And birds are singing
Darkness isn't that dark

Where do we go from here
When streets are empty
Faceless people behind windows
Staring at the sky
Feeling the heat of the sun
Waking up their souls
Motionless bodies

Where do we go from here
When streets have no name
When death has no face
When spring feels like winter

Tomorrow is another today
Humming the same song
Playing the same games
Doing the same things
Repetition makes absurdity

Outside the sun shines
Inside the heart is cries
Scream into the scary silence
Run into the wilderness of your dreams 
Maybe foolishness is what we need 

Bewilderment etc.

 

095

So we thought we would wake up to the world we know

But we woke up to stillness and void

We woke up to the only inevitable truths: change and death

We woke up to the fading artificial beauty

Who cares?

We woke up to invisible enemies: illness and surveillance

We woke up to an invisible invasion

We woke up to our illusion

Wasn’t strength our identity?

We woke up to our vulnerability and breathlessness

We woke up to solitude and silence

We woke up to uncertainty

My dear ones, did you think you would wake up to the world you know?

Hello and welcome to a new world order