A Journal of the Plague Year: Day 7, Meet the Angel of History


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A week in which the world has entirely changed. One can talk about this in historical terms, of similar events in the past, but none I can think of has been so encompassing and occurred so quickly. That it is already being felt in the most intimate ways reveals its extent. People I had spoken to up close a week or two before, were deliberately standing apart, greetings were short and distracted. Of course, there were no hugs.

Oh, by the way, in case you didn’t notice, yesterday, Socialism arrived. Our corporate bosses turned as one to the state, and begged it to save them—and their appeals have evidently been heard. As for the rest of us, our appeals were notably weaker, drowned out by the clamor of cruise ship companies, airlines, and gaming casinos. For us, as I noted earlier, it’s still, Sauve qui peut.

They’re offering to send us all money, a thousand or two for every man, woman, duck and dog. Money? For what? A down payment on Mom’s coffin?

The great wind of history, of collective payment for collective acts, has blown through and already passed on to the unknown future that waits. As Derrida said, and I think I begin (Just barely) to understand, “ It is always too late to think about time.”

This plague,  is, like environmental collapse, another form of the advent of the real, perhaps the beginning of the new era of bio-economics or perhaps: Who knows?

I leave predictions to the professionals. Maybe we’ll recover. Or maybe we’ll see Coyote, that clever trickster, running down deer on an empty Fifth avenue,  where like the London streets of Defoe’s Plague year, grass has begun to grow.

I leave off with a bow to Walter Benjamin’s Angel of History:

His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned , while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. The storm is what we call progress.








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