Being Locked Down, And Nothingness, Part I

Back around the fall of 2020, in respect to the mewling avalanche of navel gazing in the media and among parts of my social circle about how 2020 was “the worst year ever”, I made two observations.

  1. Tell that to anyone alive in 1942, or 1916 (or the 1918 Influenza), 1861, or any of the various Bubonic Plagues. Those that didn’t hit you with a brick would laugh a bitter, condescending laugh.
  2. Worst ever? It wasn’t even the worst in my lifetime, from my perspective.

This last observation was a little controversial in some parts of my social circle – but among years in my life, 2020 might have cracked the bottom five, maybe. Just off the top of my head: 2008 was horrible, 2003 was a grueling slog of unemployment, 2000 involved all the fun and frolic of a divorce and 1988 was a hideous morass of depression.

So – 2020 was #5 on the *hit parade. At worst.

I posted that list on another, lesser social media platform than this blog. And it drew…

…well, some agreement, and a particularly harsh reaction from some parts of my social circle.

I’m not going to say 2020 was fun – it was terrible, and for reasons that went beyond Covid. And 2021, so far, is worse; more people in my life, speaking for myself, have died of Covid this year than last year. Again, neither year comes close to topping any of the years I listed above.

It’s heartening to see others making the observation:

No one can or should emerge from that world-historical shock without a heightened sense of life’s transience. It is the lockdown, the pause in “busy-ness”, that has been infused with more meaning than it can hold. What started as twee high jinks about banana bread became a sour reappraisal of modernity by its principal winners: the educated, the urban, the mobile. 

It is mortifyingly non-U, in fact, to say that I enter the post-lockdown world with no new angle on life. But there it is. I am going to go out as much as I did before, thanks. I am going to travel as much as the friction of new rules allows. If some urbanites crave an Arcadian life, I encourage them to find it in the obvious places instead of bending cities to their tastes. To the extent that I have changed at all, it is in the direction of more speed and zest: passing some of my forties in an Asian megacity is a goal now, as it never was before.

No doubt, my failure to have a Damascene lockdown reveals an impoverished imagination. But then which side is more bovinely stuck in its ways here? What stands out about the great odysseys of the soul I keep reading is their familiarity. Metropolitans have always been prone to credulous nature-worship. Families have always been prone to urban flight. Mid-life ennui has always been dressed up as some fault with the outside world. What is new is the respectability that such attitudes have acquired over the past year and a half. In other words, the lockdown hasn’t changed these people any more than it changed me. It just dignified existing impulses.

Read the whole thing.

But I think there was one other factor at work.

More tomorrow.

18 thoughts on “Being Locked Down, And Nothingness, Part I

  1. Any ‘revelation’ is probably that many have realized that they were not happy with the lives/paths they were on, but were ‘sleepwalking’ forwards without stopping to assess if that’s what they really wanted to do.

  2. Yeah, Mac, I think that’s it. What an odd site. Janen Ganesh is the author. His writing style reminds me of the reading style of Kevin Cline’s character in A Fish Called Wanda in that he reads Nietzsche but he just doesn’t understand it.

  3. People often wonder why people who live under totalitarian regimes don’t fight back. Maybe it’s because, unless a few thousand are mowed down during the conquering, they’re too fucking stupid to realize they’ve been subjugated, or maybe they don’t care as long as no one shows up to take their stuff…I dunno.

    What I *do* know is, next time some “Patriot” chud waves a Molon Labe flag in my face and assures me nothing can take our FREEDOM ™ as long as we are armed, I’m just gonna deck him.

    Glad to hear it’s going swell for y’all

  4. jdm wrote: “His writing style reminds me of the reading style of Kevin Cline’s character in A Fish Called Wanda in that he reads Nietzsche but he just doesn’t understand it.”

    Agreed, it was like trying to read Proust in places.

    The pseudos all love to create import where there is none. Media is filled with articles attempting to do the same with 9/11.

    To be fair fhey have advertising and subscriptions to sell.

    Before ‘epiphany’ chop wood carry water.

    After ‘epiphany’ chop wood carry water.

    Many humans are desperate to find reason
    and purpose in their existence. Their is none. Get over yourselves.

    Hope that explains the 30% you didn’t understand. 😉

  5. jfc…

    What a smoking heap of dreck. I don’t know who this manlet is, but I saw where it was going the minute he cited Matthew Yglesias and dropped the connection as soon as he dredged up the insights of a British atheist, gay activist.

    If you can do any amount of reading this year, and come to the conclusion your biggest revelation is you need to go spend some time living in Hong Kong, you might be a midwit, or a reprobate, or more likely both.

    The chud at issue here, Janan Ganesh, suggests we may be suffering from a “surplus of education meet[ing] a surplus of leisure” Maybe he’s right for some, but as regards a surplus of education, not him: “Ganesh attended Stanley Technical School for Boys, a voluntary aided school in South London; afterward, he read Politics at Warwick University; he then studied Public Policy at University College London”. So he was a professional moocher, chipping at the edges of an education, but never finishing shit. 10/10 his surplus of leisure time came on someone else’s dime.

    Clicking a link on SiTD is becoming a real adventure. I fully expect to be sent to Mother Jones for enlightenment at any moment.

  6. Rat Emery sniveled:
    “Many humans are desperate to find reason and purpose in their existence. Their is none.”

    No shit? That explains why you scour the dregs of the internet for intellectuals to plagiarize? Why you fucking lie about, well, everything? Pffft. But in your case, you’re right about the latter point. In the end, no one gives a fuck about you, rat. You’ve accomplished: Nothing.

    The only chance you have at notoriety is to kill yourself in a really messy and public event. Maybe if you set yourself on fire someone will win a Pulitzer for their cell phone pics and your name will crop up in a Jeopardy question….it’s worth a shot; what do you have to lose?

  7. Twat — His writing really isn’t that difficult.
    I just pasted the page’s url into a web based readability score calculator. It says the article should be understandable by 13-14 year olds.

    Janan’s prose is the most enjoyable and least boring I encounter all week. Incisive, rigorous, poetic. And it says something worthy of consideration almost every time.

    The media is full of content dumbed-down to Twat’s level, which makes it refreshing to read something more challenging and, usually, more insightful.

  8. So there, little guy, what were your favorite three insights? I’d really like to know of those insights that are incisive, rigorous, and poetic. I’d accept incisive, rigorous, or poetic for any one of the three.

    And if you want to include some interpretation, in your own words, that would be awesome.

  9. Rat, you just can’t quit, can you? You’ve never heard of that Chud, and didn’t understand any of it, or you’d have defended it instead of cut and pasting someone’s Amazon review of Tom Robbins.

    If he was a weekly read, you’d have plagiarized him a dozen times, so save the bullshit. And don’t deflect from the issue at hand.

    Gas can. Matches. You.

    Do something authentic for once. Your family will love you for it.

  10. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 09.14.21 (Evening Edition) : The Other McCain

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