Today’s Desk

It’s a disorienting sensation, knowing we are living through a season that will be written into history books, a before and an after. The effect is compounded because there are no soldiers or floodwaters, nothing visible to fight or flee. Sometimes it feels like a mass hallucination, all of us wearing masks and lined up six feet apart to buy bananas and bread.

I thought I’d devote my energies to becoming spartan and pure, brand new and all-seeing. Instead I scroll and refresh.

Even though I should know better, I read pandemic think-pieces and predictions. So many predictions. That we will be better people on the other side of this. That we will be worse. That it will bring us together, that it will tear us apart. That we will become a new kind of species, forever skittish of one another. Shaking hands will become a relic from a foolish age. Others say the pent-up desire for human contact will find us crowding restaurants and savoring public life like never before. There will be a new labor movement, some say, and predatory capitalism will finally be knocked on its heels. Others envision a frightening new style of authoritarianism.

My only prediction is that our president, recognizing his popularity is plummeting, will use the pandemic as a pretext for suspending the election.

But I can’t stop thinking about those monkeys in Thailand. I watch shaky footage of monkeys rioting through the streets because no tourists were there to feed them. When today’s pundits and soothsayers start offering post-pandemic predictions—let alone whenever I think I have any bright notions—I must remind myself that nobody saw this virus leading to monkeys punching trashcans.

Rafael Anton Irisarri – Blue Tomorrows

From The North Bend | Room 40, 2010 | Bandcamp

An elegant piece of drift from Rafael Anton Irisarri, who’s made much of his catalogue available on Bandcamp for any price you wish—dig into it and buy a few. Even a few optional donations via Bandcamp goes much further towards supporting our musicians than years of pennies from streaming.

Each night in 2020, I wrote a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I wanted to etch these days into my memory. Before the world changed completely.
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