Are Europeans cooler than Americans? In normal times, I would say, ARE YOU KIDDING ME HAVE YOU SEEN EUROVISION??? ; however, in these times of global pandemic, I’m thinking that Europeans are way hella cooler than I ever thought they were. I was listening to Sylvia Poggioli report for NPR about the corona virus from Rome and she ended her piece by translating something she saw on a city wall, courtesy of a local graffiti artist:
The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.
This is high class graffiti, if you ask me. I think this is beautifully sad, and sums up our shared COVID experience, but is particularly meaningful for what we in America are going through, not because of the disease but because of, well, you-know-who turning our nation into a shithole country.
The line is from Antonio Gramsci (January 22, 1891 – April 27, 1937), an Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician who wrote on political theory, sociology and linguistics. He attempted to break from the economic determinism of traditional Marxist thought and so is considered a key neo-marxist. He died in prison, having been brutalized for over a decade by the Fascists because “For twenty years we must stop this brain from functioning”.
Gramsci wrote the above line while in prison, in 1929.
Our Dear Reader Steve, an American living in London, has reported on his blog Shadows & Light, that someone has been walking around North London wearing a Plague Doctor suit:
This, too, sticks me as a very classy, European way to make a comment on life during COVID. Fun Fact: The face mask is shaped like a bird’s beak because the doctor wearing it would fill it with sweet-smelling flowers and spices to counteract the evils in the air during the Plague of 1656.
Can you imagine what would happen if someone walked around New York City with that get-up? Nobody would get the reference, and I’m pretty sure they would get beat up, because tensions are high and people are irritable and this outfit is scary.
You can buy a Plague Doctor suit from Walmart on-line for $66.98.
For fun, I googled “COVID graffiti” and the inter webs did not disappoint.
This is more graffiti from Rome:
I don’t get the Pulp Fiction reference, but all around the world we all wear face masks and we all know what the virus looks like and it makes me feel that we really are all in this together, except for these dip shits:
I personally don’t know anyone who is out there bitching about governmental over-reach. The people I know are delighted to follow the order to stay home and stay far away from everybody. I myself am having a whale of a time. I haven’t made a To Do list in weeks, I live every moment as “Present”, and I experience time much the same way as our early human ancestors did — as an un-numbered, unhurried flow of days and nights that give life a pleasant rhythm of sleep and wakefulness, doing and not doing.
The only thing I have to show up for is my weekly Korean class and this week I got the biggest thrill. This is my current level of reading comprehension:
If you’ve ever learned a foreign language, you know that in the beginning it all feels random and impossible, and nothing makes sense, and everything whizzes past you at a terrifying speed. And then one day, something clicks and you begin to recognize a pattern or a word or two, and then a whole complete thought appears like magic and you think, Wow, I’m almost fluent! And then it goes away and you’re confused again, but for that brief moment you had a glimpse of what being inside that language will feel like, one day, and it’s enough to keep you going.
That’s where I am this week. I can read! Now, let me see if I can say this in Korean:
못쓰게 만들다 Trump.
We in the US have a TV show called Ozark and the actress Julia Garner won an Emmy for her role, and yes, she actually did say, on that show and in character: “I don’t know shit about fuck.” That’s the kind of witty repartee we have in America.
Have a great weekend, everyone. See you Wednesday, and in the meantime, ignore the monsters. Go have a nice glass of wine. It’s still good to be alive.