Coronavirus of the mind

A few days ago Meta-Nomad posted an excellent article, accompanied by interesting predictions regarding the cultural changes which will be brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. The halt in normal economic activity will make people question the conditions of our existence. There will be a common realization of the nature of our political establishment, and of the existential space occupied by various appetites in our lives. Of the profound decadence of the commodified capitalist existence.

Liberal, democratic, secular governments never expected they would be enforcing Lent on their populations. Because forced isolation is Lent, and Lent means a trip to the Desert. Desert, elemental earth in its purest form, dry and land-locked, away from the sound of the sea or the song of birds. A trip to the Desert is always a voyage inwards: anabasis in Greek. It means confrontation with one’s own nature, the discovery of a person’s substance. The only shadow to be found in the Desert is the one produced by those who wander in it. As C. G. Jung’s Red Book notes:

Everything to come was already in images: to find their soul, the ancients went into the desert. (…) the place of the soul is a lonely desert. There they found the abundance of visions, the fruits of the desert, the wondrous flowers of the soul. Think diligently about the images that the ancients have left behind. They show the way of what is to come. Look back at the collapse of empires, of growth and death, of the desert and monasteries, they are the images of what is to come.”

The Desert is also the backdrop for Temptation, and the place where demons gather. Hic sunt dracones. In the cold, silent desert nights, one becomes the sound. The voices within become distinguishable, and not all of them whisper placid thoughts. To hear them for a prolonged period of time is unbearable. Astronauts undergoing anechoic training can attest the unsettling effect of hearing one’s own heart, lungs and guts.

As the days go by, the unchanging quarantined room becomes a featureless landscape. The contraction of the self imposed by external pressure ceases and, liberated from all outside quotidian influence, we begin to recognize in ourselves a certain shapelessness. A lack of spine: the mark of the invertebrate life of the consumerist bugman.

The mental viruses infected the host years ago. They are memes of clarity and despair. Images of collapse. Of governments being dysfunctional corporations led by madmen CEOs and soulless bureaucrats. Of a perpetually accelerating economy running on unfulfillable and cannibalistic appetites. Of Death being real and irreversible. They had been laying dormant in the batcaves of the mind, waiting for a temporary vulnerability in the host’s passive mental immune system. Now they strike in full force.

It is unclear when the syndrome will become apparent, and which will be its clinical manifestations. It could be days, weeks, or years. It could be lethal, or it could be just like the flu.

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