On, the thing that shall not be named
I’m writing this on Sunday, March 13th of 2020 and at the given moment I feel that I can safely title this “On, the thing that shall not be named” because said thing has been so monolithically central, so all encompasingly present, that it is known merely by the act of writing.
I’m experiencing this whole thing as an American abroad in Europe and as I write that I’m realizing I’m probably in an extremely, extremely tiny minority of people in this sense. Most Americans traveling to Europe are either home or stuck in an airport right now (not expats, but travelers). I’ve taken a sort of pride in commitment to staying in Greece through this whole ordeal.
The scale of the thing feels, well, historical, although I feel that term gets thrown around a lot. This feels much larger than anything I’ve ever experienced, which is not incredibly surprising given my short range of experience so far. The thing that caught me off guard is that my 76 year old father told me he felt the same way. He’s always someone I feel has seen, done, experienced far more than most people even in his age bracket. So his corroboration has set off this indication in myself that this really is as big as it feels to be.
One of the reasons why it’s interesting to be specifically in Europe during this is because it makes me think of World War II. You realize the extent of change that the war brought, and that here in Europe this wasn’t so abstract as it was in the states. Not that the present situation is nearly as serious or dangerous as WWII, but it helps to understand the scale of a truly world participatory event.
I see now how historical events pave their way through people’s lives. You have no say in what era, on what block, in what country you are born into, and sometimes that just happens to be where they’re bombing right now, or where soldiers are needed, or where the black death is wandering through. These types of events feel so much different than even colossal internal political changes. It’s just a thing that enters your life. It doesn’t quite have anything to do with you, it just comes in and does whatever it does. The ease in which all life norms begin to slump and ease down is so head turning that it becomes more curious than alarming.
I am curious as to what this present even will look like in the future. Will it be a one sentence throwaway of a blip in time that everyone merely remembers, or the marker of a world era. It’s odd how usually the slow, growing things end up generally creating the biggest change in retrospect. But maybe we’re entering a new epoch where much will happen very quickly. When my father was my age, computers didn’t really even exist yet. It’s hard to imagine what this implicates for the exponential sloping of world transformation. As I’m sure all generations do, I feel as though we’re approaching the taking off point of an exponential explosion of change.
Perhaps though, this is the result of being in my early 20s. Just as the old stoner’s center point of the spacetime continuum is woodstock, or following a special certain van, maybe we all construct our spacetime centers around our ape-brain tribal periods of formative development. I suppose we’ll all have to wait and see.