Today and Tomorrow of a Pandemic (2)

Por: José Antonio Michelena

The 2020 leap year that began on Wednesday will be set to fire in human history by the uncontainable transmission, to the five continents, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, a spread initiated in China during 2019.

Covid-19 has claimed many lives and tested, in crisis management, very diverse governments and states of societies: from the most democratic and open, to the most authoritarian and closed.

But it has also tested us, that we are living an uneedited, unimagined experience, and we do not know exactly when and how this nightmare will end. Nor what will come after it’s over.

Much has been speculated about it, to the point of reaching the (almost) saturation of the subject, but not by looking the pandemic the pandemic will no longer be there, like the dinosaur of Monterroso. Every day we get up and lie by his shadow.

As other publications have done, we wanted to consult the opinion of a group of intellectuals to inquire about their particular experiences during all this time, to know how they have spent it, how their days have elapsed, what they think about this present, and what they expect from the future, how they imagine it.

Virgilio López Lemus
Virgilio López Lemus


Virgilio López Lemus

Virgil, how have you lived these months of lockdown? Did you make any profit out of it?

“Since I usually spend much of my time locked up at home working, I haven’t noticed much of the difference, except that no one calls me to ask me to go to this or that literary encounter and I don’t get visitors. But of course I have had more concentration, I have read much more because I distributed my time between working books I write (a poem, two essays), readings necessary for my information or for my delight (for example, I reread The Golden Pavilion, from Mishima, and the two volumes of Octavian Paz’s Poetic Work), domestic work, and a little useful looks at television. With this rhythm, I never get bored, I never feel alone.”

Are there any conclusions you have made, in existential and spiritual terms, that you want to share?

“The lousy vain pride of our species in the phase of polluting industrialization has been stopped by a spring of nature: a virus. Today a pandemic would not be largely accused as ‘punishment of God’, except by fundamentalist or apocalyptic religious groups. It seems that one of T. R. Malthus’s thesis on demographics came into function, but the wise British cleric did not have in his century the human capacity to find remedies, ergo vaccines. The Essay on the Principle of Population is already opposed in 1798 to what would be future ideas of socialism, so it has had a sequel to immense rebuttals. But here is a pandemic in the middle of the 21st century, at least in its first fifth, which would make us reflect outside the Malthusian line (wars and diseases ‘necessary’) on the human demand to look for the planet, fight for the massive non-pollution of its vital environment, keep an eye out for the peaceful cosmic exploration that then offers us another home without giving up our native , and many living resources to avoid the polluting excess and depletion of heritage of seas and planetary lands. If this epidemic evil has not been exploited for appropriate reflection and actions on behalf of the entire species, we will take another step towards our extinction in the face of other future health or geographical, geoeconomic, geopolitical ills. If we do not think of as a species, the future will remain uncertain and too much to the albur of our instincts.”

What teachings could leave us, as social beings, these cloistered months?

“I believe that in trying to answer the above question, I express some speculation about the condition of ‘social beings’, better ‘biosocial’, in the face of the challenges of life on a planet of gradually depleting resources. You might add that this pandemic, unlike other preterites, has made clear the need for global collaboration and solidarity in the face of the selfish capitalizing impulse and in the face of the over-apprehended syndrome of ‘property’ as a ‘sacred’ human right. For example: one or more Covid-19 vaccines should be put into widespread social service and not as expensive wholly owned goods. The Planet is a ‘property’ not only of the human species and we are irreversibly damaging this condominium. If it continues to deteriorate, first their life-sustaining assets will increase in price and, after the deaths of millions, will be devalued in a ‘pandemic’ way. Don’t we think about this? Will we continue to end up indiscriminately with such resources? Do we really need a car per capita? Are there social groups of high economic and political power that will never give in at least a little their dominance, their control and the massive exploitation of resources? Are these ideas unique to only an ‘ideology’, or a decisive way of observing the vital development of our species? It is not enough to aim, you have to shoot; that is, life needs reflection (in my case I am a man at the service of poetry), but she must direct the impulse towards the essential executive career for Good and Beauty, which do not go through the indomitable predatory pressure and involve harmonious development between science and technique and the human spirit.”

How do you live up the post-pandemic future?

“I have no don avizor. I would love to ‘worldly’ the planet, but I am a poor poet without a prophetic gift who looks lyrically at reality. So practice almost always overwhelms me and even overwhelms me. I just wish that our species would not fall victim to itself, and I would mark myself next to a utopia of solidarity, Universal Love, indulgences and erasures of the selfish apprehension of the world. I have the faith of a better future, the hope that it may be true and the charity to contribute to it, not without some pretentious spring, with my writing, which is the best thing I know how to do. I want that future to belong entirely to goodness, and a desire is much more than a prediction. I hope that in the future I will die, we will gradually die all of us who are now alive, and I long for a much better near world for the continuators of our species.”

Virgilio López Lemus

Poet, essayist, translator, university professor, literary researcher. Doctor of Philological Sciences. Academic of Merit of the Academy of Sciences of Cuba.


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