Isolation

COVID-19 Blog

So, you ask me about Coronavirus isolation, well oddly, isolation is actually suiting me quite well in some ways, as I am highly productive without the distractions offered up to me by my younger employees who constantly distract, interrupt me, talk to me, praise and piss me off, important me, brush past me, ask questions, bullshit me, laugh, joke, annoy, delay, play and leave traces behind to remind me that they still exist and I am not them. I now produce in this extraordinary space and place of isolation between 800 and 2500 words per day, way more than I ever have. The extraordinary thing about such isolation is sitting in the same position all day, which in real terms means my arse is in the same spot, my legs dangle at the same angle, my feet in more or less the same concentric circles on the floor, my arms, my shoulders and my head all follow the rest of my body into some ossified form of premature death; clearly I do not like this all that much no matter how productive; sitting still is something I have never done in my entire career; and then comes the silence of such isolation, the absence of the common, the absence of literal connection, the absence of everyday laughter integral to each breath we take, the absence of the visceral in our interactions with each other on a day-to-day basis – life is no picnic, life is no laughing matter, a beach before you die. Sitting in the one position and not laughing – both are bad for us as the humans of this earth – the only other animal that does this is the greyhound, and to be sure, and unless I am entirely delusional, to anyone who has seen me up close and personal lately, it is absolutely crystal clear that I am not a greyhound.

Research suggests we need to laugh seventeen times per day. Seriously, someone, somewhere came up with this number; and most of us only ever laugh in the company of others; alone, I am told, we only smile and chuckle to ourselves; perhaps I should invest in a mirror? Certainly enforced isolation means I do not have the multivariate forms of laughter inflicted on my innocent being, without my informed consent, by Zoe, Josephine, Joe and everyone else at Bower Place, punctuating the profound or banal or whatever else it is I think I am doing all day long in this silence; like being on an endless return flight from Sydney to New York and back and there and back again – not that we will be doing that soon – and endlessly sitting in the same position, an endless risk of constipation, haemorrhoids, fluid retention, thrombosis, heart disease, rampant obesity, etc. This all changes the nature of relationship, communication, interaction and intimacy – but life is like that – just when we think we have a handle on these things the whole thing shifts.

This Coronavirus Pandemic crisis has deep, long-term, economic implications that will now overtake us; will produce a revolution of sorts in the way we all do business and the way technology as a form of communication is managed; and those ahead of the game will be the survivors; those behind the game will flounder. This is most likely the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and the Great Depression changed the way we do economics, and that is how the war was won. This will herald a fundamental change in the nature of work, not that the way we now conceptualise work is necessarily natural, what work actually is; there hasn’t been a change like this for four-hundred years since the invention of work as we currently know it; and this will produce a fundamental change in communication and we have not had anything like that in the West for five-hundred years, not since the Reformation, not since the invention of the Guttenberg Press, decent ink, decent paper, and the proselytising of the vernacular, which clearly enabled the vernacular to proselytise itself through the mass production of books and newspapers. You are an intelligent person, literate in the ways and means of this culture; you should be ahead of the game here; you should work out how you as an individual, how you as a family, how you as a business will prosper; how your community and country is going to prosper from this revolution; and in this context what does ‘prosper’ actually mean, not what it meant ten weeks ago. The meaning of words will now slip and change through this revolution, just as the idea of ‘economic growth’ will transform, just as the literal and the metaphor will change hands. Sydney University, a borrowed form of stiff upper old Oxbridge lip, in its structure, norms, forms of delivery and beliefs about itself, high up there on the global university indexes, yes, at the beginning of this pandemic someone up there (Sydney University is elevated on a hill) must have grasped the implications of Covid 19 as a global crisis, way beyond the health crisis; they trained and transformed the University and its entire workforce into hybrid-online delivery in the space of two weeks maybe five, who cares, it was breathtaking; and if Sydney can do this with such unconscionable speed, then what can the entire education system in this country do with every other form of education, in every other discipline or faculty or programme currently tied into old structures, physical locations, time frames, semesters, terms etc.; changes the nature of the game; and anyway we know it is nature that is up for grabs. Academia will now transform totally, and what does totally actually mean; it means their knowledge and education will now become available to all through the forms of familiar communication the entire population use; not a landlocked education, privileged by money and location. We will soon have the very best academics, and the very best teachers, available and accessible and delivering to the entire population; the inequalities will be stripped out of this country’s education system, and that can only be a good thing. We must grasp the fact and the metaphor of inequality – that Coronavirus is more easily and readily transmitted through unequal economic and social structures. This will delight every Dane on a bicycle. That is exactly what has happened in the United States with its lack of pandemic preparedness; and that is exactly what has now happened in Singapore, with its extraordinary pandemic preparedness. In both cases they ignored the relationship between Coronavirus and inequality. Race in the USA; foreign workers in Singapore. Inequality is at the heart of all things human. Remember Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher and early media theorist, that “the medium is the message”.