I encountered this guy around the corner yesterday. He had wandered into the neighborhood from Sepulveda, sweaty and disheveled, muttering on the curb as he loaded his crack pipe…unfettered by self-consciousness, so deep was he into the finger rituals of addiction.
Like my beloved Los Angeles, he was in a state of nervous prostration. A herald of self-destruction. It made me think of our three-month bender of submission to safetyism and power-tripping bureaucrats. So many of us remain insensible to reason. Hopeful data do not appease us. Hard facts of morbidity do not move us. We’re all Emily Dickinson now, cowering at the top of the stairs. We hide behind our duty masks and wait for someone else to be the first to defy authority, lest we are ratted out on social media.
When we take the full measure of the economic damage inflicted upon ourselves and face with clear eyes our willingness to swallow propaganda from a garden hose we will look back on this time as one of madness. We will tell our children by way of explanation for the debt we hand them, forgive us, it was sort of like we were smoking crack.
“I am growing handsome very fast indeed! I expect I shall be the belle of Amherst when I reach my 17th year. I don’t doubt that I will have crowds of admirers…” When admirers failed to appear, roaring disappointment contracted Emily’s world. She ventured no further than the garden gate, then the sitting room, finally her bedroom, where she retreated for the remainder of her life. Amherst became that terra incognita signified on ancient flat earth maps by sea dragons.
“A prison gets to be a friend,” Dickinson famously said. As we emerge from the lockdown, will our pent up creative energies prevail, will the animal spirits of commerce revive fully intact, or will we find ourselves diminished somehow? Marked by a limp? Will we embrace a newly discovered weakness?