March 23rd, 2020


I Love the Smell of Boiling Frog

One's relationship with time runs strangely in times like these, and not only because normal schedules of work and school are disrupted. For one thing, time and space are strangely entangled. The future has acquired a compass point: it lies to the south-east, through France (a week ahead) and beyond, Italy (a fortnight).

If I were to give the government and its nudge unit more credit than I suspect they deserve, I might speculate that their bumbling lack of clarity was a ruse to make the public take self-isolation into its own hands, and hence be more accepting of (even grateful for) repressive measures later. There's certainly a case for saying that, in a democracy, policies of great harshness cannot easily be brought in all at once, as in China, but must be introduced step by tiny step (but not too tiny, lest the crisis outpace you). I for one feel as if I'm in an amphibian bain-marie, as well as a Petri dish.

On the other hand, when I look at Orban, Trump and Johnson calling invarious ways an unlimited blank cheque from their legislatures, I can't help but be suspicious - not because of the call so much as the callers. As Jane Carnall notes on Facebook, there's a stark contradiction between Johnson's words ("We'll have turned the tide in six weeks") and his actions ("Give me dictatorial powers for two years"). Coming from a notorious liar and would-be "king of the world," it's hard to extend trust, or to know where in all this rubble of distraction and destruction poor mistreated truth may be cowering.