Take your pick – there is a long list of names to choose from to describe November 2020, none of them pretty. I nominate Nobetter, or maybe even Nobatter, in any case, it is almost impossible to accept that in four weeks we are supposed to be putting up Christmas decorations. Good grief! The last thing I feel at the moment, on this first week of Lockdown (2) Light in Germany, is Christmassy. Like I said the other day, this whole year feels like one extended Halloween, with ghouls and witches popping out from every nook and cranny, mixed in with urban legends and halfwits trying to convince you that there is nothing wrong. As if the daily horror stories of the latest COVID-19 victims were not enough to scare you, there are political protests, wild elections, murders, escalating social unrest, and the odd natural calamity or two thrown in for good measure.
What has the world come to? There used to be a time when lockdown was meant for those who committed a crime. I want to be a fly on the wall 100 years from now and read what the history books will be telling about the year 2020, and how billions of innocent people were punished with house arrest and restricted movement, and whose only crime was to cough and breathe in a virus that originated from a bunch of bats in an obscure part of the world. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, even to a writer with a very vivid imagination for crime and suspense. This has all the makings of a cheap, low-grade science fiction fantasy horror that no scriptwriter or producer in their right mind would touch. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that this is our present day, along with hundreds of thousands displaced people seeking asylum in distant shores, communities who still cook with firewood and gather around the oil lamp at night because there is no electricity in the village. The disparity between the filthy rich of this world and the families who have to take turns eating meals because there is not enough food for everyone is nauseating, if not criminal, and yet, here we are, moaning and groaning about online schooling, zoom meetings, home office, closed gyms and restaurants, and mandatory masks. Why not just issue everyone with hazmats suits and makes us all live inside decontaminated bubbles?
Here’s the thing – we have the handbooks and economic theories to eradicate hunger, polio and poverty. Strategies have been developed over the years and we have transitioned from charity work to development cooperation, transforming lives and communities. But this has taken decades to figure out, not to mention endless debates and negotiations both on the political and non-governmental levels. What chance do we have then, as innocent bystanders to a global pandemic that no political leader has yet figured out how to manage properly? There is no foolproof handbook, hell, there is no handbook, and every single leader is flying by the seat of their pants. Damned if they do, and even more damned if they don’t. At the end of the day, we are the damned.
This evening I posted the following photograph on my social media, as part of a larger series called Fragments of a Dream. In this series there is a lot left to the imagination, and very little that is actually in focus and a concrete whole.
The photographs in the collection are either exaggeratedly dark or high key, none of which are intended to depict a scene in an awakened state of mind. This is a work in progress, almost two decades in the making which I have recently re-edited with a new concept. Strangely enough I did all this before the pandemic broke out, and as I looked over the collection this evening, I realised it is a suitable manifestation of my view of the world at the moment.
We are floating around aimlessly, unsure what our reality is. Home has become our office, our prisons, our small oppressive worlds that are no longer the safe havens and refuge that we escape to when the world is going mad. How do we put the fragments back together into a functioning whole?