I woke up around 1 AM from a dream about death and rejection. It took place on a cataclysmic landscape. People only tend to find their own dreams interesting so I shall not elaborate… I can’t put out of mind, nor remember his name for now, the conceptual artist who exhibits at the Lisson and who after Obama launched new air strikes across Afghanistan and the Middle East he heard a leak that Obama had ordered circa one million body bags. He then created his own installation. I don’t ever want to see body-bags. What a hideous compound.
This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round. (Larkin)
I also woke up thinking that for many people the Shut Down might end up feeling like an emotional formulation of hell which left me thinking about both a film and a play but since that time of reflection there have been more significant external changes. Yikes! we went to Regent’s Park this morning to discover that every meter in the vicinity of the park was now displaying a formidable new green sign:
Only NHS Workers and Blue Badge (disabled) holders allowed to park here.
I have no problem with this, rather I applaud it and am amazed the technology was up to it appearing overnight, except it has brought a sudden and unannounced halt to our Regent’s Park walks and my observations of the swans. It is anyhow being suggested to me by family members and friends who know better than me that until we see where the curve of the virus heads over the next few days we should not venture out at all. The jury’s still out on that despite Cummings programmers and perhaps we will just venture out earlier still and walk beside of the canal….
The only other thing worth reporting is that I have not done my yoga practice for over three weeks due to the obstinate respiratory virus from which I am now recovered. This morning when I finally attempted a session I couldn’t believe how my fitness had deteriorated. I can see that hitherto a dawn session must become compulsory if my lungs are going to have any resistance to the COVID rough beast.
One other thing before I go onto my cultural associations of the day if my Skypes don’t exhaust me. I am dental phobic. Every day, it is my habit when cleaning my teeth to thank the Universe for their continued good health. Yesterday, we got a grim letter from our dentist saying that for the present only emergency appointments were being offered. Worst still that anyone over 70 must ring the 111 support line for special geriatric dental services. I am eating my lunch and enjoying John’s crusty sourdough when my mouth fills with shattered filling…Having already spent an hour this morning before Skype’s talking to E.On about changing our tariff there is no way I can face more stress by ringing our dentist and pleading with them not to exclude me.
When I have more time I intend to write about Sartre’s ‘Huis Clos’ /’ No Exit’ written in 1944 and Bunuel’s ‘Exterminating Angel’. How prescient these two works of art have become…I’ve finished work and washed the floors and played indoor ball with Dido and find I have enough energy, (and as yet no tooth-ache, I doubt if even my dentist will be able to overcome the bureaucracy) to flag up Sartre’s personal and dramatised idea of existential hell. Of the room’s three occupants, Garcin is a pacifist coward, Ines is a man-hating lesbian and Estelle is a flighty murderess. Sartre’s point is that they are defined by their past actions and that their particular torment is to be chained together for eternity. Inez is attracted to Estelle, Estelle is attracted to Garcin and he is not attracted to either of them.
I’ve just remembered the name of the artist I was struggling for this morning, Santiago Sierra who is like Georges Perec preoccupied by spaces. In fact ‘spaces’ has become a word that is beginning to haunt me. One of Sierra’s installations at the Lisson Gallery was entitled: Space closed by corrugated metal.
There is a good article in the Guardian today… If only Cummings had an imagination, but he’s not even scientifically sound…
So what is called “evidence-based” methods have a dire track record and are pretty much evidence-free. This scientism also manifests itself in Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings’s love of complexity and complex systems (our speciality) which he appears to apply incorrectly. And letting a segment of the population die for the sake of the economy is a false dichotomy – aside from the moral repugnance of the idea.