In this edition of my COVID-19 Diaries I try to cyberflâneur, only to end up at lofi beats. Again, and again, and again.
5th April 2020:
“Our very existence has turned into a question mark.”
“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”
― John Cage
The future is cancelled. We know this by now. It’s not ‘postponed’, that sweet word being politely touted in exchange for the hard truth. Here in Zurich, posters remain in loom for a festival put on by a youth theatre that was to run from January until June – ‘The Future is Cancelled’ they jest in their title. These word still hang on the empty streets. When they were designed last year they would have appeared rebelliously tongue-in-cheek. Those who concepted the title may have felt antagonistic and playful. Running on the funny provocations that ‘youth’ knows it is allowed. Imagine that? What we thought was our future has been broken into fragments of oblivion. Eaten away until it doesn’t even matter. No need to ponder too hard on it. It’s gone. The slow cancellation of the future was not slow at all. …
This is the third post in my Premonition series.
Premonitions are a series of critical foresights by Ruth Les. The scenarios and ideas are concerned with possibilities, not probabilities. ‘…We should not be confined by the probable. We should discover the possibility hidden in the present.’ – Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi
Permission for Pessimism
‘PERMISSION GRANTED. BUT NOT TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT’
– John Cage
‘Two kinds of pessimism: “The end is near” and “Will this never end?’
― Eugene Thacker
A Premonition for Pessimism
In our emergence from life during COVID-19 we will see new found respect for Pessimist thought. Long thrown from the scene, Pessimist philosophy will be taken seriously, and prior tyrannical ‘positive thinking’ taken in bad taste.
When we all became precarious cognitarians, freelancing our lives away in knowledge work, the abstraction of our worlds was all consuming. Though we were workers, we were not standing in lines of industrial production. What we produced was immaterial, and abstract. The main thread of capitalism’s own evolution is ongoing abstraction. We communicated not offline or face to face, but through abstracted means. The angle of this communication took pronounced ‘positive’ positions. Something Positive is a site set up during the pandemic to present solely positive news about it. Click the button ‘More Positive Vibes’ for continuous hits of feel-good developments; Apple says contractors will be paid during COVID-19 shutdown (Wall Street Journal), or, A rockhopper penguin at Chicago Shedd Aquarium makes unlikely friends with three Beluga whales (The Guardian).
Particularly speaking from experience in the creative industries, to not be explicitly positive was an employment death sentence. In the social scene too, negativity was not allowed. Who wants to hang around with Negative Nelly when you can be with Optimist Oli?