Premonition: Pessimists & Slackers

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


– 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?



COVID-19 Diary: Should I Stay or Should I Go?


Should I Stay Or Should I Go?


20th March 2020:


Empathy! Solidarity! Togetherness!

We are shouting from our balconies in between the intervals of clapping. Buzzwords of the brink. But do we really care beyond the growing walls of our personal void? Have you got the energy to give a shit about everyone else – in a practical and meaningful way? Most of us are too busy constructing our individual coping routines.


8AM: Wake up, thanks to my alarm in the adjacent room. I’m trying to break up with my phone at this time. It’s sort of working, when I don’t get up in the night to listen to a podcast.

8:15AM: New yoga routine. Just fifteen minutes a day but it seems to set up the morning well.

8:30AM Shower. Breakfast. Radio.


I was on a train from Hamburg to Zurich when I had to make a quick decision on whether to abort mission and head back to Amsterdam or not. In 10 minutes I would be in Hannover where I could change onto a train to my current city of abode. A few years ago I immigrated from New Zealand to the Netherlands, where I met my now-boyfriend (a Colombian Swede) who has since moved to Switzerland. When I left Hamburg at 8:30am, I had word from the boyfriend that he had been sent home from the office as a colleague was possibly a positive case. Fuck. This is the closest we have come. Should I stay (on the train Zurich-bound) or should I go (back to Amsterdam, in case a lockdown occurs)? I stayed.

Now I wake each day in a city I do not though. Although that doesn’t matter. We could be anywhere.


‘It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else.
Here we are now.’

– John Cage


It’s Day Three in Zurich. The day rolls on in an oscillation between knowing exactly what I am going to do, and not being sure due to an overabundance of options. In a moment, everything can be possible and everything can matter – and in the next, nothing matters at all.


I’m bored

I’m the chairman of the bored
I’m a lengthy monologue
I’m livin’ like a dog

– I’m Bored, Iggy Pop (1979)