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Corona or “Attacks on Linking ‘’

A Time in Limbo for Humanity


Abstract: Little by little it all comes to resemble the war we experienced in the past. We finish our shopping in a hurry, the home becomes safe in the face of a possible attack that could come at any moment...
Instead of the militias that used to walk the streets proudly in times of fear, we now see the police or the army inviting people to stay home...
The skin becomes invisible or contagious. Do not approach, do not greet one another... The pores dilate.
Anything can get in, seep in, and the outside mirrors dangerously the inside.   

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A beautiful morning like no other all of a sudden became neither beautiful nor benevolent: A strange virus has attacked China. It reminds us of the September 11 attacks in the United States. But this virus can emigrate, take planes and trains, climb on cruise ships; it can go from country to country without a passport or a password. Mysterious and hidden, the virus is attacking humanity. However, the birds continue to sing in the garden, waiting for their daily feed; the cats of the neighborhood run and quarrel as usual. The flowers are already adorning the garden, the fig trees bloom, the almond trees burst into pearly white, and a lizard walks quietly on the edge of the window while taking its usual sunbath. What a lovely interior landscape spring nature is.

But human beings are afraid to go out into the street. Suddenly, the birds seem freer. They probably used to be and we didn’t even realize it. The virus that apparently comes from animals doesn’t kill them, they say, but it kills the people who kill animals. Is it nature’s justice, karma, or the plotting of another war? We would then be fighting an invisible enemy, and man would have to face his own helplessness and vulnerability in spite of his military might, which proves completely useless in the face of this invisible enemy. This tiny virus becomes a giant, crushing humanity with its boots and contaminating the entire world. Countries are shutting their borders, people no longer greet each other, kiss each other, or meet each other. Human connections are halted for fear of death, and the attack is both on the body and on the mind. The world is falling apart. A new invasive paranoia is spreading: obsessive hand washing, disinfecting everything; literally everything! Madness spreads. The supermarket, which used to be pleasant, suddenly becomes hostile and dangerous. People avoid looking at and touching each other, and every Other becomes a potential threat. With our masks and gloves we appear like zombies, stealing away at any speed in time and space; our frantic glances become the only contact we are allowed with the Other. This masked ball of muzzled mouths, veils all human emotions: joy, hatred, anger. As though we were becoming remote- controlled robots! “Do not come close to me.” “Get away, you are live bombs.”

Every human being becomes an object of suspicion. Psychosis is gaining ground... how can one breathe in the alleyways? The air is becoming infected: Could the virus be carried in the air above our heads? We hold our breath while waiting for the person next door to be on his way. What a grueling task it is to run our daily errands these days. Any object one touches becomes potentially dangerous: the supermarket trolleys, counters, even money. It is pure nonsense! What a relief it is to get out of this hell of a supermarket! We can finally breathe in the fresh air again, the supposedly uncontaminated air—or so we hope. For this bizarre object of a virus is attacking us on all sides, from every direction, in all environments, both outdoors and indoors. Everything has become polluted and dangerous. These “bizarre objects” take possession of the earth and of human beings, they hold them hostage so that the whole globe becomes infected. After a disinfecting ritual—oh so obsessive—we finally arrive home safely. It is finally safe. But, is there still a safe place for mankind on this planet that has become massacred by his exploits? Climbing up the steps of a shop with gum in my mouth, trying to ignore the danger, I suddenly swallow it, which causes me to cough uncontrollably. Right away, disapproving glances are directed at me from all sides—staring at me as if I were a criminal suspect. I try to duck in between shelves, behind the stalls, but I feel I will suffocate if I do not clear my throat. Oh my God! What a crime coughing has become now!

What about the people who test positive? The poor bastards have become criminals to be imprisoned or madmen to be bound. There have been reports of patients fleeing the hospital quarantines, spreading panic among the population like plague victims who could explode, splashing their microbes into the street air, microbes that stick to the skin, passing through pores and contaminating all near and around! The police rush in to arrest them, fearing a potential viral catastrophe. Should you be locking yourself up in your own home? Sometimes trying to sneak out to the window or go out on the balcony? Every outside space becomes a threat, both suspicious and dangerous; the virus is everywhere, panic is spreading, the dead are piling up. And there are songs, games, jokes that try to dismantle the depression that runs everywhere. How can one survive such a sneaky and widespread attack?

Let us attempt a trip to the corner grocery store. We need to escape our isolation. Going over the threshold? But what’s more dangerous, exposure to the virus? Or staying at home? That is difficult to answer. I take one step, I am outside. What an event it is to enter this new and threatening universe! At every corner, the enemy seems to be watching. It is like wartime, when we waited for a lull before going out to run the most basic errands. But at least at that time we knew which side the enemy was on and where the bombs could explode. East, West, North, South. Now the enemy is everywhere. Everywhere. But the birds are still chirping in the garden, they come to the window, they are not afraid. Courageous little birds that approach humans without reserve, without thinking about their murderous intentions and hidden guns. Birds must be the heroes of the century. Should we drive around to feel that life goes on? Cars meet each other without masks or gloves. Why not consider protective clothing for vehicles? Could the contamination cross over from one car to another? What madness! Little by little it all comes to resemble the war we experienced in the past. We finish our shopping in a hurry. Home becomes a safe space in the face of a possible attack that could come at any moment. Instead of the militias that used to walk the streets proudly in times of fear we now see the police or the army telling people to at stay home. The skin becomes invisible or contagious. Do not approach. Do not greet one another. The pores dilate. Anything can get in, seep in, and the outside dangerously mirrors the inside.
How can we make ourselves a new external covering? Oh my god! We have no material with which we can make ourselves a new skin! We only have masks and gloves; nice clothes, suits, and ties. What use are they to us? Maybe we could use the ties as face masks because those are disappearing from stores.

If only I could cuddle this little bird that seems to be delighted to sit on the branch, usurp its skin, its feathers and fly! The walls of the house become as the inner walls of tin cans. Narrow enough to suffocate; whose contents nourish us, except we do not realize that we are eating our own flesh, like a chick that eats the inside of an egg before it is able to grow and hatch. Will we have the possibility to free ourselves like he would? Ah, yes, Easter is coming soon, too. Hanging around the forefront of a florist’s shop, I suddenly read the phrase: “Happy Mother’s Day” Ah! It is Mother’s Day? I had completely forgotten! A feast out of place in the midst of the coffins stacking up. Celebrating life in the midst of death? A “Terror Without a Name” circulates in the deserted streets of Milan, which has now become a ghost town. There is not a sound, except for the Duomo’s bells which sand tirelessly, punctually, at twelve o’clock and the carefree pigeons stroll around the square. They are not afraid, apparently, but they maybe wonder where the humans of yesteryear are? How suddenly the earth was emptied of its inhabitants? Where are the breadcrumbs thrown to them by passers-by? Passers-by who themselves become crumbs to be picked up behind the curtains of hospitals and churches, finding no one to bury them. Apocalyptic scenes from science fiction movies without a doubt. Is this a nightmare or reality? Wake us up please. Let us stop this escalation into madness, because surely, we must be dreaming!

The boundaries of our dwellings are tightening up again, as helicopters fly over the city intimidating the population to stay home. Stay home? Which home? Who is used to being in their own company without the outside noise? What a prison without a name! How can one be confined to a Self without an elsewhere, without the outside world? How will the expansion of what is inside spread out everywhere? This become a daily exercise. Is it a good thing for mankind to be confined to its interior Self? What a valuable lesson it is for us to be able to nourish ourselves with our own flesh and measure out how long we will be able to hold out. We are being contaminated by a virus invited into our own homes by our manipulation of wild animals, a human exploit over so-called inferior creatures: Manipulating, killing, and feasting on them. But nature gets its vengeance: what we thought was weaker takes over and kills us from the inside out. With no vaccine, no medicine, man struggles with his living flesh. All weapons have become futile, the viral atomic bomb explodes in the face of all mankind! I repeat to myself the magnificent words of Cuban novelist L. Padora: “We are the Corona of the World.”

All links fade away: humans avoid each other, flee from one another. Even a look seems to carry with it the danger of transmission. Any contact becomes dangerous, as though “Bizarre objects” multiplied at full speed, taking to the air, riding a witch’s broom. Where can we go to protect ourselves from this threatening attack that comes at us from everywhere? How can we separate the inside from the outside? How can we build ourselves a skin resistant to a virus which has become our mysterious interlocutor? Yes, the Other is no longer our interlocutor, we must from now on begin to tame our enemy that can take any form: it can be a loved one, a neighbor, a friend or an enemy; an infection on door handles and on tables, in our food and in our water. This enemy can infiltrate our coffees and our newspapers. It is everywhere and nowhere.

Athens, Milan, Paris. All these beloved cities become petrified in a distant and nostalgic past, incapable of being projected into a possible afterlife. I try to recollect their smells, but nothing. It is as if their scents have become confined, confiscated, tarnished. Let us test the flying carpets of the written words. They brave the skies without any risk of attack. The space shuttle countdown has begun. Speaking in silence seems to be the newest proven anti-viral communication technique. This afternoon, a sudden urge pushes me to wear my beautiful black clothes and go around the cemeteries. But I cannot find anyone to give my condolences to! Only the crows croak and prowl around the cypress trees, making the picture seem even more gloomy. Everything is condensed in the now that exists alone, a now of stagnation, and expectation of a Godot not very hesitant to come. We turn around in circles, at home, spinning: infinitely forming circumferences, as though around black holes in the universe. Holes that could destroy us or regenerate us in another parallel universe. At this moment, everything is possible. With an enemy of this magnitude, what form should we take to fight it or to protect ourselves from it? The migrating birds might tell us one day, if we stay alive.

Translated from French by L. Kallassi.