Sunday 30 August 2020

Another Point of View

This morning I tuned in to A Point of View again, in the vague hope that perhaps John Gray had been allowed a second outing. No such luck, of course, but this week it was Adam Gopnik, the New Yorker writer, who is often worth a listen and always amusing. His talk took off from one of the great lines in that great mockumentary Spinal Tap: 'It's such a fine line between clever and stupid.'
  The line is indeed fine: as Orwell didn't say (but nearly did), 'Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.' However, Gopnik's theme is the Covid crisis, or whatever we choose to call this mind-boggling situation we find ourselves in. 'At no time in modern times,' says Gopnik, 'have we endured so much and understood so little.' Indeed – and one of the great unknowns is whether all we have endured, by way of lockdown and its effects, has even been necessary or salutary. How, asks Gopnik, will we explain to our children 'the noise it has made in our heads'? (And in particular, I would add, how do we explain the extremity of our panic reaction to what was essentially an extremely nasty 'care home virus' rather than a serious threat to the population at large.)
  The silver lining, in Gopnik's view, is that, like earlier pandemics – Black Death, Spanish flu – what comes next will not be 'parched austerity and continuing depression' but a period of 'plushness and abandon'. Well, maybe, but those earlier pandemics were far more serious than Covid, and they took place in times when people were much more familiar with death as an everyday event, and therefore not reduced to paralysing terror by pure timor mortis.
  Anyway,  here's the link to Adam Gopnik's talk. Enjoy.

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