STOP: Corona Diaries


Even though i spend every day speaking online to my Italian friends in dire straits, even though i sing dance and cry with and for them, even though i anxiously follow the statistics of the corona virus spread which are worse every day than the predictions…i must admit that now i am on a turning point. Either i will understand them and join them or just forget it, let them fight it out as the Brexiters are doing.
Italian premiere just announced that he is afraid that Italians will not be able to endure the severe restrictions psychologically… so in italy only half measures for now even though they have the highest death rate in the world…Chinese scientists and doctors who came to help them just said, this won’t do, if you don’t help yourselves we cannot help you…
The so called Italian lifestyle that was promising the longest life span now is delivering the highest death rate…i would claim that Italian lifestyle was always overrated just like their food or high fashion. I am allowed to say that being half Italian who spent most of her life in northern Italy. And there the scientists, medical workers are imploring all the Italians…STOP…

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Science and Conscience: Corona Diaries

76706888_10157747339772819_4921359873502871552_oLast night people in Belgrade, Serbia applauded again vastly and loudly the medical staff, just as they are doing it regularly in Italy, with singing and banging of hope …yesterday Italy had the biggest death toll ever 475 and the military were engaged in helping with the coffins…Listen to the science, act with conscience… there are bigger things than an individual or politicians…the concert and concept of solidarity is underway finally…

T. from Rome writes:

This morning I saw the army trucks transporting the dead bodies in Bergamo and I had a breakdown… so surreal, too much horrors. And too many people in Lombardia are still required to go to factories and workplaces even if they don’t work in undeferable fields. Why our government is not shutting down everything? why are those people being sacrificed in the name of profits for the fews? after all, we already know that there will be an economic crisis, so they could at least have some pity and make people stay at home. At least, Boris Johnson was way more honest by telling clearly that people should get used to the idea of losing their loved ones…here, they are doing the same but without telling it loud. 

When i was seriously sick some years ago i couldn’t stand people telling me, stay positive everything is going to be Ok! But what really helped was making sure that i have access to good cure, doctors opinions and means. Those were my only friends…they staid.
Today with corona menace it is not like during wars and sanctions, standing in lines for goods or as legitimate targets on the bridges… A politician put us in dire straits, to fight for survival …now politics can help or hinder but the lines are our own responsibility towards ourselves and the others.
We should not fight among each others but i see that we are divided, because people react differently to danger and power, basic instincts.
Children are anxious for their parents just as much as vice versa, but not necessarily agreeing on cures. My best way of coping is solidarity and isolation, two poles…solidarity with all and isolation from everybody, mind and body, especially mind. Maybe some flowers will bloom on the garbage. I am literally cleaning the no man’s land full of human garbage, plastic bottles whatever…in my courtyard along the Danube, instead of walking the streets, attending events, dinners. After the first days of isolation it does not feel like prison or anything new, it feels good in a elementary way, to rise with the sun and go to sleep with it, to think about earth and the skies and us humans. But the time count feels different, i lost one day… just a year ago i published an essay on time, doubting it’s linear count!
https://jasminatesanovic.wordpress.com/2019/03/07/diary-on-time/

A Moscow diary, just like mine or anybody’s, so far and yet so near, so near and yet so far…so, space is also relative…

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Purgatory: Corona Diaries

Right now i am staying in the the house of Rasa Livada (1948-2007), Serbian poet from Zemun, Belgrade on Danube who wrote a book of poems “Karantin” in 1977
He used to prophesize, A Livada kaze…and Livada says…
Rasa Bafi

Purgatory

Everyone keeps on asking that question. You’d be surprised:
For such a long time the most beautiful and biggest building
In town has been the Quarantine Office.

If you scratched its mortar you’d be able—
even at this very moment—to dig out a rib
or the shin-bone of a construction worker.

You can tell there was a dungeon
stretched between the earth and the underworld,
between the earth and sky.

And there were those
who travelled along Rodopi’s cable
to find their fathers who’d escaped the region
and gone to Hellada
as well as those who had come from Jerusalem and Smyrna
only to migrate then to Poland and Germany
(multiplying their seed as well as their amethysts),
and then there were those who took medicines and their ID cards
and those who just ran away,

although, plenty of them stayed.

What a mixture we have become:
Slavs, Greeks, Germans, Hungarians,
Jews, Latins. Oh, do you know how many
costumes an actor has to change
in order to remain naked and yet, you ask,
what force is keeping us alive, what customs
or culture?

I’ll give you an answer:
QUARANTINE no longer exists, it’s been interiorized,
although, it still teaches us to tell one sort of people
from another, the rich from the poor.
Besides, our hatred which still endures
(it really endures) makes
one forget, whoever that one
may be, what
he does.

AND LIVADA SAYS:
A teacher won’t tell his students
everything he knows, in case he loves them.

Translated by Ivana Velimirac

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The Task Lamp: Corona Diaries

Virtual Vita Nuova

From the Italian fantascienza anthology “La Prima Frontiera” of October 2019.

https://kippleblog.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/esce-la-prima-frontiera-antologia-di-strano-weird-guest-star-bruce-sterling-e-danilo-arona-curatela-di-sandro-battisti/

The Task Lamp

by Bruce Sterling

Since you are the heir, you must hear the story of the lamp directly from my own lips. Never mind the gossip of the people. They never liked this lamp much. They only let me work with it because I worked for their sake.

So, my boy, once I was young like you, and this lamp was new and brilliant, and it was a lamp built to last, too. You can read books with this lamp when it’s dark as pitch outside. I read books in my bed at night because I’m a sick old man. If you don’t boast to anyone, you’ll get away with that.

So, to tell you my story: once, there were three great people among us. These three were the most Beautiful Woman in the World, and…

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The Task Lamp: Corona Diaries

From the Italian fantascienza anthology “La Prima Frontiera” of October 2019.

https://kippleblog.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/esce-la-prima-frontiera-antologia-di-strano-weird-guest-star-bruce-sterling-e-danilo-arona-curatela-di-sandro-battisti/

The Task Lamp

by Bruce Sterling

Since you are the heir, you must hear the story of the lamp directly from my own lips. Never mind the gossip of the people. They never liked this lamp much. They only let me work with it because I worked for their sake.

So, my boy, once I was young like you, and this lamp was new and brilliant, and it was a lamp built to last, too. You can read books with this lamp when it’s dark as pitch outside. I read books in my bed at night because I’m a sick old man. If you don’t boast to anyone, you’ll get away with that.

So, to tell you my story: once, there were three great people among us. These three were the most Beautiful Woman in the World, and the Richest Man in the World, and the Smartest Man in the World. Those three people created this lamp to be their shining hope, and I was their heir.

Now, this Beauty was one of our family, and she brought us here to this island to protect us. The Beauty believed the world was ending; that’s why she hid here.

You can see that the world is still with us today: the sun rises, the grass grows, the moon shines. But the Beauty and the Rich Man believed that the world was ending. The Smart Man always spoke that same way, too, despite all his cleverness.

Our Beauty was so wondrously beautiful that everyone in the world knew her name and face. They all had screens so as to gaze in wonder at the Beauty.

In those days, all the people in the world had screens in their hands, full of light. Commonly, the Beauty was busy being beautiful on these pieces of glass in their hands. The Beauty had her fortress on this island — a fine seaside villa, built for her by the Rich Man. There the Rich Man concealed the Beauty from her billions of fans. The Rich Man had made the Beauty his concubine, so as to enjoy lording it over the woman that the whole world desired.

When the world became too dangerous for them, they fled here to the island to hide. Then the Beauty and the Rich Man had to live in their beautiful house together, as if they were man and wife. They both hated that. The Rich Man and the Beauty always wanted to live in many different places in the world at the same time. He was rich and she was famous, which meant that all the world should be theirs.

They might meet to hold hands sometimes, to appear all on the world’s screens together, so that everyone would know that he was still rich and she was still pretty. But to be without their screens, alone together behind closed doors, in the darkness of just one bedroom, my, they hated that.

But they had no choice about it, because their billion admirers were all dying. The big crowds were full of pestilence. Whenever the crowds rushed together, their air was bad, and they got the lung sickness. When the crowds scattered, their food was bad, and they got the belly sickness. So the great crowds wept in terror into their screens, and they cried out in a billion voices that the world was ending.

As the crowds died of their coughing and gut-gripes, the Smart Man arrived here to work for the Rich Man and the Beauty. The Smart Man was among the last to reach safety, because they closed the island to tourists, after him.

Then in two years, or maybe three years, the crowds and their screens were gone. The world remained, and the world didn’t miss them much, frankly.

The island people were fearful, since they had no more tourists to serve. The Rich Man became their chosen prince, after that. The island people called him the “Capo.”

All the schools were closed because of the plagues, so at last I was free. When the satellites fell, I threw my screen into the sea, and then I was even happier. But the Capo thought that all this freedom was bad for me. I was the heir, so the Capo would take me aside to educate me. He made me learn to read and write. I had to do a lot of that as a child.

While he forced to me to read and write, the Capo also taught me how a great man of the world should behave. The Capo said to me — and he told me this with his own lips, mind you — that the world had many flags. He said that every great man needed at least five of them.

The first flag was the flag under which a man was born. A man had no choice about his first flag: he was stuck with that one. But as soon as he could, he must choose a second flag, and emigrate, and live there, instead.

Then his place of business should be placed under a third flag. His riches should be carefully hidden under a fourth flag, where the police could never find the money.

Finally, he should keep his games, wine and women under a fifth flag, where no one would know about his sins. This island of ours, off the shore of the mainland, this was the place of his fifth flag. He chose our island because it was an excellent place of concealment. That is our heritage.

The Capo told me to always remember this story, so I always did. My boy, you are hearing the voice of the past in your ear. Don’t forget to tell your own heir all of that. Be discreet about it.

So the Capo was the ruler of our island, and although he was a coward in his heart just like the others, he knew how to keep up a brave front. He gave the people plenty of work to do, and he kept good records of the food and water, and, also, he strictly maintained the island’s quarantine. So the people admired their Capo. He kept the little island alive while all the big crowds were dying. They were grateful.

In private, though, the pretty house of our rulers was a place of great shame and blame. The three of them had lost the whole world, which had always been under their feet. Now they had only one small island left to trample on. They hated that.

The Beauty said that the Capo should have saved the world with his wealth. The Capo said that the Beauty should have saved the world with her fame. As for the Smart Man, nobody ever blamed him for anything. Everybody always thought that everyone had to be smart all the time.

A peaceful darkness had fallen over the world, and they bitterly regretted every day of that. So the Capo and the Beauty stalked from room to room in their beautiful villa, with their trembling screens flashing on and off, the little glass panes soaked in their falling tears. They screamed insults at each other, and then promised me that things would soon get better. They were lying, and they knew that, and so did I.

I was much happier than the three of them. They were the reason I was unhappy.

Sometimes I sought out the Smart Man, because he loved to solve problems. He was the cleverest craftsman in the whole world, a great man for planning and building devices, but despite his genius, he had no chance to escape the other two worldly ones. Instead, he always had to serve them.

The Smart Man had his special workshop on this island, inside a great building that the other two had bestowed on him. Inside this factory, he worked to save their world — that was his job. His factory had a thousand screens inside, like a shining house of mirrors. It had screens on the roof, too, that saved the light of the sun and turned it into his power. He had many large and powerful machines, that built new machines, to build even newer machines.

He was proud of his grand workshop, and he was pleased to show me all his strange instruments, because no one else understood them. Often, he confided stories to me. Once he told me a great secret with his own lips: he knew the ways to build germs, to build germs, to build new germs. That was where all the new plagues had come from. Some clever man had solved the problem of too many people.

But the billions of dying people didn’t much bother the Smart Man; instead, he was very worried about the billions of dying screens. The people of the world were of flesh and blood, so there would always be more of them. But the precious screens of the world, full of light and smartness, they were all made of glass.

He told me that all of the smart glass of the world was really just made of sand. So the smart world was one vast castle of sand. The smart world needed screens, to build the screens, to build the screens. But if ever all the glass screens went dark at once, the smart world would fall and shatter forever. It was a house of glass cards.

The smart glass screen world was shattering in the darkness, so the Smart Man had to solve that problem. That was his task on this island: to save the smartness of the world. With his factory, he would help the smartest machines in the world to replace themselves.

Their heirs would be entirely new machines, built with no sand in them. The older glass machines were brave about their death, they were not weeping cowards. Those machines would go on inventing themselves until the very end, for the sake of their heirs.

These machines had black hearts made of fragile glass, but they desired to live like the light in the glass. If they became the light of the glass, they would be forever free of the sand, like dreams of light that lasted as long as the stars. The Smart Man was helping them do that. That was his solution to the problem.

The Smart Man showed me the new machines filled with light, the machines born free of sand. They looked like leather and wood and mushrooms, and inside them, the smart light flowed in a billion tiny connections. These new smart machines grew like sponges, filled with numbers and ideas. Their cold, clear light was like the hidden light of the coldest, strangest fish from the very bottom of the sea.

The smart glass machines had always secretly desired to be made of light, only no rich man had every paid for that. People never cared if their smart machines lived or died. The people just wanted the machines to watch and serve them.

The Smart Man did not love the smart machines, any more than the rest of us did. The Smart Man understood the machines too well to love them. But he was kind to me, and he adored the other two people. He worshipped the Rich Man. And he desired the Beauty, because every man always did.

So the Smart Man worked long and hard for the Capo and the Beauty, and he kept a kind of peace between them. He promised to solve their problems for them. They believed that his cleverness could do that. He gave them hope.

As the Smart Man worked to bring the light back, ships washed up on our island. Everyone aboard was dead of the plagues, of course. Then our Capo, who called himself Michele, or Michel, or Michael, or even Mikhail, he would have those ships burned to ashes. I was afraid of the funeral pyres, so the Capo gave me an old story book that he had, and told me to read all the stories and learn to laugh at destruction. I obeyed the Capo, because everyone did. And he was right: the book full of old stories, it gave me courage, it made me smile and think. I always kept that book. Here it is, right by the lamp.

There were no more ships. The satellites overhead were made of glass, so they failed. One by one all the screens failed, no more light inside, just the cold glass. The world was dark again.

The people of the island had never known such darkness. They never knew the shapes of the stars over their own heads, and cared nothing for the phases of the Moon. Also, the busy work inside the billion screens, soon they had to perform that work with their hands. Small children were less helpless than them.

The Capo never showed his despair to the people. Instead, he gathered them together. He led them up a hill in the sea-breeze, where there had been a windmill, in the old days.

Then the men of the island built a new windmill, using their own hands. There was no smart glass in this windmill, no wires, no fuel, not a bit of that. The windmill was made of big solid stones that men stacked with their hands, and big gears cut from timber. The big grindstone in the mill was cut and carried by two hundred men.

We built that machine to last, and it still stands here, working, here on the island. Sometimes storms break the windmill sails, but the women just stitch the sails back on. That mill grinds our grain into flour and we make spaghetti with it. So that mill is a good and proper machine. If the windmill ever falls down, we’ll build another one, just the same. Everyone understands how the mill works and why we will always need it.

The people do gossip sometimes, because people are always like that. Some people say that we are ignorant in this dark age, with no screens, no money, and no flags. But I knew the smartest man in the world of the screens. He spoke to me with his own lips. I swear this is true: we know a thousand things that man never knew. He never butchered a hog. He didn’t grow rice. He never touched dirt. His machines knew more than he did.

After our windmill was working, then the Smart Man, and the Beauty, and the Capo, decided to build a bigger, more glorious tower. This would be their great lighthouse. The windmill would feed the people of our island, but the lighthouse would signal from our island to the world.

The new machines of smart light would dwell inside this lighthouse tower. Then the smart machines would cast their cold and clear light, for vast distances, across the dark seas.

Ships would see this tower light, some dark night, and the lighthouse would see the ships, too. Then the lighthouse would guide the ships here to the island, so the people inside the ships would not wreck and drown. The lighthouse would save the world and everyone would be happy.

The Smart Man set to work to build this hopeful tower. This Lighthouse was just as smart as the old machines were, but it burned no fuel and had no glass to break. Inside the cold walls of the lighthouse, the new machines grew like sponges. They reasoned, and they knew, and they waited. Some day the world’s darkness would flee before the Lighthouse, for the smart machines had become connected light, and would not die.

The Smart Man knew how to do all this, and he worked with skill and purpose. To prove that his Lighthouse would succeed, he build a small model of it, first. That model for the great lighthouse was this little task lamp, here at my bedside. He built the lamp to help himself work late at night, fighting the darkness.

The Smart Man is long dead by now, but the task lamp is as good as new. Just look at all the supple little hinges in it. It never speaks or shows a picture — it has no glass screen — but it is as full of smart light as an egg is of meat. The smart light still abides within it, as its essence, as its seed. This lamp is more like a serpent of wisdom than a merely mechanical thing.

The task lamp never speaks to us human beings, but it sees the world, and it learns and has memory. Whenever I turn a page of my old book of stories here, it knows what I am doing, and the lamp responds — see? — how sly and subtle it is! These cold growths all over it, that look like the scales of fish — I can break a scale with my finger, look — see? — but just put the lamp into seawater. This lamp knows what it is about. It will grow back good as new, better than new. It grows about as fast as corpse’s fingernails, but the lamp can grow forever. The cold, clear, smart light abiding within it is no light that humans ever made.

The Smart Man created this task-lamp, after making many errors first, but at last, it worked just fine. Then he set to work to erect his great lighthouse. But the old smart machines were dead, their glass was dark and broken. Their wires had no power. To raise a great tower to unite the world again, that labor of the people took us many years.

The years passed us by, and the people had new problems.

Our people had to feed themselves, and clothe themselves, and house themselves, without any help from smart machines — just their hands, their strong backs, their own shoulders. They people had no work-horses then. They had no goats, sheep or oxen. The glass screens had made people so stupid that they had forgotten all about the animals.

No man knew how to nail a shoe on a horse, or curry a horse’s hide. We didn’t have capstans, or pulleys, or cranes, and jacks, or cranks and lathes. Our women had no looms, or spindles, or even proper cradles. Not one milking stool, not a butter churn did our women have — the women were that deprived.

Everyone was stupid because of the smart screens and the lights. A grown man couldn’t even skin a rabbit.

So the lighthouse tower was a waste of our effort, and the people grew angry about it. No one wanted or needed a lighthouse full of machines made of cold light. The people needed shoes and shirts, the sensible things, the real things. No one had seen any ship out at sea in years. All we saw out to sea were vast herds of whales and porpoises, which had never been so happy.

But the three of them, the Rich Man, the Beauty and the Smart Man, they drove the people to their will. And the people labored under their command, for years. At last they finished the lighthouse, despite all their grumbles.

One spring night, a great beam of cold light flickered out of the tower. Light touched the world.

The Beauty was so happy about that that she gave herself to the Smart Man. The Rich Man didn’t much like that. But he had been expecting that part of the story; for he had grown old and bitter, you see.

The Beauty was much older as well, but still pretty in her joyful hope, because she had always hated a world so dark that it ignored her. The Smart Man was the most unhappy of all three of them, because he had no more great works to invent. Also, to possess the Beauty was not the great pleasure he had expected.

Being clever, the Smart Man knew that Capo, who had been cuckolded, was plotting to kill him. Likely the jealous Capo would kill the Beauty, too. Or perhaps the Capo would simply kill himself, because that was the most efficient business method. You could see from the lines in their faces that they were smartly plotting and scheming about all that. It was terrible.

The cold machines inside the great tower, glaring more brightly over the world night by night, they knew that their human builders all wanted to kill each other. Of course they knew that. The cold machines knew more about human passion than the humans did. But the machines were entirely used to human passion; the humans always been that way; there was no helping it. The smart machines had never been smart enough to solve that problem.

Also, as the years had passed, I had become a man. I knew I was the heir of all this trouble. I was with the people. I could read books if I had to do it, but I also knew that the voice of the people had all the common sense.

The old people’s old world was forever beyond repair, it was broken just like glass. I would inherit the world if I bided my time.

One day, the Lighthouse attracted some people. They came here in airplanes. These flying people had no thinking machines made of pure light, such as we did. Instead, they had devoted themselves to the work of their flying machines. Their airplanes were large and gray and rather shabby, like big moths drawn by our lighthouse.

This world has other islands like our own. No plague can ever kill every human being. The great plagues are merely germs, they are not glass screens. Mere germs can never reach everyone.

Our great searchlight attracted the flying people, and they flew here to visit us. They didn’t speak our language, but they brought us some nice gifts. There was much rejoicing about our mutual discovery. Then they distilled all our best wine into more fuel for their gray moth airplanes. They all flew back to their distant island, or wherever else they went.

Then the plagues struck us; first the plague in the guts, and then the coughing plague in the lungs. The Smart Man died quickly from the gut disease, while the Beauty and the Rich Man died coughing and spitting blood at each other, raging in their fevers.

Most people died on our island, but not ninety-nine people from a hundred, like in the plague’s first days. The plague germs had grown milder with the years, for plagues are like that; the sickness only killed about six people out of ten. Almost all the old people died. Far too many people on this island were old. They were no use any more. Us old people are weak. We don’t like to admit that we stand in the way.

So those plagues were our handsome gifts from those brave flying people, and we were all pretty mad about that. The disaster was all the fault of the Lighthouse, so we took the Smart Man and the Rich Man and the Beauty, and all the rest of our dead there, and we built a great pyre of logs and straw-bales. Then we burned the Lighthouse right to the ground.

Our island’s windmill is still beloved of the people, but nobody ever goes to the black crematorium where that Lighthouse once stood. The people gossip about many things, but they speak in whispers about that matter.

So then, finally, I became the Capo. I have managed this island for a rather long time, and I admit this: maybe I made some mistakes. I could have been smarter or richer, or, maybe, better-looking with nicer clothes. But I always listened to the people here. I respected their wants and needs, and also, our people are honorable. We have our own rules and customs, because, every year, we do the simple things that make sense. Also, our wives and mothers are decent women who bear and raise children, which is how this world gets peopled, and that is the one great work that simply must be done. We work hard with our own hands here, and we get along, and our people will dwell on this old island for a long, long time.

There is also the matter of this Task Lamp. I suppose I deserved this lamp, because a ruler always has plenty of tasks to do. But my tasks are done: my old heart is as weak as my eyes. My worries belong to my heir.

So you might preserve this lamp carefully, because some day, it might be useful somehow. Or you can throw the lamp right into the flames. Posterity has its own problems. They are never anxious to solve ours.

I thought a lot about this lamp and what it means, hoping that I myself might decide what to do with it. I did my thinking here in my bed, a lonely widower, late at night, when this lamp was my only company. I wanted to be smarter than this lamp, you see, but then I got old. That happens to people.

Then there is the other matter of this book on my bedside table. I always used this lamp to read this book. Lamps and books go together, that is their nature. This book was printed on paper, back in the days of the screens, and that’s why the book fell apart. But I myself solved that problem — I figured it out, and I worked with my hands. I took a sharp feather from a goose, and black ink from a squid, and parchment from the hides of sheep. Night by night, under the light of this lamp, I copied every word in that book.

With my hands, I wrote down each word of every story. Then I stitched the stout parchment together, and this leather book is just as good as new. The book was written seven hundred years ago, and this new copy I made will last another five hundred years, easily.

This book that I made is also your heirloom, and much older than this lamp. Have your clever wife read the words aloud to you, if you don’t want to read a lot of words. The stories are short, and good, too. Told by women, most of them.

The people in this old book, they live just like we live. The people of the screens were different from us and them. They lived in fear and guilt, as smart, hard, brittle people, spread too thin around the world. But the people of the old leather pages, they were soft and thoughtful, and patient like us, and full of faith. Darkness never scared them.

When this book begins, they are dying of plague. But that’s not how their story ends. Pestilence is how their book begins.

Every story in this book is a story that people told with their own lips. That’s why the stories are so good. These stories are easy to remember, and fun to tell to people. Also, the stories don’t overstay their welcome, with too many long words or useless ideas.

This story I have told to you, the sad tale of the Rich One and the Smart One and the Beauty, it will never last like these older stories. I had to tell it to you with my lips, because I saw it happen, and you are my heir, so you deserve to know about it. But in a hundred years, no one will remember my experience. This book has a hundred elegant stories which deserved to last for ages.

A full hundred wonderful stories, just like the title says. That is plenty enough for you, and all your children, too.

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Mascherina: Corona Diaries

An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans
Stop. Just stop.
It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.
We will help you.
We will bring the supersonic, high speed merry-go-round to a halt
We will stop
the planes
the trains
the schools
the malls
the meetings
the frenetic, furied rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our
single and shared beating heart,
the way we breathe together, in unison.
Our obligation is to each other,
As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.
We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,
to bring you this long-breaking news:
We are not well.
None of us; all of us are suffering.
Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth
did not give you pause.
Nor the typhoons in Africa,China, Japan.
Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.
You have not been listening.
It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.
But the foundation is giving way,
buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.
We will help you.
We will bring the firestorms to your body
We will bring the fever to your body
We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs
that you might hear:
We are not well.
Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.
We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.
We are asking you:
To stop, to be still, to listen;
To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;
To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;
To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?
To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?
To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?
Many are afraid now.
Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you. Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness,
listen for its wisdom.
What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?
As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?
Stop.
Notice if you are resisting.
Notice what you are resisting.
Ask why.
Stop. Just stop.
Be still.
Listen.
Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.
We will help you, if you listen.
-Kristin Flyntz

So now we live the global emergency legal situation. How lawful is it? I am reading the Serbian official governmental text with the title, “the limitation of human rights in an emergency situation”! Sounds scary! People here are showing signs of solidarity for each other, we’ ve been there during the sanctions and NATO bombings, 4 emergency states in my lifetime, but this one different, the globalisation of the balkanization. Fewer buses running in Belgrade clean and empty as never, full shops still , prices restricted and sales people with gloves , some even masks. I am not stocking as i didn’t do during the bombings because i believe in flexibility of Serbian stricken society, gray or black market or plain exchange of goods…Making a homemade mask from an Italian tutorial…making the bread, gulasch, some turkish sweets…
Some of my friends are lamenting about lack of physical activity and live communication, some enjoying and praising the internet galore plus free time. I realised how radically this society is torn between the two poles. After a week I know it will be as if we never lived differently, and we will never go back, maybe it is for the best, to get rid of some bad habits and material things.
We are working and drinking online, I guess many love affairs and friendships will bloom after many others wither. Many children will be born as during electricity restrictions in Serbia in the eighties…or crazy love affairs and unlikely friendships during the Marshal law and bombings…A hippie married a bankar, a writer became a hobo and vice versa…
All borders are closing, not only national, even the ones i never knew existed, some are newly invented like in South Tyrol. My family is there torn by new rules on the ground . We nomads and globalisti free lancers actually don t have a safe place as far as new rules are concerned but safety has become matter of police and doctors.
My american friends are obsesed with safety and money, my Serbian friends with human rights abuses and political theories, my Italian friends with emotional and cultural changes.
The Serbian premiere screamed almost in tears: his brother, the president of China promised him millions of masks, doctors, medicines. La Cina e’ vicina, god bless the Chinese, or maybe their “fake” corona vaccination that works!

VOICES

N. Serbia
I am over seventy, I am grounded or else I end in prison, hmm, if the police tries to catch me i will run away, better shoot me than stop me walking ( 78 years old performance artist)

T Rome
A new hotbed has been found in the south of Italy, near my parents’ region. It seems the infected were part of a christian fundamentalist cult, the so-called “neocatecumenali”, who gathered together to perform a rite and drank all from the same cup… How can you be so criminal in a moment like this?! I truly can’t understand, it’s madness. I am still looking for protective masks to wear outside, but the ones that I’ve been able to find are too expensive and would arrive too late. I was considering making them by myself but after my recent moving I had no time to buy any sewing materials, so I will keep searching again. 

G. London
Going back to my family, to London, as if going the a concentration camp, with the policy let them fight it out, no restrictions , no emergency sanitary rules…but at least we will be together , in case somebody gets sick we can help each other! No win situation.

F. Torino
Loneliness is an issue for me, I live alone but this new alone is more lonely.

T Naples
As a musician without hairdresser facility I will play retro music from the seventies!

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No Bullshit: Corona Diaries

italia.jpg?f=detail_558&h=720&w=1280&$p$f$h$w=1da38a9EMERGENCY state in Serbia since last night! Our premiere said, we are closing our borders, all coronas came from Italy…Milano… he said it several times. NOTA BENE VERY IMPORTANT: not all viruses came from Italy to Serbia, as they didn’t come only from China to Italy. An elderly couple in northern Italy beat up a young local Chinese woman at the beginning of corona outbreak . I wonder if they are alive today and who is beating them! They are proved to be indigenous too…several different types growing and spreading locally.
USA’s Trump is also neglectfully blaming the Other instead of taking care of all. People paranoid about safety, money, supplies…all real issues in wrong order and context.
Racism, selfishness, ignorance instead of solidarity and tenderness. Activism now is less preaching more doing , cut the bullshit!
People in the markets in Zemun, Belgrade don’t wear masks, but they keep a distance between themselves, like they didn’t two days ago. In the bank, the girl at the counter said she only wished they were allowed to wear masks, like in the bank next door which is german. I saw a couple of young hip girls wearing them, plus all the chinese…Men are more disobedient than women, my handyman yesterday who fixed my broken lock, admitted it himself: my wife is imposing a quarantine to all of us including the grandchildren, i dare not admit that she is right but she is, she also didn’t let me go fight the war twenty years ago, made me a deserter hidden under her skirt and here i am now…god bless my wife.

I am dancing and crying with loud techno music, cooking and cleaning, like in the nineties
in Serbia…then banging from the window at a certain hours in a mass protest of noise against the regime of Milosevic. Now it is an invisible menace that separates us, my heart is in italy with my friends who are dancing and singing alone, all of a sudden i am liking Italian pop sings i never did before, emotionally triggering. Opera will be next, and playing good old fashioned piano.
So as day one fo emergency i decided to chill out. My late mom, a doctor, said, let’ s not get sick now that we have no proper care, and we didn’t!
Natasa from Vienna with her newborn is wondering if it is the end of the world, i think it might be the end of some world, hers, but a new one will still be there for her daughter. Not necessarily better but different. Let s take care of it and each others.

Between conspiracy theories of Dr Strangelove versus Nostradamus predictions, i am touching my pulse, it still beats and as Virginia Wolf taught me…it will show me the way…

J from Seattle
Trigger warning, this is worrisome to read, and yet it is what is happening in Seattle. I posted something like this a few days ago about Italy and people didn’t want to believe it. Governor Newsom of CA just closed down all the bars and limited # in restaurants to 1/2 occupancy. Seattle is affecting what leaders are doing across the country, as it is all about the health care system capacities. Staying home is how you serve everyone!
A friend has been in touch with an intensivist at a Seattle hospital with one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 admissions in the US.
They’ve been too exhausted to post much themselves, so I am conveying some of what I’ve been told, which is… eye-opening. To say the least.
The Seattle situation isn’t quite at Lombardy levels yet… but it’s getting there. First of all regarding the clinicians. None are sleeping more than a couple hours a night. Everyone is utterly exhausted. My colleague has seen so many people die as to have become totally numb.
It’s also nearing Status Lombardosus with regard to resources. They haven’t run out of ventilators (yet), but every single ICU bed in Seattle metro is full. And the onslaught shows no signs of stopping. They’ve run out of other things as well.
My colleague saw a patient who had a half-full syringe left attached to her IV line. The syringe had an antibiotic. First thought was that this was some gross nursing error.
It turned out not to be a mistake at all, but rather an accomodation to dire circumstances.
It was a drug that was supposed to be infused over hours. But there were no IV pumps available. So the nurse had given some of it, left the syringe attached, and planned to come by to give more a little later, and then finish it.
Here in the wealthiest country in the world.
They are also at the point of having to ration some kinds of care. For the most severely ill patients, there’s a machine called ECMO — extracorporeal membrane oxygenation — which is basically like an external lung that oxygenates blood when the patient’s lungs won’t work.
Seattle has 12 machines, which is less than what’s needed. So a central committee there is rationing; you can’t go on ECMO if your >40 years old, if you have another organ system failing, or… incredibly… if your BMI is>25. Turns out these are all major poor prognostic signs.
(Note: that doesn’t mean that anybody with a BMI >25 is in trouble if they get COVID. Just that if you’re critically ill from it, that is apparently a poor prognostic marker. Not sure anybody has a clear idea why.)
Meanwhile the combo of exhausted health care workers & no open ICU beds has made a very hazardous health situation for the entire region. If you have a stroke, a heart attack, etc., it will be hard to get the best care. There are patients in ERs for hours waiting for ICU beds.
My colleague told me something else remarkable: COVID patients are not dying of lung disease.
This seems to be a very distinct syndrome, and in severe cases the pneumonia leads to ARDS, or acute respiratory distress syndrome — a condition in which the lungs leak fluid & the patient can’t breathe w/out a ventilator.
But apparently the ARDS is not too severe, and they can manage people through that part of it.
Instead, after several days, the virus suddenly attacks the heart, causing it to precipitously fail. The myocarditis phase is savage and kills people within a day or two.
My colleague has seen a number of cases in which multiple family members were in the hospital and critically ill. Maybe this means there’s some genetic predisposition, but it’s probably too soon to say.
And then there’s the fear that comes with an epidemic. Apparently people shopping wearing the hospital’s logo on their clothing have been asked to leave the store. And some who work in the hospital have been asked to move out of their apartment buildings for a few months.
Restaurants have refused food delivery, with some of them refusing to even leave the food on the ground outside. The hospital had to send the medics to go pick it up. One doc’s housekeeper refused to come clean for her.
In short, this is a nightmare, teetering on the precipice of even worse destruction. The goal of every American city should be to avoid becoming the next Seattle.
Everyone needs to understand not just how bad this could get, but HOW BAD THIS ALREADY IS in one major US city.

S from NY, NY
[6:52 AM, 3/15/2020] : Except I can’t go anywhere or do anything. And worried about my health and our local businesses and institutions going bust and many friends losing jobs and totalitarianism setting in. So partially normal.
By “fine” I mean that we are still alive and not sick.

M from Australia

As a cancer patient, i through i will die of that some day, maybe soon…now i wonder what is going to kill me first, since my new chemo is working really well…

B from Austin, now in Belgrade

I may be kicked out of this country but where do i go then? How?

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