Many Europeans enjoyed a blissful August while storm clouds gathered overhead. That month photographer Daniele Idini travelled from North to South of Italy, finding a country in severe economic distress, and desperate to resume the good life.
Dr Marcus de Brun, meanwhile, saw a perfect storm forming on the horizon. He predicted there would be a resurgence of the virus in Ireland this winter based on the following factors:
An elevated number of potential viral hosts, which is a consequence of suppression of natural-immunity.
Increased life of the virus in the external environment due to decreased daylight
Raised levels of social anxiety and subsequent susceptibility to illness/infection
Continued persistence of the virus at low levels within Irish society
Another contributor, Alex Ugur, meanwhile, described government precautions as an unethical human experiment.
It’s been difficult finding the words to express my worsening mood and deepening depression. I’m referring specifically to my subconscious responses to altered public behaviour and the marks left by social reaction to Covid-19. For the first time in my life, I’m noticing increasing anxiety and, with the stress, a direct link to declining health. I’ve been struggling with this worsening dynamic over the last month or two, trying to get to grips with it. Trying to better understand its cause. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
Meanwhile, David Langwallner drew an important distinction between Neoliberalism Neoconservatism. He wrote that while the former is a form of libertarianism, combining unregulated, laissez faire economics, and the legitimation of a hedonistic lifestyle, Neoconservatism,
on the other hand, is hardly even capitalist in outlook. It is really an offshoot of a more authoritarian leftism combined with a fundamentalist, morally self-righteous neocolonialism informed by ‘Christian’ values. It is associated in particular with the administrations of George W. Bush, with Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle its most prominent ideologues.
Next, Boidurjo Rick Mukhopadhyay offered an insight into the careers of content moderators on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Google:
There are thousands of content moderators, who are paid to view objectionable posts and decide which need to be removed from digital platforms. Many are severely traumatized by the images of hate, abuse and violence they see on a daily basis so that we, our families and children get to see ‘WARNING: The following post or content may be disturbing to some viewers.’
From Spain, Connor Blennerhassett brought a report on the ordeal suffered by vegan activist Juan Manuel Bustamante, who spent sixteen months in jail on trumped-up terrorist crimes: ‘a Kafkaesque nightmare that saw him pass through five of Spain’s most notorious prisons, often locked up in solitary confinement and denied a vegan diet by his captors, who also beat him. It ruined his family’s finances and lead him to attempt to take his life after his release.’
Over in Greece Frank Armstrong found a hardening of borders, and attitudes, in the wake of the pandemic, and drew wisdom from the writings of Albert Camus:
Albert Camus in The Rebel (1951), identified an enduring tension between a Caesarian Marxist project that permits all manner of atrocity on the journey to earthly paradise, and an approach he identifies with Ancient Greece, characterised by moderation, incrementalism and respect for tradition. He suggests:
The profound conflict of this century is, perhaps, not so much between the German ideologies of history and Christian political concepts, which in a certain way are accomplices, as between German dreams and Mediterranean traditions … in other words, between history and nature.
Also, for the first time since his arrival, Hectic Fish was also able to travel around Vietnam, he proceeded to the territory of the Mnong accompanied by a copy of Rachel Carson’s The Marginal World ‘the otherworldly essay that opens The Edge of the Sea.’
The shore is an ancient world, for as long as there has been an earth and sea there has been this place of the meeting of land and water. Yet it is a world that keeps alive the sense of continuing creation and of the relentless drive of life. Each time that I enter it, I gain some new awareness of its beauty and its deeper meanings, sensing that intricate fabric of life by which one creature is linked with another, and each with its surroundings.
August’s Musician of the Month was the alluring Undine, who expressed herself in timeless poetry.
There was also fiction from Sarah Johnson with ‘The Candidate for the Roberts Prize’ where ‘The significance of discovery lies exactly in the degree to which it can be appreciated and put to use by the human community.’ And Glenda Miller’s ‘The Club’ in which an experience of cancer prepares her for the agonies of the birthing process.
Seasonal poetry featuring came from Oliver Tickell, while Kevin Higgins satirically looked forward to a new politics.
After Recent Unfortunate Results
Next election onwards,
there’ll be a second vote for those
who turn up with, under their arm,
a print copy of one of the larger newspapers
and answer a few unobtrusive questions
to prove they’ve consumed it correctly.
A third for those who also present receipts
that show they’ve dined sufficiently
in restaurants with at least four stars,
and a note from the maitre d
that they know their way around the cutlery.
A fourth for the lucky few in possession – to boot –
of a ticket for one of those pampering spas
at which one temporarily discards
worldly things to have one’s darker parts
irrigated of all subversive thoughts.
So when all’s said and counted,
people who shouldn’t matter
can go back to not mattering.