How does an aspiring writer like me put pen to paper today without writing about the so-called pandemic of the novel SARS-CoV-2? It seems unthinkable to think about writing about anything else.
I can see the last year and a half as an extraordinarily difficult time for many of my family, friends, acquaintances, persons I am familiar with through social media, and somewhat hard for me, too, since my previous work, home, and “life” in Thailand came to an unexpected end in March of 2020. As far as I can tell, the worst part of that time wasn’t for us, thank G-d, to have to live with the threat of contagion, or to live in fear of the loss of life of our loved ones (there are, of course, many terrible exceptions to the latter, I am sure)—it has rather been the hardship of having to continually deal with what cannot be dealt with, namely the state-imposed sanitary terror.
I’m talking about the hardship of having to put up with the sanitary orders or the hardship of having to face the consequences of breaking them. Examples include, obviously: The restrictions thrown on our daily work, travel, and speech; the ban of visitors in retirement homes and prisons, the ban on gatherings, the anti-social distancing orders, the enforced face diapers, or the three that bother me the most, which have to do with church: the hand sanitizer bottles placed instead of holy water in fonts, during the Eucharist the host offered into hands not mouths, and the surreal, sinister, empty urbi et orbi of 27th March, 2020!
For both a witness and a subject, it’s been hard to bear the skillful and successful authoritarian maneuvers of our previously benevolent and democratic government, but it also has been a rough ride to live with the apartheid created within marriage, family, and the circle of friends—a division into those who’ve been injected and those who so far have been able to decline. It’s been impossible for me to think of writing about anything else.
I’ve been facing a set-inflicted question: Shall I write about
1. The “pandemic”, what it means, and where exactly is my outrage coming from?
Or, to write about
2. What I initially intended to write about: the things that bother me within the things I know a bit about, such as yoga and yoga studios (and their decline), casinos and gambling, mid-life crisis and what to do with it, or how to stay individually sane in the full-nelson grip of lifestylism1.
Ignoring the 1st subject is like ignoring the elephant in the room. In choosing it, I would ignore the 2nd subject, which is the closet where skeletons lie hidden.
After considering my choices, I decided to go for the skeletons. I will let the elephant stand there for now in all its hellish glory.
Aye, perhaps I am being overly optimistic in my prediction, no, prognosis is a better word, that the elephant will pass soon. The passing would make my writing instantly dated—while the skeletons would still remain. So, I’d better go about the business of opening that closet, getting those dry bones out, and soon.
Thanks for reading my stuff. I kiss you on the mouth.
17 October 2021
Lifestylism: Where the modern use of the term lifestyle implies following a certain specific regime (or, if one prefers a euphemism, a routine) which includes dietary obsession, prescribed forms of exercise, the avoidance of the so-called ‘unhealthy behaviours’, the reduction or elimination of ‘risk factors’, and regular attendance for medical check-ups and screening—lifestylism is lurking from the shadows of totalitarian state policies forcing, through collective normalization of behavior, the pursuit of the chimera of “health”.
See: Skrabanek, P. (1994) The Death of Humane Medicine and the Rise of Coercive Healthism and Illich, I. (1975) Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health.