Corona diaries VII – 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 April

3

Not meant to meet anyone from outside the household, emphasised in a Government ad on TV.

Went for walk in the woods, saw a fair few people out. Among them a guy in a grey hoody, stood, quite still, off the path, just staring out at nothing. I find that, as a population, the sometimes pathological levels of politeness come in handy now, as we were basically observing the two meter distancing anyway. Now there’s just the added dance, where I have to jump off a ledge to avoid an old couple.

I cook and listen to Four Tet’s charity livestream. He seems to be in a pine woods somewhere, and his house is big. It looks like Scandinavia or Finland. I would love to be in the forests of Lapland right now, miles from anyone, being devoured by mosquitoes. But at least life would be carrying on more or less as normal.

Today I feel a subtle pressure build, to work and do productive things. It’s quite an intense atmosphere. At the beginning of Oryx and Crake, snowman lives in a strange half-world, everything sunny and quiet, except for the weird things he occasionally sees. Groups of children continuing to enjoy life and live as normal. I understand snowman a bit more, living through this enforced, temporary apocalypse. In the social sense. Apocalypse is descended from the ancient greek ‘uncover’. I imagine it was probably the greek word for the book of revelation. So the social apocalypse is a kind of uncovering of just how much we shore each other up. ‘These people I have shored against my ruins.’

Workout cycles – 1x8min Legs

4

In the morning I do a music quiz with my family over breakfast, during which there is a broken plate, two spilled drinks, and several instances of burnt toast. Which is a fair amount more than usual. I think of Freud’s idea that slip-ups like this all have a hidden meaning, us trying to relieve or express some sort of tension. But then I think, we’re all just stressed and unfocused. We feel like we’re absolutely losing it, but we have a good laugh. At least there is toast. Toast, toast never changes.

I spend an hour sorting out the espresso machine. It’s been in the cupboard with stale water in for about a year. I run about eight litres of water through it, before the steam stops smelling odd. I put through an espresso, then as my heart feels a bit strained and my breath odd, I remember why I don’t drink ground coffee very often. The machine seems to be especially good at extracting the caffiene directly into my head. Dad says we should get rid of it and I say ‘No’, but I now think it’s probably a good idea.

We finish the second part of the escape game rather more smoothly this time, and then I go watch a bit of TV. This quickly turns into a binge as I watch a lot of season six of Community. It gives me a good laugh, and I love the fourth wall breaking shenanigans. The time disappears, and I don’t go for my alloted exercise until later. In the woods, I see these prehistoric plants emerging from the marshland at the bottom of the lake. They emerge vertically somewhat like asparagus, before spreading out at a later point in their life cycle. I have the feeling that if I were to walk out over them, they would pierce me and pull me down into the soggy ground.

Workout Cycles – 1x8min Abs and Cardio

5

I didn’t write any notes for today. After bingeing all of Community season 6, I spend the day playing escape game apps, largely because my Mum and Sister downloaded one and I followed suit. I solve a fair few of the puzzles, before getting stuck and deciding to look up some solutions. Each time I do, I immediately regret it as I realise I could have solved the problem myself if I had been a bit more patient, and thought a bit more laterally. It is a nice example of the ruts that people can get into if they make arguments only with themselves, without allowing anyone else, or external factors, to influence them to think in a better way. I was more or less convinced I hadn’t a clue. But I did, I just had to be nudged in the right direction. Thinking is about setting up these nudges so they happen automatically. Getting a process for it, or a strategy. It helps me understand how the wrong theory can be so powerful, like a kind of self-imposed maze. I can think of a few self-imposed mazes I have had in my time, and a few that I can see hints of in my life at the moment.

I play D&D and it is clear that the stress is getting to some of us more than others. But there is a great moment where a shambling mound is torn in two by giant cogs turning in the underground cavern, where white crabs crawl beneath the surface of the water.

Later, on my walk, I take several photos as a treasure hunt for my friend. My mum tells me to look out for something at a fork in the path, and I see a carved cloud with rainbow raindrops hung from it, inset with a message – ‘This too shall pass.’

No exercise. Exercise has one of the worst spellings in the language. I never get it right first time. But then, I never really try and memorise it.

6

Prime Minister moved into intensive care.

Today I feel quite listless. I finish the second escape game app, then rush to get dressed at two o’clock to meet my friend in the woods. We go on a stroll about two metres apart from each other. We bump feet as a greeting, and as a goodbye.

Most of the initial momentum has burned itself out as I don’t write notes for this diary or do any translation. Either that, or the cloudy and cool weather is combining with the lethargy to set up a new equilibrium, a depressed equilibrium. In the evening I begin watching Westworld, which I think might be my favourite TV show ever, if it continues at this pace. It says more about artificial intelligence and the human relation to fantasy than any philosophy I’ve read on the subject. People say things like that all the time, don’t they? What I mean is that it gives insight into the emotional impact and material problems involved in a.i. that could be glossed over. The a.i. has copious amounts of blood, for example. That said, some of the conceptualisation of the minds involved is a bit backward. And I haven’t read that much philosophy about a.i.. It’s better about fantasy, about the way each individual can have their own and incompatible reasons to engage in a fantasy.

No exercise.

7

Watch a lot more Westworld, to the point where it feels like it did back when I was unemployed. My dad occasionally walking by the room saying – aren’t you going to get dressed? Doesn’t this or that need doing? And I just lie there continuing to watch. Not that I disagree, I just watch. It seems like the best thing to do.

On my walk in the woods, I see the ‘This too shall pass’ cloud has passed on, rather quicker than I would have liked. I wish they’d hung it higher, and fantasise about how I would have shouted at whoever nicked it. This is why we can’t have nice things, you BASTAAAAARD! I almost walk directly into a woman coming the other way, as I’m too busy looking up gifs to post on a chat group. Rolling entangled down the hill is not classically considered to be good social distancing.

On return, at about four o’clock, I finally feel ready to work again, and begin sorting the diary backlog.

Workout Cycles – 1×8 Butt. In the french on my phone, it’s called Derrière rebondi. Which I imagine translates as ‘firm’ rear. But after looking it up, it’s closer to ‘bouncy’.

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