While we have been obsessed with viral memes taking over our minds and the street, there’s a biological virus raging across the US. The two aren’t unrelated, though the mental health impacts of the virus are yet to be fully known. Here’s what I wrote way back in March when the pandemic was just picking up:
The modern world was made by epidemics, starting with the Colombian Exchange. Jung wrote about the "collective unconscious;"perhaps it's time to write about the viral unconscious – a deep link between bugs, guts, brain and society that shapes our views over time and space. Should be part of any exploration of the nonhuman background of the human world shouldn't it?
4400 people died yesterday, which is unacceptable - every single day of this crisis kills more than any other event in US except for one day during the Civil War (Antietam). A slightly dated graphic tells us the dismal truth:
The US will likely end the pandemic with half a million dead. That’s a shocking number and the drama around Trump is compounding the tragedy.
Meanwhile, I was just alerted to a report from India that’s surprised me no end. It’s claiming that we already have herd immunity because 380 million Indians have already been infected. I am a little suspicious of this report (though it’s been written by prominent scholars) since it ends with a strong endorsement of Modi’s decision to lock the country down.
But if it’s true, the claim is that India won’t have another peak. Let’s see. The world over, it’s clear that there are strong demands on the state to respond effectively to this crisis and governments will do their best to declare victory and convince their citizens that they have indeed won. The vaccines make this ‘mission accomplished’ rhetoric possible, for there’s a visible end to the tunnel now.
Not that the US is anywhere close to declaring victory, but Biden comes into power with a solution in hand; it’s going to be up to him to sell it, which is complicated by the fact that large numbers of people - including about half of all health care workers - are suspicious of the vaccine.