Random Notes From A Rural Lockdown
For sure, sensitive individuals knew in advance that something was seriously wrong. Particularly in Italy, this writer’s land, after several years of hardly natural catastrophes. Arson throughout the territory; earthquakes in areas not classified as seismic; totally atypical – and frequently harmful – atmospheric conditions. A hydro-geological and, speaking of the population, psychophysical “training” for what erupted in the last segment of a quasi-rainless warm winter – still replete with heavy dampness – which had us repeatedly scratching our puzzled heads.
And yet, nobody could have imagined to what extent the situation would deteriorate shortly thereafter.
The moment COVID-19 began to emerge, I got to behold the typical reaction of the average Italian. At first, ridiculing the happenings in diminutive terms, even joking about them. Then, as things got worse day by day, a thorough attitudinal u-turn. The Latin saying mors tua, vita mea (your death is my life) was now the rule to follow, beyond the façade of verbal solidarity. Already in the initial stage of bad news (and virus) spreading, supermarkets had been assaulted. If an elderly or disabled person needed, say, mineral water, they had to settle for the remainders, if there were any. Had they wanted to purchase a disinfectant, the latter had simply disappeared. To find one meant paying thrice its regular price. Mask-hunting instantly became the national sport.
As a musician and music writer, I had to take note of the response (first dismayed, then relatively constructive) by artists worldwide. In general, the graphic showed a distinct tendency: from the “cancelled gigs, no income, what are we doing now?” litany to the organization of concerts and lessons online, coupled with the somewhat inevitable plea for buying products in order to sustain a given entity’s survival.
On a deeper level, I have tried escaping as much as possible from the influence of thousands of “enlightened” theories and opinions regarding the pandemic, not to mention the ordinary blah-blah connected to the disaster. However, one can’t pretend not to notice the incidence of COVID-19 on the accelerated mortality of the weaker (read “unproductive”) categories of humanity.
What I was systematically wishing for in my previously “normal” existence (in extreme synthesis, more time for listening, writing, reading and playing) has been only minimally realized during these lockdown weeks. For starters, I had to organize myself to get food via the internet, since the lone shop of my tiny town is insufficient for our needs. Completing this nerve-consuming process took ages. That’s right: the locusts had – quite expectedly – raided the web, too. Even chocolate was hard to find. Add to that biblical delivery times, due to the couriers’ difficulty in reaching certain zones, with reduced personnel for good measure.
The almost unreal silence of the valley definitely contributed to a little rest for the mind, but also induced reflection on the futility of compulsions. For example, the accumulation of such a quantity of records, books and videos that would require four jobless lives to study in depth. One can’t realize how useless archiving decades of footage is until the mould inexorably conquering those old VHS tapes finally opens our eyes.
Ultimately, we are part of an unceasing social experiment that, in this particular case, happened to cause the loss of an absurd amount of humans. There is obviously a socio-political plan devised for each and every country of this world, but I’m not going to pontificate on hypothetically unsettling “truths” which, once and for all, remain purely speculative based on one’s internal tuning.
So, what are we to do? Research and – especially – observe and listen to what happens around us. Very carefully. As a humble suggestion, exploring diverse pitch combinations in a stringed instrument and their consequences on our systems can improve focus while introducing clues to a reality that will be better delineated in a state of authentic receptiveness.
Let’s do our best with what remains.
Luxury Bunker is a series of texts to be presented by Contemporary Art Tasmania’s online platform for writing, Journal.
Traditionally Journal provides an opportunity for writers to respond to our gallery exhibitions. Due to the COVID -19 gallery closure we are expanding the scope of Journal and commissioning an international selection of writers to respond their space, place, city… their bunker.