A few days ago, WITI sent out an edition about how language impacts understanding. There were a few paragraphs where the contributor, Lizzie Shupak, talks about how people use language way before the written words were invented. As someone who is almost obsessive with documenting everything in writing, I am very intrigued as to how documents other than written forms were used to encode enormous amounts of information, as relayed in the article. For instance, it was found that indigenous communities throughout history maintain their wealth of information, “encyclopedic quantities of knowledge about plants and animals, land usage and management, rules and morality, and a huge number of other areas by attaching stories, songs, performance, and ceremony to specific objects”. The ancient Greeks used the method of loci, or the memory palace made famous by Sherlock Holmes, “to mentally walk through familiar physical environments in order to memorize their speeches”. In a sense, it reminded me of the way the Quran was passed to us Muslims through memorisation by Prophet Muhammad, which was then picked up by his friends and families, and all by hafizs (memorisers) all throughout the world and history, although the method of memorisation was never revealed.
I wonder how we’ll tell each other stories about this pandemic crisis after it is over. I say this with a vague operationalisation about what ‘it’ entails, but I am hoping it will be filled with stories of hope, courage, and determination of the frontliners — the health service workers, the cleaners, the grocery workers, the delivery workers, the postmen etc. — in short, the maintainers. And less and none at all about the CEOs and the billionaires holding their hugeass check to donate in the name of the philanthropy when they were the ones who have been hogging the wealth all of this while.
And while those of us who have the privilege to be holed up at home, we must think of the conditions that made this all possible, and how it is not possible for others — a sign of uneven distribution, a sign of inequality. It’s already clear that life in a few months or years will not be the same as what it was. The human cost has already swept into the lives of their unfortunate victims, and we can see this in the evidence of people losing jobs due to the virus, those who still do move their work online, those who are afraid of staying home due to domestic abuse stay anyway and pray they are not being killed, those having to survive on less than $2 a day, and so on so forth. This pandemic crisis has upended our lives in many ways, and highlighted the realities we might have unintentionally overlooked, or intentionally in a Beszellian and UI Qoman sense. But if we want to emerge out of this — again with a vague definition of ‘this’ — slightly scathed, but still with full determination, this is the time for us to rethink about our relationships, our work, our division of labour, what we can give back to the society, what to prioritise, what sort of leadership we want, and how we can do better. When we keep talking about what we want to do when all of ‘this’ ends, we should think the things we should be thinking of critically in the event of no disaster, no calamity — and we should also think of how not to forget about taking action about them when this is all over. And hopefully, when this is all over, we can come out the other side with a greater level of care, understanding, and empathy for one another, regardless of our backgrounds, our ethnicities, our religions, our nationalities, all differences fuck all.
- Here are answers to some of the biggest questions our readers have about the outbreak. You can read them all, and ask questions yourself, here.
- How to get your loved ones to take social distancing seriously.
- Two exemplary approaches to dealing with the pandemic as a company, from Wikimedia and Basecamp.
- “Viruses don’t have a nationality, and as we can clearly see, they do not discriminate in whom they infect.” Using the right language in a pandemic.
- “I lived through the AIDS epidemic. Here’s how to live through coronavirus.”
- Sign up for Quarantine Book Club and chat to inspiring writers and designers from your own home. Urgh, missed the Myriam Gurba session!
- The best practices of self-isolation.
- 76 solutions we already have for the climate crisis.
- For those who have started to work from home, here’s a crowdsourced remote work survival kit packed with useful tips on just about everything.
- “Looking at it this way, the popularity of superhero culture among aficionados of new technological entrepreneurship seems obvious. It’s a culture that celebrates individual agency at the expense of the collective. Things get done by charismatic individuals rather than by the state.” What does the superhero craze say about our own times?
- “This is the year that squatters evict landlords.”
- Reading: Chanel Miller’s Know My Name and Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell.
- Listening: Call Your Girlfriend episode on Corona Community. “Everyone wants to freak out, but also no no one wants to change their behaviour.”
- Watching: Picked up this International Relations online course / lecture in Future Learn for a possible teaching position. I’m about to possibly teach — who would have thought?!
- Food & Drink: I couldn’t find the energy to cook today, so I only made buttered pasta and washed it down with passion fruit tea.