Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Final Solution: Art in the Age of COVID-19



Eruditon has been generated under all manner of conditions. Though everything is existential there are undoubtedly examples of philosophic premises like Wittgenstein’s “The world is that which is the case,” the first proposition from the Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus, which exist in an ether. A field like language philosophy might seem irrelevant to war, though those who traffic in ethics and game theory like "prisoner's dilemma" or especially "the trolley problem" (which is unfortunately exemplified in many recent medical instances where equipment is scarce) would naturally find an application in situations in which there's great conflict, like our present pandemic. But the history of thought is unpredictable. Does the ivory tower provide the repose necessary for the generation of great ideas or are the trenches where the human spirit is tested, the places where great insights into the nature of both art and humanity are to be found? Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night, Remarque’s All's Quiet on the Western Front and Picasso’s Guernica are all products of the battlefield. Yet what about Emily Dickenson who worked in complete isolation from the world? One can only wonder what the esthetic products of the current calamity will be. The fact that coronavirus is an equal opportunity employer poses perplexing questions since there are no haves or have nots—no one is unaffected. Darkness at Noon and l984 were responses to totalitarianism. Wings of the Dove and The Remembrance of Things Past might be said to derive their impetus from the project of Art itself while Stephen King's The Stand and Steven Soderbergh's Contagion were plainly the product of fear.

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