Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Final Solution: Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer

"Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer" by Rembrandt
Here is a list of activities which will likely be threatened in the future. It may seem sacrilegious to predict the demise of places which have provided such a source of comfort in the past. Yet, the pandemic is going to literally put the fear of God in everyone. Not the fear of God’s wrath mind you, but the fear of picking something up from God, in the form of a fellow congregant at your church or temple. Of course, congregations provide such a vital function to so great a swath of humanity they will likely be spared the long-term effects of the plague. But what about movie theaters, artists and writers’ colonies, academic institutions (excluding professional schools of medicine or law where clinical practice is the training), chains of gyms becoming unlinked (society will be returned to the 50s when no one exercised)? Forget massage and physical therapy. Brothels, tanning salons and nail polishing salons will all bite the dust. The Metropolitan Opera and legitimate theaters will be affected. If The White House is no longer safe, what is? Trump has done a lot of ventilating, but will he be successful in getting the ventilators that are going to be needed even in the highest office in the land? OK, yes. However, curiously, museums of the most grandiloquent kind (like the Met which allow for social distancing) may be spared. The opening scenes of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch now take on a reality they never had before. Certainly, seeing “Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer” on a virtual tour is unlikely to do it. Department stores? What’s that? Neiman Marcus and J. Crew have both filed for bankruptcy.

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