Coronavirus Chronicles – April 13

This is the week of reckoning for PA. Also, it seems, for Britain. We here are nearing 22K cases. Philadelphia and Baltimore are slated for difficult weeks.

It was a nice rainy night in Hanover for staying up writing and thinking. I’ve lived here for a year. The first year everything is new. The second year, I find, you start to settle in as you live through things for which you now have memories. Can’t say I have a lot of experience living beyond the third year in any given place. Curious thing to pass this moment here, to be living in of all places the town of my ancestors during what seems to be working out to the great upheaval of our times.

How much are we being shaken? There are places where people are unironically being asked to report on their neighbors to the cops. Do people not read their Solzhenitsyn, their Koestler, their Grossman? I admit that I need to read my Grossman still. I made sure I’d read my Orwell when it looked like we were going to get Hillary. Perhaps it is time to read my Grossman in anticipation of the aftermath.

The question is what does it all mean? Are things realigning? Are these fragmentations the sign of a terminal dissolution? The situation has a lot of factors, and one finds that as usual, we tend to find more significant the factors that tend toward the meanings that preponderate in our minds. Yes, there are still naïve people who think they are looking at it with detachment. Are they actually being heroic or are they self-deluded? I tend toward the latter in my evaluation, whatever that tells you about what preponderates around in me.

Do you ever worry about listening enough to people with whom you disagree? I find that Peter Hitchens often drives me nuts these days. When people I’ve agreed with start doing that, I try to stay with them at least till I see a pattern. He’s not unintelligible like the never Trumpers, but he’s bordering on some kind of articulate and nearly persuasive delusion. A madness of doom fills him, like Denethor of old. Why do people become convinced that they know what the future will hold? John Armstrong keeps interviewing Hitchens. He also keeps asking him about hope, which Hitchens resolutely refuses to countenance. He sees the price to pay the same that he grew up in: austerity Britain that you can read about in C.S. Lewis’s letters. The Britain alluded to in the opening of The Magician’s Nephew when it says that in the past the food was a lot better.

I think Hitchens is stuck in a mindset. Getting that way can happen to any of us. For all I know, I’m in a perverse mindset myself. Who knows, however, how it will shake out. The problem is that the situation is so complex there can probably be no human expertise on the whole thing, only guesswork. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof, the Lord counseled us.

We are creatures, this is true.

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