“A travel ban for non citizens in China was implemented by the Australian government on February 1 and it has not been eased since that time . . . Similar travel bans have now been extended to Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea.” However, during the month of February, 31,000 selfish and irresponsible Chinese students circumvented Australia’s travel ban by staying in a third country for two weeks before entering Australia. In doing so they showed absolutely no concern for the fact that they might bring a virus which originated into China into Australia.
The meaning that we make of the limited time that we have upon this earth has always been the most pressing of questions for me. And yet, here I am living in a moment in history when the world is threatened by a new, incredibly contagious virus and I am spending my days focussing almost exclusively on my work. There is an absurdity in this state of affairs and it is, I believe, an awareness of this absurdity that is prompting me to reorient myself towards living a different kind of life.
Given Covid-19, the decision not to eat at Chinese restaurants is not necessarily, if at all, a racist decision. Rather, it is a sensible decision that might be made on the basis of the available facts along with taking into consideration facts that cannot be known. The same decision to not eat at particular restaurants would also apply to, for example, Italian restaurants as Italy is now a country rampant with the virus. We might also add Korean restaurants to the list along with Middle Eastern restaurants given the alarming spread of the virus in Iran.
Chinese students represent the largest proportion of International students with numbers for 2019 originally estimated to be at around 110,000. Since mid-February, 31,000 Chinese students have entered Australia by using the loophole option. This equates to around 1000 Chinese students arriving each day. One might conjecture that this state of affairs is less than ideal given that the virus originated in China.
A sign of the times. When I went shopping on Wednesday my local supermarket was out of stock of toilet paper and pasta, but that was all. When I went shopping today, the situation had changed dramatically. People had cleared the shelves of all rice and pasta. Canned vegetables were all but gone. There had been a run on pot noodles. Tinned fruit had almost disappeared. The same was true for long life milk and long life fruit juice. People had also bought up all the flour – white, brown, plain, self-raising and so on – presumably so that they might bake whilst isolated in their homes.
I got back from Thailand Tuesday afternoon and it is now Thursday night. I have a cough and a cold and my chest is clogged up. Before anyone gets judgemental I have self-isolated but that is all that I have done. I can currently conceive of three reasons for taking no more action. First, as several of my health professionals have pointed out, I don’t really seem to have any great attachment to life or to living.
Our default position in life is to continue with our lives in terms of interpreting our days and anticipating our future. Imagining a different future requires a particular effort along with setting about finding catalysts for the imagination that might provoke a certain sort of day-dreaming. Through imagining and through day dreaming our possibilities for the future expand exponentially. This point is surely significant in a Covid-19 world. I make this point because I believe that it would be nothing short of an existential tragedy to live through this pandemic without fundamentally reflecting upon what a different future for one’s life would look like.
People are, generally speaking, thoughtless and stupid. Such was the case before Covid-19 and such will continue to be the case even though a pandemic is raging around the world. I find this fact distinctly odd. Surely the fact of a potentially deadly virus infecting thousands of people around the world should give people cause for thought but I can guarantee that this will not be the case. Nearly everyone will continue to live the lives that they have always lived and if anything does change it will likely be that people will find more reasons to complain about their lives.
I can imagine an upside to the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, I do not know exactly what will happen with Covid-19 but it has occurred to me that circumstances may eventuate that will be conducive to my living a “writerly sort of life.” For example, if we are all confined to our homes then I will very easily be able to structure my days such that writing becomes my primary focus. Living a writerly life will be made possible by the fact that there would be no requirement to attend the university campus. Sure, there would still be meetings, likely conducted using Skype or Zoom, and there would still be work to be done but I would have a much greater degree of daily freedom.
My days have always been defined by questions of our freedom and the responsibility that we have for our lives but these questions may have come to the fore again because of the Covid-19 virus. In other words, the threat of a pandemic that may lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths has caused me to focus on just what it is that I am doing with my life. I believe that I have posted in this vein on a previous occasion. Living a life that one does not want to lead is always an absurdity. It is just that the Covid-19 pandemic makes this absurdity more manifest because the finite nature of our lives is much more apparent.