Let us face Reality. COVID-19 is not only about a virus that is out-of-control. It is all about our thinking and doing (our Consciousness) and the many consequential challenges thereof. Our lifestyles are not compatible with the here-to-fore intrinsic natural balances on Terra. We have abused the planet, its resources which sustain us, the Animal Kingdom, and much more. The animals are fighting back on Land, Sea and Air; as is the physical Earth itself. This is our «Moment of Truth».
After having made several paintings and self-portraits about living in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have found my way back to The Plague, by Albert Camus. This is a book I read way back then (many, many decades ago). About 1/4 of my way through the English translation it occurred to me that I could combine my reading with my French and Spanish studies by reading the book in all three languages.
Well, I can tell you that finding the book in French and Spanish is not so very easy if one wishes to purchase an edition that solely has the text of the novel and not adapted versions for students that include commentary, analysis etc. Many are reading and re-reading the book in the age of COVID-19, and copies of the book are sold out everywhere. I did finally manage to find a used copy on Amazon.fr which I have ordered. I have also ordered the Spanish audible book for La Peste (The Plague). Because the audible version is telecharged I have been able to access it immediately, and I am enjoying listening to the novel. The orator speaks quickly but I can follow it well, and reading the English version chapters beforehand gives me added understanding of words that may not be in my vocabulary. When my French edition arrives in a week or two, I will be able to re-read the novel for a third time — in original French.
I usually read contemporary books in one day, but the descriptive style of Camus is the entire point of the book and it requires doing just that: bathing in the subjectivity that he creates. I have read Reader Comments on Amazon.fr regarding the book, and it is interesting to read negative comments by persons who have not read the book previously and who are dissatisfied because the action of the book is “so damned slow”. That speaks to changes in society, time management, the need for fast-moving entertainment and brevity etc. in today’s readership. But here — existentialism requires freedom from time restrictions and expectations, because you are not going anywhere (by design). One must just “Be here, now!”
In their defense, I do understand the dilemma of creating a descriptive reading experience that can be accessed on the cellphone, iPad, Kindle, on the go, in minutes inbetween meetings etc. That is why I long ago drafted and discussed and wrote about the phenomenon and what it means for writing in this day and age. I first started to develop my own writing style with those thoughts in mind in my novel “Tunnel at the End of Time”, co-written with Rick Davis:
Since then — and particularly with electronic publishing — I note that many other authors have also adapted their writing styles to the “on the go” public.
But for me, basking once again in the existentialist style of the period of Camus, Sartre and many other favorites is a pleasant respite … a way of slowing down Time and conclusions. There are no thesis statements, conclusions after a timed build-up etc. There is only the state of existence itself … observation, without judgment or any other goal than wading through the swamp. And that corresponds quite well with my COVID-19 painting series because there my goal is precisely the same: to present a subjective glimpse of aspects of living in the Age of COVID-19. Any morals communicated are in the form of loose thoughts and impulses that hope to connect with others on an existential level.
The series is complete except for one final painting entitled “The Vaccination / The Hope”.
And it is there that I part ways with Camus, Sartre and other French Existentialists. Life may feel and appear meaningless, but it is our constant interruptions in the form of insistences of giving Life meaning that make living bearable. I will not give them up; as painful as it is to be shown time and again that Life is actually meaningless … a stage-act with no visible God directing or protecting. But Life is what it is … and it is, in part, what we make of it.
— Adam Donaldson Powell
“To be is to do”—Socrates.
“To do is to be”—Jean-Paul Sartre.
“Do be do be do”—Frank Sinatra.