No lockdown anymore in the countryside of Hungary since two days already. I’m still not going out, this time due to the restrictions of nature: it’s raining cats and dogs. But what’s the difference? That I could still do it? No. That now I’m restricting myself. And it’s a huge difference.
After the first news came about the coronavirus coming extremely close in Europe as well, my first reflex wasn’t fear. I consider the world of media too unreliable to give me such strong feelings. I was rather pondering about what the story could be behind the news. Can a real story be created from the news bits and the knowledge within them? I didn’t answer to that right away.
I’m working from home office anyway, so my life wasn’t too much influenced by the official restrictions. I felt that I need my own personal restrictions and my own way, as it can give me the safety I need. However, one still has to do grocery shopping.
After collecting information, I created my protection for moving around in the world: a safety mask and UV-hygienised garden gloves. I learned to put it on and take it off without touching its surface. It was, then, enough for me to put my focus away from myself and rather observe my surroundings.
Man and woman go in the direction of the shop. The woman wears mask and gloves, the man nothing. He must be that type who refuses to use condoms. Proud, an egoist, an alpha male who believes that his (imaginary) strength will protect him from everything. The woman next to him is like a protective mother figure. And they are a couple. The difference is too much for me. The egoist guy doesn’t seem to get that the woman, the mother, is also not protecting herself but the others she might contaminate. So this is one moral of this story already: to take care of others. Cliché if you say, but the main thing is not what we say or write, but how we act.
If we try to judge the situation, like in this pandemic case, to see what we should do or whether our actions are right, the best test is to think about our old parents who are vulnerable due to their age. This was, then, my self-invented story to fulfill my need that the media couldn’t give me. I believed, like many of us, that the virus is dangerous becasue it has a name and the media can talk about it. And actually, this constant noise, abundance of news and sentences, this itself is the source of danger. If there’s no silence, you don’t have time to reflect. If the speech is not structured, it’s not understandable. But when I thought about my parents, everything fell silent at once, and I realised: I don’t care anymore about the history and the past of the virus. It is its presence that risks everything. And it thought me once more that I shouldn’t put myself in the centre but those who are in a vulnerable situation. And then we can decide. For a mask and for gloves.
During that time, I watched the new episodes of The New Pope, where Sorrentino makes one reflect endlessly with Jude Law’s and John Malkovich’s sentences. This world is mine, this is what I have inside, and I try to live my days from a similar perspective, hiding logical explanations in the thick woods of subjective experience. There is no one in the street. This is an experience, too. Emptiness, liberation, where new things can be born.
Will the world be different after the virus? Those who ask this want it to be different, yet even they don’t think about the inability for new things to be born if we don’t have empty space anymore for them.
We want to get back to a life where others can decide for us once again.
While we’re reflecting on this, it is worth looking at these photos. These minutes are different but are looking for the same origins.
Article: Szilárd Podmaniczky
Translation: Zsófia Hacsek
Photos: taken by the photographers of Müpa during their time in home office, following the online broadcasts of their workplace.