The new crown virus has been raging for more than half a year. In my memory, the situation was the most serious around the Spring Festival in 2020, and then the situation improved all the way. The last thing I did not expect was that after China basically controlled the spread of the disease, the overseas spread of the virus began, causing an extremely terrible scale of infection throughout the world. It seems that it has become a habit to look at the news about the virus infection that day. In Guangzhou, where I am, an infected person is sometimes found at the customs and then isolated. In particular, the so-called “asymptomatic infection” has made the public who do not understand the medical mechanism feel terrified.
However, for the Chinese, it seems that the most difficult days have passed. I still remember that on January 22, I took the high-speed train to Luoyang. When passing by Wuhan, there were still people getting on and off the bus, and there were people sitting beside me. My image of that person is still unforgettable. Wearing an N95 mask, she got into the car quietly and lightly and sat down, then took out her mobile phone to look at it. She was motionless during the whole journey and got off at the next stop in Anyang. What I have never understood is that she has no luggage and her hands are empty. The next day, on January 23, Wuhan was closed. The situation is much worse than expected. Originally, I planned to visit my parents in Xi’an. As cities and roads were closed, the trip was cancelled. Over the years, my parents and I have seen each other almost only during the Spring Festival every year. This year has changed because of this. I don’t know when we will see each other.
After the Spring Festival, I flew back to Guangzhou, and did not dare to take off my mask during the whole journey. When I arrived at Baiyun Airport, I didn’t dare to take taxis or Didi, and could only take the subway. It is said that the subway has a relatively high disinfection density. On the subway, there are only five or six people scattered in each carriage, wearing masks, staring down at their mobile phones motionless, like a sculpture. Sports West Station, which once “dominantly dominated” the world with a daily flow of 400,000 people, has only a few people getting on and off the train, and suddenly there is an illusion of taking the late night train. People who have a history of going out like me must be isolated at home.
I started hoarding a large amount of food and vegetables, but the vegetables could not stand up and turned yellow and deteriorated, so I went out to buy them every few days. The business order in Guangzhou is still good. Several supermarkets at the gate of the community are open normally. Paper towels, eggs and fruits are placed in a conspicuous place at the gate. As the epidemic continues, fewer and fewer people can be seen when going out, including those who take risks to walk around the community to get wind. The security guard at the gate of the community uses an infrared thermometer to measure the body temperature of people who enter and exit each time. The posture is like shooting at close range. People are separated, anxiety is spreading, and terror is increasing. The number of infections in Guangdong continues to grow, and the number of confirmed cases is second only to Hubei, making it the second most infected province in the country. The normal passage of time is equipped with brakes, and the closure of the space exacerbates this. We are constantly reading every report about the epidemic through the Internet. Friends will send messages, call, and exchange complex feelings about the epidemic. Sighs and silence appear from time to time. That is an incommunicable part of the individual. This part is constructing a person’s true state of existence, not the part that is said.
Life during the isolation period, thanks to the Internet, is able to guarantee daily needs, but it is also because of the Internet that every detail of this plague is presented before our eyes. The well-developed information network allows us to quickly know the situation of the epidemic, from the number of confirmed cases every day to the location of the epidemic that is exposed at any time around us, and we can quickly grasp it. We hold our mobile phone, GPS or Beidou to lock our location, and on the electronic map, the red dots of the nearest epidemic outbreak are connected together like splashes of blood. If there is an epidemic at a distance of 148 meters from us, our hearts will definitely shrink. When we say that the Black Death has killed 20 to 30 million people, it is more frightening that our neighbors were suddenly killed. The network extends and expands our horizons, which is like the invention of the telescope, which has fundamentally changed the vision of human history. Galileo pointed the telescope at the moon and found that it was full of annular pits. The moon fell out of human imagination. We have to realize that planets like the earth are not the only ones, but all over the universe. Nowadays, through the Internet, we have looked into the plague, everyone is like our neighbor.
The philosopher Zizek reminded us that the crisis brought about by the plague is threefold: “medical crisis (the epidemic itself), economic crisis, plus (not to underestimate) mental health crisis.” He told himself as an example. In pain: “These days, I sometimes really hope that I will catch this virus-in this way, at least that disturbing uncertainty will disappear… There are clear signs that I am getting Worried. This sign is my relationship with sleep. Until about a week ago, I had been eagerly waiting for night to fall: Eventually, I could escape to sleep and forget the fears in daily life… Now the situation is almost the opposite: I Fear of falling asleep, because when you fall asleep, you are trapped by nightmares and wake up in a panic.” Zizek’s psychology is absolutely universal. Modern life is becoming more and more homogeneous, but life during the plague period allows us to appreciate what true homogeneity is. We are all trapped in, no matter whether the body is infected or not, our spirit is sick, and we have been infected with the terrifying information released by the virus. At the beginning of the year, I had to read all the epidemic news of the day to sleep every night. It seems that the plague has a huge magic power to involve people. Even if your physiology is not yet infected, your psychology is destined to be infected. If I meet someone who is not psychologically infected, I might not get used to it. How can this person be so indifferent? Now sinking to think about it, this is really a sick psychology. We have to allow people to have nothing to do with this plague, and we have to learn from people who can do it. Of course, detachment and ignorance are completely different things, and I am obviously talking about the former here.
The ravages of the new coronavirus have reawakened my memories of the almost forgotten period of SARS, and I re-read the spread of SARS. An infected person can cause the collapse of a city. There are too many examples of that. The fear of SARS was completely awakened and superimposed into this fear. I think the memory of fear is always more lasting and profound than the experience of prevention and treatment. The SARS season is very similar to the new coronavirus season.
At the end of 2002, “SARS” originated in Heyuan, Guangdong and at the beginning of 2003, it spread in Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Beijing. I was a junior at the time. A classmate in the dormitory where I was a suspected case was sent to the school hospital for isolation. Our dormitory was also isolated. Several medical staff in white protective clothing came to disinfect. The fear in my heart at that time was still extremely sharp. Because there was a network at the time, it was known that the fatality rate of this disease was extremely high. But that was when I was a student, when my friends gag and talk nonsense together, time passed. Now I have forgotten the details of the period, such as how to eat back then? Is it all takeaway? At that time, I had to call for takeout, and there was a stack of takeout orders under the phone. It stands to reason that this kind of extraordinary experience should enter my novel, but it doesn’t. I think it may be because I subconsciously believe that the occurrence of “SARS” is still an “atypical” event, and there will not be a second time, at least not on such a terrible scale. But it turns out that I was wrong.
Not only SARS, but also the new coronavirus, I searched my memory further and found that the plague has never ceased, and its density is much higher than we thought. For example, in 2014, Guangzhou was overwhelmed by mosquitoes and dengue fever broke out. In Guangzhou alone, 15,000 people were infected. However, due to the low mortality rate of dengue fever, it did not cause panic, but set off a nationwide anti-mosquito campaign. Dengue virus is transmitted through the bite of mosquitoes, which are more specific and sensible than aerosols suspended in the air, which also reduces the index of fear. My grandfather had been infected with dengue fever a few years ago. He was in Shaanxi and was already in his eighties. The fever did not go away for a long time, which was worrying. Fortunately, his body was tough and the treatment was timely, so he survived.
The name “SARS” hides a certain kind of fluke for humans, and more or less implies that it was an accident under normal conditions. But in fact, “SARS” is not “atypical”, it is just typical in a sense: it is unknown how many “atypical” unknown viruses will be encountered in the future. I also fully understand that the “new crown virus” plague will not be the last time we have encountered it. The idea of ”not the last time” is depressing and desperate, but at the same time, there is a humble understanding of the predicament at this moment.
This contracted state of awe should be the state that humans should have when facing the world. The super contagious nature of the “new crown virus” has completely changed our way of life. Our lives began to accelerate to the “cloud” shift. During this period, I first participated in various “cloud seminars” and then received a “cloud award”. Recently, I watched the news. More than 100 sessions of the “Canton Fair” have been held in succession, and they are also held in the cloud. Although the epidemic situation in China has eased a lot, overseas imported cases occur almost every day, which also makes the “new crown virus” a “typical” globalized disease. As long as the virus is still spreading somewhere in the world, anywhere It is impossible to relax your vigilance and take care of yourself.
I am particularly interested in whether viruses are also evolving with humans? Of course, it does not mean the long natural selection experienced by any organism. It is certain, but it means whether the virus is competing with the technological capabilities of human beings? The virus has only been truly known to humans for more than a hundred years. In that tiny structure, there is an incredible cunning, and even one has to admit that there is a creepy “wisdom” in it. The virus did not reduce its mystery because of its various cognitions (such as gene sequence, infection method), but it showed a stronger mystery. This crude protein macromolecular structure cannot be called life at all, but how can it be rich in “intelligence” like life? It forces us to think, what is life relaxation and life is much broader than we understand?
Some people say that the virus is an attack on humans by the earth’s immune system. There is not only a metaphor, but also a new theological discourse. This allows us to have a more true reflection on the concept of life, and a broader imagination of the hidden scale of life. For example, the “Gaia Hypothesis” compares the Earth to a self-regulating living organism. There is a complex and continuous interaction between the living body and the natural environment, including the atmosphere, oceans, polar ice caps, and the rocks under our feet. Life forms play a key role in maintaining the habitability of the earth. In other words, the ecosystem on the earth constitutes a larger life, and the earth is a life.
Therefore, it is time to rethink the stable and traditional concept of life. We should hold a more tolerant “big view of life.” Those “ecologies” that we stay in our slogans are so closely related to everyone’s lives. Ecology is not just a legend about the remote Brazilian rainforest. The ecology is inside our bodies and in our breath. Numerous microorganisms including viruses connect us and the Brazilian rainforest. We must know that our body is composed of about 15% of microbes. If we lose these microbes, our life functions will be destroyed and cannot be continued. The macro-level ecological view emphasizes the harmony between humans and all things in nature, and maintains the stability of the biological chain: at the micro-level, humans cannot even withdraw themselves from the natural ecology. Human life is just a bigger one. For the subsystems under the ecosystem, we have to accept such finiteness. To understand science and technology in this way, high-tech is to continuously expand the human ecosystem so that humans have greater vitality. In contrast to literature, literature almost perceives all of this with human instinct. The relationship between mankind and self, mankind and the world is the eternal motif of literature. No matter how great a breakthrough is made in science and technology, mankind still has to face the eternal motif of literature. Therefore, literature is not the opposite of science and technology. Literature is to accommodate the progress of science and technology and its realistic results in a perceptual way.
As a writer, I am sure to think about the deep relationship between the plague and literature. First of all, this epidemic has once again discovered the importance of disease for literary narratives. Illness is a 100% metaphor and symbol for literature. It is impossible for literature to accept disease as disease itself, just as a life that does not accept disease as disease itself. Diseases can change lives at any level, just as diseases inevitably assume the function of interpretation and transformation in literary narratives. In this context, thinking about Susan Sontag’s “The Metaphor of Illness” is also quite meaningful. As a critic, Sontag is deconstructing the metaphor of disease. Then, we can’t think that she wants to deny the metaphor of disease. We have to realize that she just wants to rebuild the metaphor of disease, to separate disease from morality and return to the essence of life. Secondly, I think the future of literary discourse is facing changes. Scientific discourse will replace lyrical discourse. Literature must accommodate such discourse, because literature is not equal to lyrical discourse. Literature is a complex art mechanism that is sufficient for scientific discourse. In the new narrative and lyric, new cultural possibilities are presented.
The sense of doomsday brought about by the raging new crown virus has also led some people to ask: Will the absurd brushwork, pioneering spirit, and imaginative carnival lose the meaning of continuation in the face of the vast reality of material? There are actually many variants of this problem. For example, whenever there is a very bizarre news, writers will be asked: Look, you writers can’t make up such a bizarre story, right? When there are some disasters, writers must also accept the torture of the soul: Why don’t writers have such difficulty in writing? Why is literature absent again? In fact, these questions have misunderstood literature to some extent. The absurdity of literature and the absurdity of reality are originally two different things. The claim that reality is always more absurd than fiction is a huge misunderstanding. The absurdity of literature is a setting of conditions, a path of reflection and exploration. The absurdity of reality is a manifestation of human blindness and short-sightedness, and is the object of literary irony and reflection. Of course, a good writer should get enough wisdom from the absurdity of reality, so as to present it in the absurdity of literature. What a good writer needs is not the ability to make up bizarre stories, but the ability to discover complex meanings. He tells a story, not because it is bizarre, but because it is what he wants to express based on his life experience, and he gives this story a unique and universal meaning. His writing is a construction of discourse art.
Here, the “discourse” in Foucault’s sense is once again prominent and cannot be avoided. In the face of the epidemic, the “discourse” approach has become the main characterization of literature, humanities and social sciences. If scientific discourse shows the degree of cognition of our time, then social discourse shows the historical continuity of our time. The literary viewfinder needs to bring all kinds of discourse into the field of vision in order to obtain an approximate overall observation.
The relationship between the epidemic and society is naturally very complicated. From personal protection, medical level to social organization, every detail will be tested. Social discourse about the epidemic has also changed people’s ideas and even actions. For example, the naming of the new coronavirus this time can tell the clues. Some politicians in the United States have ulterior motives to call it “Chinese coronavirus”, while the World Health Organization named it the neutralized COVID-19. Such examples are not uncommon in history. For example, the “Spanish flu” with a huge death toll is even more dramatic. The initial outbreak was not Spain, but the United States. It was not Spain that had the largest number of infections, but Spain transparently reported the large-scale infection of the disease and was instead installed. Because of the notoriety of “Spanish flu”, of course in Spain, they call it the “French flu”.
People need to embody the fear of the virus as a concrete enemy that can correspond to in the real world, so the best way is to make it the responsibility of another group of people outside of their own group. Therefore, whether objectively or at the level of discourse, the characteristics of infectious diseases require a certain group of relevance. The attack method of infectious diseases is entirely based on the warmth of human nature, such as talking, gathering, touching, and intimacy. Therefore, the methods of preventing viruses are completely opposite to the characteristics of human nature. This is also the reason why people talk about “isolation”. Therefore, one thing can be predicted, that is, in the shadow of the virus, in addition to biological exploration and research, the future human society will definitely accelerate the development and transfer of the virtual world. People’s bodies are getting farther and farther away from each other, but people’s emotions and thoughts will be closer together. Being closer does not mean intimacy, and they may even face an increasingly serious dilemma of mutual entrapment.
Compared with the virus itself, the social discourses spreading everywhere are actually more influential, and almost everyone is trapped by those discourses. Even the pattern and trend of the world are reflected in the position and narration of discourse. Many earth-shattering stories constitute the basic background for people’s understanding of the epidemic. I want to tell a few real stories here. They have been lingering in my heart and constitute my personal memory spectrum.
I still don’t know the ending of the first story. There is a young man named Xiao Yu on Douban. In Wuhan, since the outbreak of the epidemic, she has started to record the illnesses of her relatives around her. They were all scattered texts, and not many people paid attention at the time. Later, a WeChat public account compiled the texts of Xiaoyu and issued them, which aroused a huge response. It turned out that Xiao Yu’s parents also died of illness, and on the day of the release, Xiao Yu also tested positive. I remember that after reading this summary diary that night, my heart was cut and I couldn’t sleep for a long time. Several friends in the circle of friends are also reposting this article. I know that everyone is connected by the pain of a distant stranger. The next day, this article could not be opened. It turned out that this official account was not authorized by Xiaoyu, and Xiaoyu was disturbed because of this release. Some netizens contacted frequently in the name of caring. If the expected feedback cannot be obtained, Then suddenly he changed his face and cursed, and the distortion and ugliness of human nature made people angry. Xiao Yu chose to remain silent, and she lost her account from Douban, and disappeared from people’s sight. But I always remember her and hope she has recovered and started a new life.
The ending of the second story is lucky. At the beginning of March, a news screen titled “The daughter of a poor family in Henan committed suicide by swallowing drugs because of her inability to take online classes at home”. Lao Li has three children. The eldest daughter is in the first grade of high school, the second daughter is in the third grade, and the son is in the sixth grade of elementary school. Lao Li is a shoe repairer, his left foot is limp, and his wife is mentally ill. In order to survive, he has exhausted his strength and dignity. He is struggling. If he stays for a few more years, as long as one child enters the society and has income, the family conditions will be greatly improved. Unfortunately, in the face of the new crown plague, the three children competed for the only mobile Internet class. The second daughter is not only older and sensible than her sister, but also has to let her younger brother. The teacher asked her why she didn’t go to class. The classmates couldn’t find her in the live broadcast group. She was angry and committed suicide by taking poison. After a long period of rescue, the child saved his life. There is a “Min” in her name. Let’s call her A Min. Min’s behavior must be radical, and there may be many other reasons, but she let us see the threshold cost of the technological society. Although the cost of this threshold is getting lower and lower, there is still a threshold after all, and some people will always be blocked outside this threshold. Just like another news report, there was an old man who did not have a smart phone, so he could not show his “green code” to prove his health. Therefore, he could not take transportation and accommodation. He could only go home with meals and sleep, and walked for a few days before returning home.
The third story is about a netizen named “Squirrel”. When the new crown virus just broke out, I didn’t know what drugs were effective, and tried various old drugs. On January 26, 2020, the National Health and Medical Commission issued a pneumonia diagnosis and treatment plan for new coronavirus infection (Trial Version 3), which added the recommendation for the use of “lopinavir and ritonavir tablets” in the list of oral drug treatments. , Also called “Kelizhi”. Squirrel is no stranger to this medicine. He is an AIDS patient. He has been taking this medicine for several years. At that time, Wuhan’s drug resources soon ran out. Many medical staff were infected. Squirrel began to contact other patients. Together, we figured out ways to donate medicines to medical staff in Wuhan and patients in urgent need of medication. Many people got it. Their rescue. Squirrel said: “If this drug donation activity can reverse the public’s prejudice against AIDS patients, of course it will be good. If it can’t, we won’t force it. In fact, we just want to save a person and do our best.” In the process, it was very difficult for them to negotiate with various parties, and some people even slandered them for “making disaster fortune”, and he could not argue with it.
The fourth story happened around me. Since I was in university, I have often haunted the Xueeryou Bookstore next to Sun Yat-sen University, where I bought a lot of books. Later, it was very convenient to buy books online, but I still like to go there and buy one or two. After becoming a writer, he did a new book promotion activity there. After the outbreak of the plague this year, Xueeryou Bookstore experienced the most serious operating difficulties since its establishment, and the bookstore had to temporarily close most of its stores. According to an analysis of a questionnaire survey of more than 1,000 physical bookstores, more than 70% of the bookstores closed down within three months of the epidemic. The well-known Beijing Bookstore on One-way Street also published a letter of help on the Internet, hoping to collect funds for the bookstore in the form of crowdfunding to ensure the continued operation of the bookstore. There are also some bookstores selling stored-value cards online, seeking support from book friends in difficult times. Xueeryou Bookstore has always insisted, opening the door every day and doing a good job of disinfection, even if there are only one or two people here. I know that some industries are equally tragic, such as tourism, catering, film and television, but as the epidemic improves, these industries will gradually recover. But the bookstore’s closure may be the day without recovery, and the virus has accelerated the decline and transformation of paper media.
The fifth story is related to me. I have a friend in Chengdu who is running a teaching and training institution. Due to the impact of the epidemic, this institution can only be temporarily closed. In order to start school as soon as possible, he bought a thousand masks from Russia online, which he wanted to give to students as gifts. He asked me if I wanted to. At that time, masks were the most in-demand supplies. There was a piece of paper pasted at the door of all pharmacies on the street: The masks were sold out. I don’t know how long the epidemic will continue, so I cheekily said: “Just give me twenty.” And praised him for “sending charcoal in the snow and covering the epidemic”. A few days later, I received the mask. He actually sent a hundred of them. When I was emotional for his friend, I also found that the box of the mask was printed with Made in China. Some friends who understand Russian also found this The production base of masks is Hubei Xiantao. The connection is embarrassing, and this is just a small detail in the era of globalization. Will the wave of globalization shrink in the future? Many people say that this epidemic will hinder the process of globalization. I don’t agree with this. It is never viruses or diseases that hinder human beings, but humans’ own ideas. In other words, globalization is irreversible, it’s just globalization in the conceptual sense.
These short stories can be interpreted in various ways. But no matter how I read it, I realize that I have always been in such a situation: all kinds of words are always guiding us. We have obtained the nourishment for constructing the subject from various discourses, but at the same time we must also fight against various discourses. This is the judgment and choice of the subject continuously affecting the generation of the subject. A person thinks that he has matured and his growth has nothing to do with him. This is the most terrifying thought. The human situation is so complicated, changeable and uncertain. There are still many things to do in literature.
Several times, in the darkness of the night, I closed my eyes, and the people wearing masks emerged from my hazy consciousness. They have no faces, only white masks that are exactly the same, standing quietly in the depths of the space like ghosts. They stared at the world with their one-eyed masks, and I felt a strange horror. Here, I quote the poems of two poets:
Others can’t recognize me wearing a mask, and I can’t recognize myself because of wearing a mask.
I confirm who I am again and again in my heart, but I am always denied by the mask.
But when I took off the mask, it was nothing.
—— Xichuan “Ode to Masks”
It’s time to say this to the great mask
I love you
My little prison
Seal my mouth
——Yu Jian, “Best Love”
The image of the mask was sensitively captured by the two poets and gave a complex taste. Compared with the directly expressed discourse, the discourse constructed by the spectacle is relatively subtle, but its richness is actually not inferior at all. When the Black Death was raging, weird beak doctors appeared. They wore waxed linen or canvas shirts, black hats on their heads, and beak-like masks that could filter air. Their eyes were made of transparent glass. Protecting, wearing white gloves, holding a long wooden stick, used to touch the patient’s items. Doctor Bird’s Beak is still an image expressed by many artists. Bird beak masks, gas masks, and respirators constitute a series of spectacles of human fear of others.
Extending from masks and masks to larger representations, the physical landscape most affected by disease is none other than buildings. Human beings walked out of the cave and began to build simple shack based on various cognitions to protect the body. This concept has become increasingly clear with the historical process. For example, in Da Vinci’s sketchbook, a cross-sectional view of the interior of the building appears next to the anatomical drawings. He understands the inside of the brain and uterus from the perspective of architecture, and only by dissecting the body can he insight into the secrets. In other words, buildings and bodies have similar structural characteristics. People use the body to understand architecture, and also use architecture to understand the body.
The building not only resists the scorching sun, rainstorms and hurricanes, but also has the function of resisting diseases. Before the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, it was thought that the causes of tuberculosis included: bad weather, sedentary indoor life, poor ventilation and insufficient light. The Davos Sanatorium, built in 1907, planned the building based on this understanding. Thomas Mann was living in the Davos Nursing Home because of his wife’s lung disease. He went to visit, but a week later, his upper respiratory tract was infected and he continued to cough. The doctor examined him and found a “wet spot” in his lungs, and suggested that he also stay in the nursing home and treat him with his wife for six months. Thomas Mann refused. Later, he said: “I will write a novel instead.” This novel is “Magic Mountain”, known as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. His Hans Castorp lived in the nursing home instead of him for seven years. “Magic Mountain” is full of epidemic discourse, showing the spatial form formed to resist the plague. There is a section dedicated to introducing biology and medicine in the early twentieth century, which has great inspiration for today’s writing: A hundred years ago, the understanding of people in literature has been incorporated into the connotation of biology and medicine, not just from the classical concept of human nature.
From Shakespeare to Thomas Mann, from “Dream of Red Mansions” to “White Deer Plain”, Chinese and Western literature is infiltrated with the shadow of disease. This is by no means accidental. Literature is more closely placed at the core of human daily life than traditional historiography. zone. From Thomas Mann’s “Magic Mountain” to Camus’s “The Plague”, the plague has increasingly become a fundamental metaphor of human living conditions, which contains the spiritual anxiety of modernity.
In fact, the shadow of disease has long been solidified and strengthened to an astonishing level. It no longer stays in the metaphor of nothingness, but becomes solid concrete itself. The correlation between modern architecture and medical images is becoming more and more distinct. The X-ray perspective of the human body is exactly the same as the structure of a glass skyscraper. After the appearance of CT scan images, more and more similar landscapes appeared in contemporary buildings. We can finally say this: “Disease shapes us. We live in the shape of disease. Disease is an important structure for our survival.”
Among all diseases, the plague is the cruelest. We can roughly divide diseases (excluding physical injuries) into two categories: one is the decline of the internal system, each person suffers from different diseases due to their own physique; the other is indiscriminate external attacks, mainly bacteria and viruses Invade the human body. Viruses with extremely strong transmission and lethality can be called plagues. The most frightening thing is the universality of attacks, which has almost nothing to do with personal physique. Where the virus has passed, only a handful of people have been spared, which is very similar to the violence of war. The infected person is like an unknowing spy, constantly providing the virus with nourishment, reproduction and transmission channels.
The American historian McNeill in “The Plague and Man” is not without extreme opinion that whether it is the decline and desolation of Athens, the collapse of the Roman Empire, or even the complete disappearance of the entire American civilization, it is due to the plague. Indeed, we know that the plague as the “Black Death” has killed tens of millions of people, shaken the European Middle Ages, and made possible the emergence of the Reformation and the Renaissance. Combining Chinese history, such as the fall of the Ming Dynasty, not only because of Emperor Chongzhen’s stubbornness, but also because of the “big head plague” that swept Beijing, Li Baicheng led a patchwork army of peasants and hardly encountered decent battles. It captured the capital and rewrote the trend of history.
The new coronavirus has once again deeply discovered the biological basis of human history. This is the part that was ignored intentionally or unintentionally by past history. In fact, human beings, as a kind of organism, must be subject to many characteristics of biology. In the past, due to the underdevelopment of biological technology, it failed to enter the vision of historical evolution. Today’s history deserves this kind of biological consciousness. The history of mankind is built on the fragile flesh and blood of mankind, which should have been common sense. In the quantum world, the reason why the trajectory of elementary particles is “unpredictable” is because humans, as observers, interfere with the motion of microscopic particles. We are the same at the cultural level. We have to understand our own dual roles and identities as observers and receivers. Human beings are composed of flesh and blood, and human history is also composed of flesh and blood. When we observe history, we cannot think that history is an abstract thing far away from the body. This concept is dangerous.
From the perspective of the large-scale evolution of civilization, this new crown plague is actually nothing new. However, due to the development of transportation technology, the scale of the infection spread all over the world in a very short period of time, and the impact it has brought is unprecedented. It is also because of the development of science and technology that we think that mankind is on the eve of breakthroughs in many key technologies, and a new era is about to begin. We did not expect to be attacked by the primitive plague into such an embarrassing situation, so the frustration was correspondingly a bit big. Kurzweil of Silicon Valley boldly predicted that mankind will achieve immortality in 2045. He didn’t receive much ridicule when he said this, because many of his past predictions were fulfilled one by one. The Human Genome Project is a good example. In 1990, one of the most ambitious biological research projects of the 20th century was launched. It was planned to use 15 years to completely decipher the human genetic code and draw a genome map; but until 1997, only one percent of the genes were deciphered , Many people began to question, but Kurzweil said: “As long as we complete a double breakthrough every year, starting from 1%, seven years later, we can reach 100%.” The completion time of the Human Genome Project proves that Kurz Weir’s prediction is correct. Therefore, when Kurzweil predicts the immortality of mankind, it brings more shock to people. We seem to see a threshold of heaven looming in the clouds. However, the new crown virus burst out, with ancient barbaric hostility, and seemed to obscure the path to that threshold.
We still have to admit that facing the laws of the universe and nature, human beings are still very ignorant. The incomparably primitive virus hides restrictions on humans. To understand the body that we use every day, it must be accompanied by a deep understanding of the entire world. The path through the mystery of the universe is the same path as the path leading to the mystery of life. This path is magnificent. In this regard, human beings should have extremely humble confidence.
Beyond the path of scientific understanding, the issues of scientific ethics and social ethics may need to be resolved more urgently. The conflict between scientific ethics and social ethics has brought chaos. Undoubtedly, they cannot fit together completely, and there will always be large and small gaps. This gap is manifested today as a conflict between people’s health and freedom (including the right to privacy). Everyone has to become a potential “suspect.” The patient is both a victim and a perpetrator. Private information about whereabouts and contacts is constantly published and tracked. Health and freedom become a mutually opposing multiple choice, leaving a negative impression on people: it seems that freedom is to be given up for health. Therefore, there are also attempts to choose freedom, that is, the theory of “survival of the fittest” (herd immunity). This again involves the bottom line of civilization. There is no hope for a world that abandons the old, the weak, and the sick. Can health and freedom really not be balanced? Perhaps this is just a temporary predicament at this stage, and I hope that a new world order will emerge from the crowd. In this new world order, health and freedom are no longer opposing options.
After Susan Sontag fell ill in her later years, she sincerely expressed her feelings in an interview. Her words touched me deeply, and I think I should share it with everyone who has experienced the new crown virus pandemic.
“People do feel guilty about disease. People say that I am a kind of detachment in writing “The Metaphor of Illness”, but in fact I am not detached at all. In addition to physical pain, there are fears and fears, and I am frightened. Yes. I have experienced animal panic out of nowhere, but I have also experienced unparalleled ecstasy. Being willing to welcome death is definitely an amazing thing.”
Susan Sontag lit a cigarette. Cancer couldn’t stop her from smoking. She took a sip and spit it out. Behind the smoke was her intellectual look. She stared at you and said in a rare hesitant tone:
“You can’t be angry with nature. You can’t be angry with biology. We all die. Although it’s hard to accept, we all go through this process.”