Nostalgia is like a foetal crouch for the soul. This pandemic has been an engine, fast tracking our need to get back to the safety of a warm and golden time, which never really was.
People are stuck at home watching reruns from childhood. Here in India, mythological hits from the 1980s are raking in Game of Thrones ratings. Trapping the past in sepia-tinted euphoric recall, we could be making over our past life, treating it like episodes from The Wonder Years, airing in India now. That ’60s show from the ’80s knew how to package childhood memories and present them to us in a soft cloud. Winnie’s hair was always dancing in the wind, Kevin was eternally innocent, his father strong and brooding, his mother a sweet nurturing figure, his brother a universal bully everyone seemed to enable, mainly because soft focus distorts reality.
To exist is to fight existential dread. The human species survived extinction level events, tribal skirmishes, plagues and world wars, but the descendants of those who survived paid the price with post civilisational trauma. This dread is the background hum to our waking and sleeping existence. It is the anticipation with which we live.
The lockdown is meant to stop us from spreading a very efficient virus. In every nation, leaders and experts use the idioms of nationalism to move people into a war against the virus. But the lockdown did something else that cannot be addressed by those in charge of fighting a tactical war against a virus with medicine weapons and harried physician soldiers at hospital frontlines.
The history of the human species runs alongside that of bacteria and viruses. We have no evolution without them. They have always been in us, around us, on us in every way shape and form. There can be no existence without them, there is no way to eliminate them either. As much as we know about them, we know far too little. We are only now beginning to find out a few things about the creatures that live alongside us, as the latest research leaks out over the blatherspeak of social media. The vast majority of us are incapable of dealing with the magnitude of information on this scale, and its far reaching effects on our minds, and even our bodies. Hindsight is always left to later times.