As of midnight, last night, all of the beaches in 부산 have been closed.
아내’s school is still open. For how much longer is anyone’s guess. Closure seems inevitable. Most of the elementary schools have already been shutdown.
So, yeah. We’re back at it.
This second wave comes as no surprise. It was expected. It’s just a little ahead of schedule. We’re going to be doing this thing for some time to come. It’s not a problem with a solution. It’s just a series of adaptations that will, hopefully, over time, pile up. Societies can’t and don’t turn on a dime. This is a thing we’re going to keep going through. And neither the outbreak nor the reaction to it are an indication of failure. It’s just reality. This goes on.
And on. And on.
I do have some disappointment about the pandemic response in general though. Early on, I had hoped that by, like fucking months ago, we’d be seeing a strong and coordinated international effort through the WHO and UN to deal with this thing. Countries that are up, helping those that are down. A rotation of resources, experience, know-how, and finances. An end to sanctions. An international pulling together. This would mitigate and gradually suppress this thing. Human intelligence might outpace the virus.
Instead, the opposite has happened. We’ve seen a pronounced weakening of international organizations and coordination. There’s be an increase in bellicose nationalism – particularly from the major powers. (I still hold out some hope for the middle powers on this issue.) Globally, we’re in one of the most predictable and least desirable situations imaginable.
To tackle a pandemic, international co-operation is required. Competition is what we got. I mean, the goddamn thing was predictable as hell, but it’s sure not the road I hoped the world would take. It’s the wrong fucking road. It leads to a very bad place.
On a personal level, it’s nice to have some idea of what we have ahead of us. When this first hit South Korea, much less was known about the virus. We had no idea if the response was even going to work. Wuhan was, at the time, the only model. On top of it, there was the weird sensation of watching media in many other parts of the world ignoring the virus and other governments utterly failing to react. But now we know that this model works. And, having seen the body-counts from places that failed to act or acted badly, we also know that this model is preferable to the options. I’d even say that there is clearly no trade-off between economy and public health. To take care of the economy, you have to take care of health.
Of course, none of that that is easy. It’s just the way it is.
My worry is that this familiarity and confidence is, itself, dangerous. Seems to me that a solid dose of the unknown and its handmaiden fear is a pretty good motivator. I’d hate to have to depend exclusively on the soundly reasoned, good judgement of a human population. Or even myself, for that matter. It’s good to have some heart in the fight.
Luckily, I do have a reservoir of feeling to draw on. A sort of basic and acutely felt sense of kinship and solidarity with people doing the jobs that I’ve done.
About a month ago, I was at the grocery. I really like how one of the cashiers does her job. It’s not an easy job. She does it well. And that sort of work never makes for an easy life. I have no idea what hers is like. I wouldn’t even presume to guess. But watching her work, I just felt like the efforts we all put into containing the disease were efforts to protect her life and health. Measures the American government and its bourgeois scum could not be even bothered to take on behalf of my former co-workers and comrades. Her life matters. This shit matters. That’s enough to motivate me. 제가할게요!
People aren’t fucking expendable.
And some good news too. 아내 and I finally have a line on free, homemade 김치.
Acquiring this hookup has been a goal since arrival. It came about because of 아내 having an end of unit part with her co-workers, where it was revealed that we have no family to make us 김치. Honestly, someone probably would have been set up much sooner if socializing wasn’t so completely fucked up due to the virus. Everything is a little slow motion.
There’s a beautiful concept here of 김치 and 밥. Basic idea, as I understand it, is that you never go without kimchi and rice. If you need it, you can go to a neighbor at any time and ask and if a neighbor asks, you have to give it, no questions asked. It’s society on a very simple and concrete level. No matter what, you have 김치 and 밥. In some places, there’s even communal fridges left out in the open. If you’re hungry, just go to the fridge. Got some extra 김치, leave it in the fridge. I love that sort of thing. Don;t get me wrong, it’s not substitute for a well managed welfare state but I love it. Just love it.
And this 김치? My Lord, it is good. Homemade and aged a year. The difference between this and store-bought is about the difference between McDonalds and a steak. And there’s more on the way! A selection of different types!
In my spare time and before school resumes, I’m studying modern Korean art. (Basically the stuff from 1953 on.) And I actually had some very good luck near the trash cans. The Gods of Garbage Books are still looking out for me and my interests!
And here’s the dogs.