by Finley Welch
All the greatest books to ever hit the palm of my hands begin with an ominous one liner:
“It was a pleasure to burn.” Like a moth to a flame, I was drawn to them at the age when the ripening of my soul had just begun and the definition of ominous made my skin quiver. Yet still I always plucked the scary, scale-covered books from the libraries’ shelves and all these books seemed to share the same forbidding message woven in each sentence. I held on to these messages as I grew into a woman, transforming them into a passion for anarchism and linguistics in general. See, freedom is the basic core of our living spirit. Even if freedom is not actually tangible in a society but the illusion is alive in our hearts, we will go on. It would be a pleasure. However, the illusion has dissolved, slipping away in the middle of the night leaving little time to reconcile that it has indeed evaporated.
When you first heard of the Coronavirus where were you? Asleep in the warmth of it being another continent’s disease? Me too. Actually, I was in history class ironically dreaming of isolation, though my dreams entailed a private beach and a Captain America look-alike. Why would I assume one continent’s nightmare couldn’t astral project into my very own…nightmare? Could it have been that we were unprepared? Only prepped to look at our own feet as we beat our shoes into the concrete laid out before us? Yeah, that must’ve been it. Unprepared because this is us we’re talking about, flesh and bone with jobs and mortgages. If we get the chance to escape the horrors of mundanity, we have to run as quick as we can without looking to see if anyone else is also running. They usually are, just as fast too. Thus making any who we might infect with our bright flaming desire- Invisible Men. This is often the message in the great books: to learn from the consequences of our naivety. To open our eyes or ears, to minimize societal pain with all the powers vested in us. But, the virus was just in China… and Europe… and Australia. A selfish part of me wishes it stayed- abroad- far from the front door of my home, far from my living spirit, from the living spirit of this country. Though that is not how the books were written, so while I am supposed to be laying out a buffet of logistics of the current pandemic for you to informatively feast on, I feel as though I’d be wasting my time in doing so. Not because information is at all a waste of time, but because I can’t properly inform your seeing as I don’t know a goddamn thing. Excuse me, I meant a goddamn useful thing. If I’m being honest, I have to believe very few do know… anything. If I can provide you with the things I know for sure it’s that ignorance is no longer bliss and more importantly when we live in a society that rewards selfish behavior, how can we expect better from the people in times of uncertainty? I once went on a date with a man whose favorite book was Fahrenheit 451, though any time I critiqued the ignorance of our modern day society he’d immediately become enraged then withdrawn. In fact the only time he wasn’t withdrawn had been when his mouth tried to lick upon mine! Has it always been that we’ve only ever wanted to open our eyes in literature- not in real life? I’ve been asking myself this question for almost a month now and it seems the answer is yes. Yes, I only want my 451 by Ray Bradbury. Only want my Invisible Man to be a “spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe” and I definitely want 1984 to be a paperback held in my hand not the bricks that built my home. I know all too well that life imitates art and the great books were written with this notion in mind. We’ve embraced ignorance for so long it’s become an inherent attribute to our offspring. Have you seen the writing on the wall yet? Or do you still keep your eyes wide shut?