Friday, November 20, 2020

Thank your hysterical neighbor

Dear M,

Idaho has moved back into "Stage 2" of a coronavirus lockdown.  Modified, they say.  It could be worse.  Other states have mask mandates, stay-at-home orders, holidays are canceled, limitations on informal gatherings, church bans, gym bans, bar bans, closures of all kinds of small businesses -- the population divided into "essential" and "nonessential" workers.  Large corporations and pot dispensaries and liquor stores, the big spreaders of diseases both temporal and spiritual, are left open.  

Chart 1, from the New York Times
This all the same week that I get a letter from the New York Times, stating, in no uncertain terms, the danger of the whole thing.  They say, as they try to sell the virus news as "grim," that there are actually two versions of the story.  The scary version is that the virus is on a rampage, and more people, perhaps more than ever, are getting infected.  We're setting all kinds of records.  The hospitals are full.  Your chances of getting it, or a loved one getting it, are high.  And finally, and most importantly, that "harsh measures" are necessary to get it all under control.

Chart 2, from the New York Times
Then, after this frantic warning, comes the second narrative.  They say deaths are down dramatically.  That the worst of it hit us in April, and has stayed far down ever since.  The introduction of dexamethasone and remdesivir has been so effective that Chris Christie, bane of every Country Buffet, is still alive and kicking.  A vaccine, touted to be 90% effective, despite our inability to vaccinate effectively for the flu, has been invented and confirmed suspiciously overnight.  The American public is still barred from suing vaccine companies over side effects, and even getting an overview of the side effects from the test-runs, but the vaccine is "safe" and "effective" (trust us) and, if you enjoy buying food and going to school, will probably end up being mandatory -- and for a few of our fat cats, well-ingratiated with our public officials, extremely lucrative.     

Despite all this we have questions, such as why flu cases almost completely and miraculously "disappeared" this year, why young and healthy people are being locked down if the average age of death, according to The Sun, is 82.4, and why most people we know who got it (everyone, in my case) had mild symptoms and are doing fine today.  We wonder whether most people who get it even know they've got it; whether many cases go unreported due to a fiscal inability to stop working, or mistaking it for a common cold; whether this subtracts greatly from the "disastrous" death rate; and whether or not the extreme elderly were incapable of surviving much longer anyway*. All ignored by "the scientists" -- a band of people who think only about viruses, and whose jobs are most secure when they can keep us thinking about viruses.      

So why are we being locked down?  The lesson we have to learn here has almost nothing to do with science.  The Age of Information means we know how to do lots of things, such as flying to the moon, and, apparently, no idea what sends a country to hell.  Montaigne could have told you 500 years ago, before "science" became a religion, that the point of philosophy was to teach you how to die well**.  Seneca could have told you before Montaigne, and the Bible, or at least the portions already written at the time, could have told you before Seneca.  But we've thrown the sages aside for scientists and now we don't know how to die well -- the necessary flip-side being that Americans apparently don't know how to live well***.  We forgot to tell our kids that living to 80 is a great and almost unprecedented blessing, but that it's only a blessing if you're not living like a bitch.  

Life is only worth it if you're strong and you're free.  The well-meaning neighbor who says there's a high chance the 80-somethings might die (God save them), and that he has to lock you out of your business, into your home, ram an improperly-tested, inscrutable vaccine into your already-safe children, make all voting susceptible to fraud, force you into wearing a mask outdoors, and have Big Tech censor your counter-narratives to any of his scare tactics, isn't your friend or a saint, but a slave -- and I would add here, a fool, an enemy, and, however much he panics to save it, unworthy of the life God has given him.

 Yours,

-J

*A lot has been mentioned here about the average age of death, and it might be worthwhile to ask here, do I care about the elderly?  To which I answer, I do, especially with a mother who's high-risk.  But if I'm asked to throw the country away for the sake of my parents I'll keep the country; and if any parent is asked to choose between his parents and his children, if he answers for the former, I'd say his children should disown him.  Nature has churned out a monster.

**From Montaigne's essay, That to philosophise is to learn how to die.

"Our religion has no surer human foundation than contempt for life. Not only do the arguments of reason invite us to it; for why should we fear to lose a thing which once lost cannot be regretted? And since we are threatened by so many kinds of death, is there not more pain in fearing them all than in enduring one?

"What does it matter when it comes, since it is inevitable? To the man who told Socrates, 'The thirty tyrants have condemned you to death,' he replied: 'And nature, them.' 

[...]

"No one dies before his time. The time you leave behind was no more yours than that which passed before your birth, and it concerns you no more. Look back and see how past eternities of time are nothing to us. The advantage of living is not measured by length, but by use; some men have lived long, and lived little; attend to it while you are in it. It lies in your will, not in the number of years, for you to have lived enough. 

"Did you think you would never arrive where you never ceased going? Yet there is no road but has its end. And if company can comfort you, does not the world keep pace with you? All things, their life being done, will follow you. Does not everything move with your movement? Is there anything that does not grow old along with you? A thousand men, a thousand animals, and a thousand other creatures die at the very moment when you die: No night has ever followed day, no day the night, that has not heard, amid the newborn infants’ squalls, the wild laments that go with death and funerals. Why do you recoil, if you cannot draw back? You have seen enough men who were better off for dying, thereby avoiding great miseries. Have you found any man that was worse off? How simple-minded it is to condemn a thing that you have not experienced yourself or through anyone else. Why do you complain of me and of destiny? Do we wrong you?"

He writes as soundly about sex as he does about death:

"Considering often the ridiculous titillation of this pleasure, the absurd, witless, and giddy motions with which it stirs up Zeno and Cratippus, that reckless frenzy, that face inflamed with fury and cruelty in the sweetest act of love, and then that grave, severe, and ecstatic countenance in so silly an action; and that our delights and our excrements have been lodged together pell-mell, and that the supreme sensual pleasure is attended, like pain, with faintness and moaning; I believe that what Plato says is true, that man is the plaything of the gods; and that it was in mockery that nature left us the most confused of our actions to be the most common, in order thereby to make us all equal and to put on the same level the fools and the wise, and us and the beasts. 

"The most contemplative and wisest of men, when I imagine him in that position, seems to me an impostor to put on wise and contemplative airs. [...] Alexander used to say that he knew himself to be mortal chiefly by this action and by sleep." 

 -- this from the Donald Frame translation, which may set you back thirty bucks, but which no thinking man can afford to miss from his library.  

***We hear leftists talk about death with dignity, but have we ever seen them make a case for life with dignity?  Difficult to do in the middle of a dick-float gay parade.  The Christians, or at least the Catholics and other high-churchers, might not be able to throw a party, but they own the heavyweight title on reverence.  There is no holiday celebrated so beautifully, so magically, so transcendentally as a Holy Day.  Christian hair-metal is a joke -- but can any leftist make a decent hymn?

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