Day 12: Idiocracy
Updated: Mar 30
No meetings today. I managed quite a lot of work. However, I realized that the Chaucer Variorum is locked in an office. The university is closed now, even the library has stopped working. I had the impulse of writing to the head of English to see whether she might know how long I would have to wait to get the book or whether I might be able to sneak in. After all, I wouldn't have to get too close to anyone to fetch the volume.
I can imagine what others might say. Why is this woman obsessing about a book. There are tons of other books. But I need it. For research. Not the kind of research that could lead to a cure for COVID-19 or the one that could provide us with a cure. My research is on something else. I work on textual transmission: how manuscripts and early printed books were reproduced and how the texts they contain relate to one another.
Someone said to me, about ten years ago, that he couldn't understand why would anyone have any interest in the "Arts." I should have articulated better why the work we do matters. I'm not the only one who has failed to show the importance of humanistic work. But this failure, whether individual or collective, has contributed to the setting aside of the Humanities.
When I see country leaders who have a vocabulary of a fourth grader and the manner of the class bully, I cannot help but to understand that it has been our failure to convey the importance of learning to think, of understanding history, of acknowledging the limitations of our knowledge that put us here.
In 2016, I watched a film called Idiocracy. The plot is simple: an average soldier takes part in an experiment and wakes up five hundred years later to a world in which everyone is dumb and the president of the United States was the star of a reality TV show. This soldier is now the most intelligent man in the world. The movie is meant to be funny in a puerile sort of way. Watching it, however, made me uncomfortable. I couldn't find the jokes amusing. It hits too close to home.
Yesterday, the US passed China in total number of cases of COVID-19. Today they stand at 104,661 cases with 1706 deaths. Their president is still talking about getting the country up and running after Easter.
One cannot help but to fear what might happen. Not only the general population will be at risk, but the medical personnel, all those people tirelessly working to help the desperately sick, would be more exposed, as the supply of protective gear dwindles. In the meantime, we sit and read the news in our phones or computers, and wait because it is not our call to make.
Canada cases 4,758
World cases 597,072
World deaths 27,364
World recoveries 131,708