A reflective piece on our current reality by Joshua Sobol, IIAS Artist in Residence 2019-20
The scared person is an easily controllable creature. In the first stage, the dreaded death-fear lurking in every living being is aroused, and in the next, the fear is used to tame the person into so-called “effective behavior” in the face of the fear of death.
Animal tamers use a whip to arouse the animal's reflex to withdraw from the sense-memory of the suffering inflicted upon it during the training. The trainer does not whip the animal but lashes the air and this is enough to induce the tamed animal to return to acting the way it was trained. Tamers of people in 2020 use the Shaming whip.
The virus is the ultimate threat to deny a person’s control over his or her life. The virus has a divine trait: it is neither seen nor heard, but it has the power to kill. Life and death are in the hands of the virus. Anyone who does not respect the threat and does not behave as required is presented as an existential menace to those who obey the threat and uphold the orders of the priests of the Viral Religion.
Disrespecting the power of the virus takes on the meaning of heresy of the existence of God, and the heretic who dares not believe in the Godlike Virus is sentenced to shaming, to boycott, and to social death. By heresy of the power of the virus, the heretic drops the curse of the virus on the entire community. Joining the religion of the virus - the "Envirusment" - is much more enticing than the old fashioned Rhinocerosisation à la Ionesco. It does not take much from the new convert: just wash your hands according to the newly invented ritual, greet each believer with elbow contact, and keep the interpersonal distances and observe the social isolation command.
Those who observe the commandments are considered normal according to the new normality norm, and those who neglect the observance are labeled as abnormal. Anyone who was nothing more than a politician in a leadership position rises to the rank of a high priestly leader of the Virological Religion, and he introduces the new converts to the norms of the New Normality through the good old television, that gained thereby a new, fresh and powerful life. Every day the TV announces the number of deaths by the virus, thus reinforcing the fear on which the Viral religion of the "new normality" is based.
The Virological religion robs people of their human liberty. Denial of liberty leads to the subversion of individual infidels who refuse to recognize the power of the virus and believe that some intelligent behavior, different from the new normality, may counteract its power. This kind of “Subversion” challenges the fearful community, and provokes a violent reaction of the undisputed leader who governs the frightened society through regulations enforced with the aid of the mechanism of fear and the new ethos of normality which the total majority holds piously.
A “Total Majority” is the kind of a majority the deviations of which are infinitely small, tending to zero.
The leader who has become a high priest of the viral religion is not a dictator; He is a “Totalitator” shaping the new normality that will take over the total majority in just a few days of televised propaganda disguised as “News”, and other means of mass-communication brainwashing. The infidel in the society tamed to act conformably to the new normality is doomed to be a victim of Excommunication by mass shaming.
The social isolation and physical distancing contradict human nature. It condemns the human being to mental degeneration, to the extinction of passion and to emotional death. It is liable to cause mortality to a much greater extent than the virus-caused mortality. It is temporarily softened by "virtual contact" through virtual software, such as the "Zoom” application and all kinds of Audio-Video-Conference Apps. The human face-to-face presence is replaced by a virtual image-to-image chimera, and the human craving for skin-to-skin contact is dead. What kind of deaths and how many deaths will the New Normalcy bring? Time will tell.