Let’s start tonight with some nostalgic music (compliments of my beautiful friend Jasna)…

Deep down, I was just hoping that someone would make the decision for me. I’d show up at the airport, and they’d go: “flight’s canceled, go home baby.” And I’d go home, baby.

Micòl Gilkarov, Thoughts During à Pandemic https://link.medium.com/GerCD5U7j5

This very honest testimony from my niece regarding the beginning of the pandemic when she went to Italy which was starting to be plagued is typical… it totally reflects what happened to me about a week before her when I went to Ghent with Marc. As many of us experienced, we knew the danger was getting closer but since at my school they didn’t bother giving us any protection measures we imagined things weren’t all that bad.

We are the April fools of a series of incredible and unbelievable circumstances which might have a lasting effect on our societies.

I find it hard to believe that exactly a month ago, I visited the Olafur Eliasson exhibition in Zürich.

And a week later, I was in Ghent…I saw the Mystical Lamb in a rather small chapel with packed with tourists. And later on had the immense privilege to see the van Eyck exhibition which closed almost as soon as we were back home…and all what’s left is a game to help us laugh by recreation the masterpiece

Let’s hope its mystical blessing extends to its worshippers!

It is hard to believe only the three weeks separate us from this last getaway with Mark. We have now settled in this sanitary insanity and feel at the mercy of uncontrollable circumstances. But ….an article in Inside Hook deserves our full consideration. You’ll find here some excerpts:

A novel written in 1722 offers a surprisingly relevant blueprint to navigating a 2020 pandemic

An article by Elliot Grover, March 17, 2020

The panic began the moment the earliest cases were confirmed. Those with means hurriedly packed their belongings and fled the city. Those who stayed had a range of reactions: many laid siege to the markets, stocking up on provisions before barricading themselves and their families in their homes; some congregated in churches while others consulted astronomers and fortune-tellers; many more, dismissive of the invisible disease or the visible fear it stoked in the masses, continued their lives unabated. These individuals were the first to die. (…)

Invoking emergency measures passed in earlier times, the mayor issued a series of orders that aggressively changed life in the city. Public events and gatherings were banned, schools were closed and the city was divided into more readily policeable quarters. Infected individuals were locked in their houses with their families and were forbidden from leaving under the penalty of death. Upstanding citizens, deputized in various capacities as searchers, examiner, and watchmen, were — under the penalty of death — tasked with overseeing this quarantine.

(…) Before the end of 1666, the Bubonic Plague will kill roughly one-quarter of the city’s population. As devastating as this figure is, it could have been much worse.

Published in 1722, Defoe’s text is technically a novel, but historians and epidemiologists have praised it as an accurate report of life in London during “the Great Plague.” Defoe, (…) did live in London in 1665, but he was only five years old. In A Journal, a middle-aged narrator renders a graphic and comprehensive look at life inside a city beset with a pandemic far more terrifying than the one we face today.

Defoe’s purpose for writing the novel was didactic. “I have set this particular down so fully,” the narrator states, “because I know not but it may be of moment to those who come after me, if they come to be brought to the same distress.” A Journal aims to lay out a blueprint that future societies can follow when confronted with such dire circumstances.

While other pestilential narratives dwell on the chaos that accompanies pandemics, Defoe’s book documents the rigid order that emerges in the plague city. Michel Foucault, the 20th-century philosopher whose ideas have greatly influenced modern conceptions of power, highlighted these divergent views in his seminal 1975 book Discipline and Punish.

“A whole literary fiction of the festival grew up around the plague: suspended laws, lifted prohibitions, the frenzy of passing time, bodies mingling together without respect,” Foucault writes. “But there was also a political dream of the plague, which was exactly its reverse: not the collective festival, but strict divisions; not laws transgressed, but the penetration of regulation into even the smallest details of everyday life.” What Foucault is suggesting, and what Defoe’s account supports, is that this political dream becomes a reality in the societies that combat pandemics most effectively.

The most aggressive measure taken by the city of London in 1665 was forcing all infected individuals to be locked in their homes with their families, even if their family members were not sick. This “had very great inconveniences in it, and some that were very tragical,” Defoe acknowledges, “but it was authorised by a law, it had the public good in view as the end chiefly aimed at, and all the private injuries that were done by the putting it in execution must be put to the account of the public benefit.”

Many people died because they were confined with sick relatives, but many more were saved by keeping potentially infected individuals off the streets. Defoe stresses that the most prevalent way the contagion spread was via asymptomatic individuals who carried it. “It was very sad to reflect how such a person as this,” he writes, “had been a walking destroyer perhaps for a week or a fortnight before that; how he had ruined those that he would have hazarded his life to save, and had been breathing death upon them, even perhaps in his tender kissing and embracings of his own children.”

A resilient obligation to “the public good” also permeates Defoe’s London. (…) “It was never to be said of London that the living were not able to bury the dead.”

Although Defoe offers broad praise for how the government managed London — ranging from small measures like banning price gouging to more significant acts such as compulsory quarantine — he laments the lack of viable healthcare facilities: “It was a great mistake that such a great city as this had but one pest-house.”

In assessing how contemporary governments have responded to COVID-19, one country emerges as having taken the most decisive and effective action: China. With their strictly enforced lockdowns and aggressive social-distancing measures, it’s as if Chinese policymakers all attended the same graduate seminar on Defoe. Moreover, they have addressed the areas where London’s government fell short in 1665: sick family members are being isolated from healthy relatives, citizens are being tested frequently and monitored closely, and a robust network of fever centers has been created to treat patients with different categories of symptoms. Civil liberties are not a consideration, which is why the entire nation has seamlessly morphed into Foucault’s plague city.

In the United States, where our brand of democracy is deeply entwined with a capitalist ethos, it is much more difficult for Foucault’s model to take shape. Individual liberty and the advancement of self-interest are guiding national principles. While these values have plenty of merit, one thing they lack is compatibility with the imperative that “the public good” must be placed above everything else to defeat a pandemic.

This explains the selfish individual and institutional reactions we have witnessed to COVID-19 thus far.(…)

Fortunately for the American public, not all institutions have been as dilatory in their response as the federal government. Thank God for the NBA, Microsoft and The Foo Fighters. But if the COVID-19 outbreak explodes and the grim projections we’ve heard about materialize, I suspect our government will ultimately pursue the kind of aggressive measures that China has enacted. If and when this happens, we can attribute it to the underlying message of Defoe’s Journal: nothing is more contagious than fear.

All hasn’t been said and done and we might discover or should I say and cover the actual amount of casualties in China and there are many, many misgivings. The French paper, while echoing some of the ideas conveyed by the above paper although it takes a totally different view and I’ll be glad to translate it in case the Google translation isn’t up to it

Surveiller et Contenir: Foucault a Wuhan par Octave Lamargnac-Matheron:


La réaction des autorités chinoises à l’épidémie de coronavirus partie de Wuhan ressemble aux quarantaines durant les grandes épidémies de peste en Occident à l’âge classique. Michel Foucault y voyait les prémices d’une société disciplinaire, qui, depuis, a fait des pas de géant. Notamment en Chine.

Dans Surveiller et Punir (1975), Michel Foucault fait de la gestion des épidémies de peste à la fin du XVIIe siècle le modèle pour penser la logique de la quarantaine. Tout commence par un « quadrillage spatial » : « ne circulent que les intendants, les syndics, les soldats de la garde » – ou, aujourd’hui, les policiers et les militaires. Même s’ils ont le droit de sortir, comme à Wuhan, les habitants préfèrent rester cloîtrés. La ville devient un « espace découpé, immobile, figé. Chacun est arrimé à sa place ». L’espace public est accaparé par les forces de l’ordre : « Des corps de garde […] dans tous les quartiers pour rendre l’obéissance du peuple plus prompte. » Même la médecine se retrouve sous surveillance, comme l’atteste le sort réservé à Li Wenlang, mort depuis du virus : « Le rapport de chacun à sa maladie et à sa mort passe par les instances du pouvoir. » Pékin a d’ailleurs commencé le 25 janvier à déployer en masse du personnel médical militaire à Wuhan.

« Cet espace clos, découpé, surveillé en tous ses points, où les individus sont insérés en une place fixe, où les moindres mouvements sont contrôlés, […] où chaque individu est constamment repéré, examiné et distribué entre les vivants, les malades et les morts – tout cela constitue un modèle compact du dispositif disciplinaire. » Le but avoué du con­finement est de contenir l’épidémie, mais Foucault souligne que la quarantaine est aussi l’occasion d’un « rêve » : celui d’une société disciplinaire réalisant « la pénétration du règlement jusque dans les plus fins détails de l’existence […] Derrière les dispositifs disciplinaires, se lit la hantise des “contagions”, de la peste, des révoltes, des crimes, du vagabondage, des désertions, des gens qui apparaissent et disparaissent, vivent et meurent dans le désordre. » Les puissances de l’ordre redoutent le mélange, le mouvement, l’indistinction. Or, dans le vase clos de la quarantaine, l’individu se retrouve isolé et immobilisé sous l’œil du pouvoir.Foucault oppose cette logique d’individualisation de la surveillance, fondement des sociétés disciplinaires, à celle qui prévaut dans la gestion d’une autre épidémie, la lèpre : logique d’éloignement et d’enfermement d’un groupe pour assurer la pureté du corps social. D’un côté, le lépreux est anonymisé « dans une masse qu’il importe peu de différencier » et interdit d’entrer dans la cité ; de l’autre, le pestiféré potentiel, qui suscite l’attention des pouvoirs publics, fait l’objet d’une identification et d’une surveillance minutieuse, et a interdiction de sortir de son lieu de résidence. Les deux principes ne sont pas incompatibles : alors qu’elle interne plus d’un million d’Ouïghours en tant que groupe, la Chine développe en parallèle des technologies de contrôle individualisé dont Foucault n’aurait pas eu idée – notation des citoyens, reconnaissance faciale, algorithmes prédictifs, etc. Même en mouvement, l’individu occupe désormais une « place fixe » dans le monde numérique qui régente la société disciplinaire 2.0. Une quarantaine virtuelle et imperceptible, en quelque sorte, qui fait le bonheur des régimes autoritaires

I like the idea that the truth is in between and rejoice at the fact that life goes on as can be seen in the Gardian’s story (March 31st) of an orthodox Jewish couple who married using Zoom to share their joy! And it’s jokes very much like this is exactly what we are going to do next Wednesday for Passover

Among causes to rejoice are the outstanding efforts by Israel to circumvent the problem of lack of respiratory devices and their cooperation with the Palestinian authority which was praised by unprecedented communication from the UN SG:

Last Tuesday, the Palestine branch of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs — which is not known for its praise for Israeli government activities — published its first “emergency situation report,” noting “unprecedented cooperation on efforts aimed at containing the epidemic” between Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

Much food for thought on the beginning of a very strange month of spring…Let me just summarise my day to finish. After breakfast and the news while reading my friends posts and arranging WhatsAppero with Kate in Stockholm… on Saturday “because all the other nights are already booked”, I started working on my lessons today with a lunch break in between and even a nap considering I went to bed very late and woke up quite early this morning. I went to the Farm to collect my surprise basket of vegetables and fruit which I complemented with A substantial further shopping at Manor… by now 3/4 of the people wear a mask. I did two initially but not today, I reckon. Going to the supermarket is a very strange experience as you have to follow arrows and path’s not necessarily extremely logical. I went back just in time to giveSome further lectures and finally, had dinner with Julia, and chatted on WhatsApp with my friends over the quiz below, the answer of which you will have tomorrow.I then went applauding as usual our medical staff, Had my night chat-cap With my beloved and I’m about to read a couple of pages of my favourite Commissariò . So, despite the fact that it takes place in a much Covid 19 stricken city, still manages to totally make me forget the present….but let me share one last thought for this evening:

Personne ne veut vivre dans la république du Professeur Tournesol” said quite rightly François Sureau France Inter this morning …. What he meant is that no matter how unprecedented and incredible the situation maybe, having witnessed the varying versions from the medical authorities

Time to relax, sleep and so blow away my many kisses to my friends wherever you might be, hoping you’re safe and cosy. Don’t forget you can always share your stories as Ingrid did, I’d be pleased to start a conversation!

emoji rebus sur des titres de livres. A vos neurones.


2: 🍕🙏😍

3: 🐭🐭👨🏻

4: 🔎⏰

5: 🤢

6: 👩🏻‍🦰👩🏼🧠

7: 🙋‍♀😢

8: 🔴⚫

9: 🌺🌸🌷😈

10: 🤔🏝

11: 👴🏻🌊

12: 🤴🏻💍

13: 😢🌴

14: 🚲🔵

15: 🌌⏰

16: 🐍👊

17: 🍇😡

18: 🐜🐜🐜

19: 🗺🌎

20: 🧔🏻🥕

21: ❓🛏🟨

22: 🇮🇹👭✨

23: ❤⏰📆📆📆

24: 📞🌲🌲🌲

25: 🍫🎫🏭🎩

26: 🧙‍♀⚡

27: 👨🏻➡🦗

28: 👨🏻🖼🧟‍♂

29: 🇺🇸🤪💵🔪

30: 🤲💩

31: 💧😈

32: 👧🏻👱🏻‍♀👧🏻👩🏻‍🦰👨🏻‍⚕


35: 🌊📆

36: 🌹🔵

37: ⏱📆👩🏻

38: 👦🏿👦🏿👦🏿👦🏿👦🏿👦🏿👦🏿👦🏿👦🏿👦🏿

39: 🧔🏻✂💃🏻

40: 😊👱🏻‍♀👩🏻‍🦰👩🏻👗👛

Uni emoji rebus sur des titres de livres. A vos neurones. La réponse ici demain!

Et en attendant un petit sourire de ma classe d’élèves … à problèmes mais si mignonne !

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