translated from original Spanish article to English by: Monica Pucciarelli

In times of social isolation, where the will to build consensus collides with the stupidity of the reckless who go through the lining of any preventive measure, in times where we ask for a state of siege, where fear provokes the vigilance of the neighbor, the denunciation of the Another, in times where a good part of television channels expose mediocrity and creative lack as never before, a novel returns to my memory; the story that shocked that kid in his twenties and would do it again in his adulthood, a few days ago, when I reread it to compose this article.

“There have been as many plagues in the world as there are wars, and yet plagues and wars take people always unprepared.”

In “The Plague”  Albert Camus directs us to a reading of anguish, despair …

“When a war breaks out, people say to themselves,” This can’t last, it’s too stupid. “And certainly a war is obviously too stupid, but that doesn’t stop it from lasting. Stupidity always insists, one would realize it if he did not always think of himself. Our fellow citizens in this regard were like everyone else; they thought of themselves; In other words, they were humanity: they did not believe in plagues.

”Bright, foreign, fair, fallen, possessed, tubercular Camus. Camus, the misunderstood. Camus, the rebellious man. Camus, the first Camusian.

“The plague is not tailored to man, therefore man says that the plague is unreal, it is a bad dream that has to happen. But it doesn’t always pass, and from bad dream to bad dream it is men who pass. ”

After the father’s death in the First Great War, Albert Camus and his mother move to Algiers. She is illiterate, cleaning factories, houses and sheds to give the child little more than hardship and misery. No cause, even if it is innocent and just, Camus will say later, will never separate me from my mother, who is the most important cause. On another occasion, he tells her that he has been invited to the Elíseo Palace, the official residence of the President of the Republic; she, a simple woman but with a clear sense of dignity, suggests that he not go: “It is not a place for us, son.” Camus will never step on the Elysium.“

Our fellow citizens were no more guilty than others, they forgot to be modest, that’s all, and they thought that everything was still possible for them, which assumed that plagues were impossible. They continued to do business, plan trips, and have opinions. How could they have thought of a plague that suppresses the future, displacement and discussions? They believed themselves free and no one will be free as long as there are plagues. ”

The society of money and exploitation has never been in charge, Camus wrote, that freedom and justice reign.

“The speculation had begun to intervene and only the basic necessities that were lacking in the ordinary market were obtained at fabulous prices. Poor families were thus in a very difficult situation, while rich families lacked almost nothing. Although the plague, due to the efficient impartiality that he used in his ministry, should have affirmed the sense of equality in our fellow citizens, the natural game of selfishness, on the contrary, made the feeling of injustice more grave in the hearts of men. There was, of course, the irreproachable truth of death, but that nobody wanted.

In Camus’ account, people are determined to work as twins to save each other. In an epidemic the most important thing does not depend, for the narrator of La Peste, on a divine intention, but on the will of men and women. His vision of the world differs from that of Father Paneloux, who has shouted in his sermon that God punishes and man, while suffering, awaits the miracle of the end of the epidemic. Dr. Rieux is bothered by both the idea of collective punishment and the certainty that the priest has purported to speak in the name of divine truth; Rieux thinks (like Camus) that God does not exist, because if so, priests would not be necessary.

“I just proposed to Paneloux to join us,” said Tarrou.

-And? Asked the doctor.

‘You have reflected and said yes.

“I’m glad,” said the doctor. I’m glad to see that it’s better than your sermon.

“Everyone is like that,” said Tarrou. It is only necessary to give them the opportunity.

He smiled and winked at Rieux.

—That is my mission in life: to give occasions. ”

The disease begins to subside and with it the numbers of agony. The horrible sight of the first dying rats appears very, very far away.

“Everyone was screaming or laughing. The provisions of life that they had made during those months in which each one had his soul awake, were spent on this day that was like the day of his survival. Tomorrow life would begin as it is, with its worries. For the time being, people from more diverse backgrounds were rubbing shoulders and fraternizing. ”

In a diverse way, social isolation impacts the psychology of those who experience it; But insomnia, anxiety, and becoming more irritable, among other things, are far from the consequences that, sooner or later, will be suffered by health professionals and others who battle in the front rows. In Camus’s novel, the inhabitants of Oran celebrate a definitive victory, but the narrator is in charge of clarifying that the triumph is apparent. The bacillus of the plague continues and will remain dormant until it awakes again.

I close The Plague and hide it in the library. I have come out of a fiction novel to step onto a reality which is way too similar. I hear my neighbor’s footsteps hitting the stairs. They say that the pandemic could modify some things, or many; that it has come to change us. We will see what happens, although it is true that among the symptoms of the coronavirus appears a very striking one: the most stubborn technocratic liberals, those attentive defenders of private medicine, now beg the “State” for the most urgent sanitary measures and, in addition, tables of salvation for the economy. They say that the virus has been able to turn the passionate “neoliberals” of the day before yesterday into the “social communists” of today.

Ariel Garcia
Audiovisual producer/Argentina MagazineArticulosalbert Camus,articulos,coronavirus,news virus,noticias fotografiatranslated from original Spanish article to English by: Monica Pucciarelli In times of social isolation, where the will to build consensus collides with the stupidity of the reckless who go through the lining of any preventive measure, in times where we ask for a state of siege, where fear provokes the...El Blog de los Fotografos y los Videografos