This is the internet weblog of Bix Frankonis.

The Other Side Of Now

Catching up on my very few podcasts, Monday’s edition of Social Distance from James Hamblin and Katherine Wells—“Will the Restaurants Come Back?”—is a conversation with fellow Atlantic writer Derek Thompson, who recently argued a fairly pessimistic answer to that question.

Near the end of the discussion, Wells took issue with something Thompson wrote about the nature of time during the pandemic.

Because the pandemic pauses the present, it forces us to live in the future. The question I asked myself walking east through D.C. is the question so many Americans are all pondering today: Who will emerge intact from the pandemic purgatory, and who will not?

Wells explained that she at first thought this had to be an error. “I keep thinking that the pandemic obliterates the future,” she countered, “so I’ve had the experience of only being able to live in the present”.

I feel like Wells’ experience likely is more reflective of that of most people, while Thompson’s view might be more reflective of culture writers, who by the nature of their jobs pretty much must examine the present through filters both past and future.

(This is nothing against Wells’ own output, which is more pop cultural versus Thompson’s… cultural context?)

Certainly for me, all this flattening of the curve mostly also has flattened time itself, and that’s speaking as someone whose days didn’t vary overly much even before the pandemic. Are most people really thinking that much about the future beyond grocery needs or the potential for another federal stimulus check?

All the missiles intercepting missiles meet
All the broken republics breakdown
All the centuries of cities crash
I’ll meet you on the other side of now
I see you on the other side of now
I want you on the other side of now

—Nina Hynes, “The Other Side of Now”

This post originally was published 2 years ago by Bix Frankonis on Posts older than a decade might not reflect my current views.