Plague Diary: April

What is happening to spaces? There was applause to welcome him home. The wife or the child? And also the honking of cars that aren’t letting the ambulances past. And whoever has the same fear has the same smell. I’ve already gone hungry, he says. I don’t want to insist. Christ dressed as a doctor. I applaud my animals and they look at me: what does this idiot want? Is it possible by the crooked path to arrive at your destination? I see that the white of the wall is still white. The strongest are those that break most easily – as the eastern parables teach us. Horns and sirens competing to occupy the centre of the air. I don’t ask Google the question again. I think about the clapping at the theatre. Thinking about the four elements – earth, air, water and fire. The older brother or the younger brother? At what temperature do bodies burn? There’s a “pink” moon coming.’
‘The full moon will look 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter.’
Percentages get into everything, even brightness. You can’t always get what you want, darling. And business cannot be good like this. No machines have done away with them. I read that number again: more than ten million newly unemployed people in the United States of America. Thinking about the new distribution of the day: one hour for being afraid. But physics have no ethical contortions, no compassion walking on tip-toed so as not to wake the righteous from their sleep. The size of being Scared. It dodges, it deflects, it changes the subject. Nietzsche went crazy and banged his head against the wall to see if it would make him better. He’s dressed like a doctor, says somebody about the Christ the Redeemer, but his hands are the same. If a new Christ comes let him be a doctor, they’re asking these days. Latest balance-sheet reports that.. And really, he looks the same. Ten per cent of those they were trying to save, suddenly kaput: virus, symptom, fever – sometimes quickly a possible goodbye and death. Masks with precious stones; the price of a car. The whole century, as if it were a person, sitting mouth agape looking at Christ dressed as if the city below him were a hospital. Many refuse to wear a mask and people give them sidelong looks. Or not. Which two people will say goodbye to the dead person? Boris Johnson interrupted his meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a minute’s silence. Intermittent rain and some light. United Kingdom sees a daily record of deaths: 854 in the last 24 hours. I hope I was able to live up to you,’ wrote the director-general of health. And inside, a bag, the same name: Louis Vuitton. That’s enough, he would say. The news. An old monarchy is installed in times of emergency. ‘Authorities in the Big Apple have released more than 1,400 detainees since the beginning of March’. We cannot bear to stay home any longer. It’s not lead, or stone or sand. They say the virus can spread from the lungs to the brain. He talks clearly or semi-clearly, long pauses sometimes. The first minister becomes temporary king of a kingdom that doesn’t exist. Many wear masks and people give them sidelong looks. In spite of it all, the importance of hands. She was referring to the city’s hospitals and cemeteries. The way some children used to dress dolls. I’m told about a father who whenever he wants to cry goes out onto the balcony of his apartment so his children don’t see. The news. Close to a hospital in São Paulo there are ambulance sirens. The crosses, millions of crosses everywhere, with Christ dressed as a doctor. In a province in Ecuador, hundreds of deaths have been recorded in the first two weeks of April. I imagine Godard’s camera pointed at the TV news. The Portuguese deputy director-general of health Catarina Sena has died, aged 47, ‘the victim of a prolonged illness’. It’s like they’re seeing the wind for the first time. The Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, is at home without a drum kit. He has been to the hospital several times lately: a fall and urinary infections. And a priest in front of the coffin, also in a mask and two metres away. Imagine you’re smashing through walls with your head so you can finally see your neighbour. Now they sell masks at the traffic lights, but in some places the lights have turned green and no cars are moving. But it does not give a direct answer. Another says: I got scared. I carry a bucket of water and the weight of the water fascinates me. And they also say their legs are shaking. How can you clap for someone who isn’t a survivor? A doctor is seen as a sick person.  
Image © Hom26 A heresy in other times no doubt, but not now. Yesterday, concert: each musician in their home. In person classes in Spain not till September. The bodies burn at many degrees Fahrenheit, far higher than books. The decision. A solid tsunami. It stops being an airy invisible thing and is met with celebration. Another possible synthesis: you are alive, sometimes you get what you want. Pete Seeger with a banjo, in the sixties of the twentieth century, asking for eight hours for working, eight for play and eight for sleeping. The daily Manu Chao session: ‘Beautiful woman’
‘Yesterday you did not have faith in God’
‘Today, luckily, is not yesterday’
Sheer luck. Around him, masks on some faces. Dressing Christ as a doctor. They aren’t a relative, they want to pay tribute. Yupanqui’s voice breaks the most serious of humans into four hundred pieces. A priest (Spanish) says that many people do not understand these restrictions on funerals, but some do. What you see on a screen is not blood, it’s a colour. The sign says: I am thankful for having three balls to play with. It stares as if hypnotised. Whoever has the same fear has the same smell, whoever has the same smell has the same name, whoever has the same name has the same fear. Sometimes another person approaches.  
 
20 April
Our Lady of the Windows, yes. Even machines and algorithms have their limitations and their shame. It rains a lot and then it stops. We have never been so apart. Hands from outside the rest of the body, as if that were possible. ‘Lockdown in Ireland extended to May 5th’, what may be ‘an inconvenience for some will be life saving for others’. In Mexico, some doctors and nurses are being insulted. Everything is the possibility of a hospital. The noise of what in the middle of the tedium? Christ with overalls and a stethoscope. In a yellowish case, really elegant. They are talking about three vaccines and about the impossibility of a vaccine. ‘Coronavirus-related syndrome detected in children’. Hands remain present in the twenty-first century. The status of observer disappears. A young Asian man: I am thankful for all the sick people still being alive in Vietnam. In the United States images of a homeless man in a car park. Sure. Louis Vuitton masks, 199 dollars. A tsunami of bodies in a solid state with a total lack of air. ‘New Wuhan study has identified virus in air particles’. Godard’s line: it’s not blood, it’s red. A handwritten piece of card saying: I am thankful for fresh air, for fresh ideas. Tonight fathers and children have a good reason to go to the window: pretending that the moon still matters. Tavares
Translated by Daniel Hahn
‘Pictures from some cities in Latin America: the burning in front of the family home of the dead who are not collected by the state.’

7 April
I watch Jean-Luc Godard. And a number of doctors, nurses and support staff dead. Weight is weight, but I like it when the weight swings. Somebody phones me and says they have gone out after three weeks. A technical Christ, who studied at a school and saves with the help of machines. Public and private thanks. In the middle of the economy: a minute’s silence. And on the sofa. Isaac Bashevis Singer replied that he was writing for their shades. It is your own strength that brings you down, etc. In judo the stronger the thug the harder he crashes face-first onto the floor. The pictures are lying on top of numbers and letters. The homeless man on the street is still there and he is certain nothing’s going to get him. The collar on the neck of my shepherd Roma has turned her into a domestic tank with fur. We look up and we feel calmer, says an inhabitant of Rio de Janeiro. I breathe and think: how much time has passed in so little time. ‘She spent her life bad-mouthing cats and in the end she was adopted by one, of whom she became an accomplice.’
‘She gave me an olive tree, she cried with me and for me, she worked with me, she helped me a lot, really a lot, a perfect companion. Michael Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office. ‘it is when the lighthouse is dark between flashes’. And also, yes, also a bit of fire. Mick Jagger sings: ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. Instagram Live. A cigar between his fingers sometimes, and in his mouth almost always. Clothes in size Scared. Animal species distinguish themselves by sense of smell. He spent fifteen days in hospital. The century with its mouth agape. Tatatatatatatatatatatata. One of the rare tragedies where there is no blood. A sign around the neck of a dog with three balls in front of him. I read the news story. They talk about phantom limbs in humans: what you lose but can still feel. This is a tragedy connected to the element of air. ‘Milonga triste’ – the sad milonga. I recommend Tanizaki, in praise of shadows. The most important is sometimes the one that yields fastest. May Our Lady of the Windows allow us out, some people are praying without moving their lips. Or at the pages of the newspapers. Or one hour for being tense. Aníbal Ruão, 93. Lungs and difficulty breathing. ‘France. A daily task, when it rains: check that the water doesn’t erase the white. George Kubler once wrote: actuality ‘is when the lighthouse is dark between flashes’;
‘it is the instant between the ticks of the watch’. Everyone waiting for that empty space to get even emptier. It means things are serious. ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. ‘that is their best courage,
they are not scared of the crooked paths.’
Not being scared of crooked paths. He’s ‘a force of nature’, he says. There are villages with no people and with nobody on the streets, but even before the plague they had no people and nobody on the streets. A hierarchy of the resistance of materials that is muddled up by biology. A good synthesis. I look outside: trees, earth, white wall and shapeless stone; many shadows and two dogs. Only off the screen is blood blood. Atahualpa Yupanqui and a milonga to break even the strongest. When people talk about a tsunami in the hospitals, I say. Each person, an enemy. They are having water poured over them to clean them. I ask Google that question. Overalls and a stethoscope. For example: a page appears with the title: Effects of winter on our bodies. We ought to stop and look at that doctor Christ in Rio de Janeiro. Mick Jagger yells – and Charlie Watts, who’s an old man now, looks like a lunatic using his luggage as a drum kit. That isn’t biographical, it’s made up. Funerals have become dangerous for the living. I imagine, suddenly, in each church this Easter, many believers doing the same. One at the most. It seems to advertise a jewel, but it is a brown mask, size S. Just using their eyes. So they do not infect. ‘Tonight there’s a good reason to go to your window and look at the sky. The president of the European Commission said yesterday that older people might have to stay home until the end of the year. Because she had never been home at that time. Roma knocks into everything as if she were blind. The police move forward on horseback, wearing masks, in some Italian cities. So much time in such a small month. Photograph in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper. The camera’s eye gives up and remains still forever. Something has split in the neighbour’s world. The minor nuisance for one, the death of the other. A new species of human who looks sidelong more than they look straight ahead. All across the world, this. When he got back home, his neighbours were on their balconies. In Spain, kids are on the street, authorised by decree to leave their homes. Actuality is not a light, it’s the opposite. In Spain, children discover skateboarding – and all the speed and disequilibrium are met by feet that have been still for too long. Sick person or potential sick person. A woman with a card in front of her legs. A picture of a cathedral in New York. Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, has described the rapid spread of the virus: ‘like watching a fire going through dry grass with a strong wind’. At what point in the day can we be moved? The city is opening up two new spaces to take in those who are no longer walking or breathing. A ritual that could be repeated in the middle of every day. Imagining size S. The sidelong look at another human being has stormed into the century, and it won’t be leaving anytime soon. ‘Without a vaccine, it will be “exceedingly difficult” to hold the Olympic Games in 2021.’
British Airways expect to make more than ten-thousand jobs redundant. A man in a cowboy hat, bare-chested, tattoos everywhere. I imagine a body that is completely technical and atheist with the exception of the hands that are believers. The image of a relative beside the coffin, two metres away, in a mask. A tragedy of air. Emptied of the thing that sparks fear. The sickness overtakes the sick person, the doctor, the medical instruments, the hospital, the neighbourhood, the city and the country. Top to bottom. Size S for small or for Scared? He’s holding a card saying: I’m thankful for the free porn on the internet. Clapping, silence, and buckets of water. Masks that are silver- and gold-plated too. On one of those visits they detected Covid-19. They’re asking for a medicine or a vaccine. A movement: people being thankful. He survived, he came back. ‘A man broke the staying-home ban and went off after his ex-wife.’
In the north of Portugal, another man kneels on the street as Christ’s cross passes by in the hands of a priest. The S on clothing has stopped meaning Small and started being Scared. I am thankful for my vagina. He is not on a ventilator, according to the newspaper reports. A question: do you know all the shadows in your house? I applaud because it’s beautiful, I applaud because it’s powerful, I applaud because it made me think, I applaud because you survived. Sanders endorses Biden for the White House. In a month a thousand years or more. They asked him why he still wrote in Yiddish. In Brazil, an artist says she has found shadows in her house that she’d never seen before. I’m sorry about the nuisance, but I would rather remain alive. It seems a benign weight; a weight that is kind-hearted. His children think he’s going to get some air. The sick are stopped, waiting, in the middle of this political traffic. He plays with drumsticks on suitcases he has in front of him. Few times are as current and actual as this is now. Can you walk in a straight line to the wrong place? Yes. In Spain a maximum of two people can attend a funeral. Maybe the father doesn’t know that the children also go out onto the balcony to cry so their father doesn’t see. There’s no space for the living or for the dead, said the mayor of the city of Guayaquil, Cynthia Viteri, some days ago. With animals it’s the opposite: the funnel around the head hasn’t yet entered the body. Interview on BBC radio, about the hospitalisation of the British prime minister.  
 
28 April
We must applaud animals, yesterday’s diary. Hard to understand a tragedy without blood. ‘Gatherings of more than ten people banned in France.’
Before, when cars stopped at the traffic lights, there would be people selling sweets and water on the streets of Latin America. But no conclusions as to whether the air can cause infections. Plague Diary: April
Gonçalo M. They say they’re going to get some air. Spoiled by Quarantino, Tarantino, Quarentino:
blood that is redder than the reddest possible. There is no third option.  
13 April
In Brazil, Christ the Redeemer dressed as a doctor. .’
New York, New York. As if obeying orders from the outside. ‘Crooked go great men and rivers,
Crooked, but to their destination’. Everybody who could read in that language had been killed in the death camps. They have been brave. He talks about the ‘zest for life’ that Boris Johnson has, whether ‘on the tennis court’ or ‘in government’. But this plague has no blood. Interrupting the economy with a minute’s silence. A tsunami of solids that want to breathe. Aesthetic applause and applause for somebody who survives. I miss you incalculably. Number of dead in Africa rises and there is talk of a possible ‘baby boom’. Pictures from some cities in Latin America: the burning in front of the family home of the dead who are not collected by the state. It’s not a tsunami of water, of course, but of sick bodies. And your head. Whoever loses their sense of smell loses their family.