Lots of artists from Arundhati Roy to Nick Cave reflect on the Covid 19 pandemic. They may be hibernating in their homes but their minds and hearts are still at work, trying to make sense of the world that’s quickly transforming right before our very eyes.
The pandemic has turned our lives upside down in such a brief moment and now, all of a sudden, we don’t know what to do with our futures. Everyone from around the world is affected by it, no exemptions…and our 2020 plan are thrown out the window, or so it seems. In difficult times, we usually turn to artists and poets for their unique way of seeing the world so we can process what’s happening outside us and inside us.
Here are some thoughts from some of the most well-respected musicians and novelists on the importance of introspection, especially by artists during the pandemic:
Arundhati Roy: ‘The pandemic is a portal’
The novelist on how coronavirus threatens India — and what the country, and the world, should do next.
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
Margaret Atwood: It’s the Best of Times, It’s the Worst of Times. Make the Most of It
Atwood, the author of more than 50 books including The Handmaid’s Tale, talks about hope and how we can help in our own little ways.
“We’re in midair, hoping we make it to the other side, where life will have returned to what we think of as normal. So what should we do while we’re up there, between now and then?
Think of all the things you hope will still be there in that castle of the future when we get across. Then do what you can, now, to ensure the future existence of those things.”
Nick Cave: What are your plans for the corona pandemic? What do you intend to do to fill the time?
The legendary Aussie rock singer talks about the pandemic blues and creativity in the time of pandemic.
“As an artist, it feels inapt to miss this extraordinary moment. Suddenly, the acts of writing a novel, or a screenplay or a series of songs seem like indulgences from a bygone era. For me, this is not a time to be buried in the business of creating. It is a time to take a backseat and use this opportunity to reflect on exactly what our function is — what we, as artists, are for.
Saskia, there are other forms of engagement, open to us all. An email to a distant friend, a phone call to a parent or sibling, a kind word to a neighbour, a prayer for those working on the front lines. These simple gestures can bind the world together — throwing threads of love here and there, ultimately connecting us all — so that when we do emerge from this moment we are unified by compassion, humility and a greater dignity. Perhaps, we will also see the world through different eyes, with an awakened reverence for the wondrous thing that it is. This could, indeed, be the truest creative work of all.”
DAVID BYRNE: The World Is Changing — So Can We
“What is happening now is an opportunity to learn how to change our behavior. For many of us, our belief in the value of the collective good has eroded in recent decades. But in an emergency that can change quickly. During the Great Depression, new policies to protect the public were introduced. It was accepted that these were necessary to stabilize society and get life back on track.
In emergencies, citizens can suddenly cooperate and collaborate. Change can happen. We’re going to need to work together as the effects of climate change ramp up. In order for capitalism to survive in any form, we will have to be a little more socialist. Here is an opportunity for us to see things differently — to see that we really are all connected — and adjust our behavior accordingly. “
This is truly a time to reflect and assess how we do things given how interconnected and fragile we all are in this planet. It’s also a great time to think of our roles here on earth– as artists, entrepreneurs, mothers, fathers, neighbours, friends. In the past decade, we were all just rising to the top. This is probably a good year to plot for the new decade ahead.
I hope you’re all doing well in your homes. Stay strong and let us learn to let go and trust this slow process. Don’t lose hope, that’s all we got for now.
Do you know links of other artists that reflect on COVID?
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.