The most interesting passage in Slavoj Žižek's new and short book Pandemic! opens the 9th chapter, "Is Barbarism With a Human Face Our Fate?" In this context, "barbarism" has a meaning that's close to my definition of "necro-economics." It is the point at which some form of rationalization eclipses the essential irrationality of life. But I will address this matter of barbarism—and communism (and what I call "momunism")—in a post devoted to the new book by the famous Slovenian philosopher.
What I want discuss here is my nightmares, which have increased and intensified during the lockdown. I would have kept the matter to myself had I not learned that Žižek enters evening, enters bed, and waits in the dark with the exact same anxiety that I have.
A clear sign of my growing anxiety is how I relate to sleep. Up until a week ago I was eagerly awaiting the end of the evening when I could escape into sleep and forget about the fears of daily life. Now it's almost the opposite: I am afraid to fall asleep since nightmares haunt me and I find myself awoken in a panic. The nightmares are about the reality that awaits me.
The kind of sleep that I want these days is dreamless. I wake up usually around 5 am, the light is growing in the window, and I experience the strangest kind of relief: I did not dream. I can now drink coffee and read a book without fear of being troubled by sudden recollections of the terrible events that unfolded while I slept. But if I do dream, it always ends with the death of someone I love (often one who is already dead, and so I have to go through their death again) or the annihilation of myself.
Two mornings ago, I was in a car driven by a nightmare regular, a suicidal friend (he is East African and blasts the music of Lee Morgan on a cassette player). He drives a fast 1969 Plymouth Road Runner convertible.
This, but green...
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— #VideoGames (@VideoGamesFeeds) February 7, 2020
As always, I'm not a man but in the body of a woman. I wear a red dress, and an orange scarf covers my hair and frames my face. As always, he suddenly turns from the freeway and drives over a cliff high above the endless Pacific Ocean.
Why did he do this? Why am I even in his devil of a car? As we fall (the clouds, the horizon, the waves dashing rocks), I think: I'm going to be dead any moment now.
And at the moment of death, I open my eyes. I'm still alive. The birds outside are making a point of being alive. But almost 100,000 Americans are dead today.
The shock the US is experiencing is at the root of my new nightly cycle of extinction dreams. How can a society that's so rich be so impoverished? In fact, what is the use of all this money (trillions upon trillions) if it can't save American lives? Why go to work? Why pay bills? Why participate in the reopening of the economy? Getting a haircut now—why? Each corpse added to the ever-rising death count diminishes the value of money, or of being "the greatest country in the world."