Michaeline: Witness

You may already be journaling or writing daily, even through the daily crises and tribulations of 2020/2021. If so, good for you. Keep doing the good work!

If not, you might consider spending just 10 minutes today witnessing the world around you, and writing it down for posterity.

A lot of the best things I read in 2020 were the result of witnesses who saw, and told, the story of a time of trouble.

A woman in a dark room writing with feather quill and ink. She has a shawl around her shoulders, and a velvet slouchy beret.
Writing in times of darkness. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Daniel Defoe’s uncle lived through the Great Plague of London in 1655, and kept journals. Wikipedia says Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year was probably based on those journals; Defoe himself was only five years old at the time. Defoe, although late to the scene, basically did New Journalism more than 300 years before the term was applied to journalists in the 60s (https://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/money/a20703846/tom-wolfe-new-jounalism-american-novel-essay/). Defoe’s book was published in 1722, and is very readable and relatable today. I talked about it here.

On the lighter side of things, Giovanni Boccacchio wrote The Decameron (sometimes subtitled The Human Comedy) and recorded stories and the lyrics of Italian folk songs. The framing story is set during the Black Death, and the book as a whole was probably completed by 1353, according to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Decameron. Wikipedia also said “it provided a document of life at the time” and inspired other authors, such as Chaucer. I reviewed it here.

So, here we are, today, January 9, 2021. It’s the day between David Bowie’s birthday and his deathday, and I’ve been listening to “This is Not America” and other songs that have popped up in my Twitter timeline and YouTube suggestions. I also recommend his cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America,” especially the 2002 performance for the Concert for New York City.

David Bowie’s performance of his song featured in the 1985 movie, The Falcon and the Snowman about accidental spies.

Worldwide today, Google reports that there have been 88.8 million cases of COVID-19 (the coronavirus that swept the world from the very end of 2019 and continues to rage now). One point nine million have died. In 2017, the World Health Organization reported that about 650,000 people world-wide die of “respiratory diseases linked to seasonal flu each year.”

My nephew had it, but seems full recovered with no problems. Three of the children of my great-great-aunt had it, and are back home now, but my great-great-aunt died on January 2. Maybe not of it. I’m not sure if they’ve told her twin yet. They were born in 1926, and they don’t want to shock her.

The top headlines of the news:

The Japan Times: Facebook and Twitter crackdown around U.S. Capitol Siege is too little, too late. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/01/09/world/politics-diplomacy-world/facebook-twitter-crackdown-trump/

The Mainichi Shimbun (English): Japan to require all people entering country to submit COVID-19 test. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210109/p2g/00m/0na/023000c

Reuters.com (international): Twitter permanently suspends Trump’s Twitter account, cites ‘incitement of violence’ risk. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-twitter/twitter-permanently-suspends-trumps-account-cites-incitement-of-violence-risk-idUSKBN29D355

Associated Press: Twitter bans Trump, citing risk of violent incitement. https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-donald-trump-media-michael-flynn-social-media-f41b11060d7703e3a3136ddb5eefa055

AP Twitter: Twitter bans Trump, citing risk of violent incitement. Photograph of vandals scaling the walls of the Capitol, and others standing on the balcony. They wave Trump 2020 flags and there is an American flag as well. Some seem to be wearing tactical gear.

Oh, yeah, on January 6, the day the US Congress was supposed to officially count electoral votes and recognize Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the president- and vice-president-elect. Lame duck President Donald Trump, after two months of falsely claiming that election results were fraudulent and that he won, held the Save America rally on The Ellipse, a park south of the White House, and invited the protestors to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” and “give support” to the “our Republicans, the weak ones” to continue the fight to overthrow the election results. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55575260 (BBC and other reporting.)

Around 2 p.m., protestors “breached the Capitol” (https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2021-capitol-breach/ paywall, but at least one free article) and began vandalizing. I saw on Twitter lots of short clips of the violence and destruction.

Three different angles of a woman trying to climb in a shattered sidelight window, and then being shot. A door engraved with “Murder the Media.”

A smug fuck sitting at Nancy Pelosi’s desk, who later bragged about stealing an envelope, and leaving a quarter and a note for it . . . he said he got blood on it, and didn’t want to leave it there.

Funny rednecks and hicks, whooping it up in the halls, and cops seeming to wave them in.

The shaman guy with the very handsome two-tailed hat who seemed to be LARPing instead of invading. Some guy with a sad example of a home-made fox-head hat. (Taxidermy is not a hobby you pick up in a week.)

A scary guy with gloves and covered face, carrying zipties that Tweeters assured us were meant for restraining police prisoners.

The gallows. I didn’t see that until the next day.

I heard violence erupted at many statehouses, too.

One interesting thing is that while the situation was still unsettled, the Japanese NHK evening news on January 6 did not mention the troubles in America. They stayed strictly focused on the shut downs and COVID situation in Japan . . . which seems logical, except . . . . They had covered COVID shutdowns very completely the day before, and there was little new news, and the next day when the dust had settled and the shards of glass had been swept up, they were happy to devote time to it.

I do not know what to make of that.

I hope that’s it. I hope that’s the peak of unrest in my homeland (because it was certainly something to attack a historical building while its inhabitants were at work, and I might add, three of those inhabitants were the first, second and third people in line for succeeding the president should something go wrong). I hope it scared the people who were merely playing at insurrection (I used the phrase LARPing – live action role-playing – to describe this, and then found out the vandals themselves also describe themselves as LARPing, so I’m very shaken about my choice of words). I hope they go straight, and the rest of government and law enforcement act to preserve and maintain democracy, the way it’s supposed to.

(I found this today: Mitch Prothero’s tweet thread contains the alarming thought of Europe and others sanctioning the US if the coup had prevailed. Link to Business Insider article.)

One tweet I read led to a link of a European official saying it would be a nightmare having to put sanctions on the US if this autogolpe, this self-coup, had succeeded. Yeah, some people can only hear when it’s put in terms of capitalism and bottom line. But it’s true. It would have been a nightmare if they had succeeded in overturning the established process. A nightmare indeed.

Witness. Later you may need to tell the story.

Bowie performs live at the The Concert for New York City, October 20, 2001 at Madison Square Garden after the 9/11 disaster. A cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America.”

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