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Sun Mar 29, 2020, 12:00 PM

Covid-19: Our Modern Masque of the Red Death

(Mike Carlson is an American, now dual British citizen, who commentates on (American) football here, but is also a writer on various cultural aspects - he writes obituaries for The Guardian on film and American sports).

In Edgar Allan Poe’s story ‘The Masque Of The Red Death’, the land ruled over by Prince Prospero has lost a full half its population to a plague known as the Red Death. So Prospero chooses a thousand of his closest friends, and holes up in one of his ‘castellated abbeys’, the doors welded shut to keep the virus, and those who might spread it, out. Within, as Poe explains, “The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine.” It was, in other words, a veritable Mar-A-Lago.

It was his own guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders. Be sure they were grotesque. There were much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm…There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions. There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust.

Look at the photos of Trump, America’s own Prince Prosperous (‘the strongest economy ever’) signing the Coronavirus relief bill, surrounded by his courtiers in the Oval Office. Watch every press briefing, where Trump lines up the acolytes to applaud his words, pass on the credit, and take the blame. Track his moving from calling the Coronavirus a hoax to claiming no one but he had recognised it as the serious threat it was, then explaining of course a threat which would disappear by Easter, when Trump would raise America from the nearly dead. Watch the lackeys nod sagely. Watch the press take notes. Watch the masque continue.

With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think.

“The external world could take care of itself”. For Donald Trump, it wasn’t just the rest of the world, but even parts of America itself that was to be left on its own. Dr. Deborah Birx, ‘response coordinator’ for Trump’s Corona task force headed by Vice President Mike Pence, announced happily that there was “an extraordinarily low number” of infections in 18 of the 50 US States. Nearly 40% of country, she said, was basically Corona-free. Of course the idea that 18 mostly rural states with only 7.3% of the nation’s population amounted ted to one-fifth of the country is exactly the reason the US Senate, with two Senators per state, is such a mess.
...
Meanwhile, the ‘Britain Trump’, as Trump called Boris Johnson, tested positive for the coronavirus exactly two weeks after he explained how 60% of the nation needed to contract Covid-19 in order to provide ‘herd immunity,’ a theory that seemed drawn more from eugenics than epidemiology. Johnson might simply have been challenging the beloved British sense of irony. Isolating and distancing, already in place in other countries hit by the virus, were actively discouraged. When scientists pointed out that 60% infection suggested a death toll in the hundreds of thousands, Johnson’s top advisor, Dominic Cummings, was quoted by his fellow guests at a dinner party as saying “and if some pensioners die, too bad”. Johnson himself boasted of visiting hospitals and shaking hands with everyone he met, hands being the prime transmission device for the virus. It was as if he were celebrating an immune status conveyed by being ensconced in Number Ten Downing Street. All Johnson lacked was Prospero’s sense of pomp and circumstance.
...
And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

https://medium.com/%40Carlsonsports/covid-19-america-britain-and-poes-masque-of-the-red-death-c58dfe06cef6

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Reply Covid-19: Our Modern Masque of the Red Death (Original post)
muriel_volestrangler Mar 29 OP
bronxiteforever Mar 29 #1
RockRaven Mar 29 #2
Zoonart Mar 29 #3

Response to muriel_volestrangler (Original post)

Sun Mar 29, 2020, 12:04 PM

1. Kick and recommend. Brilliant.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Original post)

Sun Mar 29, 2020, 12:15 PM

2. The Masque of the Orange Death

A week or so ago someone started a thread asking people to offer names for the time we are living through, and that was my reply.

For anyone who wants to read the original story in full, it is just a few pages long, and well worth the time. There are many ways to access it, but here is one:
http://www.online-literature.com/poe/36/

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Original post)

Sun Mar 29, 2020, 12:21 PM

3. Phantom and Prospeo



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