Theory in the time of covid19


Probably the only thing worse than being a close talker during the covid19 epidemic, is being a theorist.

The only way to recover is being a meta-theorist, . Welcome to my binge commentary on all the articles in Identity Journal, since it is the only thing in my browser when my internet went down.

Now we continue with Wark’s Theory in a Pandemic. Should we feel bad about theorizing covid19? After all, if we are theorizing then we are not sick, we are not treating covid, nor are we unemployed and starving. We, who are theorizing, are privileged. This is neither good nor bad it is a state of affairs that allow us to theorize.

What is the purpose of this theorizing. For some people it is to buttress their ideologies. But I read Wark as saying Be Speculative! Do not use covid19 as proof for a point of view but an opportunity event – a completely new thing. It is a rupture, in a good way, like when you pop a zit and all the puss comes out and you do not get staph infection (because it is the time of covid19 and you will surely die if this were to happen).

Why do theory in a crises? The answer is not necessarily action, praxis. Even Wark backs away from this, although he does acknowledge there is something action related to theory in a time of crises.

What I believe the call to action is techne. to act – or really to CREATE- poesis. I bet you thought I was going to say techne, well I almost did. But really we need poetry. We need the space of imagination and making to understand how to co-create this world and use our conceptual apparatus created in theorizing to create space for praxis in the world. Even if the theorists are not doing the praxis.

We have the movement from theoria to poesis to praxis, or from theory to poetry/world building to action.

We do not do theory to know, like to know how to cure covid19. We do theory to create new categories to make knowing, acting, building, etc possible. We do theory to understand how to world during the epidemic, and how to world after the epidemic.

One of the questions I have been asking is what sort of world do we want to build when this pandemic is over. But perhaps that is the wrong question. Time does not stop.Life does not stop. And perhaps the pandemic will never be over, just like AIDS and cancer were never cured, and the war on drugs was never won. How do we world with pandemic?

What do our bodies feel like, how do we touch other bodies, what do our minds feel like, what do our emotions feel like, what is it like to be separated from something (a disease) that is nothing but physical for those who encounter it?  The pandemic event is upon us. It is now up to the theorists to create the concepts and spaces that constitute this new world. Then we can all act in it. 

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