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The Gift of Corona

2,331 wordsShuttered windows.

I arrived at the gym the other night at 7:50 p.m. only to be told: “By the way, we’re closing in ten minutes.” The governor had ordered all gyms to close at 8:00 that night and to remain closed until further notice. I was the last guy to hear, apparently. This was the climax in a series of events that led to my finally recognizing the gift of Corona.

I had been in a state of denial for a couple of weeks. I am still not convinced that the whole thing isn’t being massively overblown (as I argued here.) But I had thought I might be able to get through this crisis, as I had many other national crises, without being personally inconvenienced. The first clue that I was wrong came when I made the mistake of looking at my stock portfolio. Ouch. Then there was the trip to the grocery store, where half the shelves were empty. No meat, no milk, no eggs, practically no frozen dinners. And, of course, no toilet paper.

Then the conferences I was planning to attend in the next couple of months got canceled. The release of the new James Bond film was delayed until November (not a great disappointment, as I was awaiting this film with some trepidation; the rumor is that it’s “woke”). Then my workplace shut down, and I’m now working from home. My travel plans to Europe are on hold, due to Trump’s ban. My accountant called the other day saying he’s refusing to meet with anyone; I have to fax him all my tax stuff, or deliver it to his office. All the restaurants and bars have closed, and there’s talk the subways and busses could be shut down.

Nevertheless, through it all, I had taken consolation in the thought that I could still go to the gym and work out. I had planned to take hand sanitizer with me (yes, I have some — and I will entertain all reasonable offers). I also considered wearing latex gloves under my weightlifting gloves and wiping down all the equipment with disinfectant napkins (which the gym provides). Yes, I was willing to risk catching the Coronavirus by going to the gym four or five nights a week. Staying healthy is a priority. But a bigger priority is not losing my gains.

And so when I was turned away from the gym that night, I left in a kind of daze. The prospect of not being able to set foot there, conceivably for weeks or months, was a major downer. Yet as I drove home in silence (I didn’t even feel like turning on the radio), the airhead at the desk who had sent me away started to seem like an angel dispatched by the Almighty to deliver the message I needed to hear: You can’t control this. Your life is going to be affected, perhaps radically. You are facing the great unknown, and you have no idea what the future will bring.

Cover of Jef Costello's book, Heidegger in Chicago.

You can buy Jef Costello’s Heidegger in Chicago here

Now, this goes entirely against the grain for me. I like to be in control — and I mean in control of everything. I like my routine, and I do not like surprises. For decades now, I have begun each year with an elaborate plan for improving my life. It has never been an exercise in futility; I did not keep doing this year after year because I failed to keep my promises to myself. In fact, I accomplish the majority of my goals and resolutions. The ones I don’t accomplish “come forward” (as my accountant likes to say) to the next year. This became a kind of addiction: the prospect of not having a “life plan” felt like that scene in Fight Club where Tyler takes his hands off the steering wheel and allows the car to cross into oncoming traffic, then over a barricade and into a ravine. So, despite having promised my readers I was swearing off “life planning” here, I continued.

For 2020, I pulled out all the stops. I resolved to make major changes in my life: breaking bad habits, writing more than ever, reading more, gaining more muscle than I’ve ever gained, thoroughly cleaning and re-arranging my apartment, etc. Everything was going swimmingly until a couple of weeks ago. “A couple of weeks ago.” My, how strange that sounds. For it feels like months, maybe years. Everything has changed dramatically in that short time, and nothing may ever be the same again. I sure as hell picked the wrong year to give up drinking. Yes, that actually was one of my resolutions, which I managed to keep until the real Corona hysteria set in two weeks ago and I felt my anxiety level rising to previously unscaled heights.

But another of my habits (one of the better ones) is a radical commitment to making lemonade out of lemons. This is coupled with a deep but admittedly irrational commitment to something like Providence. In other words, I am predisposed to think that things are happening for some reason or purpose, and that apparent crises or calamities may be opportunities dropped deliberately into my lap (by whom or what I do not know). I have a tendency to believe in “signs” and not to believe that there are such things as coincidences. So, on that melancholy drive home after being turned away at the gym, I began to ask myself what opportunities this Corona calamity might present for me. Was there an opportunity here for growth? Should I surrender to this situation and to the fact that I had no control over it? Should I take my hands off the steering wheel?

Arriving home, I mixed myself a Skinny Bitch (my favorite drink) and settled in to watch Tucker Carlson’s coverage of Coronavirus. Boy, was I in for it. Gloom, despair, and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery. Under normal circumstances, a major black pill. But as I watched and as I drank (sipping slowly) I became strangely exhilarated. All hell really seems to be breaking loose. But it’s kind of exciting, isn’t it? As Greg Johnson has argued, Coronavirus is going to change the world. Could this be the end of globalism and open borders? Could Corona usher in a new era of nationalism, protectionism, and xenophobia? The prospect is thrilling.

Not so thrilling is what Corona could do to me personally. It could wipe out my retirement money. It could seriously affect the industry I work in, and possibly put me out of a job. It could kill my beloved landlady (who is in one of the high-risk groups) and render me homeless. It could kill friends and family. And, lastly, it could kill me — though I’m not too worried about that, since I’m relatively young and healthy. For the first time in my cushy and privileged life, I am facing an uncertain and possibly grim future. I’ve never had it this bad. Everything I’ve ever counted on seems like it may be unraveling. Still, I am excited.

As Duke Leto says to Paul in Dune,  “A person needs new experiences. They jar something deep inside, allowing him to grow. Without change, something sleeps inside us and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” It looks like I needed a killer virus to wake me up to the fact that I’m bored with my routine and with my complex plans for improving my life. The future does frighten me, but suddenly I feel more alive.

I’ve always had a good bit of difficulty justifying the having of “fun.” If it doesn’t somehow serve some important purpose, you’re not likely to convince me it’s a good use of my time. Yet suddenly now I find myself taking more pleasure in little things, like how food tastes. I haven’t actually sat down and just watched a movie for pleasure in a long time. Now I want to use my time in Corona isolation to do precisely that. I find myself thinking more about my friends, and appreciating them more. I want to get in touch with people I haven’t talked to in a long time. I think about the older folks I know, and worry about them. Oddly, I also feel cheerful. When out stocking up on groceries and toilet paper, I’ve been friendlier to people, smiling at them from behind my surgical mask. The mild depression I had been experiencing for several weeks seems to have abated. It was brought on by a few minor bad things that were just getting me down. I guess it took something really bad to snap me out of it. I am an odd duck, there is no question about it.

“Social distancing” isn’t that much of a problem for me; I’ve been practicing it for years. In fact, I could teach a master class on social distancing (though I would have to teach it remotely). You see, I don’t need that much of a social life, and I don’t mind staying home. Nevertheless, the idea that I must stay home rankles me. And now that the threat of Corona seems to have made me feel more alive, suddenly I’m itching to get out. Oddly enough, I want to go to the beach on a sunny day. This is very much out of character for me, and it’s still too cold here to go to the beach. I can now understand why some people in the Middle Ages responded to the Black Death by going on multi-day benders. When facing death, life tastes a lot sweeter. But you may rest assured that I am far too prudent to act on these impulses: for the foreseeable future, I am staying home, alone.

A part of me very different from the part that wants to go to the beach keeps saying “turn inward, turn inward”: use this isolation as a time for introspection and self-development. One of my new year’s resolutions was to “devote as much time and effort to the care of my soul as I do to the care of my body.” And with the gift of Corona, I can do that. My commute time has been completely eliminated. I can, therefore, do both a morning and an evening meditation. I can finally go through and practice all the spiritual exercises in Evola’s Introduction to Magic. Perhaps I’ll even have time for the exercises in Mastering Astral Projection, which I bought in 2018 and still haven’t read. I may be astrally visiting you in the wee hours, at some point in the near future. Perhaps you should do some tidying up.

Cover of Jef Costello's book, The Importance of James Bond.

You can buy Jef Costello’s The Importance of James Bond here

I can use Corona isolation to return to things I have neglected in life, and even to work on some of my other ambitious resolutions. I can get to work on cleaning my apartment, for example, and get back to studying Old Norse. The closure of my gym is still bothering me, but I can work out at home. I’ve got some dumbbells and kettlebells. I’ve got P90X, Rushfit, You Are Your Own Gym, etc. I used to do bodyweight exercises: pushups, situps, pullups. I can go back to all that. Maybe I won’t lose my gains (“just do more reps,” a friend full of bro wisdom advised me). But why think small? Maybe I could use this as an opportunity to get in even better shape. I could do a.m. cardio workouts and p.m. weight workouts. I could finally go through the program in that book that’s been gathering dust on my shelf for years, 7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups.

Now, don’t misunderstand me: I am by no means making light of the present crisis. I am well aware that I am one of the luckier ones. I am not in one of the high-risk groups, and I know there are many people with far more to worry about than shuttered gyms and ruined European vacation plans. Nevertheless, I have to confront this crisis from my own position in life, as the kind of person I am, for better or worse. And I have to find some way to deal with it and all the inconveniences, uncertainties, and fears that it produces. My way is to use it as an opportunity for personal growth — for self-overcoming.

For the last year or so, I thought about writing an essay called “Anarchy with Full Benefits.” I love the title, and the essay itself would have been a discussion of my desire to see the present system collapse, but without being personally inconvenienced when it does. It’s not an attitude I can defend rationally, but I also think that it is quite natural. I know I cannot have anarchy with full benefits. I know that if what we have all hoped for actually came to pass, it would mean the radical upheaval of every area of life, and every single person, myself included, would be dramatically affected. Over the years I have entertained many scenarios for how the globalist, multi-culturalist, open borders, PC hegemony might be mortally wounded. I just never thought a virus might do it. Then again, as I discussed in my last essay, history teaches us that often completely unexpected events are the ones that prove decisive for change.

But what would I do if the unthinkable happened? If I got sick or my friends started getting sick and dying? If I lost everything? If our society collapsed into lawlessness? Could I cope with this, or would I lose my grip? I haven’t a clue. But I may very well find out. I honestly don’t want to find out — but, on the other hand, never being tested isn’t a good thing either. And I know that that strange exhilaration I am feeling lately must be some deeper part of myself welcoming this terrible uncertainty — and both the political and personal opportunities it brings.

 

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13 Comments

  1. Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    Excellant Essay…I must get your book…..

  2. Hippocrates
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    Part 4 and conclusion of COVID-19 essay, if you haven’t read it already:

    https://www.culturecritique.com/environment-health/covid-19-part-4-conclusion/

  3. Voryn Illidari
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    As always Jef, you put forth a very accessible and very relatable (and always interesting) take on things. Good luck on sticking to those goals!

  4. Utgard Loki
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    How old is Jeff I wonder? You could give an approximate age of course if worried about divulging identifying info.

    An orthopedic surgeon once warned me not to do more than twenty pushups at a time. The reason is that as you tire you lose proprioception(the nerves that let you sense the relative positions of your body parts) and this contributes to arthritis. If you doubt the reality of this, just look at what happens to diabetics’ feet. Same process. I break it up into sets of twenty.

  5. Alexandra O.
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I see a book listed on the right side of my screen, published by Counter Currents — “Waking up from the American Dream” (I have it somewhere in my large unorganized library) — and the virus is definitely the ‘wake-up’ call for everyone in America. I’m in the ‘most likely to die’ category, at age 76 and a mild case of COPD, but I at least have some savings and an adequate income if all the pensions don’t hit the wall. I have a nice rental house, but the owners want to sell it and move back to Korea where ‘they will be safe’. So, I’m two steps from homeless. Plus, I have 2 roommates, who never saved a dime in their life, and one ‘doesn’t like to work’ and the other just lost their job, though they still have Social Security, but for how long? So — there is the “American Dream” in a nutshell, for 3 loners — or more clearly — one White Nationalist and two Democrats. I should hit the road into the great American Mojave Desert, where I would be safe from ‘germs’, but what about food and medicine? I’ll stay put for another couple weeks and make inquiries.

    The hopeful part of the above post is that ‘borders will be closed’ — let us fervently hope, but I am sure it will require guns and some grim deaths for women and children who are still stupid enough to try it — and thankfully a respite from Democratic nonsense about racism and xenophobia. People will quickly see who their ‘friends’ and real helpers are, and they will see minority reactions to the virus in a clear light — and it will not include being nice to White people.

  6. HamburgerToday
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I, too, have been thinking of Hee Haw songs, including the ‘Where are you tonight’ song.

    So far, I don’t know anyone who has contracted the Big Wu.

  7. nineofclubs
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Corona virus will challenge a lot of assumptions that have prevailed for decades. This is very positive. It’s gratifying to see governments going from using national ‘debt clocks’ to justify austerity – to creating money and spending it into circulation. When corona passes, I hope people will ask how that was possible and what was the justification for all the interest paid on loans from the private sector in the years beforehand.

    For those who succumb to the illness of course, 2020 will be a tough or possibly even fatal year. It will be important to support our own people through the movement restrictions that are coming (or already on us).

    In another sad piece of news, Russian nationalist Eduard Veniaminovich Savenko (better known was Eduard Limonov) passed away in Moscow on 17 March.

    Vale Eduard Limonov (1943-2020)

    https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/www.rt.com/russia/483348-writer-polititian-limonov-dies/amp/

  8. Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    THE NEW FORCE BURNS THE EU FLAG FOR PROTEST: “AWAY FROM THE EU”
    MARCH 23 2020 VOX
    Share!
    https://voxnews.info/2020/03/23/forza-nuova-brucia-bandiera-ue-per-protesta-via-dalla-ue/

  9. basedcuckery
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    I saw my neighbors actually interacting and going outside today. It reminded me of the neighborhood I grew up in in the 1980’s. I hope this virus brings a sense of community back to America and the rest of the world.

  10. Daniel Harris
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    As it stands, Coronavirus seems likely to boost the establishment, not dissidents. Any disaster, chaos, terrorism, or blowback that falls anywhere short of outright dislodging a power structure will tend to enable and empower it.

    We hoped 9/11 would be a wake-up call to cease Middle East interventionism and stop Muslim immigration. To the establishment, that was a sign we needed trillion-dollar invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, to expand massive surveillance of American citizens, curtail liberties, double down on Muslim immigration, and scold people who resist for “Islamophobia.”

    Guess whose agenda won? That of those in power. It did not matter that 60 or 80 percent of the population might have preferred the America First response to 9/11.

    Similarily, we hope that Coronavirus outbreak will “wake people up” (and more importantly, wake elites up) to the need to restrict immigration, back out of globalism, end dependence on China for essential items and restore American manufacturing, and heal the rot and decay of social capital that causes people to hoard masks and toiler paper (“take what you need” turns into “take as much as you can” when the population is atomized and disunited) or to party at beaches and bars not caring who they might infect.

    Instead, elites now seem poised to use Coronavirus to justify more corporate/banker bailouts, more censorship of “fake news and conspiracy theories,” moves towards a cashless society, and similar things. They even got to try martial law-level overt social control in certain cities and areas, with mostly successful results. Travel bans and immigration restrictions show this is possible, but they are likely to be fleeting.

    We need to tirelessly hammer it in our friends, family, and normies that the solution to the consequences of neoliberalism is not neoliberalism on steroids, but nationalism. We must ridicule, discredit, refute, and oppose our elites like never before, lest they use this crisis to sink us even deeper.

  11. Ed in Salt Lake
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    of My gym closed as well! I’ve been training since I was a 13 year old little punk and it is the most important thing I do in my day. It clears my head and gives me a boost of confidence every session.The physicality and bio-feedback of weight training is enormously rewarding. Luckily I have a friend who owns a small Squash/Racquetball gym and he is allowing me to use his small weight room while this insanity is taking place

    As far as the false-narrative of the CV pandemic goes, it will either be ‘pregnant with a future’ to use a phrase of Nietzsche’s or we are headed towards a catastrophe of an unimaginable intensity. Perhaps it will be both with the former following the latter. All I know is that there is a tension building each day that is becoming more and more harrowing. Maybe it is to Heidegger we must turn:

    “The default of God means that no god any longer gathers men and things unto himself, visibly and unequivocally, and by such gathering disposes the world’s history and man’s sojourn in it. The default of God forbodes something even grimmer, however. Not only have the gods and the god fled, but the divine radiance has become extinguished in the world’s history. The time of the world’s night is the destitute time because it becomes ever more destitute. It has already grown so destitute, it can no longer discern the default of God as a default”- Heidegger(Poetry, Language, Thought)

  12. Jef Costello
    Posted March 24, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Jef is 52. And that’s the story he is sticking to.

  13. Argus Bacchus
    Posted March 27, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    “I can go back to all that. Maybe I won’t lose my gains (“just do more reps,” a friend full of bro wisdom advised me).”

    And slow, negative reps. Very slow.

    Prepare to be sore, but satisfied.

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