One thing I’m learning, I guess, is that all the post-apocalyptic and cyberpunk media I’ve devoured is essentially optimistic because there’s usually one moment, one break, one event, and then there’s a before and an after. Whereas in real life, it seems, tension can just build forever; things get worse and they get worse and they get worse and the air is never let out of the balloon, we never reach the saturation point, and there is no point where we get to let go of some of the old expectations and baggage. Instead we just get squeezed tighter and tighter and tighter, and we’re stuck in this mundane world, the world of jobs and office buildings, not survivors scavenging as we explore the endless plain.
I have been accused of romanticizing the post-apocalypse, and, well, guilty. But I don’t want nuclear war or for the virus to mutate and start infecting and killing more people. Nothing like that. But what I do want is some sign that we have reached a break, that events have forced us to face up to an old then and a new now, and that the tyranny of normal has been defeated at last. I am eager for that great break in the human mind even if the outcome of what comes next is chancy and unsettled and left for all of us to struggle over for the rest of my life. What this virus has taught me is the supreme durability of normal, the dogged survival of the mundane world, the near-impossibility of some new era in which all old expectations of civility and social norms will just extinguish or burn away….