For some time now it has felt like history is itself the pandemic. In our country and elsewhere, it has been in overdrive, teeming with evils, flush with collapses, abounding in fear and rage, a wounding contest between the sense of an ending and the sense of a beginning, between inertia and momentum, with all the terribilities of ages of transition. What is going has not yet gone and what is coming has not yet come. We have become connoisseurs of convulsion. At sea is our new sea. For better and for worse, axioms and assumptions are dying everywhere around us. Such vertiginous hours always come with both clarities and confusions — there is no promise of illumination. The guidance we need in our circumstances will not be provided by the circumstances themselves: they are too many and too contradictory and too volatile; passion increasingly unconstrained and power increasingly unconstrained. As the sense of injustice grows, injustice seems to keep pace with it. There is a piercing sensation of flux, of uncontrollable effects and unmanageable consequences. The masks on our faces are emblems of an entire era of vulnerability. The most important thing, therefore, is that we keep our heads. A disequilibrium of history demands an equilibrium of the mind. Steadiness in the midst of turbulence is not complicity with the existing order. It is precisely in such binges of history that we must teach ourselves to sort through the true and the false, the good and the bad, the continuities and the discontinuities, the right statues and the wrong statues, the humane and the utopian. Everything will be different: this is a ubiquitous sentiment. In all our upheavals — social and epidemiological — so much seems to be wrong and so much seems to be slipping away that one

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