7th April 2020
A sincere and warmest thank you to everyone who chastised or abused me for going for a walk last week. How refreshing it is to be told how precisely to spend the thousand moments of one’s day. And to everyone for calling me selfish and disappointing for putting an April Fool’s Joke into an IG post! May you and I never frequent the same Breathe-easy.
But you all shall be very pleased to know that I am now quite in hiding. Not quarantine. Not self-isolation. Hiding.
My friend’s building last week put out an email banning guests and visitors. I can no longer leave the apartment in which I’m writing this entry, for fear of being seen by the doorman, the super, a neighbour—and recognised, uncovered, accused—as a guest. Of all things to be during a pandemic, fear and unreason have turned being a guest into an offence.
“There is no room for tourists in a world of displaced persons,” said Evelyn Waugh. There appears none either for itinerant writers in a world of coronavirus.
The feeling to me is a familiar one. I have often been a tourist for months on end. In Australia I am subjected to nationalist doubt because I talk not like a bogan and can converse in languages other than English.
It all reminds me of Anaïs, and of The Aeneid upon which some of her story was based:
We wretched Trojans, toss’d on ev’ry shore,
From sea to sea, thy clemency implore…
‘Tossed by innumerable tempests and chased from every shore, at last I am in…’
“To the wise and good man the whole earth is his fatherland,” said Democritus. All well and good until the apparently globalised world contracts to its selfish fearful self and the writer with the whole earth for a fatherland finds that nowhere at all wishes to be his temporary motherland.
And so I am stuck. Or rather a very patient friend is stuck with me, a friend I’m trying to placate with incessant cleaning and roaring screenshots of my stalker’s inaccurate malice.
Stuck though doesn’t bother me so much. For 4 years my life has been much like your present isolation. Waking in a tiny apartment or hotel room. Working all morning at the desk in that room. Eating lunch there. Working again at the same desk. Going for a run or a walk before watching the sunset. Returning to the apartment or hotel room to eat dinner therein. Working until I can’t think anymore. Watching comedy until I fall asleep.
Literally, these have been the monotonous majority of my days since 2015. Only now I’ve been gifted an extra 2 hours a day in which to read, run The New Cavalier Reading Society, watch comedy.
Before said guest email, I was daily walking and running around New York and finding it a uniquely fascinating place in a uniquely irrational time—streets emptied by fear, a renowned and adored urbanscape devoid by panic of people, the city that never sleeps snoring through its day.
And on many of those walks and runs I snapped some very unique photos of an entirely empty New York City.
I have a readers-only IG account @joshwritebook, where I’ve just spent the day posting photos & videos of vacant Manhattan streets and videos of rather famous spaces entirely devoid of people.
If you do read my books, and you do support my work as an artist—if you as a reader and patron are making possible the writing of my next book by reading my last—follow @joshwritebook for a great many photos & videos of New York City under coronavirus lockdown!