The Covid Archipelago

From the elevation of my London flat, I see islands all around, touching each other at no point, isolated among themselves. An archipelago of sorts, struggling to stay afloat as its atolls stay apart.

Islands are places of solitude and loneliness, a refuge as well as a curse. Undesirables are sent there, but the desires of many also direct them to the islands’ craved reclusion. Robinson Crusoe was thrown on one by inclement heavens, and Napoleon on another by blustery powers. British convicts used to be dispatched on quite a large island down under, while Truman’s scripted life was spent on a studio isle. On the other hand, Plato, More and Bacon’s Atlantis embodied the ideal of innocence and purity, the languishing nostalgia for a bygone age. While Jules Verne’s mysterious island inflames our curiosity, Huxley’s Pala is a reservoir of untapped social and political possibilities.

As our lives become insular – and you don’t need to live on an island these days, for you have become one –, we yearn for the seaways and the broken lines of familiar horizons. We reject the open sea and remember that points exist so that we can draw lines between them.

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