The Perfect Book For Quarantine

How the predicament of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov in 'Gentleman in Moscow" compares to ours.

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The New York Post

The Dow on March 14, 2020

Lord Toussaint, CSN Chief Political and History Correspondent

As we sit in our homes a seemingly perpetual cloud of idleness looms above our heads exacerbated by a tad of whimsical self-pity. Whimsical because it never seems to evaporate in the light of the sun that is productivity as the rains of idleness do. Yet as idleness may take its leave, like all the wistful memories of an archaic summer’s love, the guilt of allowing oneself to have remained idle for so long takes the form of a new cloud which perpetually looms above one’s head like the one that had only just been cleared.

As a result, we take comfort in more illustrious and apparently primeval forms of entertainment to dissipate that infuriatingly perturbing guilt. In other words, we read to entertain the mind. We read to feel productive. Instead of being mesmerized by a black panel that dons ever moving pixels of color. As such entertainment lacks the ability to put the mind to work through the virtue of enchanting visualization. The black panel instead mal-accustoms its viewers to having the picture painted for them. Therefore, keeping all of the potential of our underutilized minds at mercy of time’s unpredictability. Wearing us of sharpness and of quick wits. After all, what can be expected when such abilities cannot be put to use where they are intended to be?

So, in order retain my mind’s sharpness, I read. At least, when I have the time. Finally, I put to rest the question of what I have do with myself when I cannot and do not write. Other than eat, sleep, speak, or listen. I read.

Currently, I am engaged in the tale of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov in “A Gentleman in Moscow”. An acclaimed work which I had wished to read for months but had never made the time for. I am glad though that I waited until now.

Like us, Count Alexander Rostov is forced to live in confinement and isolation from the rest of the world. He is confined to the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, Russia. But unlike us, not in fear of disease, but in fear of the Bolsheviks. But unlike us not by his own accord, but by the cold hand of the Bolsheviks. But unlike us, he must remain in the Metropol Hotel for the rest of his days.

Count Alexander Rostov was a member of the Russian aristocracy who was imprisoned by the Soviet government due to his lineage. He and his family had lost it all and then in 1922, after his ‘trial’ what little he salvaged was taken away from him as the property of the people and he was exiled to a one hundred square foot room on the hotel’s sixth floor.

We who live in the age of the corona virus pandemic often find our predicament of forced isolation to be unbearable and while the Count may be allowed to roam the hotel and interact with its residents daily, he knows that he must live there until the day he dies. But before that can happen, he must live out the span of decades…

We complain for a few months…

And so, he tells himself:

“A man must master his circumstances or otherwise be mastered by them.”

But how does a man retain his sanity and resolve knowing that he will never be able to share again, with the world outside, his purpose?

“By committing to the business of practicalities.”

That is true valor…

If one thinks of it, what we who live in the age of COVID-19 have another thing in common with the Count. Whish is that our forced confinement stems from what runs through one’s blood… Or more specifically, what or government’s do not want to run through our blood…

Although it may sound outrageous to think of, the Count was imprisoned due to his lineage and the threat he could have posed to the “cause” of the revolution. They imprison him to stop the spread of dissent…

In the age of COVID-19, our governments imprison us in our homes due to the fear that we contract COVID-19, and therefore spread it.

In the Soviet Union, not only were the dissenters oppressed, but so was the world beyond. It was censored in fear of the spread of the disease of dissent… A sort of perpetual quarantine… One that stopped the spread from within, and one that stopped the spread from what lied outside.

To both government’s the spread of such a disease would be detrimental, and so, they must do all they can in order to control it…

And so, they have…

 

Whether it be in 1922 or in 2020…

Whether it be in Dictatorship or in Democracy…

Whether it be under Lenin or under Trump…

Whether it be of past or of future…

Whether it be for bad or for good…

 

 

 

Somethings will never change…

 

 

 

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