Each time I type the date I have to go back and correct myself. I can forgive myself, it's only the first day of 2021, but it may as well still be 2020. The overwhelming experience of the past year has been of the disintegration of linear time. Mornings become afternoons and nights become mornings all too quickly. For some months, I've had barely one solid night's sleep.
My weekend in Bologna was my last 'normal' experience. Back then the subject on every Italian's lips was Brexit. Though, I remember waking up early one morning, checking the news, and reading that the numbers of deaths due to a new virus had surpassed SARS. As I queued at the airport the next day, I saw a handful of people wearing face masks, which seemed a little excessive.
That weekend feels like another world. Yet I must remind myself it isn't another world. Today, as I read the news—from Vietnam, Taiwan, New Zealand, Wuhan—I'm reminded that 2020 could have been a different year, a very different year, had the political will and ethical commitment existed. The shattering of linear time, or what we perhaps ought to describe as psychological trauma, wasn't inevitable. It's the result of disaster capitalism desperately scrambling to reshape our world. How else do you explain the proliferation of useless virtual meetings?
If anything, 2020 offered plenty of time for reflection. Though in these circumstances it feels unheimlich to list past achievements and future aims. Last year I wrote that,
All I can say is that this year I won't set myself anything except to enjoy the time I have. Right now, all I can say is that I'm still here, still on my sofa, still under a duvet with my laptop still on my knees, and that hopefully I am still here for a little time longer.