"Mmore difficult than predicting the future is reading the present from within. Too glued to it, crossed by emotions, captive of current opinions, of media jargon, the present does not seem to offer the essential minimum for any impartial evaluation – at a distance”, thus writes Peter Pál Pelbart in the text that opens Critical Pandemic. Published in two volumes, the collection brings together analyses, reports, records and the most varied information about the global health crisis, reflecting ideas and feelings that crossed important thinkers in Brazil and the world.
Launched by a partnership between n-1 e Editions Sesc SP, the publication gives value precisely to the immersion in the pandemic 'now'. With the discovery of the first case of Covid-19 in Brazil, in March 2020, n-1 created an online platform exclusively intended for the circulation of texts linked to the pandemic. For almost five months they published one piece of writing a day. It is they who now compose the two books. According to the organizer Peter Pál Pelbart, the intention was to capture what was thought and felt in the heat of events: “It was about exploring, albeit intuitively, how this world event came to us, disturbed, stunned and opened gaps”.
Therefore, Critical Pandemic it is not intended to be an objective record of the crisis, but an immersion in the collective mind in the face of an ongoing catastrophe. All this, from a chronology of the collapse, to which the summary of the books follows the order in which the texts appeared on the virtual platform – the first volume, autumn 2020, gathering writings from March to June of last year; the second, winter 2020, those produced later.
This timeline is built through texts by national and international thinkers, among unknown and renowned figures, such as the philosophers Achille Mbembe, Franco Bifo Berardi and Judith Butler; the anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro; David Kopenawa e Ailton krenak, activists and indigenous leaders; curators such as André Lepecki, Moacir dos Anjos and Tania Rivera; and artists like Zé Celso. This polyphony gives the pages of Critical Pandemic a variety of discursive styles, worldviews, affects and subjects.
The reflections can be divided into four main axes: observations on the vulnerabilities and inequalities evidenced by the effects and mortality of the pandemic; analyzes of the causes (immediate and remote) of the health crisis – from the predatory logic of capitalism, industrial monoculture to the invasion by the agroindustry of animal habitats; assessments of the power relations between rulers and ruled in different regions of the world in this moment of crisis; and personal testimonies from artists, writers, poets and feminists, who portray the paradoxes of isolation, but also solidarity initiatives.