Dionne Brand is perhaps the smartest, most-eloquent person in Canada

Basically everything that comes out of that woman’s mouth or pen is exactly what I needed to hear at any given moment, and much of it is very uncomfortable to read. Years ago when the National Post had a brief run as the arts section to beat in Canada, I participated a sort of Canada-Reads for poetry (since it’s long been a beef of mine that “Canada Reads” is exclusively mainstream literary fiction, and I stand by my calls to rename it such: “Canada Reads Narrow Band of Mainstream Literary Fiction”, but I digress) and I championed Brand’s Inventory, which I still go back to to this day. I hope we one day have a world in which that book seems antiquated, but I don’t see it coming, frankly.

I don’t think that capital is in crisis, the neo-liberal state it created is in crisis.

Time in the city is usually taken up running around positioning oneself around this narrative of the normal. But the pandemic situates you in waiting. So much waiting, you gain clarity. You listen more attentively, more anxiously. “We must get the economy moving,” they say. And, “we must get people back to work,” they say. These hymns we’ve heard, these enticements to something called the normal, gesture us toward complicity. Most of my friends and family never stopped working anyway — they work in health and community services. The quarantine has alerted us all as to how much we’ve ceded to those (we put) in power. The state is in angst, too, about our political demands. It offers some the seduction but others the violence of the normative narrative. Because seriously, what is it to get people ‘back to work’ if there is no remedy or vaccine? If some people have never stopped working. If the only thing that has changed is the rate of infection not the presence of the virus? What is the calculation by which one arrives at this cruel expendability.

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