In this short, potent video, Arundhati Roy reads from her essay “The Pandemic is a Portal”, originally published in The Financial Times. It is a call to view the catastrophic virus that has touched us all as an opportunity to change our lives and our world.
We view it not as something we have to figure out right now, but as a question to hold, an invitation to “imagine another world”.
... in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality.
Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.
Roy’s “portal, a gateway between one world and the next” brought to mind Willem de Kooning’s Door to the River that we saw once at the Whitney. It was made, we understand, when he was in a big transition. “Floating amid vibrant space, the bold opening implies a sense of majestic other-worldiness…”
“Pandemic is a Portal” will be published in Roy’s forthcoming book Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction.
With thanks to Ruth Kissane!