Editorial

Issue #108
April 2020

It is April now, which T. S. Eliot once called the cruelest month. In Eliot’s April, lilacs rose from the ground as if to mock the dead of World War 1. Today, as the pandemic rages on, many lives are on pause, while many others end. And yet, the flowers bloom.

We might say that this issue of e-flux journal asks how Covid-19 preys on existential vulnerabilities—through essays written well before the current crisis, and others in response to it. If Covid-19 has merged the biological and the political, how then do we reconcile the strengthening of national borders to protect populations with the stoking of fear and racism through self–other or friend–enemy paradigms, imagined or real? Even if nation-states and intergovernmental organizations are often the problem as well as the solution—both sickness and cure—how might our global interdependencies and vulnerabilities go beyond the ecological and techno-industrial waste that fuels the exhausting openness of globalization?

Or, as one author who experienced the pandemic in both Shanghai and New York asks: “How to harvest the energy from such permanent existential untranslatability and transform it into something productive?”

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