Work and Workplace In The Time Of Covid-19.
Jitendra Kumar Sharma
May I seek your indulgence to read my snippet before you read my blog ‘Work And Workplace In The Time Of COVID-19’. In this ‘pre-blog’, I will share a few Side Effects of COVID-19 on me personally.
As a writer, I have avoided growing a beard, though it saves time. Instead, I prefer going to the Barber’s Shop for a close shave. There I get to glance over old magazines and hear the latest village gossip into the bargain and return home brimming with ideas and a fresh, shining face.
On the first day of COVID-19 Lockdown I was about to dash to the Saloon when the old Idiot Box blared: “Stay At Home, It Is A Total Shutdown”, then panned a few long shots closing up to my Barber’s Shop firmly locked up and a freshly shaven policeman, indifferently gaping into the deserted street.
I was angry. I was desperate. Last time, I was at my barber’s I was going through Charles Lamb’s essay THE SUPERANNUATED MAN in an old magazine when he called me out for my turn. Mr. DeMelo’s booming voice snapped me from the mag abruptly ending my reverie that Lamb’s poignant and dreamy style had induced.
COVID-19 had dashed all my hopes to get back to Charles Lamb in the familiar, cozy, and very privileged setting. I could not go not only to the Barber’s Shop but anywhere else too- libraries, book-shops, friends’ homes, all access and avenues to reach and read Charles Lamb were closed. Desperation assailed me as I refused to compromise with the reality of the universal Lockdown. This absolutely arbitrary denial whetted my desire to own and study Charles Lamb’s complete works.
Forlorn, I turned to Keertiji, that is my Laptop. ‘Welcome’, she chimed and I smiled.
Eureka! My Laptop revealed a truth: I was no longer in the real world. COVID-19 had shoved me into a Virtual World and Charles Lamb’s works were only a click away
Dear reader, have you read Lamb’s ‘THE SUPERANNUATED MAN’? This is also about going to work and staying at home; living for others and living for oneself; work versus leisure and host of questions the Common Man is facing in the time of COVID-19, questions we together shall be debating through my blogs.
But first this important
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Reader, be of good cheer because COVID-19 has opened up unlimited avenues and vistas for us. It has pushed us into the Automation Age.
In the Automation Age, as my Guru Marshall McLuhan said: “Earning a Living” becomes “Learning a Living”. Jobs disappear, roles emerge; work decreases, leisure increases; drudgery dwindles, creativity quickens; competition is out, sharing is in; governments fail, citizens succeed; working for Others is past,working for One’s Self is future! https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Media-Extensions-Marshall-McLuhan/dp/1584230738/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1MBQE98H293HN&dchild=1&keywords=understanding+media+by+marshall+mcluhan&qid=1591771710&sprefix=Understanding+Media+by+%2Caps%2C410&sr=8-1
Virtual World, in some ways, is like the pristine Vedic World https://www.amazon.com/s?k=vedas+complete+in+english&crid=11Q4GA7M26ZZO&sprefix=Vedas%2Caps%2C416&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_5
when Health was Wealth
Culture preceded Civilization https://www.amazon.com/Leisure-Basis-Culture-Josef-Pieper/dp/1586172565/ref=sr_1_1?crid=20ETR1KSVWI2A&dchild=1&keywords=leisure+the+basis+of+culture+by+josef+pieper&qid=1591772647&sprefix=Liesure++the+Basis+%2Caps%2C407&sr=8-1
Man respected Nature https://www.amazon.com/Sublime-Nature-Photographs-That-Inspire/dp/1426213018/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=Nature+Sublime&qid=1591800462&sr=8-2
Need subjected Greed
Therefore, be brave.
Leave Behind The Old Real World
And, dear reader,
Enter with me
The New Virtual World
In the COVID-19 Times.
Did I forget to tell you that I had a pretty good shave with Gillette Mach3 shaving kit, courtesy Amazon.com
Also got the mandatory
before starting on my Blog
Work and Workplace In The Time Of Covid-19
PS: This blog is inspired by several publications that are currently providing free of cost information and guidance, to mention a few, The Atlantic Monthly, https://www.amazon.com/The-Atlantic/dp/B000IMVNQU/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1VY8ZWF6M151W&dchild=1&keywords=atlantic+magazine&qid=1591800964&sprefix=Atkantic%2Caps%2C418&sr=8-1 The Atlantic Kindle Edition
The New Yorker Kindle Edition https://www.amazon.com/The-New-Yorker/dp/B00EZAIPXU/ref=pd_sbs_350_1/135-8307135-9811014?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B00EZAIPXU&pd_rd_r=8607eccd-bb21-4318-a304-70ae6941448c&pd_rd_w=7R72K&pd_rd_wg=NamvY&pf_rd_p=665be1f4-8d3b-46dd-91b4-582d3cec8dd6&pf_rd_r=YC7RN0AD6285A6S1GJX0&psc=1&refRID=YC7RN0AD6285A6S1GJX0
The Economist – US Edition Kindle Edition
Foreign Affairs Kindle Edition
The Washington Post for Kindle (Ad-Free) Kindle Edition
The New York Times
The New Yorker https://www.amazon.com/New-York-Magazine/dp/B005UNSDKQ/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1J2GLBLUX8IR8&dchild=1&keywords=new+yorker+magazine+subscription&qid=1591847373&sprefix=New+Yorker%2Caps%2C405&sr=8-3
The Washington Post https://www.amazon.com/Washington-Post-Kindle-Ad-Free/dp/B000HC48T0/ref=sr_1_3?crid=ZBVN9W2WSCM2&dchild=1&keywords=washington+post+subscription+for+prime+members+digital+free&qid=1591846998&sprefix=Washington+%2Caps%2C478&sr=8-3
The Wall Street Journal Kindle Edition
who are offering to readers free information on COVID-19 pandemic, generating ideas, and inviting response to questions of life and death in these uncertain times. The context of my blogs differs from theirs, so do my readers, I believe.
====The End of Snippet====
Read free of cost author’s opinion pieces, short stories, write-ups, reviews, plays, academic essays, spiritual commentaries on his website: http://www.agrawalmaharajamcluhan.com/
Finally, here is my blog:
Work and Workplace In The Time Of Covid-19
The coronavirus has been ‘carousing’ through different parts of the world making the prevailing predicament more puzzling. Some aspects of it, however, are clear. The invisible parasite is going on a spree all over the globe. Most governments are relaxing the Lockdown and people are once again moving, meeting, gathering, and the virus is jumping between hosts depending on proximity, density, and mobility. The illusion of normality must force us to think: Shall the world be the same as we knew it before this invisible Thanatos invaded it.
The West is powerful yet hapless and confused before the insidious and invisible enemy that has knocked out work as the very basis of Modern State and Westernized Modern Societies.
The future is uncertain and the common man is expecting neither a swift return back to the normal nor a unified collective experience. The fear of a second wave vexes the people everywhere.
Uppermost in the people’s minds is the question: Shall we return to work? Will the workplace look the same as we left it? Is working for earning as meaningful as it was? Such questions are important to dwell upon and debate in the time of Corona. They are more important to The West, and hence to the world because The West leads the rest of the world’s politics and economy. This question is important to non-western countries and societies because they imitate and emulate the West.
The future scenario is splintered in larger countries like the USA and India because in both these countries local reality is being ignored by their powerful leaders. President Trump and Prime Minister Modi are claiming victory over COVID-19 while the virus is freely claiming victims and poor people are the worst hit by Corona. Lifting of the Lockdown is, thus, further dividing the already fragmented States of America in the West and the States of the Indian Union in the East.
In the face of uncertainty, people are returning to their polarized groups. The rich and the poor, privileged, and deprived are fleeing to their respective ghettos in both these big democratic countries.
If the Covid-19 or its mutations re-surge forcing governments to shut down again, people shall defy because they’ll be distrustful. Floyd protests in the USA and worker’s long march along the hot, sun-struck highways in India are prognostic portents.
Both these nations face the risk of getting demoralized under bouts of shutdowns and re-openings that are bound to damage the prospect of economic recovery. The consequences of re-opening in May-June will not show up until August-September 2020 at the earliest. The longer the gap between actions and their consequences, the greater the likelihood of authorities making more mistakes.
No behavior pattern has so far emerged and COVID-19 remains as enigmatic as it was in its offing. Most countries that successfully controlled the coronavirus used masks but New Zealand did not use masks. Some had very firm and powerful leaders; Hong Kong did not. Vietnam’s “budget-friendly” fight against the coronavirus has set an example for its neighbor China that let the novel virus lose upon the world.
India’s central government has passed responsibility to the states who are free to lift the Lock-down the way they like. If a state reopens and sees no immediate increase in cases, it slaps its own back and the media amplify the hurrah without waiting for sufficient time. Doctors are getting tired, some dying, and have no time to watch for spreader events. Hurried researchers based on small samples are arriving at big conclusions. And the hapless citizen has to find its own ways and means to fend off the invisible, deadly COVID-19, heightening the social and economic differences as also class, group, and race divisions.
Every country big and small is eager to be the first to formulate a vaccine to prevail over the COVID-19 and the world market further confusing the pandemic scene.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not a cyclone like the recent one that hit Bangladesh and India. It has come but shall it go away like a cyclone? Millions are being bedeviled by this question.
There is no obvious moment when recovery should begin as happened in the case of the plagues of yore. Nor can the novel virus be compared to Albert Camus’ novel The Plague. The post-COVID-19 world shall face much more difficult and serious existentialist questions than Camu’s ‘ the Absurd’ and Sartre’s “The Other”.
For the employer and employee, worker and the workplace helter-skelter reopening is not a philosophical question, nor can philosophy offer much consolation to them. The white-collar and blue-collar workers are sailing in the same boat between the deep sea of economic uncertainty and the devil of a deadly virus.
In a patchwork like this, questions will be asked millions of times over, and many answers will be wrong.
Whether to continue with the Leisure of the home or walk to the dangerous workplace is the Kierkegaardian knot of either/or like it was for Jean-Paul Sartre’s famous Freedom Fighters Pablo who sweats and Tom who pisses in fear of death in the captivity of Spanish dictator Franco.
Employer and Employee, Work and Workplace, and all of us, dear reader, are in the indefinite captivity of COVID-19.
We cannot move yet we can certainly think, read and write like the freedom fighters in so many countries locked up in the dictators’ and imperialists’ jails who still beckon to us from the pages of history.
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