Jennifer Rubin writes today for the Washington Post that it’s likely that “normal” life will not return until after a vaccine is widely available. Because that herd immunity is a year or more distant, she suggests, we will be working at home more; movies will not reopen soon (if ever); employers might downsize their physical establishments and keep many people working from home on a permanent basis; shops will close and not reopen; storefronts will remain empty. Rubin concludes:
[O]ur human experiences often take place in the presence of others, in public settings. Fewer public experiences and fewer public venues may leave us feeling as if we have permanently lost a year (or more) of our lives. It is simply not the same to watch a movie at home by yourself or eat takeout from plastic foam boxes, no matter how sophisticated the restaurant’s food. We crave the “real” thing.
Even after a vaccine is found, we cannot be confident we will get our old lives back. Our sense of “place” and presence may change permanently. When you do not go to an office, when our cities’ retail spaces (everything from stores to bars to restaurants to gyms) sit empty and when local theaters have gone out of business, our lives could well become more solitary, our connections to others more tenuous. We lose the casual interactions and the accidental meetings that expand our circle of friends and acquaintances. We can plan a Zoom meeting with friends we know well; we cannot bump into a friend at a restaurant or mall that has closed.The full post is here
This got me to thinking about Trump’s performances — ever more manic, ever more panicked — in the so-called press briefings, and about the emerging reports of his daily television habit and increasing fits of rage.
We’re all looking at it through the lens of his reelection prospects, equivocal to begin with and fading faster than the body count increases, the two lines running on steep slopes at ninety degrees to each other. The reelection lens is, of course, part and parcel of the narcissistic personality disorder. But there is another way to look at it, a way of turning the lens just a little so that it illuminates another malignant corner, and that is the declining value of his properties (such as they are). To be sure, Trump doesn’t think about “communal experience” or even human experience; he thinks about events only insofar as they affect him: his purse, his crowds, his sense self-worth. His entire adult life has been spent promoting the idea — his idea — of Donald Trump: if he can only get the world to believe about him what he wants to believe about himself, it must be true. So: he is a billionaire, a successful real estate developer, an entrepreneur. (Tell me: what billionaire declares bankruptcy even once, let alone six times? What successful developer can’t make money running casinos?)
So what happens when stores are shuttered and malls are closed, when the bottom drops out of commercial real estate and might never return? What happens when commerce completes its transition to the virtual space, when Main Street isn’t Main Street any more? The “real estate magnate” doesn’t own anything with lasting value. His worth, like his self-pity, is bottomless.