On Sci-fi and Corona, Ground Zero or Unthinged Empiricism



Science fiction (scifi) constructs imaginaries that paint a utopian promise or warn of dystopias to come. Corona surprises all these imaginaries. With the virus,  the future has arrived without its novelist, its fictionist, its poet and seer, without its thinker, its sensorimotor predictor, without empiricism. 

Perhaps even the climate crisis that came before the pandemic wouldn’t help us acquire this empiricism. The thing with climate, besides the fact that it has been mainstreamed, is that everything seems to depend upon the imaginary of the galactic. Let’s connect it to corona. 


Corona is a murderer. Though it’s not about what you think. With the macabre stomper that has the world’s attention now, Corona impersonates as murderer of all galactic sci-fi. Only the worst imaginable climate catastrophe can save its overcompensation of doom. 

Corona rides with Gaia whose rebirth comes at the darkest of times, proclaiming we are earthbounds, not bound to the stars. (Here we come upon the most current of Bruno Latour’s position on climate).

To resurrect the galactic imaginary, a new push to the dream of planetary escape comes with big phama rushing to develop a vaccine. That’s the stopper to the unpredictable swell of earthbound friendly viral mutant, a vaccine. 

Everything else depends upon this alternative, to give a new push to climate doom just so in two decades time humans will have colonized a dead planet. 

That’s a dying planet in exchange for a dead planet, an interplanetary trade deal deriving its success from defeating the virus, and all viral mutants to come, that will impede the full accelerating decay of a planetary system governed by capital flights that, ironically speaking, also seek the ultimate death line, fire and brimstone, so to speak, on one half of the planet, and ghastly winter on the other, with an impending climate regime change via greenhouse gas emission. 

But why can’t the earth die all alone when its death is indigenous to the infinite continuance of humanity? It’s plain obvious the earth is a finite object that can’t satisfy the immortalism of the species. The longer we’re bound to the planet, the more remote we are from the infinity of ends. (Yes, it’s a broadside attack against the Kantian legacy).

But the earthbounds have one key advantage over space colonists-deadly viruses can drastically slow down a thermodynamic collapse. (Read: Not a welcome news for climate activists considering its zero-sum game). 

We can stretch a new imaginary from here however improbable it may look: In future time, this will be one hell of tellurian war  between galactic fantasists and viral decelerationists; practically starting with some tech billionaires against deadly microbes and their earthbound friendlies who may also be funded by billionaires motivated by the same logic of competitive advantage.

The world will probably regress slowly to tribalism, a lesser doomsday scenario compared to a full scale geological climate war of big nation-states. A less bitter pill to swallow. 

But there’s the rub. If a galactic fantasist won’t end the planet as he is able to, the killer mutant might catch him sooner than he expects (Covid at present or whatever is next to mutate into a stronger microbial locomotive of extinction over a span of time). If he can’t end the planet, his dreams of interplanetary colonies are at once doomed. (He must have paid attention to the nuances of Heidegger when he could: ‘only a god can save him’.)


Back to the absence of empiricism. 

As Lorraine Daston wrote recently, corona is practically a ground zero empiricism. https://www.google.com/amp/s/critinq.wordpress.com/2020/04/10/ground-zero-empiricism/amp/. But more than that, it’s a kind of ‘unthinged’ empiricism, ‘throwing us outside of the world of apprarances and things, outside of the phenomena where no thinking or activity happens, a temporary collapse of the known world with the dark exuberance of the unprethinkable. It’s technically a planetary lockdown. That was Schelling observing his world at the beginning of the 18th century.

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