Throughout history, several confinements led great human spirits to produce some of the greatest contributions our race has ever known: visual, literary and musical works, scientific discoveries and profound theoretical reflections. All this was the product of effort made during extremely limiting situations, such as plagues, famines, war and captivity, which prompted different individuals to overcome isolation or lack of resources, with astonishing results.
In 1348, during the Black Death, Bocaccio wrote his Decameron, “one hundred stories that run through ten days of isolation in the midst of a plague”. Thus, ten characters offer suggestions on what to do with the free time given the circumstances. In 1593, during the second outbreak of the Elizabethan era, Thomas Morley was writing his songs, and in 1606, in an unexpected outbreak of the disease, Shakespeare is thought to have created three of his greatest tragedies: King Lear, Antonio and Cleopatra and Macbeth. At the arrival of the Great Plague in London between 1665 and 1666, Newton worked on what would become the basis of calculus and his theories on optics, while playing with light prisms in the darkness of his room. That same year, composer John Blow co-wrote The Club Anthems with Humfrey and Turner. In 1890, amidst the Russian Flu, the opera Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin, recently completed by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov, was premiered. The Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, author of The Scream, created his Self-Portrait with the Spanish flu, a painting that shows him prostrated by the virus, wrapped in sickly and pale tones, while Giacomo Puccini was finishing his opera Gianni Schicchi.
In 2020 there was a lack of disclosure of outstanding examples, but also in 2019 and in previous years. Especially now, which was the most appropriate time, there was no mention of them either, with some worthy exceptions. I am talking about making available facts that show us more inspiring and therefore efficient ways, in order to face a crisis such as the one we are dealing with.
Of course, it is essential and imperative to be clear about what not to do, about the restrictive actions to take, in order to fight, for example, the spread of a bacteria or a virus. The unbalance occurs in a context where refusal is the only thing that makes itself heard, which, without the support of a prototype to follow, is as sterile as can be thought and results, even more, in generating certain disorders. In a health, and therefore social crisis, an inspiring example is the spearhead entrusted by most communicating agents in their repetitive and monothematic discourse of disturbing figures and reprehensible mistakes.
Indeed, an appealing model contributes to generating massive behavioral changes in a more organic way than signaling which insists on misfortune. If there is not enough diffusion of virtuous prototypes, misfortune intensifies. Is it not then appropriate to fight social breakdowns by means of role models? Assertive discourse in terms of yes, as yes, is much more effective than the solitary discourse of prohibitions.The restrictive speech, similar to that of animal domestication, is often a straightforward way to generate resistance, and fear.
How to make long-term ideals visible, when we have been educated in the culture of alarm and emergency? Today, in an era in which we (mis)inform each other, we could reverse certain vices. The spreading of useless information is the oldest pandemic. In recent years, the term “infodemic” was coined to refer to the spread of useless, false or confusing information, intentionally or unintentionally. I am talking about something else, the absence – out of ignorance – of the transmission of formative models that really instruct a society. We could then speak of “ignodemic”.
Regarding the end of the year, and the recounting of the kind of data I suggest, I conclude with the following: Silvestre Revueltas, one of the most famous musicians in the history of our country, was born on December 31st, 1899. He was born in Santiago Papasquiaro, Durango, precisely on the day of San Silvestre and the last day of the 19th century. Initially, his access to education was not exactly privileged. Composer, violinist and orchestra conductor, today his work places Mexico on the map of classical music, and his figure inspires musicians from all over Latin America.