2020 Pandemic: how to even begin understanding our historical moment?

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Context: Behavioural scientists form new front in battle against coronavirus

I do wonder at times just how the parsing of knowledge, of language and of cognition creates or overlays artificial boundaries between the objects of study, and then in many ways causes us to assert those perceived or projected faultlines and discontinuities as foundational, axiomatic. The distance between physics and psychology, or between linguistics and sociology (as arbitrary examples) is surely more of a convenience of those unique or shared intellectual dialects as they apply in each sub-set of knowledge or institutional context.

Any field or domain of knowledge, viewed with sufficient perspicacity, can define all other fields (and vice versa). It represents a certain circularity through which, I acknowledge, a line-in-the-sand must still be drawn for any sound policy advice or epistemological value to ever be possible.

All of which is theory. In practice – an analysis of our current, monumentally dramatic historical moment is a problem not seeking narrow (or even broad) apertures and grammars of comprehension. It is a constitutively wicked problem set that is best viewed not from one or even a few vectors, but by all intelligible directions simultaneously.

There are heuristic vocabularies available for this.

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