05 augustus, 2009

De vlag uit, en wel halfstok!

Vreemd om krantenkoppen te zien over "De eerste dode aan de Mexicaanse griep"(binnenkort dus meer in dit theater) - terwijl je zelf achtereen van drie kennissen (kameraden) verneemt dat ze tumoren hebben. Daarover geen paniek. Het is slechts een herinnering aan sterfelijkheid (vooral ook als je zelf allerlei onderzoeken ondergaat).

"Mexicaanse griep". Het kan zijn dat de naam moet doen vergeten dat er heel veel varkens niet-rondlopen maar vastzitten in Nederland. De naam houdt ook de mogelijkheid open dat de moslims de schuld krijgen, een nieuwe Nederlandse specialiteit, al is Mexico dan een onwaarschijnlijk herkomstland.

.The problem is very much related to the fact that we live in a fearful society, susceptible to a panic drive the moment the button is triggered. A whole host of factors might trigger it. The sociologist Frank Füredi, and the social theorist Zygmunt Bauman have poured over the various events that have led to this exhausting mindset of terror. Füredi claims that the very idea of a global pandemic has been dramatised. The basis of the flu as an ordinary condition that affects and kills regularly has been lost, invested instead with eschatological meaning. Burnham notes that 8000 people have perished to flu in Britain on an annual basis in the last twelve years. The world was facing ‘a health crisis that has been transformed into a moral drama’ (Spiked, 28 April).

Bauman would be thinking that this was simply another symptom of the ‘liquid’ society unhinged from its stable, modernist structures. Panic is the classic outcome of a society that can no longer formulate a solution to a crisis in any coherent manner. We are, to but it bluntly, overstimulated, overexcited beings, the symptom of what the sociologist Georg Simmel described as berührungsangst, or a certain ‘fear of contact’. To this can be added the oversupply of information, with too many ‘solutions’ to problems that confuse rather than clarify. The response to the swine flu does, in some ways, reflect this modern dilemma.


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