After a few days of seeing the streets of New Paltz teeming with color and smiles and people connecting over pint jars and sidewalk dining, today I wake to the dispiriting news that our sleeping dog may have shown signs of stirring. Pat Ryan looks crestfallen in the still shots. The red arrow we worked so hard to bury with our blue shovel of social responsibility may be bouncing off the bottom of the chart and headed back up to resemble who knows what evil three-hump camel with a giraffe neck and a fez.
The actual physical oneness of all shit is hardly news. It’s been the yield, the takeaway, of both seers and scientists of certain schools for quite a while. My head is still buzzing with that Richard Powers novel The Overstory, a vivid, opulent and scientifically current rendering of the invisible interconnectedness of all life — the living, gooey, mycological sympathy strings of interdependence that make individuality — yours, mine, Toby Keith’s — seem rather like a puppet show.
A little virus with a few unfortunate mutations in its recent past has laid bare the collectivism-whether-you-want-it-or-not that is more or less the contract of life in the meat world, the terms, the deal. “Life,” as the wild Scottish psychologist R.D. Laing said, “is a sexually transmitted disease.” ”
And the mortality rate is 100 percent.
From a certain aloof perspective, it’s just more of that Jeff Goldbum-making-a-pyramid-with-his-fingers stuff: life, and an accident that’s good for some cells and bad for others. The tragedy and the farce comes with watching us all try to square our understandings and work together, the only language that this problem understands. Oneness is a bitch.