Dispatches from the Melton Prior Institut (3)

The third  delivery from the Melton Prior Institute (meltonpriorinstitut.org). Alexander Roob and Clemens Krümmel have activated their unique archive of non-photographic picture journalism and showcase examples from the coverage of epidemics in illustrated journals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Today: Le Petit Journal (February 19, 1911), covering the devastating 1910/1911″pest” in Manchuria.

Scholar Mark Gamsa, a specialist in Manchurian history, wrote about “The Epidemic of Pneumonic Plague in Manchuria 1910-1911” in Past & Present, No. 190 (Feb., 2006), 147:

“Swift to spread through an infected organism, and potentially fatal even with modem medical intervention, septicaemic plague (in which bacteria penetrate the blood system) would count as the most dangerous form were it to constitute an epidemic in itself, rather than a complication liable to accompany the bubonic or the pneumonic kind. That last, an extreme type of lung infection, highly contagious and still impossible to cure unless identified within the first twenty-four hours, is the rarest as well as the dead- liest form of a plague epidemic. The Manchurian outbreak in the autumn of 1910 was the worst such epidemic in recorded history.”



March 29th, 2020, 02 / Rosa Mercedes

Jodi Dean on work in neofeudal times, via Los Angeles Review of Books: “When work is imagined — and some on the left think that we should adopt a ‘postwork imaginary’ — it looks like either romantic risk-free farming or tech-work, ‘immaterial labor.’ By now, the exposés on the drudgery of call center work, not to mention the trauma-inducing labor of monitoring sites like Facebook for disturbing, illicit content, have made the inadequacy of the idea of ‘immaterial labor’ undeniable. It should be similarly apparent that the postwork imaginary likewise erases the production and maintenance of infrastructure, the wide array of labor necessary for social reproduction, and the underlying state structure.”

May 23rd, 2020, Tom

Naomi Klein on the “Screen New Deal” (via The Intercept): “Calling [Bill] Gates a ‘visionary,’ [New York governor Andrew] Cuomo said the pandemic has created ‘a moment in history when we can actually incorporate and advance [Gates’s] ideas … all these buildings, all these physical classrooms — why with all the technology you have?’ he asked, apparently rhetorically. It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the ‘Screen New Deal.’ Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.”

May 11th, 2020, Tom

Andrea Bagnato on Red Zones, isolation, metaphors, blame, risk and coexistence (at e-flux architecture): “[…] the current manifestation of confinement is better thought of not so much as epidemic control, but as a form of risk displacement: a minority of workers is made to keep the economy going so that a majority of the population can stay at home. And the reverse is true as well: millions of people have to put up with extended confinement so that the risk posed by industrial workers doesn’t grow out of control. In the necropolitical calculations of the State, the physical health of workers and the mental health of everyone else are both a price worth paying.”

May 5th, 2020, Tom
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