By the time this is published, my friend would have started walking up Mount Royal. A walk she organized among her closest friends to celebrate her birthday. Her birthday was actually last Thursday, but since Saturday’s weather conditions were forecasted to be better for outdoors activities, she picked that day instead. Walk in the park, a simple activity that now, due to the current sanitary regulations in place, demands us to proceed cautiously.
After her first message arrived via a chat app, responses came back quickly. Details needed to be discussed and action needed to be taken. Texts would say that we would walk together, but not too close to each other. We were going to bring our own water bottle. No sharing Please! I imagined our group in row formation, moving uphill, in masks.
“Here they are people with masks. Who are they? What are they thinking? Where do they come from? What kind of lives do they live?” said Don DeLillo, American writer, on a recent interview for The Current.
I read DeLillo’s White Noise novel this semester in my class, “American Literature Mid to Late Twentieth Century.” The novel is about “an airborne toxic event” caused by an industrial accident. It was unnerving reading passages like the following from a novel published in 1985:
“We are quarantined. We are like lepers in medieval times. They won’t let us out of here. They leave food at the foot of the stairs and tiptoe way to safety. This is the most terrifying time of our lives.” (DeLillo, Don. White Noise. P162. Penguin Books, 1985.)
The resemblance of our current routines to the fictional events in DeLillo’s novel is unsettling. It happened so quickly that one cannot accurately say when "No Contact Delivery" became a real selling point for restaurants and stores in our city. Now everytime I leave home, I experience some level of anxiety. The consequences of not being able to feel free outside are yet to be seen.
DeLillo’s new novel The Silence explores life in America two years into the future. In that fictional universe, people rely on technology and constant information to be reassured. But a massive power failure is going to challenge that. DeLillo’s deep observations and great imaginative ability has managed to anticipate to a certain point what our future is going to be.
It is yet to be seen how this plague would change us. Are we going to be at ease in crowds again? When are we going to stop fearing the person walking in our way? In the meantime, let’s be kind to one another. We are going through Stranger Things.
To read more on the new novel, “The Silence” visit The Guardian.
P.S. Feliz cumpleaños Mö
By Lily Olivas