Mónica Belevan

Covidian Aesthetics I: Revelation

March 28, 2020

As a disease both vast and deep, COVID-19 will favour aesthetic interpretations like no epidemic in collective shared memory since AIDS.

The most remarkable aesthetic mechanism of the Covidian [appears to] be revelation, an aesthetics of epic time and epochal time-suspension; the Apollonian and Dionysian flanks of which are, respectively, the tragic, as aesthetics of sacrifice and pharmakoi, and the panic, as aesthetics of invasion.

Revelation is mind-shattering and world-destroying; entailing simultaneous irreversibility and reversal. It is the aesthetic culmination of the Saturnalian, the world-upside-down trope —and so it is not incidental that one of its leading symptoms is transvaluation.

Like Semele, we have been granted the appalling privilege of staring God in the face with only two possible outcomes: death or permanent scarring. No one will remain unmarked; we’re all Cain now. At this scale, revelation is uniquely democratic.

And even as Anubis seroassays the heart of every solitary individual, it is telling that our Revelation manifested, rather literally, as Plague, the crowned horseman of the apocalyptic collective. It feels almost forced, inelegant and scriptedly angelic; tailored for a tone-deaf audience that was tested and found unwilling, or unable, to understand by any other means.

Pseudo-fatality prevails. Form will be carved not from marble but meat, with a cleaver.

Revelation is the most epistemic of aesthetic experiences, premised as it is on the violent curren[t]cy exchange between thesis and antithesis, the phantasm of synthesis flung into the featureless future as anxiety, or unsustainably durational desire.

And in this cruelty there is a clarity. The doors of perception are cleansed. We’re seeing everyone as they are —naked—, and everything as it is: [in]finite. This is the Nietzschean noon, the Loosian witching hour: world-at-an-end, world-without-end, world-without-shadows.