One more Lesson from the Corona moment of Humanity

The diagram of society is changing. Coronavirus has already redrawn the lines of commune in our society. We are under lockdown and the entrance to our homes has become the line that confines us to our homes. As we go to the market to fetch essential food items, we have to mark our distance from the lethal virus with a face mask and hand hygiene as well as lines of social distance. The diagram of life has changed. The police and paramilitary forces are actively maintaining the lines of this new diagram.  Maybe it is an opportune time to think about how diagrammatics affects our life. A diagrammatic thought can open new vistas. Our imagination is constrained by the logic of the diagrams that control it. Our diagrams in various ways produce our life. In ancient times diagrams were used by the geometricians to express their theorems. It was a handy tool that marked space and had several applications.  In our days, things have become complex. Diagrams have become schemas that also distribute time and we can have a clear picture of change over time.  Today we have graphs that purport to mark space as well as time to manifest how coronavirus is growing and spreading across geographical spaces as time flies by.  We do have intimate and deeply personal schemas that carve our path of life as well as those of others.  Maybe it is important to reflect on these lines that constrain us and others.  

We are literally living by the Greek word diagramma.  It is etymologically composed of dia+graphein.   dia means across and graphein means to write.  Thus, it means to mark out with lines. We began with space but today we mark out the dynamism of space and time.  This marking of the changing distribution of space and time is profoundly intimate to individuals and the community.  There sacred places and holy times for all people. Besides, individuals have their homes, schools, colleges, villages, and cities, etc that mark the spaces of their life. We also have birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, working hours, etc that draw the lines of our times. This suggests that we all have diagrams that open and close the space and time of our life.  The corona moment of humanity may be an occasion to discern how diagrams open as well as close our life.  This opening and closing of our space and time is an important function of diagrams.  It would be safe to say that our life is diagrammatic in its character. Even animals are diagrammatic. Dogs mark their space and have their mating time, so do other animals.  This is why being diagrammatic is not something unique to humans. Even the viruses have a diagram by which they infect us.  Today it is all-important to us to discover the diagram of Covid-19. Some thinkers in the earlier days spoke of the law of nature inscribed in human bodies.  It somewhat overlaps with the diagrammatic of life that we have tried to understand here. But the law of nature is static and cannot schematize the dynamism of human diagrammatic of all scales. 

We have diagrams that determine the play of our life. They not only set the play of life, but they also mark who gets to be with us and who is left out.  Thus, we can see how religious, national, cultural, racial, gender, caste lines mark space, time and people in the play of life.  We are all immersed in life that is both constrained and enabled by our diagrams.  Diagrams operationalise our lives with the lines that establish our boundaries.  All these diagrams that mark our life have their logic and rationality. Even in violence and riots, we can notice diagrams operating as vague blueprints.  In human violence, we can trace gender, religious, national, cultural biased lines constituting our diagrams. Think of women victims in riots.  Women almost always suffer exponentially high amounts of violence on their bodies.    Hence, understanding how humans are diagrammatic might assist us to set ourselves free from violence of several shades which may otherwise remain a blind spot in our life.  This shows that there is a lot of geometry and mathematics that constitute our life. We add, subtract, multiply and divide with lines of intersections and separations. Diagrams do limit the possibilities of our life.  But an expansive imagination can enable us to redraw these limiting lines into expansive freedoms. 

Diagrams compose the space and time for both the materiality and ideality of human life.  In the case of animals, diagrams compose space and time only for the materiality of their life.  This is why the diagram of coronavirus is material and can only afflict our biological materiality.  But since human diagrams have essential relations to the ideality of life, they can have social, psychological, political and economic effects. We are already facing economic effects.  In the days to come, we may face the intense psychological impacts of this corona moment of humanity. While we need to bring new psycho-spiritual resources to deal with the psychic effect of coronavirus, we will have to draw lines that configure it and respond to the psychological crisis that might emerge as a result of our confinement to our homes as well as a loss of near and dear ones to this lethal virus.   But most of all let us allow this corona moment to enlighten us about the kinds of diagrams that are inscribed into our life, family, workplace and society at large. Let’s consider how each of us is diagrammatic in a profoundly intimate manner and redraw our personal diagrams deliberately to include all journeys of our fellow humans.  All life is diagrammatic immanence.  Human life is diagrammatically constituted. All rituals, customs, traditions and other practices are diagrams that produce both materiality and ideality of our life.  Maybe it times to re-visit the diagrammatic lines that oppress, exploit and discriminate against other humans.  It is not just enough to reconsider these lines of oppression. We have to also reconsider our diagrammatic lines that open and close our relations with nature and God. Every society has its diagram. Lets us re-draw a humane and emancipative one for us. 


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao