COVID-19: The View From Afar



Beurjlay slumped into her seat, exasperated by another long day of trying to seed life in four dimensional universes, she again contemplated leaving this silly field behind. But, just as she was about to turn in for the day, she glanced over from her perch atop multi-dimensional space to an experiment from the week before. Furrowing her ocular lobe she sprung up to take a closer look.

The third rock from a modest star in a rather drab solar system seemed to be emitting faint electromagnetic waves. Hmmm.

She pulled out her terrestrial probe to examine the read out. Suddenly her eye-ball glowed with delight. A strain of one of the four limbed land dwellers seemed to have developed enough cognitive capacity to break entropy. Had she done it? Had the experiment worked? There were so many variables to consider she didn’t dream to think she had correctly tweaked each one. Hurriedly Beurjlay scrolled through the data thinking how proud Frarfy would be that she finally figured out how to follow every step of the protocol.

Then her iridescent glow faded and she drooped as she got to the end. It seemed all was going well, humanity had progressed through many of the natural stages towards interoperable sentience: the development of symbolic and representative language, complex tool making, even digital information encoding. But she must have made a mistake for something went wrong around their year 2020 AD. Beurjlay unpacked the data to take a closer look.

In just the last few hundred of their years they had traversed the entire globe and learned how to survive in almost all of its environments. They had begun to understand some of the physical properties of their world, and had even just set up a global interconnected communication system when all went awry.

This is a translated reading of what Beurjlay would write in her report….

“Final month of 2019: Global economy and general well-being at an all-time high when contagion breaks. Species’ immune systems not developed enough to properly recognize threat demonstrating little to no understanding of their own biology and subsequent vulnerability.

First month of 2020: Contagion becomes endemic. Local organ rapidly enacts full-fledged anti-viral measures to quell the outbreak. Total spread averted locally but too late to avoid spill-over.

Second month of 2020: Despite mounting evidence of oncoming pandemic, organs around the world downplay risk. Few take the necessary steps to curtail spread. Over-reliance on story telling to transmit information. Beliefs, dictated by the most compelling narratives, hold sway over truth.

Third month of 2020: Contagion becomes pandemic. All organs rush to enact ineffective and uncoordinated counter measures. Large swaths of the species go into hiding.

Fourth month of 2020: As the death toll mounts, most members of the species find themselves unable to sustain themselves in hiding. Discontent rises as organizing system based on perpetual growth in imagined currencies and stocks begins to crumble. 

Fifth month of 2020: Despite being on the brink of multiple systemic failure, organs lead by irrational actors release a series of defamatory statements accusing each other for the problem they all face…”

Frarfy pulled back from the report, knowing all too well where this was going.  “Oh well.” he thought, “at least it would make for an interesting case study. Maybe one of Existence’s partner journals will accept it.”




(Updated May 5th, 2020)

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