The Atlantic

The Pre-pandemic Universe Was the Fiction

What the coronavirus outbreak reveals is not the unreality of our present moment, but the illusions it shatters.
Source: Hannah Whitaker

Years ago, I started writing a short story, the premise of which was this: All the clocks in the world stop working, at once. Not time itself, just the convention of time. Life freezes in place. The protagonist, who works in a Midtown Manhattan high-rise, takes the elevator down to the lobby and walks out onto the street to find the world on pause, its social rhythms and commercial activity suspended. In the air is a growing feeling of incipient chaos. I got about midway through page 3 and stopped. I didn’t know what it meant.

One word I’ve been hearing a lot lately is . Mostly, I hear it from my own mouth, because I haven’t left the house in a month, but also I hear it from friends on Zoom or Skype, and from the news on TV, or its variations: , ,

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