Among the positive impacts of our coronavirus isolation has been what you might call found time: hours and hours each day for the books I intended to read, television programs I wanted to watch, and operas I didn’t want to miss. What a windfall!
From East Hampton Main Street to Manhattan, tried and true purveyors of books are closed, including the East Hampton Library and BookHampton, but I’ve got a number of hardbound volumes on hand, and myriad others accessible on the computer or Kindle. Have you discovered Hoopla yet? If you navigate to the East Hampton Library’s website, you will find a link to it at the bottom of the home page: free access to thousands of audio books, movies, and eBooks to browse through and gorge on.
These must be banner days at the Netflix corporation. So far, my husband, Chris, and I have most enjoyed an emotionally astute program about a family in Israel named Shtisel, trying to assimilate to the modern world. And I think I actually clapped my hands when I got an email announcing that the Metropolitan Opera is providing live-streamed operas — from “Carmen” to “Eugene Onegin” — free of charge through the end of March, with more to come.
We are living in a parallel world, where our intellects are helping us balance personal well-being with awareness of the worldwide predicament we are in.
There being nothing new under the sun may be a gigantic cliche, but it satisfies me to think of that phrase when I recall the words of a longtime favorite sonnet by William Wordsworth:
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune. . . .”
Wordsworth was writing at the beginning of the 19th century, a time when the Romantic era and the Industrial Revolution were on a collision course. Perhaps that period is intellectually similar to the western world in crisis today. Are we now out of tune? Are we at sea under howling winds? I would say so.