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Report on the state of grey affairs. Friday 27 March 2020

Clem Rousset

March 27th, 2020 4:41 min read 1289 words

Hello. I’m chiming in to confirm the general progression of grey. It is definitely here, and it’s settling in. No doubt about it now. Or actually, so much doubt, leaving none when it comes to the installment of greyness.

I wish I could show some figures to demonstrate this. I wish I could use quotes, add some footnotes, a smart citation or two. Maybe a nice chart. A mind map. But I can’t. All I have is what I can see. What I can perceive from my flat/headquarters and what I make out on the circuit I take every two days when I run. All I can do is report what is around. I don’t know much, except that the chirping of birds feels a bit too loud now. That the sky is noticeably blue and that the screams of the neighbourhood kids are too present to be ignored. Whoever messed up with the settings, please make yourselves known and there will be no harsh consequences. How do you go back to the default parameters again?

I would say that this is the main sign. The number one symptom to look for: mundane things suddenly standing out because of how normal they are, and the comfort they bring being blown out of proportion. You’re not supposed to be that moved by the smell of cut grass, not in that way.

On the backdrop of grey, perspectives seem to have undergone some sort of distortion. Scales and weights are shifting. Mountains becoming hills, becoming mounds; small things becoming annoyingly essential. But in the meantime, what seemed out of the question is tumbling in the realm of possibilities. Maybe it’s not that set after all. What was taken for granted is to be reexamined. Under the new grey light, different shadows are cast, new sides now visible can be studied. In this context, the scope of the possible is widening up. Certainties thrown to the ground. Things breaking the surface. Maybe it is time for this conversation that you never though you needed to have to happen. What was so scary turns out to be harmless. Things you thought you were bound to or couldn’t be challenged are showing some wear. Let’s move to another country. Let’s kick things to the ground. Let’s crop, let’s recentre this. Let’s redraw it, but at a different angle this time.

Prolongated exposure to greyness can cause irreversible damage to any type of structure.

A few months ago, with a friend we came up with the idea of a ‘grey pride’. It was half a joke and half not. Still is. A celebration of everything grey, everything out of categories. What would it look like, to gather cheerfully around the idea of being unclassifiable— ‘it’s okay to be grey’. We pushed the joke a bit far and made t-shirts. Mine fell apart in two days. Pro tip: don’t buy the iron-on printable paper from Ryman’s. Yesterday, I wondered if maybe this was it. Maybe this whole thing is the grey pride happening without us having any say in it. The whole lot of us unified in uncertainty.

We’re all in this together. Yet boundaries have risen from the ground in the last few weeks. Borders are closing, and we now all exist in private cells called households that should not come within two meters from each other. Who is ‘at risk’, who is not. And as my friend pointed out yesterday, who has the means to be tested, and who doesn’t. In a situation that affects us all regardless of origins, beliefs or any other criteria, there seems to be a stubborn attachment to divides. As you told me, a virus doesn’t discriminate.

« You should allow yourself to not feel ok, because in the present situation, it is absolutely impossible for anyone to be ok. In my opinion 80% of the population is stressed, and the 20% left will be sooner or later. »

I don’t read the news. I try not to listen to the radio when my flatmate turns it on in the kitchen. So I don’t really know about the status of things on a larger, serious scale. I don’t have a lot of smart and informed opinions on the economic repercussions or the long-lasting consequences grey will have on existing institutions. Again, all I know at the moment arises from what surrounds me. It’s just me. And in the countryside, my grandma is sewing face masks out of my grandad’s old fabric tissues. And sometimes without any particular reason I just start missing my mum.


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