Bruce Schneier: "The unrelenting horizonlessness of the Covid world"

Originally published at:


The answer is and always was to focus on what is in front, while trying to fit into the big picture.

Vote please.


It’s that, if we can no longer trust in the future, many things become irrelevant, retrospectively pointless. And by that we mean from the perspective of a future whose basic shape we can no longer take for granted. This fundamentally disrupts how we weigh the value of what we are doing right now.

Sadly, covid is only a part of this. For people working with threats of layoffs, overtime, lack of PPE, lack of staff and lack of support from management, covid is just another layer on top of work alienation.

Personally, I feel that The Buddha got things wrong. Desire is not the seed of suffering, it’s hope. You cannot desire without hope. Hope makes you think that more staff will be hired, work conditions will improve, hard work will be rewarded. Once you accept the futility of this happening, once you lose hope, desire will vanish. Workers feel irrelevant and pointless because they are viewed that way, and like hope, they are vanishing.


It’s an odd feeling. My productivity is down by half, and I’m working in a job that isn’t affected too much by the pandemic. Oh, wait, I can’t drive up to work on some of the telescopes, and the current administration is hostile to the very concept of science and academia, where I work. Yeah, it’s really hard not having a horizon.


From the Franz Kafka Joke Book…

Why did the chicken cross the road?

It had been crossing so long it could not remember. As it stopped in the middle to look back, a car sped by, spinning it around. Disoriented, the chicken realized it could no longer tell which way it was going. It stands there still.

This is what I feel. It doesn’t quite fit ‘acedia’ as I find it defined on the web. It would be good to have a word for it, if there is one. If not, hardly anyone was using ‘acedia’ properly anyhow so we can take it. Like ‘ironic’.


Of historical note: the Catholic church once considered acedia a sin, though Pope Gregory I rolled it into “envy” when he set up the common seven deadly sins.


I live in Switzerland. We undertook and accepted the consequences of an early and difficult lockdown, fast, strong and comparatively short. I will never forget live translating the press conference to my colleagues when the world stopped, the borders closed, the school year was cancelled, and the largest military call up since WWII was announced.

We are reaping the benefits now, we are exploring what regular life looks like with COVID. It’s not great, but it is not horizonless, nor is it apathy inducing. It just is regular, but different.

The other day there was an outdoor wedding at the city park down the street. It made me really happy.

I know I’m incredibly lucky to live in a society that was willing to do the work to re-find regular. I hope others can re-find it as well.


Well, the algorithm is working. :wink:


BB should attribute the thought to Bruce and not CNN which is pretty thoughtless, clueless, etc., virtually all the time.


Acedia’s blackest hole

This manages to put into words a lot about how i’ve been feeling, especially now that large swathes of the UK have gone back into lockdown and the daily uncertainty of when and how this fucking thing is going to end. The climate emergency is playing acedia’s long game though and this is just the hors d’oeuvre.

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