The Coronavirus Is Rewriting Our Imaginations

Possibly, in a few months, we’ll return to some version of the old normal. But this spring won’t be forgotten. When later shocks strike global civilization, we’ll remember how we behaved this time, and how it worked. It’s not that the coronavirus is a dress rehearsal—it’s too deadly for that. But it is the first of many calamities that will likely unfold throughout this century. Now, when they come, we’ll be familiar with how they feel.

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The Bonding ( ST:TNG Rewatch, Season Three Episode 5) — Character-driven analysis of grief

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. After a member of a landing party dies an accidental, senseless death, Picard must break the news to her young son. “Jeremy, on the starship Enterprise, no one is alone,” says Picard. “No one.” Numerous times on my rewatch, I’ve wished episodes would devote less time to scanning and probing and navigating around the Sci-Fi Thing of the Week, and more time on how the…

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Who Watches the Watchers (ST:TNG Season Three Episode 4) Rationalist, talky mythbusting

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. After a primitive, rationalist society mistakes Federation technology for supernatural power, Picard must do whatever it takes to undo the resulting cultural contamination. Fortunately for Picard, that involves lots of talking. A grim scene in sickbay memorably demonstrates that humans in the 24th century can sometimes delay but cannot defeat death. A cleverly subversive climax has Picard calmly determined to deliver the Mintakans from…

In “World Drama” I’m adding the absurd, optimistic “The Skin of Our Teeth” (dropping bleak “Waiting for Godot”)

In light of current events, I’m dropping the bleak Waiting for Godot from my World Drama class (actually I’m making it optional; students could drop a different play) and adding Thornton Wilder’s absurdist but optimistic The Skin of Our Teeth.   Writing while World War II was still raging, Wilder depicts a representative American family facing a series of calamities — an ice age, a global flood, an a world…