inessential by Brent Simmons

Memory Hole

I knew about the 1918 pandemic — but not really. It was just kind of a fact with no details filled in and nothing important attached to it.

I’m a big fan of American art and literature of the period, and, while the war is frequently referenced, the pandemic is barely mentioned. If ever. I don’t remember it coming up in The Great Gatsby or anything else.

But wasn’t this a massive event? Wikipedia tells us it lasted at least a year, infected about a third of the world, and killed from 17 million to 100 million people.

That’s enormous — but it was basically just jotted-down and then erased from the popular memory, it seems.

* * *

I’ve already forgotten March — all I remember is that it felt like it lasted an eon. Much of April is a blur.

My theory: there will be no demand for novels or movies or TV shows that remind us of all this.

We’re living through a time we’re going to try to forget, as if we’re under some kind of anesthesia that makes us forget the operation and how painful it is.