Confinement means giving up our freedom to move, to meet and to trade. It means preserving ourselves, a necessary measure to slow the exponential progression of coronavirus contamination. With its epidemiological crisis leaflet, Bernard Umbrecht offers us a moment of joyful curiosity on the definition of the word "confinement", far from the statements of the sociologist Jean Viard according to which we would write "a blank page", with a "virgin imagination".(1).
Condom = Who has the virtue or ability to preserve, speaking of a cure.
Around 1826, cholera appeared in India and spread to Moscow and Russia in 1830. This was the second cholera pandemic. From 1830 onwards, what was one of the most feared infectious diseases reached Central Europe.
According to the knowledge in force at the time, it was considered that it was transmitted through physical contact with a patient and through his exhalations. The health authorities of the Grand Duchy of Baden tried to control the epidemic by means of numerous measures - disinfection with chlorine, installation of quarantine facilities. Most of them were unsuccessful.
Cholera has caused fear and dread among the population. The latter have, as at all times and up to now, been exploited by charlatans advocating, not without success, many more or less unusual remedies. Faced with contradictory recommendations, and failing to know how to discern them, there are two options: either to ignore them all, or to adopt them all. It is the latter option that inspired the Austrian author Moritz Gottlieb Saphir (1795-1858) for his satirical journal appearing in Munich "der deutsche Horizont". In order to better understand the caricature, the author himself explains his drawing in these terms:
"A man, a woman, with all the condoms on, should move in the following way. Around the body first a rubber skin (Gummi elasticum), over a large plaster surrounded by the six flannel aunts. In the hollow of the stomach a copper plate. On the chest a large bag of warm sand, around the neck a double bandage with juniper berries and peppercorns, in the ears cotton soaked with camphor, under the nose he has a bottle of four thieves vinegar In German Pestessig = plague vinegar] and in the mouth a cigar. ...] Behind him, fastened by a belt, he pulls a cart with a bathtub, fifteen flannel ducks, a steam bath apparatus, a smoking machine, eight brushes, eighteen tiles, two furs, a commode chair and a chamber pot. On his face he still needs a spearmint paste mask.
The description ends with these words: Thus equipped and provided, one is sure to be the first to catch cholera. »
Quote from Claudia Eberhard-Metzger, Renate Ries: Verkannt und heimtückisch. Die ungebrochene Macht der Seuchen. Birkhäuser Verlag
The female variant is as follows :
What is striking about these cartoons is of course that they are those of walking condoms, it is about bodies "on the move" while we are now living in the opposite situation of confinement. It's a funny word, but the word war is even worse.
Confinement, that is, the second meaning of the verb to confine, which also means " be very close to ". Confinement evokes the cell of the same name in prisons or the enclosure in nuclear power plants. And the prohibition for a sick person to leave the room. We therefore confine recalcitrant prisoners, radioactive products, contagious patients.
Today, containment concerns people who are not sick, healthy but potentially and a-symptomatically contaminating. This reversal is unprecedented. It would undoubtedly have been better to confine infected people and outbreaks of contamination, but for this to happen it would have been necessary to test them, which was not done or quickly stopped being done in France, unlike Germany. But this could also change. There is containment only because there are not enough tests. Germany, in this case the Land of Baden-Württemberg, had quickly undertaken to "isolate" Alsace on its side of the Rhine, considering it as a risk zone mainly because of the lack of tests (Information available on the site of the Robert Koch Institute, the federal epidemiological watch centre).[Post Scriptum: The government of Baden-Württemberg has sent a letter to all hospitals in the state asking them to provide beds with breathing apparatus for the most serious patients in Alsace].
While Germany has also taken measures to close schools, to "social distancing", which Frédéric Neyrat calls "separatism of control", until now it had not been considered that a generalised Ausgangsperre (literally a ban on leaving) would bring any additional benefit. But that was a virologist's point of view. As the epidemic spreads, the Laenders are moving closer to our containment modalities. They have margins of autonomy in terms of health management and can anticipate federal decisions, as was the case for the "closure" of the borders. There is also pressure from public opinion. That said, their health system has suffered the same neo-liberal damage as ours.
"The most effective way to prevent infections and save lives is to break the chains of transmission. And to do this, you need to screen and isolate. You can't fight a fire blindfolded. And we can't stop this pandemic if we don't know who is infected with the virus. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test all suspected cases. »
(Keynote address by the Director-General of the World Health Organization, WHO, at the press briefing on COVID-19 - 16 March 2020)
Tests, we still have to have them. Instead, we isolate the undetected. Under the surveillance of gendarmerie drones as the police begin to check the contents of shopping carts as they exit the supermarkets. Are these products really basic necessities?
To be under house arrest, in good or relatively good health, a prisoner of having done nothing or nothing at all, is therefore the fate of those who are designated as "war allies" in the words of the Minister of the Interior. Acts of care, precautions and preventive health measures, even if they are crisis-related and severe, are not acts of "war", despite the President of the Republic's six uses of the word.
War" means the suspension of civic acts. There are no more civilians in "war". Funny "war" in which the infantrymen are sent to the front barebackthe chief medical regulators of Centre 15 in the Haut-Rhin, with its "stretcher-bearers", the medical students, organised in a "martial manner", as the dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Strasbourg put it, with its "heroes in the shadows" (sic): the supermarkets. And to all of them, the grateful fatherland ! Now we've gone from war to a state of health emergency. One wonders who's panicking.
Confinement" raises the question of the capacity to withstand it, independently - perhaps not - of the degree of coercion that imposes it, a question that had already preoccupied Blaise Pascal. In general, only one sentence is retained: "all the misfortune of men comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to rest in a room". The whole passage, entitled entertainment...deserves another look. Since we have time, here it is:
Speaking of readings, how about poetry? Give us our daily poem. We can do this by following the useful wire for confined spaces from Poezibao with a report on the 250th anniversary of the birth of Hölderlin Hörlerlin for whom you can fall up as well as down. Or the collective For which collects the poems of the G2020 containment rand.
The issue of exact wording is more essential than ever. Gallimard Editions offers daily crisis leaflets
" While today "events have stopped striking", as Jean Baudrillard wrote in other circumstances (2001), the written word has more than ever its place to help us use the right words; the right words that seize us as much as they liberate us."
To the students confinedthe Learning Nation: review with France Culture
In Mulhouse, a collective is born on Instragram, Resist! To what, exactly? At least with the gloom. Masks are being made on the initiative of the artists' collective group at Motoco...by inviting everyone to participate.
Bernard Umbrecht, Journalist The Rhine Jump
(1) Proposes on the occasion of the issue CPolitique - France 5 of 22/03/2020.