来源：四川作家网 | 费利西蒂·卡斯塔尼亚 2020年12月11日16:05
Pandemic. Reflection. Creation.
The worst thing that could happen to literature right now would be a flood of novels that explore Covid- 19, though I don’t doubt this will happen. It has already happened in fact, primarily in the area of non-fiction we’ve already had several collections of essays which look at the impact of the pandemic on our lives, something that I would argue is impossible for us to do well without time and space and contemplation.
The best work that will come out of this period, I suspect, will be work that bares no mention of Covid but which explores the anxiety, uncertainty and unexpected moments of joy it has created in so many of our lives.
I’m particularly interested in how our relationship to place is reconfigured in times of crisis. I think the best works of this period will be ones, not about our reactions with the wider world, but ones which look at the way that all of our worlds and our lives have become smaller. It will be writing that explores our homes, our suburbs; It will be writing that explores urban planning and architecture and the ways that our relationships with the spaces we inhabit define who we are and propel our stories.
The Australian writer David Malouf in his book 12 Edmonstone Street said that place ‘constitutes your fortune, your fate, and is your only entry into the world.’ Those words take on a completely different meaning now when the nightly news reminds us of how differently our experiences of this pandemic are depending on where you are in the world or who you are in the world.
Early on in the pandemic, when most schools and workplaces had shut down in Sydney I was asked by my American editor if I would like to contribute a piece on the Australian experience of the pandemic for a publication in New York. I said no, really because I didn’t feel that, living in a relatively safe country, I should be allowed to contribute to a discussion on such a painful topic. I had spent so many hours watching images of giant refrigerated trucks sitting in the back streets of New York, holding all those lifeless bodies that had nowhere else to go.
On my side of the world, my husband, my kids and I were attempting to block out all the anxiety and uncertainty of this period by having lots of picnics- something that had
become illegal because of new rules about congregating outdoors. We were living in Australia’s fastest growing city but it had suddenly become quiet and there were all sorts of places for illegal picnics to happen—in the courtyards of office buildings that were no longer occupied, at the ferry station that had no ferry’s and on the steps of boarded-up historical buildings. In retrospect that is something worth writing about, there’s a story there and I could fill it up with a lot of those small specific details of those places that I’d never noticed before all of this, like the fact that between all these sky scrapers there are ancient species of lemons and limes that would have grown here since pre-colonisation. My children gathered bags filled with them and passed their dried out seeds to neighbours we’d never talked to before: Now they leave fennel bulbs and kaffir lime on our doorstep and that’s become another story too, one I can’t quite articulate yet but might be able to in the future.
One of the things I’m interested in at the moment is the research which shows that children develop the ability to read at the same time as they become spatially literate. In other words, children learn to recognise streets and have a sense of their local geography at the same time that they learn to recognise words— they learn to read books and place at the same time. I wonder if my children who are in the early stages of literacy will read their space in a different way because of this pandemic. I wonder if they’ll notice things they might not have if we weren’t forced to stick so close to home. Now that they know what the centre of the most densely populated region of Australia looks and feels like in silence how will it change the way they see the place in the future?
Novels aren’t things that simply respond to issues. They help us to think in complex and complicated ways. I think for myself at least I’ll be using this period to reflect on smaller things and more local places.