Notebook

Rhetoric of Confinement

Two days ago the Norwegian government resolved to reopen the country (to use the official nomenclature) after a year and a half of Covid-related restrictions. When I looked up the website of a national newspaper, the lead item was an editorial with the title ‘The End of 562 Absurd Days’. For further reportage, one had to scroll quite a way down the page. This unexcited approach seemed broadly representative of other media — as if the fizz had long since gone out of the bottle, notwithstanding the language of ‘war effort’, ‘deadly threat’ and ‘national dugnad‘ having been, not long ago, in everyone’s mouth. Something significant happened in about the middle of July when, seemingly overnight, statistics of dread moved into small print while prime space was taken over by advertisements for summer wear. That events of these past 18 months have been dramatic and that radical communal efforts were called for: this is beyond doubt. Still, I’d interested to see a cool study of the rise and fall of the rhetoric of confinement. It would help us understand not only what we have lived through but the forces that influence our understanding.