Salieri, Commerce and COVID

In Amadeus, Antonio Salieri rejects his father’s bourgeois commercial life and offers himself (?) in exchange for art and fame.

While my father prayed earnestly to God to protect commerce, I would offer up secretly the proudest prayer a boy could think of: Lord, make me a great composer. Let me celebrate Your glory through music and be celebrated myself. Make me famous through the world. Dear God make me immortal. After I die let people speak my name forever with love for what I wrote. In return I will give You my chastity, my industry, my deepest humility, every hour of my life, Amen.

After a month of quarantine and economic lockdown, I offer that Antonio was wrong about the relative diginity, fame, and importance of mere commerce. Commerce is what in fact makes the flourishing of art possible to the degree that 18th century Vienna experienced.

Three cheers for Old Man Salieri and his trade. And while Antonio may be the patron saint of mediocrities everywhere, he may also be the blessed patron of those who cannot see upon whose shoulders they stand.

COVID-19 Journal, April 3, 2020

The longer this goes on, the more I will be focused on the local and the narrow. While I’ve been less and less concerned with news over the last decade, this is really speeding up the process. I find myself occasionally jumping in but not caring pretty fast. Spending precious energy and time on things which I cannot change is not valuable.

COVID-19 Journal, April 1, 2020

Here are my general rules now that we are about a month in:

  • Consume only enough news to get the big picture. This takes less than five minutes. I’m not kidding.
  • Get outside.
  • Shades, curtains open. More light is better.
  • Keep working.
  • Do not descend down any rabbit holes, especially COVID related. Most are wrong and you don’t know which are right. You just don’t.
  • You don’t know.
  • Reduce the number of variables you care about because the number that you can’t control have gone up. Stop caring about things you don’t control.
  • COVID-19 Journal, March 26, 2020

    Minnesota goes into full shelter-in-place at midnight tomorrow (Friday night). We’ve already been socked away for about a week so I don’t think we’ll see much of a difference. I’ll need to run to the store tomorrow or Saturday which I imagine will be a bit of an ordeal. Mostly just for fresh things. Dry goods are in good supply.

    Still plenty of work to do. Belt tightening is on the mind at my various places of work, but no action yet. Money is already being saved with the dramatic reduction in travel expenditures.

    The full two week experiment is now on, from the President on down, across the country. Not much will be revisited until that period is over. In the meantime, we’ve spent an obscene amount of money on what we aren’t sure. And for what, isn’t clear.

    Everyone will be poorer (or dead) when this is over. There’s no disputing that. We’re just arguing about degree now.

    COVID-19 Journal, Days 7 & 8

    Up and down. Was able to get a hike in at Afton State Park on Saturday. A pleasant diversion especially with shelter in place hovering over of us all now. I expect it any day now.

    We were also able to have a virtual cocktail with friends in Atlanta last night. Good fun that made me wonder why we had not done it before.

    Today (Sunday) has been less successful. Some reading, some cleaning, some cooking. Blueberry sour cream bread coming up! And my Adam Smith Works article is finally wrapping up. But social media and news distracts me. Right now, I would say I am doing a terrible job if being a Stoic. Thinking a lot about things I can’t change. Ever forward.

    COVID-19 Journal, Day 6

    A few more active bits today: was off of work and shelter-in-place seemed to creep closer to Minnesota so Caren and I hit the grocery store for a big run. We’re set for a while now. Then to the Rice Creek Dog Park for a run with Ginny and back home to pack away all of our food. Made steak tacos, drank some cava, and made a cherry pie. Probably as good a day as you can have on lock down.

    Also: I am working 4 simultaneous games over at http://www.playdiplomacy.com, while Caren and I watched most of La Fille du Regiment at http://www.metopera.org/season/on-demand. Time for bed. Some more cooking tomorrow.

    There are so many projections out there, all so wildly different. I have neither the patience nor the mental strength to sort through it all. We are in, staying healthy, awaiting what comes. My actions at this point would not change that drastically regardless of which of those extant projections were correct, anyway.

    COVID-19 Journal, Days 4 & 5

    Things get repetitive fast. Work, food, walk the dog, some sort of evening activity, etc. Last night we skipped the Met Opera stream (Il Trovatore, meh) and listened to the Hit Parade podcast on Whitney Houston. It’s a surprisingly nerdy music podcast with particular reference to the charts, making for an awful lot of numbers actually. But very entertaining.

    Speaking of free, you can now watch all of the Live at 9:30 episodes for free here.

    Tonight, back to working-out (I really tore up my legs that second day by overdoing it), having a pleasant dinner and probably watching an opera or a movie. Taking tomorrow off (previously scheduled for something else, but I am doing it anyway, despite the event being cancelled), even though I have no idea what “time off” means in this environment.

    COVID-19 Journal, Day 3

    Did not leave the house today except to walk the dog. Mostly work, but got some light exercise in again thanks to Planet Fitness’ daily live cast. Almost done with the homemade blueberry pie I made over the weekend. Now watching the Met’s stream of La Boheme, even though it’s not one of my favorites. Too saccharine. And I don’t get mid-production curtain calls in opera.

    Today’s real accomplishment was staying off social media most of the time. I’m really hating the tone right now. This was as normal a day as there has been in about a week. No big announcements, no additional cancellations, no big decisions.

    COVID-19 Journal, Day 2

    Working from home. A previously scheduled home-cleaning service came in to give the entire house a really deep scrub, which means Ginny went to Dog Days for the day. Caren’s museum is now officially closed for the duration as are the UMinnesota libraries, so she had to remove all her material today from her assigned carrel. At this point, there is really nowhere to go.

    We were briefly going to visit my family in Chicago this upcoming weekend, but that is certainly off at this point. I can’t see being away from the house, the dog, and our base with so much uncertainty in the air. We are now reaching the point where travel and certain localities could become restricted. I would not want to become locked out of my own home, or trapped in another state. Unlikely but not impossible at this point.

    My main office in Denver had a quick all-staff this morning to discuss a few procedures, grab a few things from the office, and then disburse. People are rotating into the office to grab the mail and process things, but otherwise all work is being done from home. The big nonprofit questions are just starting to be asked: whither fundraising, whither income? Most importantly: where do your organization’s priorities fit in the New World’s priorities? This will not be clear for months, as we learn from both our donors and from the structure of what comes after.

    Evening activities: lodge trustees meeting (by phone), 20 minute workout (video online now being put together daily by Planet Fitness), dinner, walk the dog, an episode of Vienna Blood, and a little of the Metropolitan Opera’s nightly streaming (Carmen).