Zuzana Kepplová

    is a writer and journalist. She lives in Bratislava and is a staff writer and columnist with the daily SME. She studied dramaturgy and scrip writing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, and did her PhD at the Central European University’s Department of Gender Studies and the Department of Cultural Studies at New York’s Stony Brook University (SUNY). She is has published three novels, the latest being Reflux. “In the beginning, some primordial beings took clumps of clay out of water and shaped them into islands on which life was possible. Or maybe someone offered to swing a lasso at the sun and pull it closer, fixing it at just the right distance from Earth to keep it from freezing or burning to ashes.
    Nowadays these myths may sound to us like tall tales, yet they were ancient contracts that people signed with their environment to ensure that life could take on its everyday form, that things have their names and have a meaning.
    The wonderful thing about these primordial contracts is that what we call nature today was one of the contractual parties. Nature reminds us of ‘School out in Nature’, the state-organized classes in the countryside which involved writing postcards home, the teachers reminding us that we should mention the clean air, the wonderful surroundings, and the yummy food. Nature featured in our science classes: coltsfoot in a herbarium or a frog’s nerve leaping off a pad. Or being exempt from gardening classes on account of hayfever.
    All this is nature. It is the contract with nature in the spirit of naïve modernity that has transformed the wolf into a chihuahua scampering towards us on its crooked little feet and constantly scrambling into the palms offering it food.
    And if nature ever made an appearance as one of the contractual parties that lent us that small clump of clay or a ray of sun, it was in the form of illness. It made the belly of my classmate’s mum balloon up, pumping it full of a liquid and before her family could get hold of the top oncologists, we found ourselves sitting on a bench of the crematorium as my classmate retched in a corner, leaning against a wooden wall, then wiping her mouth on her sleeve to receive our condolences.
    And now, during the pandemic, the other contractual party has revealed itself as something we can’t get the measure of, something that gets inside us and is capable of eating us up from within, pumping us full of infection and then taking our bodies apart like items of Ikea furniture – DEÄTH. Tossed into the swirl of 24/7 news every morning, we are like Sartre’s students in black polo necks, facing this elemental force trying to pull the sun closer with a lasso.
    Let’s keep going, let’s keep going!”
    Photo: Daily SME