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Quarantine Diaries,” by David Garyan (Day 3)

Quarantine Diaries – Day 3 March 17th, 2020

Trento, Italy


Sometimes it’s hard to believe this is really happening—I mean look at the view from our house. The Trentino-South Tyrol region is one of the most beautiful in Italy.

The Dolomites are about an hour and a half drive from here, but at this moment they’re more unreachable than Mount Everest. Looking at the picture, I do wonder where that plane is going. Ah, travel—the freedom of movement; “don’t know what you got till it’s gone,” said Cinderella or a famous band by the same name. I prefer: “Don’t know what you got till it’s taken away from you,” but then again—I’m neither a princess nor a renowned hair-metal band.

So, it’s day three and we finally found the willpower to clean the mess which had accumulated over the past few days (I won’t post tidy apartment pictures just to show off); however, the strength to pick up a razor and shave our beards still hasn’t graced us, despite various fake reports circulating around social media that the CDC has advised men to shave their facial hair to protect against the coronavirus.

Politifact, a non-profit website which regularly reports on the accuracy of claims made by the media and politicians, has verified that no such recommendation has been made by the CDC.

Well, the topic for today seems to be large amounts of facial hair on men’s faces. In the spirit of gender equality, I’ll just assume that beards aren’t something that many women are interested in having, but if you happen to be a women who does want Darwinian facial hair, please rest assured that I fully support the rights of the sex which is different from mine to pursue this endeavor (boy, that was an athletic academic sentence); I’m getting better at this. Oh, and that’s Darwin in his most evolved state, by the way.

In the spirit of academic discourse, then, let’s stick with subtlety and complexity. Indeed, beards have always been controversial throughout history; scholars have arrived at the conclusion that they’re neither good nor bad, which isn’t really a conclusion at all. Furthermore, beards can be analyzed using various literary discourses such as deconstruction and new historicism—just two of the theories which can make things so incredibly complex that they can pulverize the suffering and joy behind everything. Academese, after all, is a language where the word for “genocide” is a number and the best way to express “happiness” is with logic.

The fact remains and at the same time doesn’t remain, however, that everything I’ve said really is bullshit, but that doesn’t mean it’s false—and that’s no bullshit either: “The bullshitter is faking things. But this does not mean that he necessarily gets them wrong,” Harry Frankfurt said in his essay, “On Bullshit.” Thank you, Harry, for supporting me in this time of need.

Anyways, back to beards: Alexander the Great didn’t like them—supposedly because they were something convenient for enemies to grab during battle. According to The Atlantic, however, that story is a myth, but what do bullshit reporters know anyways? “Yesterday’s paper is no longer news and history certainly isn’t a newspaper,” said Jacques Derrida.

In Russia, Peter the Great instituted a beard tax with the hopes that people would shave and look more like their Western European counterparts; here, we find the first traces of modernity in Russia; it all comes back to the beard in the end. Ancient Greeks regarded them as a sign of virility, and the last US president to have facial hair was William Howard Taft during the Pleistocene administration. Here he is after having eaten a mastodon for lunch. His exercise will be digesting it.

Again, what to make of all this? So far we’ve dealt with the beauty of Trentino-South Tyrol, bullshit, and facial hair. Except for the first sentence, a discussion of coronavirus is appropriately missing. What coronavirus? What pandemic? It doesn’t exist. Call me insane, but the greatest benefit of insanity is that it doesn’t force you to accept the craziness that comes with living a normal life. “Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” Thank you, Charles Bukowski; that will be all for now.

All the way from quarantined Italy: I may seem nuts now, but in a month everyone here will be no different.

And no, I don’t care if it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Where can you celebrate it, anyways? At home drinking alone?

Until next time.


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