Jonathan Goldman: COVID Check-In - James Joyce Quarterly

Jonathan Goldman: COVID Check-In

This is the fifth installment in our COVID Check-Ins series, in which we feature videos by various Joyceans from around the world to update us on how they are handling the COVID pandemic, how their community is responding, and how it has affected their teaching/research.
In this entry, Jonathan Goldman, provides an emotional update from New York, and gives a tribute to those who have affected by the virus.

A short note from Jonathan:

When Sean Latham and Carol Kealiher invited me to send a video check-in representing my thoughts and my city during the COVID-19 crisis, I was moved and humbled, and looked forward to speaking to the international Joyce community. After a couple weeks and drafts of a script, however, I realized that I didn’t want to add my voice to the video series as much as I wanted to offer a glimpse of my neighborhood that would convey both New York City’s expansiveness and its density, alongside chilling statistics of COVID-19’s effects to date. The figures are drawn from the NYC Department of Health; given the contours of the city’s population and the way the crisis has unfolded, it is clear they represent a fraction of the real totals.The video panorama, shot from near West 91st Street, Manhattan, starts from a North-by-Northeast aspect and ends looking south. It is taken from my balcony; my family has become devout practitioners of the daily 7pm thank-you to health care workers and service industry workers putting their lives at risk. It is from the balcony that we clap, cheer, and yes, play instruments.

I wanted to share something that has sustained me over these weeks: music. In playing “Amazing Grace” I selected a tune with a complex transatlantic resonance, once an English hymn (with origins in the slave trade) that has become an African American gospel and jazz standard, often played as a dirge.

Lastly, I added a Joyce quote, a thought from Stephen in the library chapter of Ulysses. I like to think of this line of text as Joyce talking to his younger self, exhorting him to take advantage of the time we have in this life, because no one knows what’s coming next.

Jonathan Goldman
April 11, 2020
New York Freakin’ City