The Masque of the Orange Death

(Kur Report – Part 8)


My brother’s nickname for Austria is “Clean World”. It’s his way of contrasting what he hears from me about the Covid and political situations here to what he is experiencing in the States. Well, if my home is in Clean World, where I am right now is . . . I don’t know . . . Prospero’s Castle?

As announced in my last posts, I left for my third cure week at the health resort on Wednesday at the crack of dawn. After about 4 hours of travel, I arrived, got my room key and was instructed to isolate there. Twenty minutes later, someone from the Red Cross came to my room and stuck a Q-Tip up my nose. An hour after that, someone bought me a plate of food. Five hours after that, my phone rang. My test was negative. I could leave my room. My cure week had begun.

This place is almost hermetically sealed. Everyone here has been tested, some of them more than once (if they are employees or patients who come from hotspot areas). No one else is allowed in and we have strict rules to follow if we go out. We get our temperatures checked daily before lunch. We have to wear masks outside of our rooms and sanitize our hands when entering and leaving any of the seven therapy areas. Everything imaginable is being done to keep the plague out of this place.

So, I guess it is no wonder that Edgar Allen Poe and his “Masque of the Red Death” keeps infiltrating my thoughts. What are we, if not a bunch of oblivious and merry guests concentrating only on having a pleasant time while a sickness rages outside our doors? Like the rest of the guests here, I considered tuning out the world for a week. But, unfortunately, the CNN breaking news on my TV and my list of political podcasts keep me informed about events outside, and I can’t seem to let them go. Twump’s clearly deteriorating mental state and increasingly demented actions have enabled him to sneak into this Castle of Clean World like an uninvited guest to wreak the same mental havoc here. But, of course, only for me. The rest of the people around me seem to be quite happy and fully enjoying the temporary good life.

I had free time yesterday and spent it in my room watching part of John Lewis’s funeral, including Obama’s powerful eulogy which really moved me. Afterwards, on the way down to the café terrace, I was deeply into thoughts about all the things he had said. Slowly, they got drowned out by the conversation of a group at a nearby table. It was the shallow talk of virtual strangers socializing out of necessity – complaints about the Covid restrictions and tips on how to get around them, a lengthy discussion about whether or not Hansi Hinterseer (an Austrian skier-turned-B-Grade-folk-singer) was gay, a mock feud between an Upper and a Lower Austrian, a debate about which receptionist is the rudest . . . It all struck me as so banal and meaningless. John Lewis is dead! Americans are dying and our democracy is on life support!! The “leader” is insane!

Which brings me back to Poe and another one of his stories. I remember some college professor telling us how Sigmund Freud was a Poe fan and that especially “The Fall of the House of Usher” was inspirational to him. It helped him to develop the theory of the subconscious. The upper floors house conscious, rational minds dealing – however feebly – with the world as it is. The crazy is buried in the basement – a place full of fear, obsession, and the irrationality of animalistic drives. Depending on how you see it, the protagonist either descends into madness or the crazy he tries to keep down resurfaces to destroy him. The whole house collapses in on itself.

Twump dwells in the basement of his mind. Years ago, I decided that he wakes up each morning with one thought in his head: “What dickish thing can I do today?” That has remained true up to and including today. It will be true tomorrow. It will be true on November 4th and on January 20th.

But! she says, with a budding, ever-so-slight sense of hope and change, Americans do seem to be waking up. Where locked doors fail to keep the orange menace from crashing the party and bringing the house down, the locked hands of various resisters just might: young BLM protesters shielded by a wall of moms, protected by leaf-blower dads, guarded by vets. Backing them up are the whistle-blowers, the Bulwark and Lincoln Project, the Squad, the leakers, the media monitors, the experts, the front-line doctors and nurses, the podcasters, the artists, the postal workers, the vote protectors, the voters . . .

Together they may finally pull off the orange one’s masque, revealing for once and for all that underneath, there is absolutely nothing.


7 thoughts on “The Masque of the Orange Death

  1. “The rest of the people around me seem to be quite happy and fully enjoying the temporary good life.” That would be me. Even the first five hours (with the exception of the Q-tip up the nose) sounded divine–solitude, the company of a good book, someone bringing food… Then a worry-free week in a clean bubble, treating my body to a host of fancy therapies. 227, I’m jealous. Why doesn’t the USA have this? Maybe it’s time for us to catch up with the rest of the civilized world. I am bummed about John Lewis, too. And trying really hard to keep my crazy in the basement. Poe creeps me out. As you might recall, I wrote a parody of The Raven a few years ago using an equally creepy subject–a trip to the dentist’s office: 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I DO remember your Raven parody – and well! Yeah, it is pretty divine to be able to spend three weeks away just concentrating on your health. On the one hand, I feel bad writing about it all because I don’t want to frustrate all my American friends and family even more. On the other hand, it might be good if more of them started asking “Why can’t WE have nice things!?” I am not such a fan of Poe as one of my college professors was, but his stories sure do stick with you. By the way, he wrote one called “Berenice” that has to do with teeth . . .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Poe is like, a prehistoric Stephen King. May have to look up Berenice. Is it a short story or a whole book? Speaking of teeth, a friend of mine posted on FaceBook that it took 2 days to find her (demented) Mom’s dentures. Guess where they were? In an empty potato chip bag in one of the kitchen cupboards! Filed according to the system in the crazy basement. I’m a fan of alternative medicine, saw a chiropractor for years, did supplements, cleanses, neti pot, sinus relief yoga, the whole banana. It really helped.
        When COVID dies down, I’ll find a DC here and get back on the wagon. Meanwhile, tune out the news, put cucumbers on your eyes, do some Tai Chi, whatever. It’s only a week. Twump will be right here doing dumb narcissistic sh*t when you get back. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Joan.That was an interesting read. The thing that really got me was the part about how no one will be naming their kids Karen for a while. And that the term is such a phenomenon that people are actually studying it! Ouch.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. odd, just before opening your blog, I read a long article about Obama’s speech at this funeral. How this was maybe the most important one of his speeches, breaking the American tradition for former Presidents to not comment on ongoing politics, but to slowly fade into the sunset of history.

    I really hope, you are right with hoping. I tend to think, that now everyone in their right mind must vote against PODICK45. I really like Republicans now turning against their own candidate, like the people at the Lincoln project. Another one said in an interview on CNN that he’d rather vote for a broccoli than Trump. But it still might not be enough….

    anyways, your last Kurwoche might be up by now. Hope, you are back refreshed and fit. And a little radiant from all that charged up water there 🙂


  3. So I’m a year behind on your posts. I didn’t check the date of this one, just launched into reading it. I admit I was thinking, “why is she still going on about Twump” when I realized this was written in August. Now I see. It’s been a year and I do hope you feel better—physically and emotionally. I hope I find out as I plow through a year of your posts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.