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Art History Tells the Story of “Pandemics and Humanity


I watched NHK Sunday Museum of Art [Beyond the Plague: What Have People Painted?

Historically, art has served as a witness to history when major epidemics such as the plague and smallpox have occurred. For some reason, both Japanese and European art depicts demons in the form of bats. Did they intuitively know that they were hosts?

Now, in this context, the “Nuremberg Chronicle” (published in 1493) by Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514), a German physician and humanist, is interesting.
This book is a humanistic and scholarly chronicle of the oddities and oddities of world history and geography based on the Bible.

Among them is a woodcut of this painting.

Before the plague epidemic, people believed in religion fervently, but as the infection spreads when people gather together, as they do today, some gradually deny the existence of God.
On the far left of the woodcut, the devil is seen overhearing a hoax to a prophet who is stirring up the people. The spread of the hoax is very similar to the current situation.

The next thing you know, hoaxes like “Jews threw poison down the well” are circulating.
The Jews who crucified Christ were determined to be the source of the “plague” and were unreasonably slaughtered.

People’s insecurities and fears turn into energy for bullying the weak. It is like slander on social networking sites.

I think this unusual collective psychology is still at work today as I watch the city from the countryside with the Corona disaster.

I think about the attitude that we, the human race, should take.
I believe in science. And we should be able to create a politics that can move society with our own knowledge.

Putting one’s own country first and isolationism, as in the U.S., will keep us from a solution. Not believing in science and conspiracy theories will allow dictatorships like Hungary’s. Further division of the world will weaken economic development and bring the world to a standstill. If this happens, it will be a historical catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.

On the other hand, humanity would like to believe that this pandemic can be overcome as it has been in the past.

If the people are democratic and responsible, global solidarity will be stronger. Even if there are deaths, in retrospect, I believe it will lead to great progress for humanity.

Three things the virus has done for people.

(1) Strongly promote the advancement of science and technology.
There is an urgent need for associated medical care, virus research, and food improvement.

(2) Sensitivity to politics.
We must not allow firebrands to expand their power and skim off the taxpayers’ money.

(3) To create new global economic activities using the latest technology.
Becoming a more united humanity than before will surely create new business areas.

We think for ourselves, rather than being forced by politics or made to shudder at conspiracies and falsehoods. It is time to reflect the power of our own thinking (the people’s level) in our politics.