Nick Cave has used the latest instalments of The Red Hand Files to document his thoughts on coronavirus.
The project is a kind of slow-motion Ask Me Anything with fans, in which the songwriter picks out queries to muse upon.
Becoming a vessel for rare moments of public self-reflection from the Australian artist, each response is shot through with his literary nous and dazzlingly unique insight.
The current queries are, naturally, dominated by coronavirus, with the impact on our physical and mental health.
In one (https://www.theredhandfiles.com/what-do-we-do-now/), Nick Cave writes: “In isolation, we will be presented with our essence — of what we are personally and what we are as a society. We will be asked to decide what we want to preserve about our world and ourselves, and what we want to discard.” Referring to our current state as “a ghost ship” he adds: “wash your hands and (if you can) stay at home.”
In a subsequent piece (https://www.theredhandfiles.com/corona-fill-the- time/), Nick Cave muses on his common response to crisis, and looks back on a hectic 12 months of creative endeavours.
“My response to a crisis has always been to create,” he writes. “This impulse has saved me many times — when things got bad I’d plan a tour, or write a book, or make a record — I’d hide myself in work, and try to stay one step ahead of whatever it was that was pursuing me.”
Asked if he would like to live stream a show in lieu of touring, he responds: “Perhaps, it is a time to pay attention, to be mindful, to be observant.”
“As an artist, it feels inapt to miss this extraordinary moment. Suddenly, the acts of writing a novel, or a screenplay or a series of songs seem like indulgences from a bygone era. For me, this is not a time to be buried in the business of creating. It is a time to take a backseat and use this opportunity to reflect on exactly what our function is — what we, as artists, are for.”
He adds: “There are other forms of engagement, open to us all. An email to a distant friend, a phone call to a parent or sibling, a kind word to a neighbour, a prayer for those working on the front lines.”