A writer friend writes to me and tells me that he has covid We met the day of Sant Jordi. We took photos together, we joked about how insane it was that we had congregated in the Saló de Cent of the Barcelona City Council hundreds of writers (almost everyone without a mask) and that we were kissing like crazy, happy to meet again, to celebrate again, and that it didn’t rain (yet). More than one joked: we have no middle ground. That wasn’t normal either. the virus was still out there, crouching. Oh the Chinese, someone remembered, if they saw us. Yes, but at some point we will have to begin to lose the fear of all this. The fear, yes. Fear always decides for us, guides our steps. At some point I joked (and a colleague used it for her chronicle of the day in a newspaper): Can you imagine that we created a literary variant of the virus? It was one more nonsense of a day full of nonsense, but also of joy and optimism that was not completely shattered until after mid-afternoon, when the second hailstorm fell and some of us began to give up. There are things against which you cannot.

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When I found out today that we writers who gather at the public events on Sant Jordi’s day are beginning to fall, I remembered my little joke about the literary variant of the virus. We should start by giving it a name. Something original but that maintained the spirit of his illustrious predecessors in the pandemic, and that at the same time made a difference. It occurs to me that we could call him Ulysses, for example. For the Greek (matching beta, delta, omicron and co.), for the traveler and for the stubborn. The Ulysses variant would be slow contagion. It would take many hours of quiet conversation to inoculate someone, but once contracted it would become immediately persistent. Its effects would be: a tendency to daydream, a preference for fictitious beings and unreal stories (if possible with a happy ending) and a tendency to conformism and joy that is completely incomprehensible, the result of multiple mutations and the dragging capacity of Fiction.

Those infected by Ulysses would not feel sick, but would suddenly experience an irresistible need to write verses, to give the world an autofictional novel or to start a trilogy. Next year they would be invited to the Sant Jordi festival, where the pioneers who caused the contagion would be commemorated with an institutional act, and the best works of the newly infected would be read, which would only sometimes coincide with the best-selling authors of the day. And meanwhile hail would continue to fall at the end of April, or a raving madman would continue killing innocents around the corner, or the penultimate Political Apocalypse, but the happy victims of the Ulysses variant would have a safe haven that would get them out of it all. The only one possible.


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