"Plebs omnis plaudit ut me minore sepius audit."
TREBLE BELL, COMBE RALEIGH CHURCH, DEVON.
Wednesday, 8 April 2020
Jewish Prophesy of Epidemic in 2020. Well I never!
The Coronavirus Novel: An Israeli Author Wrote a Book on the 2020 Pandemic 23 Years Ago
In her science fiction novel ‘2020’ published in 1987, an Israeli author described a global pandemic much like the coronavirus. Now she explains why she went there and how she managed to get things so right
Hamutal Shabtai, a psychiatrist and the daughter of famed Israeli author Ya’akov Shabtai, wrote a fictional script in 1986-87 about a virus that would cause the deaths of thousands of people around the world. In 1994, her script was published in a 600-page book.
In small, compressed letters, the year 2020 was set by Shabtai as the time at which the world would suffer this plague. At the time, it seemed like the distant future. The author sought to relieve her readers that the virus will attack, but 2020 is a long way away.
In the book she writes that the world will be divided into two, healthy people and sick or at-risk people. There will be a list of those who are at risk or already sick and they will be contained and kept in isolation.
Shabtai further describes in her book how the world will be run by a totalitarian system, a global health dictatorship. People will have to be examined daily in schools, kindergartens, supermarkets, businesses, everywhere. Entry into all public places will be through biometric doors. If people come up blue on the screen, they will be immediately transferred to locked-down isolation centers.
The book also predicts that people do not shake hands and that any touching or human contact can cause death. There will also be a world health treaty requiring everyone to abide by its laws.
There is another author, Shlomit Miron, who authored a book called Moratorium, which she wrote about 5 years ago describing a virus borne by bats that will come out of Asia and destroy humanity.
In the following article Hamutal Shabtai is inexplicably referred to in the male gender throughout.
In early January, another election began to take place in Israel, and climate change and other burning issues that attracted public attention told Hamutal Shabtai himself – you see, 2020 is here and nothing you wrote about happened.
Indeed, “2020,” a science fiction novel published by Shabtai in 1997 (Keter Press in Hebrew) about a mysterious virus that threatens to extinct humanity, wasn’t on anyone’s radar for a year. He never imagined how his futuristic dystopian fantasy, written 23 years ago, would prove impossible.
“The Chinese are very good at my script. The similarity is remarkable, “says Shabtai, 64.” It started with TV shows about villages in China where people hit you, so no one can come. I thought it was just like in a book, places to cut yourself … That’s where it started. ”
Then pictures of teams wearing white space suits disinfecting the streets began to appear. They are reminiscent of inspectors from the “Hygienic Inspectorate” of the powerful quasi-police unit in Shabtai’s book. And then messages leaked to social media began to spread, describing that journalists and doctors had been silenced. “It looked like an attempt to verify this information, as it did in a book that gives people distorted and partial information,” Shabtai says. And reports that the Chinese government ordered the crowns of the coronavir to be killed to prevent infection, the book reminded people of the ashes / ashes, shaved-headed troops who go around the homes of the dead on motorcycles and pat a torch on them.
Adapting to life in a pandemic era in China TINGSHU WANG / REUTRID
As the virus spread beyond China, airplanes and entire cities and countries were locked on the ground, Shabtai’s book “Healthy Area” was similar to the areas in the WHO’s “locked area” where its inhabitants are subjected to rigorous testing, while leaving the rest of the world to themselves. outside.
Why did you decide to set your book in 2020?
“I wanted to create an unrealistic, fictional experience that will take place in the distant future and will be spoken in a realistic tone. So I chose the date of the next millennium. Why 2020? Quite silly reasons: it sounds good in English, it’s easy to remember, it’s such a beautiful round number that it sounds kind of fantastic to begin with. ”
You also foresaw social and psychological dynamics during the pandemic.
“The dynamics of a pandemic, which requires constant testing and isolation, evoke the feelings that are really present in all of us in the book. Anxiety that someone you want to be close to or with whom you are close to may become ill causes paranoia. It’s like in vampire stories, where an infected and afflicted victim is also the one who could infect you, as if he were already one of the forces of evil. The disease does it. The victim is also a demon and fear grips us all.
“It’s not just people – countries also associate each other with paranoia. The whole psychological matrix resulting from the plague is already happening. The feeling that you are a gear that chases you, ignores your desires, and forces you to do things that upset you. I didn’t imagine that to be the case (though), I already predicted it correctly. ”
Obsessive fear of infection
Like the HIV virus, which has killed nearly 25 million people in the last 30 years, the virus, which is in mid-2020, will spread through body fluids. Shabtai, a psychiatrist at Shalvata Hospital for 30 years, began writing the book in 1987, ten years after he began studying medicine at Tel Aviv University. His original idea was to write a Hollywood screenplay. “One morning I got up from my shift to the ward and suddenly I remembered those scenes from a play or screenplay and sat down to write them,” she says. “Later, I took a year’s vacation to finish it, then went back to Shalvata.”
AIDS-terminally ill victims will be pushed into wheelchairs as they attend the National Lesbian and Gay Rights Meeting in Washington on Sunday, October 11, 1987. Scott Stewart / AP
The AIDS epidemic was at its peak then. “I had been focusing on the AIDS epidemic for years. Part of what I described in the book was just speculation for myself and some of the things I encountered with patients. For example, AIDS phobia – an obsessive fear of an infection that causes people to try every few months or weeks – I wrote about it in a book, and ten years later I also came across it as a psychiatrist.
Coolingly, the protagonist of the book, a young doctor named Andy Roberts, has a great fear that the virus will mutate into a much more deadly strain that will spread through the airways. 2020 is a turning point, a year when experts predict that there will be no way to prevent a pandemic without a vaccine.
The plot will be opened in 2020. The plague has been raging since the 1980s. In New York, where Roberts lives and works to find a vaccine for the disease, hundreds become infected every day. The infected are sent to the “Treatment Center” – a fenced zone similar to a penal colony, where opponents of the regime are also sent.
None of either group will ever return to a healthy area and no one knows what will happen to them. The rest of the city lives in an Orwellian situation that is checked daily for the virus. Drugs, alcohol and homosexual intercourse are completely banned and extramarital affairs are considered a serious violation of hygiene. Clubs and bars are considered abominations. Psychotherapy is considered obscene because of the possibility that unacceptable erotic thoughts may be expressed. Robots are starring in porn movies. Daily health news is broadcast every night and housewives are addicted to cleansers and disinfectants. People are interviewed and phone calls and computer files are monitored.
The state of hygiene that everyone wants to maintain is extremely fragile. As soon as antiviral antibodies appear in your blood – this is a sign of infection – you will live on time.
One day, Roberts discovers that, for the first time in years, the guinea pigs he uses in his experiments live much longer than previously thought: The treatment he promised to find after his brother’s death for the disease suddenly seems within reach. But when clinical trials in humans begin, strange things start to happen. Why do litigants die one after another? Is this an unexpected side effect of drug therapy, or is there some more exciting reason for it – does anyone want the trial to fail and hope for recovery?
“Many parts of me somehow found their way into the book,” Shabtai says. “From love of history, interest in epidemics and diseases, and all the psychological conditions that result from them, to wondering if the only way to protect people from a pandemic is through totalitarian rule and how terrible it would be if there were such a system. then people should not be afraid to get infected and the disease will persist. ”
Movies “2020.” covers Keteri Publishing House
When asked which characters he identifies with, he mentions psychiatrist Benjamin, physician Andy, and his wife Linda (who demonstrates to the physician during a pandemic, reflecting “various obsessive aspects of me related to men’s anger or men’s fear”). Shabtai also says that he identifies with the person divorced from Claire and Curt Schmidt: “A great-great businessman who wants to rule the world and play God reflects different fascist and megalomaniacal tendencies in me.”
If times were normal, we would have talked about a cup of coffee. Instead, we talk in parts over the phone. Shabtai is staying at Hadar Yosef’s friends’ home, while his 22-year-old daughter Avigayil, who is studying medicine in Prague, is staying in their apartment in isolation from Kfar Savas.
In any case, the virtual meeting seemed personal: Shabtai is brilliant, fun and open, answering every question without hesitation. Like many talented women, she tends to sabotage herself. When we tried to date her speech and I told her I was in the middle of reading a book, she apologized deeply, as if she had placed a huge burden on me.
“One of the biggest mistakes I made in the book was how I was so attached to each of those words,” she says. “I was in that narcissistic frenzy where it was like everything there was perfect and no one touches my child better. And it’s a shame because the book is quite long. ”
His first book is dedicated to Shabtai’s father, the literary giant Yaakov Shabtai. “But I always wanted to write,” she says. “I grew up in this world. Ours was a literary family: my maternal grandfather, David Negbi, was the founder and editor-in-chief of Sifriyat Hapoalim. There was a huge amount of books in the kibbutz of my grandparents’ home, and I remember my grandfather sitting there, editing and carefully noting all kinds of punctuation in the books, such as matching an obsessive person, which is common in our family. ”
Shabtai remembers writing his father’s verse when he was six or seven years old. The family then lived in Kibbutz Merhavia. “My mother taught education at the seminar Hakibbutzim and came home mainly on weekends. Most of the time, Dad was the only one with me, ”the woman says. “I would come to his room, which was like that little cabin, and all the time, from the afternoon siesta to dinner, we would spend time walking around the kibbutz, visiting friends, joking. He would tell me stories – about his childhood, many Bible stories he loved, and “Most of the time he liked talking about his mother’s cooking. We listened to the children’s songs on the radio together and he would write alternative verses to what they played in the show and send them to them. We were very close or we got close, I’m not sure, probably both.”
His first book is dedicated to Shabtai’s father, the literary giant Yaakov Shabtai. Reproduction: Relay
In the summer of 1967, the family moved to Tel Aviv. Another daughter was born, Orly (now a clinical psychologist). Yaakov Shabtai would sit at his desk and type on a typewriter, and his daughter would cross out drafts of plays and stories he had written. Sometimes he should consult with him. “He consulted with everyone,” she hurries to add. “Of course, as a child, I thought that he would only consult with me and I felt very special. He was just the kind of person who tended to be indecisive, so he sought the help of others. It was the same in his writing, especially in “Past Continuous.” He accelerated the dialogue written in the house to see how it sounded, or he repeats his written poems to hear the cadence, and I knew exactly how he was building rhymes based on syllables. ”
When Shabtai talks about his father, his voice is filled with love and longing. He also laughs a lot when he thinks of him. “We were very close,” he repeats. “Not only in kibbutz. In the early years in Tel Aviv, my mother also worked hard and we were together a lot. This is something he did through all the years and was also very much related to so-called self-realization. It was like an ideal in our house that you do what is really important to you. Everyone helps each other in this. ”
The sequel to “2020”?
At some point, Shabtai realized that in the format of a Hollywood script, his work would remain in a drawer, so he decided to turn it into a book. He sent the manuscript to Haim Pesach, who was then the editor of Keter Press.
“When Past Continuous came out (Shabtai’s father) and everyone was wondering what to do with this strange creation, I was the first to write a review in Haaretz’s literary supplement that was neither diffuse nor autumn,” Pesach said. “So, of course, I had a connection with Hamutal and I knew him well. I was very surprised by the manuscript, but I realized the need to go as far as possible from writing my father. ”
The book “2020” was published in 1997 and it received mixed reviews. Shabtai: “Some of my friends said it was very interesting, but it’s hard to relate to.”
And science fiction was largely on the literary edge at the time.
“Absolutely. Some people were very aware of it, but it was still a completely marginal thing. There were quite a few interviews with me at the time, and the book became known precisely because I was a “daughter” – I knew that was why. And after that, he died. For more than 20 years, I have considered this book a failure. Every so often I noticed it lying on the shelf and I say to myself – okay, you worked hard for it, thought it could change into something, but it didn’t go anywhere. You have to admit the reality. It’s been a bad time when I was hurt to think that I wasn’t exactly the big and talented writer I was hoping to be compared to my father, who was such a great writer. ”
However, evaluation of the book has resumed in recent years, even before the coronavirus emerged. After an increase in the book’s interest and media attention, Keter quickly released a new edition that can also be purchased digitally. Shabtai even hesitates to admit that after the book was first published, he put together a “basic outline” for the stage.
Maybe now is the time to take that look and predict what fate awaits us in 2050?
“It simply came to our notice then. At first I thought I had time for that when my daughter joined the army, then I said I would do it when I retired. Who knows – I’m in a high-risk group. But if I ignore this pandemic, maybe I’ll do it. ”