當新冠病毒Covid-19在2020年爆發的時候，世界各個首都荒廢無人的街道，像極了雷內．克萊爾（René Clair）第一部電影《沉睡的巴黎》（Paris qui dort）一開始的影像。這部電影製作於西班牙大流感之後不久的1924年：主角艾伯特（Albert）是艾菲爾鐵塔的管理人，某天他醒來，發現這個城市中居民都已清空。
在這部電影裡，中斷人群與物資間瘋狂交流的不是瘟疫，而是科學家發明的神祕光線（因此這部電影的英文名稱是《瘋狂的光線》〔The Crazy Ray〕）。這部電影的劇情很快就變成探索電影本身各種可能性的託辭：依紀（Ixe）教授——他的名字令人想起X光——透過操作機器的把手，不但讓整個城市定格，也以各種不同速度製造快轉與慢動作。在開場荒蕪的街道之後，這些影像的鬆動與變化變成電影的主要焦點。
如果我們把異時性（heterochrony）理解成各種速度與時間性的共存（而不是傅柯〈關於其他各種空間〉〔Michel Foucault, “On Other Spaces”〕中所說的「脫離傳統時間」[註1]），那麼，在這部電影裡上演的即是異時共存。而在新冠疫情蔓延期間，世界的質地正是基進的異時性。
傅柯在他1977-78年間的系列講座《安全、疆域、人口》（Security, Territory, Population）中對與治療痲瘋、鼠疫與天花共同發生的典範轉移有著名的描述：對付這三種疾病分別訴諸排除、隔離與疫苗，而傅柯認為，這三種方法分別代表三個時代不同的權力的技術，分別是：主權、規訓、生命政治[註3]。在他更早（1975-76年）的系列講座《「社會必須被捍衛」》（“Society Must Be Defended”）中，傅柯區別了兩種不同形式的疾病：流行病（epidemics）與地方病（endemics），好讓它們分別合於主權（或規訓）與生命政治。[註4]新冠疫情則似乎超載或滿溢過這些傅柯式的區分，因為我們正在經歷的不簡單是一個「暫時的全面性災難」（epidemics）或「永久的地方性因素」（endemics）。新冠肺炎看來是賴著不走了，但表現為一次又一次的案例衝高，就像持續的暴衝。的確，如傅柯的分析，天花已經兼具這兩種不同的特性：「廣泛的區域性傳播」與「強烈而威力十足的流行爆發」。[註5]但新冠更以前所未見的形式，將三種不同的時間性——排除（邊境多次關閉）、隔離（封城），以及疫苗——層層疊加在一起。這些病理—政治統治在看來仍然不斷加劇的震盪中變化：這是我企圖用我新創的詞「全面流行性地方病（panendemics）捕捉的，這個詞在一個全球而分離的尺度上合併了流行病的突然性與地方病的持續性。
除了把它們視作前所未見危機的症狀（如中世紀鼠疫的流行或西班牙大流感的隔離時期），我們也可以記憶起空無的街道是西方思想中關於統治技術或政治代現的其中一個重要的影像與象徵：霍布斯《利維坦》（Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651）曾被多次討論的卷首圖畫。[註7]阿甘本（Gorgio Agamben）在《停滯》（Stasis）中引用一些先前對於這個圖示（icon）的研究，強調在利維坦眼前的這座城市裡，群眾／人民很驚人地消失了。[註8]的確，如阿甘本所說，城市中的「居民完全消失」，除了一些守衛或士兵，以及「兩個非常特別的人物」（37）。阿岡本給了這個空無一個聽起來很像某種疾病的名字：無人狀態（ademia），意指群眾／人民（[the] people; demos）的消失。
根據阿甘本的論述，如果無人狀態，亦即ademia，是一個影響到國家（the State）的疾病，那麼，它是地方病，不是流行病：「霍布斯式的國家——正如每一個國家——處於持續的無人狀態」（51）。這是因為，無人狀態是代現人民結構上的不可能：一旦人民（the people）被代現、被給予一個政治上的形狀，他們就不再是原先無形無狀的群體（換言之，群眾，無冠詞的people），故曰消失。阿甘本論述中這個誘人的弔詭邏輯可以約略如此說明：如果群眾是一個沒有組織的群體，則人民唯有群眾消失的時候，才能夠被合法地代現為一股政治力量。
阿甘本似乎理所當然地覺得那兩個戴著面具的醫生與那些守衛共存於同樣的空間：在城市之內，在影像之內：他有提到「那些武裝守衛與教堂旁邊的兩個人物在空蕩蕩的城市（nella città vuota）中令人好奇的存在」，而且他清楚地將它們的位置描述為「在圖像之內」（nell’emblema; 47-48）。如果我們看得更仔細，可以看見這兩個人物看起來同樣可能（或更可能）不是站在圖像與圖像描繪的空蕩城市之內，而是站在它的邊界上、在畫框上。這意謂著，我們很難——甚至不可能——決定他們是否屬於在這個畫框之內所代現的無人狀態的情景中。他們是這個政治力量寓言故事的一部分嗎？抑或它們正從外部觀看這一切？
註釋 [註1] Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” trans. Jay Miskowiec, Diacritics 16, no. 1 (1986), 26. [註2] Peter Szendy, “Viral Times,” Critical Inquiry 47, no. 2 (2021). [註3] Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 9-10.
[註4] Michel Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended”, trans. David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003), 243-4. [註5] Security, Territory, Population, 58. [註6] 我曾為此寫了一本小書：Apocalypse-Cinema: 2012 and Other Ends of the World (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015). [註7] 可見 Horst Bredekamp, Thomas Hobbes – Der Leviathan: das Urbild des modernen Staates und seine Gegenbilder, 1651–2001 (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2003)。我也曾從另一個角度分析過這張卷首圖，可見Peter Szendy, “The Image of Power and the Power of Reading (Leviathan, In Sum),” trans. Brigitte Stepanov, La Deleuziana, no. 7 (2018). [註8] Giorgio Agamben, Stasis: Civil War as a Political Paradigm, trans. Nicholas Heron (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015). [註9] 可見Peter Szendy, “Shadow Iconomics and Road Networks of the Visible,” trans. Jeremy Harrison, in The Supermarket of Images, ed. Peter Szendy with Emmanuel Alloa and Marta Ponsa (Paris: Gallimard / Jeu de Paume, 2020), 18.
布朗大學的大衛赫利希（David Herlihy）人文與比較文學教授，也是巴黎愛樂廳（Paris Philharmony）叢書的音樂學顧問。他著有《可見者的超市：朝向影像的普通經濟學》（The Supermarket of the Visible: Toward a General Economy of Images）（2019）、《論汙名學：標點符號作為經驗》（Of Stigmatology: Punctuation as Experience）（2018）、《豎起耳朵：間諜的美學》（All Ears: The Aesthetics of Espionage）（2016）、《末世電影：《2012》與其他世界的終結》（Apocalypse-Cinema: 2012 and Other Ends of the World）（2015）、《在地球外陸地上的康德：星際政治哲學虛構》（Kant in the Land of Extraterrestrials: Cosmopolitical Philosofictions）（2013）。他在巴黎的國立網球場現代美術館（Jeu de Paume）策畫過展覽「影像的超市」（Le supermarché des images）。
Pandemia, Ademia, Iconodemia
When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, the images of deserted streets in many capitals around the world looked like the beginning of Paris qui dort, René Clair’s first film, directed in 1924 (a few years after the Spanish flu): Albert, the caretaker of the Eiffel Tower, wakes up one morning and discovers that the city has been emptied of its inhabitants.
In the film, it is not a pandemic that interrupts the frantic circulation of people and things, but a mysterious ray invented by a scientist (hence the English title: The Crazy Ray). And the plot quickly turns out to be the pretext for exploring the possibilities of cinema itself: by manipulating the handle of his machine, Professor Ixe (whose name evokes X-rays) produces not only city-wide freeze-frames but also fast-forwards or slow motions along a graded scale of speeds. These variations in the unreeling of images soon become the main focus of the film, after the deserted streets of the opening scenes.
What the film stages, then, is heterochrony, if we understand by it the coexistence of different speeds or temporalities (rather than the “absolute break with . . . traditional time” described by Michel Foucault in “Of Other Spaces”). And radical heterochrony is also what came to the fore, during the Covid-19 pandemic, as the very texture of our world.
In a previous blog post, written in the immediate aftermath of the outbreak, I suggested that the crisis (if it is simply a crisis) triggered by the pandemic brought about an unheard-of coexistence of hypervelocity and standstill, as if the world had frozen in acceleration, as if it had precipitated in immobility. At the same time, what happened was also a blurring of past, present, and future. Not only because from one lockdown to the next many of us have lost their temporal points of reference (more than a year has gone by and sometimes I don’t know if it lasted a month or a decade); not only because we cannot see the end of the pandemic (new variants will continue to appear while new vaccines will try to keep up with their pace), or because it preludes to other viral outbreaks to come (the increase in zoonoses is an ineluctable consequence of our environmental crisis), but also because Covid-19 seems to conflate or alternate different nosologico-political regimes that we believed belonged to distinct eras or paradigms.
In Security, Territory, Population, his lecture series from 1977-78, Foucault famously described the paradigm shifts that took place with the treatments of leprosy, plague, and smallpox: the successive recourse to exclusion, quarantine, and vaccination was characteristic, in his view, of technologies of power that could be periodized as sovereignty, discipline, and biopolitics. In his earlier lecture series from 1975-76, “Society Must Be Defended”, Foucault was distinguishing between two forms of illness, “epidemics” and “endemics,” in order to make them overlap respectively with sovereignty (or discipline) and biopolitics. With Covid-19, these Foucauldian distinctions seem to be overwhelmed or overflowed, since what we are experiencing is neither simply a “temporary disaster” (“epidemics”), nor simply a “permanent factor” (“endemics”). Covid-19 is probably here to stay, but in the form of cases spiking again and again, like constant upsurges. It is true that smallpox, in Foucault’s analysis, already combined the characteristics of “a widely endemic phenomenon” and “very strong and intense epidemic outbursts.” But Covid-19 superimposes in an unheard-of way the temporalities of exclusion (borders are repeatedly closed), quarantine (lockdowns), and vaccination. These three nosologico-political regimes alternate in what appears like an accelerating oscillation: this is what I tried to capture with the notion of panendemics, which combines the suddenness of epidemics and the continuity of endemics on a global though disjointed scale.
The heterochronic times of the panendemic, then, have been epitomized by the vision of seemingly uninhabited cities around the world. We all remember these striking images from early 2020 and we tend to think of them as exceptional, as literally extra-ordinary, as if they belonged to the repertoire of apocalyptic scenarios that many cinematic productions have anticipated. In sum, we consider these views of deserted urban landscapes as a sudden outburst of emptiness, as an epidemic of void or vacancy. But what if they were an endemic condition too?
Instead of seeing them only as symptoms of unprecedented crises (like the epidemics of plague during the Middle Ages or the quarantined times of the Spanish flu), we could also remember that empty streets belong to one of the foundational images or symbols of governmental technology and political representation in Western thought: Hobbes’s frontispiece for his Leviathan (1651), which has been commented upon so many times. Drawing on a number of previous studies dedicated to this icon of power, Giorgio Agamben has emphasized, in Stasis, the striking absence of (the) people in the city that lies in front of the Leviathan’s eyes. Indeed, the city is “completely devoid of its inhabitants,” Agamben notes, except for a few guards or soldiers and “two very special figures” (37). To this emptiness, Agamben gives a name that sounds like an illness too: “ademia,” i.e. the absence of (the) people, of demos.
Now, if ademia is an illness that affects the State, it is, according to Agamben’s argument, endemic rather than epidemic: “the Hobbesian State—like every State—lives in a condition of perennial ademia” (51). For ademia is the structural impossibility of representing the people, of giving it a political shape, without immediately making it vanish as the shapeless multitude that it was (as people rather than the people). The compellingly aporetic logic of Agamben’s argument is more or less the following: if people are an inorganized crowd, the people can become a legitimately represented political force only by disappearing as people.
Considering the endemic or structural character of ademia, then, let us take a better look at the “two very special figures situated close to the cathedral” (37).
Along with the guards who can also be seen patrolling in the empty city, these two doctors (like other commentators, Agamben sees them as “wearing the characteristic beaked mask of plague doctors”) are the sign or symptom of ademia: “Like the mass of plague victims, the unrepresentable multitude can be represented only through the guards who monitor its obedience and the doctors who treat it” (48). But, if we follow Agamben’s convincing demonstration that ademia as political irrepresentability is endemic to the State, why should ademia itself be represented by these figures who belong to the history of epidemics (of plague outbreaks) rather than endemics?
Agamben seems to take for granted that the two masked doctors share the same space as the guards, within the city and within the image: he refers to “the curious presence, in the empty city (nella città vuota), of the armed guards and of . . . the two figures standing near the cathedral;” and he clearly locates their presence “in the emblem (nell’emblema)” (47-8). If one looks closer, though, it seems equally (if not more) likely that the two figures in question stand not inside the emblem and the empty city it depicts, but on its very border, on its frame. Which means that it is difficult—maybe impossible—to decide if they belong or not to the ademic scene that is represented within this frame. Are they part of the story that this allegory of political power narrates? Are they watching it from the outside?
Were they inside the frame (indeed, they seem to stand immediately behind it), it would mean that these doctors are somehow called for by what is going on within the depicted scene, that they are directly tied to what happens in it: their presence within the story told by the frontispiece could imply that ademia in the city is the temporary effect of an epidemic, like the plague outbreak that shook London in 1592-93 (a few years after Hobbes was born), with public houses and theaters remaining closed. Were the doctors outside the frame or on its very limit (indeed, they seem to stand on its inner border), it would mean that they are not diegetically connected to the ademia of the city: they observe it, they occupy the point of view from which it can be seen as such but they have no causal connection to what we can diagnose with them as the endemic disease of the State.
In sum, according to where one places these two figures, ademia could be epidemic and the city could soon be full of people again (under Covid-19, cities are being temporarily depopulated and repopulated as the successive waves of infection surge or decrease); or ademia could be endemic while appearing as such only from the vantage point of an epidemic. If the masked doctors do not have a proper place, if they are both on and off the political stage where we witness the erection of the State, their unstable, undecidable position might be read as the differential tension that makes it impossible for nosological regimes and technologies of power to coincide, to coalesce in stable paradigms. What came to the fore with Covid-19 is the very oscillation between them.
Could it be that, through this oscillation, our panendemic times are heading towards a chronic or rampant ademia, a disappearance of (the) people that promises to be more drastic than ever? Decisions are increasingly made on or through screens. International summits (like the recent climate summit) or political assemblies have been taking place on online platforms. The hundreds of heads that compose the torso of the great Leviathan looming over the deserted city look strikingly similar to the zoom screens filled with faces in small rectangles. But what about those who are locked in their homes or invisibly working to guarantee the continuity of critical infrastructures without finding their rectangled space in or on the screened body politic of the State?
This contemporary ademia—the empty streets of panendemic times—is all the more striking since it goes hand in hand with an unprecedented upsurge in the proliferation of images. Statistics prior to Covid-19 indicated that there were more than three billion images circulating each day on social media, i.e. hundreds of thousands of images during the time it took you to read this sentence. In 2019, YouTube boasted on its official blog (blog.youtube/press) that there were more than 500 hours of video uploaded every minute, which means 720,000 hours a day, i.e. the equivalent of more than 80 years: more than a lifetime of images every day. This overflow of images has probably increased exponentially: though precise figures are yet to come, it is more than likely that Covid-19 also generated what we could call an iconodemic, of which it remains to be seen how it grows out of, and partakes in, panendemic ademia.
One of the questions that awaits us, then, is: how do the rarefying images of the people relate to the proliferating multitude of images?
Notes  Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” trans. Jay Miskowiec, Diacritics 16, no. 1 (1986), 26.
 Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 9-10.  Michel Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended”, trans. David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003), 243-4.  Security, Territory, Population, 58.
 I have dedicated a short book to them: Apocalypse-Cinema: 2012 and Other Ends of the World (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015).  See Horst Bredekamp, Thomas Hobbes Der Leviathan: das Urbild des modernen Staates und seine Gegenbilder, 1651–2001 (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2003). I have analyzed this frontispiece myself, though from a different perspective: see Peter Szendy, “The Image of Power and the Power of Reading (Leviathan, In Sum),” trans. Brigitte Stepanov, La Deleuziana, no. 7 (2018).  Giorgio Agamben, Stasis: Civil War as a Political Paradigm, trans. Nicholas Heron (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015).
 See Peter Szendy, “Shadow Iconomics and Road Networks of the Visible,” trans. Jeremy Harrison, in The Supermarket of Images, ed. Peter Szendy with Emmanuel Alloa and Marta Ponsa (Paris: Gallimard / Jeu de Paume, 2020), 18.
Peter Szendy is David Herlihy Professor of Humanities and Comparative Literature at Brown University and musicological advisor for the book series published by the Paris Philharmony. He is the author of The Supermarket of the Visible: Toward a General Economy of Images (2019), Of Stigmatology: Punctuation as Experience (2018), All Ears: The Aesthetics of Espionage (2016), Apocalypse-Cinema: 2012 and Other Ends of the World (2015), and Kant in the Land of Extraterrestrials: Cosmopolitical Philosofictions (2013). He curated the exhibition The Supermarket of Images at the museum of the Jeu de Paume in Paris.