Blog # 482       MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE 

The following official “sports” announcement, was broadcast today, in all major languages, by public television stations, domestic and international:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you, in this corner, the all-time champion and favorite, Planet Earth, the well- known, green oblate spheroid, with a computed surface area, exceeding 197 million miles, weighing in at 6.6 sextillion tons. In the opposite corner, the wily opponent, the “corona” virus, officially weighting in, at 20 to 400 nanometers [viz., about one tenth the size of a human cell]. The match will not be confined, as usual, to a designated and advertised, sports stadium, instead, the parties will duke it out at viral- selected venues. The customary, Marquis of Queensbury Rules, not being applicable, each party is free to empl the fighting style and weapon, of his preference.

The designated favorite, and all- time champion, Terra Firma, has announced its intent to employ its customary, highly lauded, scientific prowess, testing protocols as well as, public policies of mitigating infection, by prudent individual behavior [to include the avoidance of crowds, frequent washing of hands, and, when possible, quarantine; the latter tactic, to be employed by the elderly and those with health challenges.] The underdog opponent, “Corona,” has, stated, as expected, that it chooses to keep its intended, (villainous) tactics, secret and undisclosed.”

The foregoing sports announcement, was universally communicated, and, we, being of compliant inclination, senior in age, and to a degree, health challenged, have prudently elected the defensive tactic of voluntary quarantine.

Thus, we find ourselves, presently, in self-imposed isolation. It is admittedly true, that notwithstanding our voluntary quarantine, we in any event, are fortunate to have the wherewithal, to produce essays, poetry, and, more recently, short fiction, in this blog space; yet, such isolated privilege, is inarguably, distinguishable, from the freedom of personal, interactive communication. 

Our ruminations concerning such condition, has caused us to imagine isolation, as depicted in classic literature, featuring, geographically stranded characters, as in Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” or Defoe’s, lone protagonist, Robinson Crusoe. Questions arise such as: what happens to a typical modern member of interactive society, suddenly obliged to be isolated from his society? One would naturally, assume that such person would be desperate to communicate with other humans, as possible.

Literature and film, in their nuanced iterations of the proposed fact pattern, often portray the isolated and desperately lonely, protagonist, attempting desperately but, unsuccessfully, to attract the notice of visibly passing ships or low flying planes, by energetically, waving a primitively, made flag, or by a smoke signal, emanating from a hastily ignited campfire, and accompanied by loud, futile cries for help. When all such desperate attempts have unfortunately failed, the observed, remaining, final attempt at communication, is the enclosure of a written distress note in a bottle, and casting into the sea, in the remote hope that it will be found.

We hope that we have not transgressed too far, beyond the literary, pale of “poetic license,” in offering this note to the reader, as a figurative, “message in the bottle.” Please be aware, however, of our very material distinction.  Rather than inserting a written cry for our help, in our figurative, bottle, our present intention is to reverse the direction, of the stereotype. By stark and novel contrast, we, as the victims, of enforced solitude, insert this message of hope, directed to the finder of this allegorical bottle, conceivably troubled, by the sudden, worldwide, presentation of threat, by the current virus. We do so, by means of the recitation of a retrospective reflection, of another, long past, personally experienced period of universal, public anxiety, emanating from an entirely disparate source, but, to our point, culminating in a positive ending; consonant with our present expectations, as to the future of our its current challenge.

Those, old enough to remember the dark days of the 1940’s, will recall the universal state of fear and anxiety, brought on by the existence of the Second World War: Germany, attacking Czechoslovakia, Poland, then all Central Europe, the Japanese surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor, destroying much of the American Navy, and its attack on countries in Asia and the South Pacific, all of which, warranted America’s entrance into the (yet another, world) war.

In 1941, the year its of entry into the war, against the “Axis” States (Germany, Japan and Italy), America was not, adequately, prepared for a (World) war, but quickly and successfully, mobilized its factories, and its citizenry for the world effort. The evil megalomaniac, Adolph Hitler, was maniacally raining down firebombs on London, dedicatedly, eliminating Jews from the world and pursuing world domination; while America’s citizens, as a unified, mobilized force, assisted our troops in the war effort, by buying “War Bonds,” by volunteering for needed, civilian services, such as night wardens, firemen and auxiliary police, complying with official directions, and willingly doing without customary items, such as fuel, butter, coffee, rubber, silk (needed for parachutes) and other, items needed in the war effort.

We have, so many decades on, a vivid recollection of, together, with other young friends, pulling a wagon, after school, carrying used and discarded, tin cans (the popular food container of the day) and other discarded metal and rubber, voluntarily and dutifully, accumulated and collected for the war effort. Many women, for the first time, went to work, at defense and other factories, to fill in for men in service, and to aid in the unified effort. Not many readers may be old enough to recall the poster, “Rosie the Riveter” celebrating the contribution to the war effort, by women, (many of whom, had no previous experience of employment), and the many posters and signs, showing a mythical, goateed, “Uncle Sam,” beckoning to young men, to sign up for service in the armed services.

History books attest, accurately, to our being victors, of the long and deadly war. We at plinyblog, believe that America, in actual fact, was successful in two wars, World War 2, of course, but also in the difficult, personally experienced, war against uncertainty and fear. We did so by standing together and confidently, pursuing whatever potential routes were available, for success.

We confidently look forward, in this pugilistic contest, to a timely, TKO, or actual knockout of the malevolent viral opponent.

** ADDENDUM: Following completion of this enclosed message, the reader is welcome to keep the bottle.



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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

3 thoughts on “Blog # 482       MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE ”

  1. I understand that you often wax poetic. Is this isolation a function of being a Guest of the State? Are there bars on the windows? If so, get me an address and I will send a Cake with a hacksaw inside it. We’ve got this Pliny.


  2. I love this piece Pliny!
    It is a note of hope in a tumultuous week. It reminds us of the deep uncertainty in life. Thank you for advising fearlessness!!


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