I watched the Pope giving the Urbi et Orbi blessing yesterday. While it was about hope, visually, it communicated something entirely different.It made me think of the essay The Mass Ornament by Siegfried Kracauer (1963), in which he looks at what “the simple surface manifestations” can tell us about an epoch. Kracauer thought that mass organised formations of people such as circuses or stadiums, in which individuals were “mere building blocks, nothing more,” represented a rational organisation of a capitalist society. So what are the images of these “ornaments of quarantine” telling us about our current situation?Watching the Pope walk through St. Peter’s Basilica reminded me of two of my favourite TV shows: The Young Pope and True Detective. Both series portray the hero as a lonely figure in a vast empty space. The space, whether the Vatican or the American countryside, look beautiful but we know that deep down, they’re corrupted. The hero himself isn’t any more pure than anyone else, what makes him different is the fact that he has no illusions and therefore has better access to the truth, which leads through darkness, pain, loss, until, there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.I love both #TheYoungPope and #TrueDetective but seeing that aesthetic of melancholia and pessimism beyond highly stylized cinematography is somehow unsettling. My favourite scene from True Detective is when Rust Cohle says: “This place is like somebody’s memory of a town. And the memory is fading. It looks like there wasn’t anything here but jungle.” His partner Marty responds with “Stop saying shit like that, it’s unprofessional.”What I felt watching the Pope yesterday wasn’t hope. The stillness of the setting felt like the world as we know it was already a memory. And perhaps a fading memory, or even a memory of a world that only existed temporarily. As if all the ornaments of the Basilica were just humanity’s desperate attempt to conquer nature. While I do like the poetics of the end, I do not like catastrophic politics. Maybe the Pope should have done something less spectacular, more professional? Should I stop saying shit like that