Fastidious Inquiry, Weird Compliance: A Corona of Sonnets by Anonymous

Fastidious Inquiry, Weird Compliance is a corona of sonnets, written by Anonymous. These sonnets express a fictional subject’s experience of, and involvement with, state powers of online surveillance during the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in 2020.

These sonnets were written over the course of two Engineering Fictions writing workshops, by representatives from policing, government, health, academia and civil liberties groups in the U.K. as part of a research dissemination project through the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, led by Amy Humphrey and Megan O’Neill.

The Engineering Fictions workshops were hosted in the spirit of the Chatham House Rule, which states “when a meeting, or part thereof, is held under Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed”. Hence, the decision to combine the participants voices under the ancient pen-name, Anonymous.

The first aim of these workshops was to open up a constructive, honest and creative conversation amongst stakeholders of state powers of online surveillance. The conversations were carefully prepared through the Engineering Fictions process [4], to help participants consider what and how we think and feel we’re doing when we participate in or enact online surveillance and policing.

The seed topic of each workshop reflected these considerations in the context of the Covid-19 public health emergency. While Fastidious Inquiry (30th September 2020) spoke to the necessity of holding those in power to account through a commitment to individual inquiry for the collective good, Weird Compliance (4th November 2020) confronted the identity crisis felt by many on the political left, as they struggle to reconcile, for example, the right to protest with the problem of misinformation.

PDF (coming soon)