Dangerous Bodies: Why We Scare Us

Dangerous Bodies: Why We Scare Us

June 25, 2021

A year ago, which seems like another decade, in Taking The World’s Temperature I wrote about the Age of Uncertainty that is equally an opportunity to reject slavish assumptions and the beginning of a terrible wave of selfishness and cynicism. The verdict is in, slaves we are still and very unclear what selfless behavior looks like. The good person is the one who doesn’t have Covid.

Never before has the entirety of humanity experienced and just as importantly communicated that our bodies are a dangerous threat, a menace, a treacherous spirit, a breeding ground of a disease that has no limits. We are reduced to one topic. Instead of the Chinese greeting of the 19th century—have you eaten yet—we say…have you been vaccinated. We tremble at the slight of each other yet there is very little respect, only fear. Who knows what went through the minds of people 500 years ago in European villages engulfed in the plague. Back then the blame was squarely placed on the Devil if you believe Hieronymus Bosch to be representative of the times. Today we appear as our own worst enemy regardless of our position in society and our actual responsibility for social outcomes. The Zombie film can be taken as the most profound metaphor for the times of Corona just like the Film Noir captured the dark resignation of the depression of the 30s. Zombies lose all identity in the mad drive to reproduce. Their behavior seems truly democratic. Every human being can be and will be recruited and is both victim and spreader.

Today, it is not just that we are anxious in our bodies as in the golden era of Prozac, we are literally at war within them, one system against the other, a raging internal conflict. Disease has lost its identity as an unnatural state of disequilibrium that can be fought off. It’s a game of liars’ dice. We know enough to measure the menace in agonizing cellular detail, we can see its exact contours and dynamic, but that does not make us any more capable of mastering the problem. We are haunted and profoundly limited by our data. The more we know the less we understand. What we can predict is that life will no longer be predictable. Traditional science has not only demonstrated its limitations it has become the greatest source of misinformation and confusion even outpacing the conspiracy plots of the crypto-fascists. Epidemiologists have become our new witch doctors. They are willing to offer anything as a remedy that has not yet been proven useless. There is no strategic planning only a chaotic process of elimination. We even disagree on how to define a cure., i.e. the future.

The most important thing I have to say is that without a social understanding of the market dynamics that have created pandemic world our doctors and researchers will continue to contribute to our overall ignorance and sickness. One of the greatest obstacles to the development of humanity today is the rigid division between social critique and the life sciences.
Vaccines are this era’s communion, a last gasp of faith. But the real miracle is that after we
have been completely abandoned by those who claim to protect us on every level, physical,
financial, emotional, environmental, we still look to them for some shred of humanity. For the
Bidens of the world, disciplined masters among serial pillagers, their only hope as they walk
among us prostrate is they don’t step on our fingers. They are about damage control.
Today a useful and supposedly kind human being is one whose R factor is less than 1, who
doesn’t pass on his affliction to another human, who keeps his illness to himself. Social
feebleness which in another time was seen as the embodiment of alienation and as such the
extinction of the soul by industrialization and mass culture, is now presented as the best hope
for survival.

Speaking through a mask, speech is disembodied and age differences are minimized. Individual
identity is harder and harder to maintain behind the veil. It is essential that we do not show
gratitude to the very people who have made us and the whole planet sick when they offer a
temporary fix that will extend their reign under even more sordid conditions. Okay, we will
take your little handout but only in order to live to fight another day.

While lip service has been paid to the obvious way that rates of disease move in lockstep with
class divisions there has been no attempt to actually create programs that would address the
causes of this obscene inequality. The Poors have higher rates of every disease particularly
those underlying conditions (and they are social conditions) not just Corona which is barely
discussed and in muffled terms. A massive emergency program of preventive measures
beginning with a healthy diet is nearly impossible to implement in our addiction-based food
circus because It does not promise instantaneous results the way sugary foods and strong
medications do. Still, It’s not too late to take back control of our bodies. It’s a war we must win.