I'm going to try not take an overly jocular tone with such a serious subject, but I'm smiling right now as I'm typing, so I suspect I will not do such a great job at this task.
My last post about H1N1 was perhaps a little alarmist (when is it not a world-threatening call for revolution with me, anyway?) so on the other hand, maybe I've had enough seriousness for the time being.
And after all, even in epoch of ever-increasing velocity, we are still hurrying up to wait. Is it a pandemic? Still, no one knows. So, in the meantime, it seems like a great opportunity to pause and tell stories, and maybe show each other our scars.
BLDGBLOG had what you might call an "outbreak" of thoughts regarding pandemics and architecture, disaster preparedness, paranoia, and modeling on his ever-fascinating blog. Since the news is all "viral", these days, and now I've got the Twitterized CDC turned up to blast on my own home page waiting for the new hot item, we are left with even more waiting time (can I "nudge" the CDC?) for which such pre-post disaster planning is perfect.
Diaster preparedness, especially with biological vectors, makes me nervous. I already said I don't trust FEMA at all because they are a politicized entity, unlike the CDC, which is largely run by scientists and doctors. But have you seen who CDC is following on Twitter? FEMA!
Besides FEMA's unique problems of mismanagement and bureaucratic horror, a seperate pandemic phenomenon from which we have yet to recover, it is hard to trust any government entity in times of bio/eco-systemic threat. The threat is so total, and control so difficult to maintain over something microscopic or molecular "terrorizing" our enviroment and our precious bodily fluids, that government tends to revert to what it does best--total control.
Remember: governments are forms of control, and while they are built with plenty of homages to individual rights (most of the time) this is like asking a hammer to only hammer nails. Sure, I'll only hit the nails! I'm a hammer, after all. But, I only know how to hammer, so could you please hold the nail in place for me? Thanks. WHACK! Hey, I was trying to hit the nail; why did you have your hand so close to it, anyway?
To prevent disease from spreading, you have to get pretty damn totalitarian about it. The government of Mexico is handing out face masks. What if they handed out head scarves? Or arm bands? Sure, they're surgical facemasks, because we are under the regime of medicine these days rather than religion (ask Canguilhem about it sometime), but after all, they can't actually stop a virus. They just make everyone remember hygeine, instituting a regime of hygeine, beginning with the face. Why not an arm band with a biohazard symbol? Or sew yellow biohazards to all of our clothes? After all, we are all hazardous to one another--and this is a National Emergency, with emphasis on the National.
BLDGBLOG suggests possible changes to architecture and design to minimize our exposure. In Oregon, it is law to have signs in restaurant bathrooms reminding employees to wash their hands. If you are sick, you are by law not allowed to come to work. Always remember--you are in a State of Health, as required by law. Designers, architects, writers--those who shape our world will be conscripted into working for the State of Health... after all, what side are you on?
There is the fear of the other, naturally--those undesirables who will be blamed for the outbreak. Too close to their animals, perhaps (if you know what we mean). Disgusting! But isn't the other really ourselves? We are all potential sources of infection. Perhaps we should be wearing rubber gloves when we use the restrooms, or sterilizing our bodies upon leaving or entering the house. Minimize contact with others, and with yourself. Touching is how you transmit microscopic death. Do not seek that little death, because the microscopic death will always undermine, infect, and soil the purity we hold so dear.
You are the contanimation to the National Health. Thankfully, Big Doctor is diagnosing you. (And Big Pharma is ready to dispense your medication).
Like I said, they are only doing what they can. At least in this scenario, I don't think we could blame the government for not doing enough. The only question will be if what they are doing has an effect.
But it is a bit eerie, isn't it? Quarantines, tissue samples, genetics, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. A biological, eco-systemic crisis kind of rolls all our distopian, totalitarian architypes into one big sterile, latex-wrapped fascisti of syringes, doesn't it? And we are all forced to play along, because, well, fuck--we don't want to get the bug.
The problem, it seems, is that the State is nothing at all like an organism, and unable to function like one. It's immune system is all a big metaphor. It only has soldiers to deploy in the streets, not doctors. It can't distribute T-cells to communities, but it can shut down the circulatory system. It can't practice good, natural hygeine, but it can purge its skin with powerful poisons, anti-biologic substances representing a vast anticathexis of self-system loathing as wide and bare as the entire epidermis. The State views it's membership, the human species, as bureaucratic taxonomy. Homo sapiens, the reasonable fellow. Surely we will understand while there are mandatory tests, martial law, and quarantines--for the General/Generic Good.
It's okay though, go ahead and swab me. I understand. I hate getting sick, too. I just wish we thought with a bit more species-mind sometimes. Like maybe we were all a giant working network of ecosystems, who could be smart enough to think for ourselves, rather than being told what to do. A little bit more about the goose and the gander, rather than the state and the nation. Until then--please @CDC, tell me what to do!
Ah well, nothing new really.
But I've developed my own outbreak preparedness kit. Looks a little something like this:
I think it's more effective than a mask.
Predictions for 2012
5 years ago