Saturday, April 04, 2020


SARS-Cov-2 has been able to consistently mess with our expectations because culturally at least, these expectations have largely been set by fiction and not by history. (Or 'models' that are abstracted from human realities.)

A reading of the literature for the Great Plague in London (1665) for example, will reveal that pestilence has often spread in ways that are uneven in both pace and extent and more than a little dumfounding.

The apocalypses we imagine and then pay to witness tend to be simple and brutal in premise. Yet I have often wondered why we don't speculate just a little bit more around partial rather than near total apocalypses, calamities where the breakdowns are just a bit more selective, where only one or two key switches in civilisation’s fuse box have been flipped.

The novel coronavirus that has brought the modern world partially to its knees is a very slippery character indeed. Far far more contagious than its predecessor, and potentially lethal to an uncertain number of human beings from a frustratingly imprecise sub-set of the species. 

Our current obsession with testing has more to do with pinning the little bugger down than providing a proper solution. 

There seem to be just too many ways to cut the cake and one ends up with the suspicion that this indeterminacy is a fundamental part of the MO of the virus and one that it is somehow exploiting.

In this it has almost dream-like qualities: the moment of potential intelligibility turns out to be but a blink away from the collapse into the ungraspable. 

Here in Guatemala one might even want to examine the ways in which the contagion co-evolves with the measures taken to suppress it. 

About a month ago my wife pinpointed this formally sneaky aspect of the pandemic when she referred to the behaviour of SARS-CoV-2 as 'mathematical'. Then we watched this interview with one Dr Djaballah conducted by the Korea Times, in which his use of the adjective cryptic really chimed with us. 

Now, while I am (almost) never a subscriber to conspiracy theories, the patterns we are seeing with this virus would not be that hard to stigmatise as the work of a human agent determined to dick around with the basic settings of SARS-CoV-1. 

And yet, back in January, one of the principal arguments deployed against the conspiracy theories was that any cabal of super-villains in a hidden lab would surely have chosen to elaborate a bug that would be far more lethal and in a sense, far more simple. Would they, really? 

Like any other conclusions we draw, this one is going to have to be provisional. 


norm said...

I'm not so sure about the lab thing, but I have to wonder at the response by government. It would seem the people in government know more about this agent that is being disseminated to the general public. The government usually is more concerned with its cash flow, both personal and public, yet in this event they went to the bunkers before hardly anyone died.
My dear Linda thinks it was made in a lab, has from the start. We'll see.

Inner Diablog said...

I’m not a subscriber to the lab hypothesis either.

I think you are right in that government has a better idea than the media about how this will now pan out.

The current measures, globally, have been about adjusting the initial pace of the pandemic to preserve the state’s ability to cope, and this has involved an economic compromise backed up by emergency borrowing. It has had little to do with stopping the virus.

There’s a line in ‘Contagion’ that could be relevant here. We don’t want anyone to know before EVERYONE knows.

In this case, they are deferring our appreciation of the fact that a V shaped recovery is possible. That way, they are also trying to decelerate the consumer-economic response.

They are also teasing us with testing and the idea that infection levels are more widespread because that would diminish the threat of the disease relative to their own short term measures/compromises.

Going into winter, as long as one sick person with un untraceable infection has to be admitted into ICU SOMEWHERE, we are not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that Trump claims to see already.

In terms of that movie ‘Contagion’ he’s acting as CEO, C-i-C and avatar of the crazed blogosphere, all in one mouth.

Inner Diablog said...

I meant NOT possible!!!