Posted: October 11, 2011 in Braak
Tags: ,

I get sick periodically, more than Holland does. That is because most diseases recognize the superior fecundity of my body. What disease would want to colonize Holland?  It’d be like moving to Venice while it was sinking into the canals.

Anyway, I am sick.

As I may have mentioned, I am terrified of disease, but at some point the abject horror of the deterioration of my body reaches some kind of threshold and my brain just shuts it off.  It’s like going into a kind of shock, I guess, when my subconscious just recognizes that all this panic isn’t going to do me any good, so best to just ignore it for a while (incidentally, my body does the same thing with hunger and thirst, meaning it’s pretty easy for me to die of scurvy if I don’t pay routine attention to my physical needs).

I’m at that stage now, and so instead of being terrified by the constant ravaging of my cells, I find myself kind of philosophical about it.

Viruses, of course, aren’t really living things. They’re just bad bits of code that get injected into the DNA of cells and turn those cells into little virus-factories.  Probably for every virus that successfully reproduces itself, there are ten thousand viruses that inject themselves into cells that don’t do anything at all.  Duds.  SCUD missile viruses.

But what I think is really fascinating about this is the reminder that I — or that my physical body — isn’t a single unit at all.  It’s a million billion tiny little engines, each operating with no organizing intelligence at all, each just following its own personal instructions.  It’s when those engines get disrupted that I remember there’s no major mind behind the cells to say, “Whoops, these guys are infected, just shut them off.”  It’s a system that has to trigger a systemic response, all from cells that don’t know anything more than the space directly around them.

I’m not a single body at all, I’m a civilization.  A colony of birthing, living, dying cells, cells that build and cells that clean and cells that organize.  Cells that die off constantly, always in flux, just a big mess of moving goop.

And more than that, more than all that getting sick reminds me how little barrier there is between me and the outside world.  Think about that for a minute, what it means to get a virus:  you’re walking around, you pick up a little bit of bad code by touching something or breathing something or drinking something, and suddenly that code is in your cells, replicating itself.  Your skin is a permeable membrane, riddled with egress and ingress, and the elements of the world around you are ALWAYS moving in and out of it.

There’s no barrier between yourself and your world.  There’s hardly even any space between it.



  1. Jeff Holland says:

    “What disease would want to colonize Holland?”

    None of them. Motherfuckers know what happened to the last bunch that tried to come in here and take over.

    I got little microbes’ heads on pikes in my bloodstream. ON PIKES.

  2. braak says:

    Ooops, I just coughed up some slime. Man, don’t even tell me. This is the Roman military machine of diseases here, this is the Huns, this is Genghis Khan’s Golden Horde. Tamurlaine is leading a war against my biological integrity with catapults hurling plague-rat carcasses at my mitochondria, no one is impressed that you fought off some inbred hillbilly rhinovirus.

  3. dagocutey says:

    Aah, sounds like a strain of the man cold.

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