Inhabiting a Viral Culture


In contemporary culture, viruses are taken either metaphorically, as signs of accelerated transmission of information, or pejoratively, as evil or “bad” objects laying waste to our lives. I contend that the opposition is moot. By way of Stephen Soderbergh’s prescient film, Contagion (2011), and the recent pandemic, I show how exploitation of resources (notably deforestation and uncontrolled expansion of agribusiness), disregards fragile environments in which humans, animal, plants, and inorganic matter are entangled—and in which viruses are vital to life itself. Viruses become “bad” where human expansion disturbs habitat and habitus. The depredations of COVID-19 tell us that we must urgently reset our physical and ethical compasses if we are to inhabit our many worlds with greater care.

Read Article On Muse