By Remi Marie

Translated by Ingrid Hoelzl

This thing, the virus, invisible, diffuse, ubiquitous, everywhere around me, this thing menaces me, it menaces my existence, it wants to get me, that’s what they say, they who fabricate fear, anguish, who fabricate my fear of disappearing, my fear of the void, and I, I, who tries to hide myself, to protect myself, to understand, to foresee, but sees nothing, incapable of seeing ahead, I who only sees in hindsight, and yet, too late, blurred, I who does not see the dead, the sick, but who sees the numbers, who sees the photofit picture of the murderer enlarged one hundred thousand times, crowned monster!

In the difficulty to say, but already to think this thing, think this situation, that which makes situation, that which makes my tentative to think situated, dated, although in a discrete manner, as dotted lines, segmented, or rather as small jumps, here, there, elsewhere, trying a panoramic, cavalier projection, from above, from afar, but without achieving it, because we are within, up until our ears, in the shifting sands, because we can’t see a damn thing, because thought slips, because we are sinking!

Yet trying to write something of the sinking, of the situation, of that which is here, now, of that which presents itself, of the current, viral situation, the situation that produces itself here and now, writing that which passes, but that which passes, passes by, I catch only the refuse, the debris, the corps, situated!

Trying to write, trying to name, to seize, but not the corpses, and that’s the difficulty, to seize without seizing, to name without shooting, not like a snapshopt, no, rather recording than seizing, recording the time that passes, the light that changes, à la Cezanne, recording but not passively, recording as a dialogue, as a scuffling, not really recording, rather boxing…

And then, the invisible, boxing with the angel, dancing with the angel, of death, dancing with the phantom! And then, the visible , images, desert of the cities, sound, silence of the nights, and what is shown, hundreds of empty beds, empty for the moment, lined up in a warehouse, some images, yes, but they do not help to understand, they do not help to grasp the thing!

As usual, the images are blurred!

Strike the words like chords, zonk! Like a patch, but the real deflates, my patches are too small, it still leaks, it pushes off, I would like to understand, to name, in the beginning the virus, the primordial soup, and then Life, and then… return to the virus, to death, are we children of the virus, of an automated killer, is this virus the safety valve of the world, the defence of the world, are we viruses, carriers of death, is this virus only virus of a virus?

Multiple stories, multiple beginnings, multiple genealogies, in the beginning there was the soup, in the beginning there was the word, because without the word there wouldn’t be any soup, no bacteria, no nucleic acids, no virus, without the word there would be only bustling, we would be only bustling, in the beginning the word and then the virus, then Life, or rather the word as a canon that one points backwards, millions of years back, to name that which happens, that which comes, virus, bacteria, and then life?

The life that we try to seize, to pin, is it already elsewhere, the virus, once named virus, uirus, juice, humour, venom, poison, stench, infection, is it already life, and the life once named life, what is it to the virus? Ten million viruses in one drop of seawater, one million of a billion of viruses in my body, one hundred viruses per cell, virus everywhere, virus is life, virus is death, amoral virus that doesn’t give a fuck about the word that I stick on it, virus, of the intentions that I project onto it, partaking to life, cleaning the Earth of our presence!

Our presence, us, ultimate marvel of nature, or rather a gunk, proliferating cells, eminently unstable form, chemical accident, furtive apparition quickly reabsorbed, rot, humus, us, filth or marvel that grows like a narcissus, bent over itself, fascinated by its own image, fascinated by the play of light on its body…

Let’s recapitulate: bacteria, virus, amino acids, nucleic acids, Life as a series of accidents, of derailments, that produce a monster, I, unstable stack of cells, holding together by miracle, and for a short time only, nervous system, neurons, synapses, and, at a given moment, this neuronal tendency at reflexivity, this neuronal propensity to narcissism, tendency, propensity, faculty, or neuronal accident, neuronal fault, neuronal deviation, feedback, the idea of the good, the idea of the beautiful, philosophy, love of wisdom, love of oneself, a short circuit, a loop, I am beautiful, says the I, says not the rat!

I, illusion of the I, unstable group of cells, in the heart of which, by accident, a billion of neurons, a billion of synapses, a billion of circuits, and among these accidental circuits, zak, a concept, the concept of god, the concept of omnipotence, the concept of perfection, and, principle of reflexivity which is specific to me, which isolates me among the living, which makes of me a living monster, this omnipotence, this perfection resemble me, then, a billion of circuits later, this omnipotence, this perfection from up there descends towards me, becomes immanent, magnetized, becomes me, and then, zonk, permutation, minute modification of neuronal circuits, minute modification but everything changes: I am the master, I am the lord of the things, I am reason, I am god!

Except that…

Except that things get stuck, and from everywhere at the same time, could my spoilt childlike omnipotence be death drive? Except that all is going wrong! Except that I am god but that makes a billion of gods, infinite polytheist religion, tiny gods that envy each other, that tear each other to pieces, smash each other, badly! Except that my omnipotence rattles the equilibrium of the world. Except that in return it trembles as well. Except for the virus. Except for the unexpected return of death. Slap in the face. I am god, maybe, but the virus knows nothing of it!

So then the second Fall, the second disgrace, to have, in dreaming the good, engineered the filthy, to have, in fighting against the disorder, created an even worse disorder. Sadness to have understood nothing for having thought too much, to have loved nothing for having loved oneself too much, shame, sadness, neuronal circuits of shame, of sadness, aleatoric layout of neurons, shame and sadness, but not so different from hubris, new ruse, new form of excessive self-love, of megalomania, suffering, sentiment of suffering that rigidifies me one last time, blows me up one last time, shrinks me one last time, melancholia!

My body without limits, without form, without stable existence, transformation, mutation, illusion of the I – illusion laboriously entertained, desperately entertained by billions of neurons – unstable cells, that exchange and transform, bustling, singular accident, extreme case of the living, not even extreme, just improbable, just ordinary, illusion of a separated I, autonomous, traversed by weak currents, modified by hormonal chemistry, tightrope ontology, molecular chemistry of the affects that construct my identity and that institute themselves as feelings, feelings that I – this I barely identified – name fear, dread, anxiety, by this capacity to contemplate myself, to take my chemical states as spiritual states, affects, then, that diminish my power to act… unless I were capable, through one of the most peculiar competences of my organization of being, to reverse the anxiety in energy, in action, in words, unless I were capable to reverse the anxiety in plenitude, to turn my fear of the void into movement, unless I were capable to occupy this void, to take place in it, to fill it?

The text has been first published on 8 May 2020 in the French online journal Art Debout as VIRUS ! (ou de l’angoisse… et comment la retourner). It will form the scene VIRUS & ME in General Humanity Lab 3: ANIMAL ANCESTOR which will take place at Blurred Edges Festival from 27-29 October 2020.

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