Eula Biss: On Immunity

“Just because we have enemies, Sedgwick proposes, does not mean we have to be paranoid. Our cynicism may be justified, but it is also sad. That so many of us find it entirely plausible that a vast network of researchers and health officials and doctors worldwide would will fully harm children for money is evidence of what capitalism is really taking from us. Capitalism has already impoverished the working people who generate wealth for others. And capitalism has already impoverished us culturally, robbing unmarketable art of its value. But when we begin to see the pressures of capitalism as innate laws of human motivation, when we begin to believe that everyone is owned, then we are truly impoverished.” p.103

“The natural body meets the body politic in the act of vaccination, where a single needle penetrates both. The capacity of some vaccines to generate a collective immunity superior to the individual immunity produced by those same vaccines suggests that the politic has not only a body, but also an immune system capable of protecting it as a whole.” p.132

“When I asked a friend how she would feel if her child contracted an infectious disease and did not suffer from it but passed it to someone more vulnerable who would suffer, she looked at me in surprise. she had not, she told me, considered that possibility”. p. 143

“Misinformation that finds a host enjoys a kind of immortality on the Internet, where is becomes undead.” p.147

Fragments from Eula Biss’s On Immunity: An Inoculation. A powerful, well-researched counteragent to selfishness, fear and self-interest. My edition from Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2016.