Ebola. Tick encephalitis. Spongiform encephalitis. Yellow fever. Genital herpes. HIV. Rabies.
Michelangelo. Chernobyl. I love you.
Those words seem to carry the peculiar resonance of malignity. Like the incoherent, nightmarish jabber of a febrile mind.
Virus names. They strike terror: in everyone sitting at the door of the laboratory, everyone sitting in front of a computer screen or everyone who has not used a condom last night with that unknown woman, man or virtual sex module. The virus is a tiny part of the world. created to destroy it, indifferent to its orderliness, refinement and imperfect variety. Completely unrestrained by its principles. Beyond the principle of purpose, beyond premeditation, beyond the pleasure principle. An information particle carrying within itself the destruction of information. It destroys flowers, cows, brains, programs and itself. Destroy and perish - that is the virus. In its biological variant it is a fine example of absurdity. A protein shell containing a tiny piece of genetic information. So tiny it seems miserable. The genome of the virus is tiny and meaningless - its only purpose is to reproduce itself - once, twice, thousands of times to reproduce itself. and nothing more. And that's how it happens: having entered the cell of a living organism, it blocks its metabolism, and fools the entire well-organized factory of the cell into working for the Virus cause. The virus lives at the expense of the cell, but is not a real parasite. Here's why: of real parasites one gets the impression that they have aspirations - food, sex, metabolism, death -, things they probably enjoy. That's understandable! The virus is not, because it has no needs!
The consumer of potato chips and films on the assassination of JFK is understandable, as is the tapeworm. Forms of life in search of happiness, led by their own or by divine providence. The virus is not out for happiness. It does not experience bliss. Every living thing can be happy, but not the virus. There is no unhappiness for it either. When it kills, it dies alone, calm and indifferent.
What is the philosophy of meaningless annihilation? Who can explain that which contains nothing. The existence of the zero is an end in itself, its sole purpose.
Why yes, stones too exist for the sake of existing. Why else? Stones do not reproduce themselves. Yet stones are used for building hearths and monuments of unknown soldiers. Gravestones. Bladder-stones provoke pain. Unrequited love turns a heart to stone. The fingers of precious women (our precious women) there are stones that cost money, that cost banknotes featuring the portraits men with stone faces. But the virus is nothing. One of the legendary viruses is Michelangelo - a vicious sly program, no more than a few kilobytes. It may have erased flight-control programs, shaken the systems in the computer controlling reanimation after cardiac arrest. A tiny nauseating damage, but nausea is an obliging thing. The virus is nothing. It tears apart the networks that connect human reason and turn it into 1010011000101000. It causes illnesses with tobacco and cattle. Drives the cows mad. Parasitizes parasites. The bacteriophage virus parasitizes bacteria. If you look at a piece of dog fur under an electronic microscope, this is what you will see: under the chitin segments of fleas there are tiny parasitic ticks. On their surface, bacteria can be discerned. But they are not the end of the food chain!
The virus parasitizes bacteria. What a staggering association: the man has a dog, the dog has fleas. The fleas suffer from viral infections, as do the bacteria that live on the ticks clinging to the fleas. The dog catches some virus and dies, as do the viruses parasitizing fleas and those parasitizing bacteria parasitizing ticks parasitizing fleas. A terrifying cycle. In art, the virus is the principle of destruction. The poison in the well. Impressionism is a leech, surrealism is a rickettsia causing Rocky mountain spotty fever.
They parasitize the corpse saturated with rotting organic material of something that has never interested anyone - official art. Whatever the latter may mean: properly drawn jugs, nude women, or a meal with fork and knife and that special caviar spoon at which you cover your mouth when yawning. This kind of parasitism however has an intrinsic, natural purpose. Kill the old, make compost, grow thornapple, white hellebore, burdock and nettle.
Impressionists get their sad pleasure out of parasitizing, dying in proud misery. Like Renoir, numb with arthritis. Or they cut their ears.
That's not what viruses look for. They do not die. Not in proud misery, not with their ears cut. They destroy and exist, meaningless and terrifying in their pointlessness.
The viruses are those who don't get anything out of what they do - destroying. The quiet fearsome man who sneaks in with a cruel pointlessness and creates his ugly art that consists in steady passionless acts of multiplying nothingness and pointlessness. who prints his damp genitals on color paper and with a hammer blows off the heads of mustachioed Madonnas holding infants broiled in strong bone-broth - there's the virus. Michelangelo is not a virus - he's an artist who fought with titanic perseverance against the marble, madness and his own homosexuality.
Translated from Bulgarian by Zornitsa Dimova