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"Language is a virus from outer space." --William Burroughs

Language is a virus

"Language," William S. Burroughs reminded us, "is a virus from outer space." Performance artist Laurie Anderson adds, "That's why I'd rather hear your name than see your face." This metaphor captures beautifully both the power and the danger presented by the task of communicating the "flux of wholeness," as Heather Raikes describes the rheomode. Raikes' use of the rheomode suggests that technology might be seen not just as a channel for communication and performance, but more radically as the environment in which subjects serve as conduits for experience.

A virus operates autonomously, without human intervention. It attaches itself to a host and feeds off of it, growing and spreading from host to host. Language infects us; its power derives not from its straightforward ability to communicate or persuade but rather from this infectious nature, this power of bits of language to graft itself onto other bits of language, spreading and reproducing, using human beings as hosts.The notion of the meme -- coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins to illustrate the field of memetics -- crystallizes this view of the communication process. Georges Bataille similarly argued that communication was best understood from the perspective of contagion. In Bataille any human being is no more than a conduit for communicative process, a channel for ideas which pass through him/her."If, as it appears to me, a book is communication, then the author is only a link among many readings."* The author is simply a node on a network, through which ideas pass. -- http://acjournal.org/holdings/vol6/iss3/responses/attias/virus.html

David Cronenberg virus films

  • Shivers (1975)- David Cronenberg [Amazon.com]
    His first feature, Shivers, is a highly effective little movie about a strain of parasitical beasties that look like diseased penises and, after infesting inside someone, give them maniacal and uncontrollable sexual appetites, spreading their disease exponentially (also note the STD-like terrors of Rabid and The Fly). The AIDS parallel is obvious, but Shivers was made in 1975, long before AIDS was the cause célèbre in Hollywood. -- Daniel Kraus in http://www.gadfly.org/lastweek/arhighcronen.html

    Shivers (also known as The Parasite Murders, or They Came from Within) is a 1975 film directed by David Cronenberg.

    An ultra-modern high-rise apartment outside of Montreal is the site of a medical professor's laboratory in which he conducts unorthodox experimentations with parasitic organisms. Once implanted, said organisms cause uncontrollable sexual desire in their hosts. The community's on-site physician and his assistant attempt to stop the spread of the infection before it can overwhelm the population. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shivers_%28movie%29 [Feb 2005]

  • Rabid (1977) - David Cronenberg [Amazon.com]
    Cronenberg's tale of a viral driven apocalypse pulls the viewer into a world of death and contagion. Rabid, along with other early Cronenberg films, deals with the horror from within our own bodies. The story centers on the birth of a disease, which eventually spreads to a large city and causes social breakdown. With its odd storyline, dreary landscapes and creepy music, Rabid stands out from other horror films of the 70's in that it has Cronenberg's "body conscious horror" philosophy behind it. Originally released on Warner home video in the 80's and on a hard to find import laserdisc from Japan, this DVD of Rabid is the best the film has ever looked. The image exhibits little grain, the colors are strong (for early Cronenberg), and the sound is clear. It is presented here in full screen (1:33:1), which is possibly what the film was shot in. Also included on the disc is the full-length theatrical trailer. If you're a fan of 70's horror, Rabid is required viewing. - Bob B Wray for amazon.com

    stars Marilyn Chambers

    The Stand (1978) - Stephen King

    The Stand (1978) - Stephen King [Amazon.com]

    The Stand is an apocalyptic horror novel by Stephen King. The novel, originally published in 1978, remains a favorite of many King fans. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stand [Jan 2006]

    Ultimately, The Stand is about Good vs Evil. [Jan 2006]

    See also: apocalypse

    The Hot Zone (1995) - Richard Preston

    The Hot Zone (1995) - Richard Preston [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    The Hot Zone is a 1995 non-fiction bio-thriller by Richard Preston describing the origins of and incidents involving hemorrhagic fevers Ebola and Marburg. Both diseases are lethal, highly contagious viruses that are often found in central Africa. Along with describing the history of these two illnesses, Preston describes an incident in which Ebola was found in a Reston, Viginia, monkey storage warehouse.

    Due to the detailed and graphic descriptions of the effects of exotic tropical diseases, as well as the revelation that Ebola was found a few miles away from Washington DC, The Hot Zone was hailed by many as a chilling and accurate story of lethal viruses and their encounters with humans.

    There has been controversy involving this book, with critics accusing Preston of dramatizing and exaggerating the effects of an Ebola infection, as well as embellishing facts with his own imagination. There are those who say that Preston's book is meant to be a pseudo documentary, much like Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain, but was added to the "nonfiction" section in bookstores and libraries by accident. Defenders of the book assert that Preston, as a journalist, is not likely to have attempted to pass fiction off as nonfiction. Additionally, news agencies such as CNN have endorsed this work as nonfiction, albeit with dramatizations added.

    See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The Hot Zone [Mar 2006]

    See also: bio horror - virus - nonfiction - documentary

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