A n t i b o d y

fragments written during the
Covid 19 pandemic

- e x c e r p t -

Eight or so planets circle around our sun. At least a hundred billion other solar systems gravitate in our galaxy. Two hundred billion to two trillion galaxies exist in the observable universe… And they say the universe is still expanding outwardly.
Is this planet really an exception, a sort of miracle that combined the right conditions for life to kick off? How rare is this type of life? I heard other types of life out there could consist of, for instance, very complex kind of clouds, intelligent clouds…?
And did you know that when two planes take off from the same spot at the same time and fly in opposite directions around the earth, their time at arrival does not match up? Are our meetings not always both missed and exceeded encounters?

Europe is also the name of a satellite of Saturn, one of its small companions, like Callisto and Titan. On Titan they think there might be forms of life sprawling in underground lakes and oceans.
I shut my ears with the palm of my hands and recede. There is a roar… Listen! Let me go and visit underground seas in a semi-conscious state. I can hear gigantic, profound erosions, tectonic strokes, the most delicious disquiet that makes me shudder. Making love in a bed of fossils.

I will leave my chewing gum in the negative space of a prehistoric toe and find, etched into my elbows, an ancient mollusc’s antennae. The smoke of our cigarettes will take on the shape of sound waves, seismic graphs only we can decipher. Our sweat will temporarily polish aside millennial dust, the glow of unknown colours reflected on our skin.


Imagine if the virus was manmade? Imagine if Dr Frankenstein is truly our archetypal entrepreneur: man, a failed avatar, becoming a nature-defying engineer (out of greed, grief, humiliation…?), creating various kinds of monsters that will eventually get retribution for his deeds.

In ‘Civilization and its Discontent’, Freud spoke of a ‘prosthetic god’, to describe man’s desire to become God-like and to reign over the world with the help of artificial extensions and organs.
I’m also thinking of (Western) man’s successive narcissistic wounds (as evoked by Freud too): 1. the earth turns around the sun (Copernicus); 2. man derives from animals and is not an exception in the evolutionary chain (Darwin); 3. the mind is subjected to the unconscious i.e. the ego is not master in its own house (psychoanalysis). I am tempted to add a fourth one: the end of white and ethnic superiority. And then I remember that Donna Haraway already coined a fourth wound: the informatic or cyborgian one, ‘infolding organic and technological flesh’[1].

In the summer of 1816, Mary Shelley, under pressure to come up with an idea for a ghost story (challenge taken up by her lover Percy, Lord Byron and his physician), was eventually visited by a waking dream. During a sleepless night in her dark room, ‘behind closed shutters, with the moonlight struggling to get through’, inspiration came to her: "I saw with shut eyes, but acute mental vision – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life…"[2]

The group had, on one of those rainy summer evenings near Lake Geneva, talked about the ‘principle of life’ and Mary had been curious about the latest experiments in Galvanism. At first, physicists would animate frog legs by connecting them to electrical currents. In 1803, during a famous public demonstration, the electro-stimulation technique was used on the corpse of an executed criminal, managing to send quivers along its jaw, trigger a hand to clench and set in motion legs and eyes.

The hedge outside my window just dropped its load of snow like an inchoate shoulder pad. Twenty-five centimetres fell overnight. I dreamt of anxiously roaming in a cavernous house and then driving along the bottom of steep rocks with my friend Stephen, he who has just made a series of microscopic photographs of the inside of a fish. The long road got gradually submerged by the sea. At one point his Yves Klein-blue Lada swayed, I fell off and plunged backwards into the water, not sure if the sensation of submerging into a wobbly dark was pleasant or frightening, or both (...)

[1] Haraway, Donna J., When Species Meet, 2008.
[2] Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein, Introduction to the 1831 edition.