“in an abundance of caution”

The coronavirus is giving me writer’s block. If the art of writing is the art of thinking I suppose that’s first to go. Even for the non-infected.

I want to record the hours. I want to record what it’s like to be in the archives at the Purdue University Library with its scientifically calibrated rhythms of light and heat. I’m leafing through a pamphlet of drawings made by subjects in Czechoslovakian psychedelic research, 1954-1974. It’s called “Psyche in Statu Nescendi: LSD Behind the Iron Curtain.”

I’d like to record the days leading up to the days where we panicked. What it was like to drive alone: Western Virginia; West Virginia; Ohio; Indiana. The whole time listening to blank comedy about secret societies and suicides that were actually assassinations. The midwest: a very sentient-looking sky, my eyes depressurized, shivering upward at clouds fat with aliens. Spielberg-movie country. It’s an embarrassingly weird place. It’s also embarrassing that I transcribed this passage:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

In shitty handwriting on diary paper, then fastened it to the wall of my bedroom in Lafayette with a tack normally used to suspend a curtain sash. I put it there to give me courage during a job interview (I didn’t get it) and now it means something different.


Now I’m thinking about these words from Diamanda Galas:

In 1992, when I wrote “we are all HIV positive” on my hand with a tattoo artist from Brooklyn, I said several things: One was that you may not separate the uninfected from the infected as so many so-called liberal doctors wanted to do, by putting the infected on Plum island outside of New York City. You cannot separate the uninfected from the infected by denying them access to your country. You cannot separate the uninfected from the infected by putting the infected on a separate floor that has red danger contagion signs and giving them crap to eat and instructing Catholic nurses not to administer painkillers to the guilty and allowing Catholic priests to visit them and inform them of their future in Hell if they do not confess that their entire life has been a crime. You cannot separate the infected from the uninfected by saying I do not have AIDS, I have syphillis, but most assuredly nothing to do with HIV, and then allow them to die an early death because they would rather die of the disease than the stigma, as so many did, and do, including my best friend– in 1996–who would be living today if he had not been petrified of the stigma and intentionally saw a doctor whose research was based on the option and the opinion that HIV did not cause AIDS. A second opinion, or better yet,my friend’s own research with other researchers would have been smarter. He knew better, but he told me when we first met in 1989 that he would kill himself if he were diagnosed with HIV. No matter what I said to him he continued to visit the one practitioner who would condone this denial for six years until it was too late, and the following year protease inhibitors hit the market—the year after he died. No, you cannot separate the uninfected from the infected by saying “I do not suffer from this virus: I have been spared.” Because one day, in one city, in one moment, you will learn that you suffer from some virus, some pathogen, something poisonous that will not exit from your body; and you will realize that you do not mourn the dead, you mourn the suffering of the living while they are still alive. Noone can escape death, and worse than that, no one can escape the life of anything and everything that smells your blood and lives because of it.

Here. I wonder what will happen as this disease gets all of us.



“I’ve invented nothing; I’ve simply been the secretary of my sensations” — Emil Cioran