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Of Viruses and Innocence

from Lobster Telephone No. 26


Through the medium of Old Tongue the time traveller, a message os sent to the moralising filth of the world;

OLD TONGUE... surfaces once more like slime floating up as scum... the time traveller is living deep underground in a vast complex of great caverns, vast unlit echos. HE/SHE/IT the ever changing Old Tongue wanders through the vast caves past shuddering arc lights casting vast wandering shadows... Old Tongue she walks down to a vast hall kept at body temperature... in which human T cells (subclass CD4) are growing in their millions of millions of millions... And two thirds of the vast vats are growing something in those cells... they are being used by our old friend Old Tongue... to grow HIV the human immunodeficiency virus... the causitive agent of the horrifying and tragic disease Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Old Tongue grows up the virus and when it bursts the cells, she takes it and heats it to destroy the outer membranes and effectively make it no longer infective... then all the naked virus particles, all perfect faceted spheres like little diamonds... are purified and dried to make a white crystalline powder...

It's taken thirty years locked away underground in the vast places, eating only the traditional mustard and onion sandwiches, for Old Tongue to get enough of the powder for what she wants... She is using it to make sculptures...

Powder in resin of million tears and misunderstandings... Four pure white sculptures she made...
One of Two girls hand in hand and in love.
One of Two boys hand in hand and in love.
One of a girl and a boy... hand and in love.
One of a mother and a child.

These are the five representations of innocence... The fifth is the virus itself. It is not evil. It causes long slow deaths by destroying the bodies defence systems and allowing other disease to take hold... people get thin, get covered in cancers, go blind ...die... infect others often that they loved... The virus is only surviving. It is our enemy because it kills us, but it is innocent. It does not judge or show prejudices. It is pure, just as love is pure. The guilty enemies are those fools who call Aids a judgement... those evil bastard fools who are blind to love and strength and beauty in those who live under the shadow of the little deadly virus.

"What we need is compassion and friendship and understanding. Then our innocence will be as pure as that of the diseases that infect us.. not because of who we are, but just because we are there."

Old Tongue wanders off through the tunnels and darkness hides smooth crystalline white forms. And then there is complexity and silence.

© The Barry Powell Organisation 1988.