Saturday, November 05, 2005

Political organisms

Angry is pursuing a metaphor like a hound of heaven over at his site: Jack Layton and the NDP as virus in a dying Liberal host. This caused my brain to snap into full wakefulness. The man does have an active imagination at times--"the NDP platform started to inject itself into government policy, like a retrovirus rewriting Liberal DNA"--combined with the obligatory conservative insistence on sly sexual innuendo (why "retrovirus?" Oh, right, AIDS, the NDP's position on same-sex marriage, conjuring up images such as this in the conservative hive-mind). But I have to hand it to him: the metaphor is resonant, and has taken possession of my soul.

If the body politic is indeed feeling poorly these days, might I suggest a different etiology and a fundamentally different diagnosis? Indeed, a symbiotic (not parasitic) political relationship did occur under the current Liberal mandate. A symbiote, like a timely dose of L-dopamine, allowed a nearly lifeless brain to think again, without heroic measures being required--this was medical nanotechnology at its best. In return, the symbiote is slowly beginning to acquire the nutrients needed for it to live someday on its own.

But there is a danger here. The "host" that Angry speaks of in fact has parasitical inclinations. We have seen this before, in the Trudeau-Lewis social accord of the early 1970s, when the symbiote disappeared entirely after a short period of usefulness, being absorbed into the very tissues of the host, not by the sneaky means of reverse transcriptase, but more through a process of simple digestion. (Just ask David Orchard what that's like.)

And we mustn't forget the other organic processes taking place--a more holistic view is required, Dr. Angry. Part of the body has been in danger of sloughing off entirely, although improved circulation appears to be containing this threat. But that doesn't appear to be working on the right-hand side, which is still presenting with tremors and occasional ischemic episodes, and is currently suffering from a severe loss of metabolites.

Being an optimist, I believe that the prognosis is good, if the symbiote mentioned earlier can survive a two-fold threat: the inherently perilous nature of the larger organism, and the danger of parasitism from another organism, a green bacterium that requires very little light to thrive. It has the ability to mimic certain beneficial qualities of the symbiote, with the potential of fooling the body into accepting it instead, and, in true parasitical fashion, threatens both the symbiote and itself by its political behaviour.

The symbiote, then, must develop the ability to be recognized by the body as a healthy, life-giving force, and therefore must be permitted to thrive if full health--in fact, a state of well-being that the body has never before achieved--is to be realized. This requires some mutation on its part, however, because, in its present form, it is fragile and overly susceptible both to absorption and excretion.

In conclusion, I am impressed that Angry has ventured into the deep waters of political biology. I would have thought that a model of demonic possession might have been more compatible with his world-view: the image of a staggering, nearly zombie-like body given hellish life by a loa under the direction, perhaps, of a bokor called the See-el-see rather appeals to me. But I don’t want to give him ideas.

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