Would you at any point in your life want to be described as 'truly infectious'? Professionally speaking, whatever your profession may be, in a general summing up of character or possibly a recognisable trait such as a laugh? Though such laughter if it's also the belly quaking sort is usually described as contagious which is, I think you'll agree, another dubious choice, despite the laughter being exactly that: caught and passed on indiscriminately, like disease.
personality, I gather, can be infectious but naming it thus does make
it sound rather unpleasant, as if one should be immunised against it
or take precautions to avoid at all costs. Last year however 'truly
infectious' was uttered by quite a few lips in homage to someone and
with each utterance I almost recoiled. How horrid!
say almost because it wasn't pure revulsion for I understood its
meaning was complimentary and yet something within me still thought:
surely you could have used a more pleasing phrase, not just to the
ear but to the eye.
phrase every time immediately brought to mind Philip Roth's Nemesis,
which is about the scourge of polio in Newark, New Jersey, 1944. The
main protagonist, Eugene (Bucky) Cantor would not, I think, have
welcomed being seen as infectious, either positively in regards to
his work as a playground director or later, as he came to believe, as
a carrier of the disease where the damage done was largely
irreversible and often disfiguring. That he came to think this way of
himself was punishment upon punishment because polio finally got him
too and left its mark. It infected everything, whereas in the
innocuous stage he was a witness, doing what he could when he could,
and polio was the foe that none of the community could account for
and were all in fear of. When it pegged him, with certainty despite
lacking in evident symptoms, that all changed.
course it was a false accusation, and by none other than Bucky
himself, because even if he was throughout the event a carrier it
was unknowingly so; therefore he's blameless. He, even before, and
upon diagnosis judges otherwise. I didn't however (in my reading)
think that was the case: his catching of the disease was
circumstantial. I rightly or wrongly concluded that when no answer
from God was forthcoming he took it upon himself: willed himself to
believe he was indeed the agent, which, as he suffered but survived,
made him culpable and undeserving of any good that might later befall
easily done when nobody's too sure of the causes and everything's
viewed with suspicion, including the very elements that give and
sustain life: air and water and food. To think that these are
poisonous must have been crippling even without contracting the
disease that could cause exactly that. To exist alongside fear, in
whatever capacity: man-made, airborne, poor sanitation etc., is
strangulating and divisional.
attests to it: TB, HIV, Aids and Ebola, because little was known and
there was nothing to prevent its spread or effect a cure. In short,
there was a growing list of suspects, rumour-driven and not
evidence-based, because anything at the time of an outbreak was a
Bucky, after his disengagement with God, to come to believe, firmly
believe, that he's the most obvious and logical cause of much
suffering seems omnipotent, even that it's a story he's had to tell
himself to apologize for what he feels were evading actions when all
along the God he was seeking answers from had provided him with the
answer: HIM. It's very sad that someone's life could be so destroyed
when others somehow make the best of what life offers: good or bad.
But experiences can do that to you; it only takes one event to blow
the positives to smithereens, which even the strongest-willed in the
world find it hard to bounce back from.
be the same person after. The latter is often an impossible task, far
less accomplished in full than in half-measures. A sort of existence
and a lengthy wait for all associations to fade, if ever.
would you now choose to say of someone 'you're truly infectious'?
Picture credit: An Egyptian stele thought to represent a Polio victim, 18th Dynasty, 1403-1365 BC. Source: Wikipedia.org