Years ago I read Susan Sontag’s book titled “Illness as a Metaphor”. I might have been too young to understand fully what it meant. I hope not to come TOO short in my comment about this piece on her work of how society understands disease from the perspective of its inexplicable nature, and how it is in turn reflected on society. Also in what way this interpretation carries an “acceptance” within, a cause and a consequence. In short, in a subconscious level in finds the way to justify, with guilt, these events.

Her work also engages in the interpretation of different diseases and it’s metaphors that have deeply scared society as to reflect in our social discourse* (tuberculosis or cancer). Today I thought about commenting the swine flu phenomena, (irresponsibly) speculating, about it’s meaning and it’s metaphor.

Susan Sontags’ works also talked about AIDS and it’s metaphor, by then, the disease had been around a decade already. She talks about the way in which AIDS was interpreted as punishment to “free sexual transit”, in a way, a counter play to sexual revolution. Of course, she then published “AIDS and it’s metaphors”, that I haven’t read (but will start this minute!) wich cuts much deeper than my post today. Nevertheless, it is the starting point to my thoughts on how this new virus has reconfigured our social behavior. To avoid contact at all cost, social gatherings, museums, movie theaters, plazas and even churches… Mexicans forced into home confinement!!

After all, what could be worse, for such an extroverted society like ours? Forced to stay at home and avoid public places… not even church?! I would like to speculate on what are we being punished for?? Could it be for being too social, too easy going? Should it be “less fiesta”? Is that why there is no swine flu in Finland?!


So for what it’s worth, about the way frontiers have been shut down for Mexicans at the moment, I would like to say, it is a normal reaction to panic and does not reflect peoples feelings. If our dear friends from South America have little resources to fight swine flu, it’s normal that they would try to keep it out this way. Mexico would have done the same.

When the Avian Flu was around in Asia, Mexico signed along with USA and Canada, a Security and Prosperity Agreement for North American Countries (ASPAN, in Spanish, the following is a personal translation from Spanish), in which “it is established that every country is entitled to their own border control measures when facing an epidemic of this sort”, so I believe that if Mexico would not have been the epicenter, we would have done the same.

So, I leave some links about Susan Sontag and Michel Foucault, they are worth the time and conceptually complement each other, they are both two of the brightest minds of our times.


Fritania de las dos Cejas

* To understand more about discourse and how it’s manufactured, read more on Michel Foucault works.


2 comentarios to “Capital sins and their metaphors”

  1. Luke said

    I find this really interesting. It would have been interesting to read more of your opinions about why are Mexicans (and later on the world) being punished like this. What is the swine flu metaphor for? That we’ve been living like pigs and need to wake up and smell the music of the planet goes to hell? I bet that the fanatic catholics can see the flu as an punishment for lack of faith, but what then if the dead have been devoted catholics? Maybe it’s the revenge from the old gods. Some people who are worried about overpopulation in densely populated areas might even see it as a blessing.

    I haven’t read Sontag, but you have so tell me what you think is the metaphor of the swine flu? You say there should be less fiesta, do you REALLY believe in that?

    The only thing I’m worried about is that they do burn the bodies. We’ve seen this in the movies too many times, and a zombie horde from Mexico could easily wipe out US and then the world. Learn from the movies! Burn the bodies!


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