Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Masturbatory, Self-Interested Fiber Disease

I try to stay on top of all the most grotesque and mysterious fringes of our bio-diverse world, especially when they're related to parasitism. I'm pleased to finally find out that they've named a film genre after my obsessions: "Body Horror."

My fear and fascination of parasitic invasion probably began (as I've said before) with "The Seeds of Doom" and solidified with "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" which puts me in a particularly exclusive body horror sub-genre: fear of being turned into a plant.

That sounds funny I'm sure, but through most of my life this has been an honest-to-goodness little phobia...but though it still fascinates me I no longer sort of suspect that it will happen to me. I'm not alone, though, judging by the amount of horror fiction written on the subject: "Fungus" by Harry Adam Knight springs immediately to mind, and also "The Voice in the Night" by William Hope Hodgson (which inspired the Japanese film "Attack of the Mushroom People.")

All this explains why I find "Morgellons Disease" so intriguing. Rampant parasites under the skin? Weird egg-sacks? Multi-colored cellulose fibers growing out of sores that never seem to heal?

That would be interesting enough, but add to this the fact that the "disease" -- which apparently affects thousands in the United States -- is most likely a case of internet support groups gone mad, and you have a REAL fascinating story.

I won't recite the whole schpiel -- you can research it yourself if you're interested -- but I will point out the prevalence of Morgellons-themed You-Tube videos by people who are supposedly filming their "intelligent fibers." I'll also point out the intellectual dishonesty of so many of the "sufferers," who proudly trumpet that the CDC is investigating the disease but neglect to mention that they're only doing it because they're barraged with letters about it.

The claims of the sceptics seem reasonable to me: it's delusional parasitosis (otherwise there'd be SOME physical evidence other than what's posted anonymously on YouTube), but the sufferers of delusional parasitosis now have Morgellons to fall back on. Now that they have a support group they can all cluster together and reinforce their beliefs, avoiding the antipsychotic medication that would supposedly stop the delusions. This is complicated by people who want to be part of a grotesque mystery, and -- perhaps -- by a real but much-less-spectacular condition that a very small group of people actually have.

But maybe I'm wrong! Lord knows that being worried about something unknown and dangerous makes most people feel more alive. No wonder many of us sort of half-wish it would turn out to be real!


Eric Little said...

This kind of puts a whole new light on one of my favorite metaphysical conceits, from "To His Coy Mistress":

My vegetable love should grow,
Vaster than empires, and more slow.

I've always wanted to ask, "Exactly what vegetable were you thinking of, Mr. Marvell? A rutabaga? A summer squash? A zucchini?"

Allusive bastard that I am, I titled my review of "Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit," "Their Vegetable Love."

Adam Thornton said...


I mean, errr, WHAT?

Eric Little said...

Andrew Marvell wrote "To His Coy Mistress," perhaps the most famous carpe diem poem in English. Marvell was known as a "metaphysical poet," at first a derogatory term, because these poets joined together two unlike or unrelated thoughts in a metaphor--like John Donne did, when he compared his and his wife's love to a compass, the kind you used in gemometry class to draw a circle.

Marvell begins his poem:

If we had but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.

This first section is self-consciously witty, and in it he joins the concept of "world" and "time" in the implicit metaphor of his love growing like a vegetable, "a vegetable love": imperceptibly day by day, eventually becoming huge. I have always loved that image for some reason, and when I teach the poem, I ask--well, which particular vegetable is your love like, Andy? (And the answer is probably something like a zucchini--in shape.)

I thought I would bring that up because you mentioned people growing vegetable-like appurtences out of their bodies, whether fictional or (supposedly) in reality.

In the Wallace and Gromit movie, they are pest controllers who are capturing rabbits so they will not eat vegetables being grown for a garden fete contest. Consequently, they are vegetable lovers.

Too arcane for my own good again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for helping to spread awareness of Morgellons disease and posting such a good piece on the matter.

If your readers would like more info on Morgellons, they can check out morgellons