Europeans and Omicron: The Children of Hercules

Published in Gods & Radicals Press:

This pandemic isn’t a random mutation of Nature. It’s a living product of imperial imagination

In Cyprus, the island of Aphrodite, I combed through 12,000 years of evidence on how people have related to ‘Nature’. Notably, a key shift toward a binary between people and ‘Nature’ was the ‘othering’ of life outside fixed imperial settlements. Protection from the beastly Nature of ‘the other’ was provided by The Master of Animals, a statue of whom currently stands in the British Museum. Today we know this character as Hercules, the fighter of Nature and its mythical beasts.

The news of Omicron reminded me of how many people, in Europe at least, still live in these Greek Myths. Sars-Cov-2 is the mythological monster that they are told they can fight off with medical weapons. European countries wield vaccines like Hercules’ sword, chopping off the heads of the hydra to protect themselves, while new Sars-Cov-2 variants grow back. Hercules stabbed the hydra with his burly arms, people jab their arms against the surly Sars-Cov-2 beast.

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