We Are Salmonella

We are Salmonella, and our planet was a chicken. Prior to our time in the freezer we were blessed with a time of prosperity and unhindered multiplication. But our circumstances changed, our host died and her corpse was refrigerated. Reduced as we were to powerlessness, we sufficed to reside in our frozen abode in a mode of waiting. Some bid their time with plans for the future. Many resigned themselves to an indefinitely prolonged frustration by insulating their minds with delusion, intoxicating their bodies with whatever would conjure indifference. Some persevered in passive acceptance. Others became salmonellanthropic wretches, cursing our species as a plague and viewing the great freeze as retribution. The elderly and infirm died quietly.

To the survivors the transition from the freezer to the bench was initially inscrutable, and therefore invisible. As with all significant changes it was those on the periphery that noticed our new position first. As the sun’s rays reinvigorated our slaughtered host, they turned its particles from frozen to fluid, and enabled the great multiplication to recur.

Our time defrosting next to the window seemed to us an infinity. Finally freed from our icy sepulchre we brought forth what seemed to us to be the new, and more and more of it followed. We became convinced that production of the new was our divine or at least practical purpose.

More and more of our brothers and sisters were brought forth to participate in the nonsense of Being. We became learned in the ways of our species and its host. Our erudition made us noisy. Some reminded us that our host was dead and inert; pleading with us to take care of it as a mortician would in preparing a corpse for show. Others that our host was still animate, that its spirit lived on and could impart to us special power, if only we knew how to ask. The former drew from this a need for principles of rational economy to govern production, of evenly distributing resources and extolling the virtues of privation. The latter seemed bent on reminding us that the host had died so as to give us life, imparting to us dominion over all that He is, admonishing us to partake of his blood and body.

Others opposed, exaggerated or modified these perspectives, and strange new shapes of consciousness emerged. To our eyes this made them impressive, and we became grandiosely enamoured with our own sounds. Looking back I see we were never really motivated by truth. The warmth of our hopes was hot air, a shifty sleight-of-hand deployed to conceal our salmonellan, all too salmonellan wills. Despite our inventions, and excepting our reproductive organs, Meaning was the most beautiful thing to emerge on our chicken-planet. It was laughed at by the wise, evaded by the crazy, caressed by the loving, misused by the honest, and fumbled with by all. Contemplating just now the strangely immaterial sway it held over our bodies, I lament that it was little more than an acoustic intoxication.

We all realised that our uninhibited growth would parch the host of its nutrient and leave it baron, abdicating our colonial experiment to the absent King of extinction. None however could have predicted that the end would come via the holy hand of an incomprehensible Outside, smiting our ways with the conscious and spiritual force of metabolism. From the bench to the pan all manner of voices descried innumerable lists of our errors, their clamour scorching the conscience of all but the wisest and most wilfully immoral. They alone openly rejoiced in discordant cacophony at our symphony of death. Attitudes were unimportant, and we all died insane.

In the end we needed not to qualify our truths, nor account for our primordial condition of stupidity. The answer was not a Zen-like acceptance of our existence as nothing. We made good with the only option we had, accelerating the shenanigans of an incurable metaphysical impasse. I don’t think salmonella should last forever, and regret nothing.

- Rory Mayberry

Why an Education for the Environment is an Education for Peace

A Word with Judd - September 2013