Ron Rosenbaum

O.K., I know you're going to be suspicious...

…about this post. Wondering if it’s self serving or not, but I swear I feel I have an important epidemiological theory about a certain kind of flu that is going around. They’re not talking about it in the National Disease Control Center in Atlanta, at least not publicly, but I feel I’ve compiled enough anecdotal evidence to claim it’s an international phenomenon.

I’m calling it The Anti-Work Ethic flu. I got it last week which I will concede was, um, somewhat light on the blogging, because I was really sick (note from doctor available for inspection), but I was light on just about everything.Because the symtoms of this flu–and I’m not making this up I swear–start out mildly fluish (funny, you don’t look fluish–old joke), but you don’t get, or I didn’t get, the whole panoply of severe cough, fever, chills etc. Just a light dose of them, but then this amazing…inanition. You know the word, lack of willpower, lack of drive edge whatever. A total heaviness, leadeness of the spirit. For what I got Thera-flu won’t do. Fingers not only don’t dance over the keys, they plod and stumble. My muse, the wise and alluring T., who went through this flu before me, called it a loss of her joie d’vivre. But in my case forget joy, it’s a loss of vivre d’vivre.Or something like that, I’d try harder to get it right, but you know, what’s the point,. the effen universe is going to disintegrate into formless chaos for eternity anyway.

But it’s not just us, me and T. Half the people in the office of my literary agent had it (either that or they’re avoiding my calls, but I don’t think so.) Then I was on the phone with my friend Nina who said she had it, the exact same symptoms, and she says that she has a friend in Spain who has it. That exact same Cosmic Listlessness. So as I said, on the basis of this strong anecdotal evidence, it’s international! This year’s strain of flu specifically attacks will power, the work ethic, the brave band of brain cells ordinarily devoted to getting things done. They ain’t takin’ calls. They’re contemplating the disintegration of the universe.

It feels bad, weird,because you’re not acutely, physically sick, it’s more like like you could get it together, you have the conception of getting things done, but that’s about it. On the other hand once you surrender to it, it has a certain appeal. Oblomov-style. (not that he needed to get the fluto decide to stay in bed). Anyway, I’ve been reading a lot of spy novels, and taking a lot of naps. I wonder if it’s possible for a flu pandemic to have psycho-historical consequences. Certain viruses have been knonw to cause brain dysfuction, why not will dysfucntion? Maybe the work ethic of the entire planet is threatened by this particular flu. Perhaps Lassitude Fever will result in the human psyche dong a kind of Higher Chill’ type thing, undergoing co-evolution to a higher, less drudgery-oriented state. The way recent reports in medical journals have explored the socio-psychological effects of the toxoplasmososis parasite in cats on the human brain and perhaps on wide swaths of human beings as well, a veritable change in human nature. (google toxoplasmosis and human nature, I’m too tired to find the citation).

Instead of 60 million (or whatever number) deaths from the 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic, maybe we’ll have 600-700 million really lazy people And maybe that’s not bad. Yes, they say Sloth is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, but there’s also the counter argument that Sloth prevents the commission of many of the Other, more truly deadly, Deadly Sins because it robs the wicked of the willpower to do their dirty deeds.

And remember how there were all these speculations about the psychological sequellae of the influenza induced encephalitis that hundreds of thousands who didn’t die from the Spanish flu suffered from? In %%AMAZON=006095339 Explaining Hitler%% I examined dismissively a scientific paper that attributed Hitler’s sudden development of psychopathic charisma to “post-encephalitic psychopathy”. But the phenomenon seems to have been real, documented in more reputable case studies. Maybe there’s something to it. Are we due for some “awakenings” down the line? Instead of us waking up as Robin Williams or Hitler, with this flu and it’s sequellae maybe we’ll all wake up from our lethargic coma-states as sad country and western singers. Or Homer Simpson. Seriously I think there’s something going on, not just going around.

Maybe in general, on balance, when you add it all up, at the end of the day, the planet would be better off if a lot of people did less things. Maybe a good dose of flu induced lethargy is just what we all need. We’d all do a lot less damage! We wouldn’t have the energy. I could think of a number of people I wish suffered the psychological sequellae of the flu-damaged work ethic.

By the way don’t get me wrong, you do-gooders out there, I don’t mean you, I’m not saying you should stop doing good. And you people who think you’re too lazy to click on this link for %%AMAZON=0375503390 The Shakespeare Wars%%–THAT’S just a delusion. You have the power, I know you do.

But you evil doers out there, I hope you get this flu. Chill with the anti-work ethic flu, evil-doer dudes. Get down with the lassitude! Luxuriate in the lethargy. You’ve got all the time in the world to get around to whatever sordid schemes you have in mind. Axis of Evil: you will become the Slackers of Evil. Oh no [paranoid voice in head speaking now]–could this be some kind of CIA mind control, bio-warfare terrorist-targeted flu? Designed to put the sleep in “sleeper cells”? One that goes awry, misfires like just about 99% of all CIA schemes and paralyzes our own nation? Could we be more paralzyed as it is?

I could tell you the answer to these questions but I feel the need for a nap coming over me.