The following paragraphs are generated from Noam Youngrak Son's writing.

Money in vivo


A book based on this project is avaliable on Cathair Press

film still Ristorante di Attenzione

Money in vivo is a talk show that takes place in the post-COVID-19 fictional world, in which viruses function as the currency. In this economic system, payments are made by the exchange of viruses through virus glands, an organ that has evolved to store and share this new bio-currency. A virus is a living form of capital.

Four fictional guests, three humans, and one bat, from various politico-economic contexts, were invited to this talk show. They shared how this interspecies economic infrastructure formed their ways of living. The talk show portrays a wide range of topics, including a dating app functioning as the biggest market for viruses, a massacre of bats committed by the humans concerned of financial loss, a totalitarian political party that insists on the state-governed common ownership of virus, and a universal basic income policy operating through human-bat companionships.

Watch the full show here with the password: "invivo"

What we use instead of what you call “wallet” is the gland that we’re all born with. It’s an organ that has evolved to accumulate viruses. It also mediates the exchange of viruses through portals on its surface that connect the virus storing tissues to the outside. Shapes and colors of the virus gland are very diverse because they are constantly infected and deformed by the high concentration of virus in it. The more viruses one has in the gland, the splendid the gland will look.

Thus, in this era, goods and services can be purchased with a virus. The transactions can be done consciously through the viral glands, but sometimes unintentionally by coughs, sneezes, touches, and exchanges of bodily fluid. And those unconscious payments are like what you call tax now. Most of the countries have built a system for collecting those free-released viruses for running social services.

A virus is a living form of capital. They are reproduced in human bodies, mainly in people’s viral glands. The unit of this currency is the genetic diversity of the virus in one’s body. The number of the species of virus in your body determines how wealthy you are. We all have a heightened sense of the virus in the gland so that we can naturally feel how much we own. A virus may destroy our body to a certain extent, like what capitalism of yours does to laborers. “Economic class” here is equivalent to “an ability to live with more virus”. This capacity can be either just genetically inherited or grown by being exposed to more viruses, for example, by vaccination. People with a talented immune system can always earn more with less damage to their bodies. Having an elegant immunity is a form of status symbol.

Bats play a crucial role in the economic systems of ours. Bats have an outstanding capability of gathering, storing, reproducing viruses in their body, and therefore always have been associated with capital and wealth. It’s unavoidable for us to mention bats to talk about the economy. Yet I am very aware of that many people of your time are preconceived with a certain idea about bats, especially from the racist statements that try to mock East Asians as “bat-eating savages” only because the coronavirus pandemic has purportedly started from contact with a bat, and the contact happened to take place in China. I wish the racist narrow-mindedness to be disturbed and opened up by the way we perceive bats.

Trading of a virus is not only an exchange of capital but also that of kinship. Retrovirus has been rewriting human genes for millions of years through reverse-transcription. To share a virus is to share kinship and to share genetic information. In the long term, this is an alternative way of enhancing our specie’s genetic diversity, not by having sex, reproducing ourselves, and increasing population, but just reproducing viruses and making kins. Consequently, we feel pleasures that are equivalent to your sexual pleasures when we exchange viruses through the virus portals. The virus gland is as sensitive as your genitals. So it facilitates the exchange of viruses, which is trading of currencies and sharing of kinship just like that you enjoy both having sex and spending money.