(Against) Virus as Metaphor

Author: Paul Elie

March 19, 2020

In a Daily Comment for the New Yorker Paul Elie reflects on the implications behind using "virus" as a metaphor, and the ways in which this trend has eased itself into the common vernacular. Elie underscores the dangers of this mode of speaking, particularly in the consequential loss of urgency and vigilance that it produced. Citing Susan Sontag's "Illness as Metaphor," Elie presents the ways language can be dangerous. In this particular instance, the expansion of this term away from malignancy has numbed us to the word and decreased its potency. 

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