I liked his take on how, during lockdown, we yearn to get back our normal lives. “All of a sudden, normality is the most sacred thing we have — even though we had never given it so much importance before, even though we don’t actually know what it is. We just know we want it back.”
That insight is an example of how, on a handful of occasions, Giordano’s short book takes concepts that have been dancing away in our minds, just out of reach, and lines them up neatly.
He puts an ecological spin on the virus by claiming how devastating events such as last year’s Amazon fire may have set new bugs free. “Micro-organisms that science has never even named might soon be in need of a new home. And we are the perfect breeding ground: there are so many of us — and there will be so many more.”
He also widens out the argument to tell us that we are ourselves to blame for the contagion because of our aggressive behaviour towards the environment (climate change, deforestation, urbanisation, extinction of species, intensive farming), bringing us into contact with pathogens which were until then confined to their natural niches. “Viruses are among the many refugees of environmental destruction,” he states, and we are the perfect breeding ground for them, so numerous, so susceptible, so connected, travelling so much. There will be other outbreaks.