Saturday, August 10, 2002

"The list would grow to nearly a dozen in the space of four nerve-jangling months. [...] What joined these men was their proximity to the world of bioterror and germ warfare. Que, the one who was car-jacked, was a researcher at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Wiley, the most famous, knew as much as anyone about how the immune system responds to attacks from viruses like Ebola. Pasechnik was Russian, and before he defected, he helped the Soviets transform cruise missiles into biological weapons. The chain of deaths -- these three men and eight others like them -- began last fall, back when emergency teams in moonsuits were scouring the Capitol, when postal workers were dying, when news agencies were on high alert and the entire nation was afraid to open its mail. In more ordinary times, this cluster of deaths might not have been noticed, but these are not ordinary times. Neighbors report neighbors to the F.B.I.; passengers are escorted off planes because they make other passengers nervous; medical journals debate what to publish, for fear the articles will be read by evil eyes. Now we are spooked and startled by stories like these -- all these scientists dying within months of one another, at the precise moment when tiny organisms loom as a gargantuan threat. The stories of these dozen or so deaths started out as a curiosity and were transformed rumor by rumor into the specter of conspiracy as they circulated first on the Internet and then in the mainstream media. What are the odds, after all? What are the odds, indeed? For this is not about conspiracy but about coincidence -- unexpected connections that are both riveting and rattling. Much religious faith is based on the idea that almost nothing is coincidence; science is an exercise in eliminating the taint of coincidence; police work is often a feint and parry between those trying to prove coincidence and those trying to prove complicity."
New York Times, 11 August 2002

"Like other sorts of paranoia, it is nothing less than the onset, the leading edge, of the discovery that everything is connected, everything in the Creation, a secondary illumination--not yet blindingly One, but at least connected, and perhaps a route In for those like Tchitcherine who are held at the edge. . . ."
(Gravity's Rainbow, 703)