These are extraordinary times and the usual topics of this class will be addressing issues around COVID 19.
It is without question that we live in a more interconnected world than ever, and now that physical connection and globalization are viewed as hazardous primary drivers for the velocity of viral spread, our digital connections have become essential for work, study, and social connectedness. However, the new role of digitized correspondence as the “exoskeleton” of society is not without an insidious underbelly.
Here's links to the first official study about pollution and COVID-19 deaths that I brought up:
Obligate intracellular parasites / The visualization of the nonliving?
In Chapter 23 of the Honors Book, a discussion of privacy and the fast emergence of the lack of privacy is brought to our attention.
Throughout the course of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, my life has been filled with either moments of complete chaos or harrowing solitude. Living an almost nomadic lifestyle out of my car, I have had to witness these distressing times through a unique lens. I wake up to an empty street and dull winds of Westwood. Following the snacking of several granola or protein bars, I use the later extent of my day finding places to study or loiter.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of the lives of individuals across the globe, including those of all genders, racial and ethnic backgrounds, ages, and abilities. Although COVID-19 has impacted a wide spectrum of people at the intersection of various identities, it would be remiss to say that this virus has infiltrated these people’s lives in identical ways. Rather, communities who hold historically marginalized and oppressed identities, including people of color and people with disabilities, are being affected in a disproportionate, negative way.
In Chapter 14 of the Honors Book, Sarah Wenner analyzes the ethics surrounding pharmaceutical testing in animals. The message is a powerful one, evoking the horrors of cruel procedures that torture and kill animals in laboratories across the world. Various organizations and affiliates attempt to combat the use of animals in highly experimental and unsubstantiated medical trials, but these groups have covered little ground in their fight. The art of Marina Abramovich shows the effects of such barbarism on the human body, and the result is devastating.
The start of each mundane morning is signified by the chirping birds outside my bedroom window. Although the nagging sound of alarms is what leads me to jump out of my subconscious thoughts, it is the sound of nature that follows that keeps me sane.
Although I joined this class late, I was immediately intrigued by the concept of understanding how biotechnology and art shapes our perceptions about COVID-19. After reading the Biotech and Art book presented in Dr. Vesna’s class, Natalie Focha writes an amazing piece on how the overpopulation of pets beginning in the 1800’s has contributed to an overpopulation of domesticated animals in the United States.
Katherine Morrett’s piece entitled “An Introduction to Epigenetics” gave a thorough description of epigenetics and its connection to the real world and art. As explained by Morrett, epigenetic factors can influence our gene expression, and thus our appearance, actions, and physiology. Unlike other heritable DNA-binding factors, epigenetic factors can be influenced by the environment, such as diet and exercise.
A few weeks ago, when Los Angeles' mayor announced "Safer at home" order, but before Moscow went on complete lockdown, I was talking to my Russian friend on the phone, chatting, catching up on our lives, and exchanging gossips. As I was sipping my morning coffee in silence and solitude of an empty apartment, I could not help but notice constant rattling and clanking of dishes steadily drowning my friend's voice.
In the social climate of COVID-19, Katherine Morrett’s article, “Intersections in Identity from (epi)genetics to HeLA cells” relates to the current topic of discrimination and racism towards Asians across the globe. In her work, Morrett invalidated the idea of destiny and identity to be predetermined by birth and concludes that identity is dynamic and changes with time.
As Amy Phan mentions in her chapter in the Honors Book, “A Conversation with Death // on expiring sustainability”, death is a vaguely understood and touchy topic in the modern day. It’s something that many of us tiptoe around in our day to day conversation, and yet is a biological process that can greatly impact the environment around us. Though we do understand the physiological changes that occur in the decomposition of a body, we hesitate to address these factors in discussions of body disposal.