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2 December 2020 | Draft

Jabbercovid from the Jabberplex

In celebration of the jabber strategy ensuring a jab-for-all as a global panacea

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Institutional initiatives
Unconscious strategic reliance on the "injection metaphor"?
Jabberfear: indoctrination, fear-of-the-jab, and vaccination passports?
Jabbercovid versus Jabberwocky?
Sonification as a mnemonic aid to global sensemaking
In quest of metabolic pathways of global governance?

Institutional initiatives

The UN has convened a Special Session of the General Assembly in Response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic at the level of Heads of State and Government on 3-4 December 2020 (General Assembly Decides to Hold High-level Special Session in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic, UN Press Release, 5 November 2020).

This followed a year of discussions to overcome opposition to that possibility. The session provides an opportunity for Member States, the UN system and other :relevant stakeholders" to take stock of the current global situation and response efforts, identify policy and operational gaps and forge a path for joint collective action in combating the pandemic (WHO at the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in Response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic, WHO News, 3 December 2020).

The Session is seen as a unique opportunity to define and implement joint actions at the global level to fight the pandemic in order to ensure the right to life and health for all the inhabitants of the Earth (Riccardo Petrella, Global Health: will it become the first “res publica” of the humanity? Other News, 30 November 2020).

The Special Session was immediately preceded by the 15th G20 Summit (Riyadh, November 2020) at which China proposed a coordinated security system to safeguard international travel (China's Xi Jinping is pushing for a global Covid QR code, CNN, 23 November 2020). Related views have been echoed by the airline industry (Covid: Vaccination will be required to fly, says Qantas chief, BBC News, 24 November 2020; Travel giants back Qantas' controversial 'no-jab no-fly' policy as a way to 'open the floodgates' to international travel in just six months, Daily Mail, 26 November 2020).

The prospect of such an initiative has aroused concerns that any such strategy would be a Trojan Horse eroding various freedoms to which people have previously been entitled. Foreseeable implication include: "no jab, no job"; "no jab, no welfare"; "no jab, no food"; "no jab, no school"; "no jab, no credit"; "no jab, no hotel" -- ensured by a universal requirement for an "immunity passport". Beyond discounted but well-documented side-effects, suspicions have also been aroused by the possibility of other undeclared effects of any such vaccines, including population culling. The UN Session may be followed around the world on UN WebTV, and thereafter through video recordings -- by "relevant stakeholders" in expectation of a recommendation to "stick it to them".

The challenge for institutions at this time is clearly framed by the demonstrably limited achievement of analogues to a global "jab-for-all" strategy:

  • Shelter-for-All
  • Water-for-All
  • Sanitation-for-All
  • Justice-for-All

Beyond the long-term concern with the military-industrial complex, there is now increasing concern with the medical-industrial complex and its conflict of interest in the health care industry. Debate on all such matters is an obvious feature of social media and concerns with regard to its propagation of fake news, misinformation and disinformation.

The divisive nature of public discourse, most obviously between political opponents, could now be seen as characterized by repeated attempts to "take a jab at each other". Rather than any reference to the "chattering classes", the associated processes might now be caricatured as a feature of the "jabbering classes" -- with the military-industrial and medical-industrial complexes usefully caricatured as forming a "jabberplex".

Debate at the highest level, such as at the United Nations, has considerable difficulty in dissociating itself from caricature as part of a "jabberplex". For a planet that the UN Secretary-General has declared to be "broken", there would be an ironic sting in the tale commending a "jab-for-all" proposal ("State of the planet is broken" - UN chief, AfricaNews, 2 December 2020; Guterres State of the Planet, UN Audiovisual Library, 2 December 2020). Will it exemplify the failure of the various other "for-all" strategies embodied in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and previous 'save the world" missions

An additional dynamic has been introduced through the historical compromise by which the UN is effectively acceding to the leadership role of the World Economic Forum and the latter's Global Reset initiative, as described by Justin O’Brien (The Moral Foundations of Stakeholder CapitalismLaw and Financial Markets Review, 14, 2020, 1). The latter notably cites the UN Secretary-General (Speech Delivered to World Economic Forum, Davos, 24 January 2019). Given the developing role of the UN's Global Compact with business and industry, there is an emerging sense of nation states outsourcing any global "for-all" strategies to the corporate world, limiting their own role to the provision of a legislative framework to ensure the implementation previously lacking. The "jab-for-all" strategy involving the pharmaceutical industry can be seen as following the trend evident with respect to security.

In this light, it will be intriguing to note the involvement of the corporate world as "relevant stakeholders" in the debate on the pandemic at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly.

Unconscious strategic reliance on the "injection metaphor"?

The fundamental role of metaphor in framing policy is increasingly emphasized (Donald Schön, Generative Metaphor: a perspective on problem-setting in social policy, 1993; Loizos Heracleous and Claus D. Jacobs, Crafting Strategy: embodied metaphors in practice, 2012; S Raghu Raman and S Ramachander, Metaphors and Managers: new ways of thinking and seeing, Vikalpa: the journal for decision makers, 27, 2002, 3).

There is therefore a case for exploring whether the current preoccupation with vaccination is an instance of wider dependence on some form of "injection", as might be usefully recognized (Missiles, Needles, Missions, Rifles, Projects, Bullets, 2020). This is consistent with another aspect of this metaphorical bias in the widespread preoccupation with "spikes", as argued separately (Spike-endowed Global Civilization as COVID-19: humanity "bristles" as the world "burns", 2020).

Obvious strategic responses include "injection of resources", "injection of expertise" and "injection of innovation". More subtle is the sense in which the metaphor is fundamental to the unconstrained enthusiasm for the "injection of ideas", especially as this takes the form of ideological and religious indoctrination. The global focus on vaccination could then be recognized as a physical surrogate for an essentially unrecognized approach to injection of a change agent -- as so frequently articulated as desirable in other terms. A response to the frustrations of engendering "new thinking" could then be seen as dubiously and misleadingly transformed into a focus on the use of needles -- as a case of misplaced concreteness.

Framed in this way, it might then be asked how the urgency of social change is now being framed as the need for a form of "memetic vaccination" in response to collective disease, as COVID-19 might be otherwise understood (COVID-19 as a Memetic Disease -- an epidemic of panic, 2020). The exploration is especially justified to the extent that the role of the injection metaphor may be to a large degree unconscious, as could be inferred from the arguments of John Ralston Saul (The Unconscious Civilization, 1995).

Idiomatic reference to "jab" can then be recognized as consistent with use of "neeedling" as a primary characteristic of interactions in political discourse between opposing parties. Far more appropriately provocative is the sense to which "injection" can be understood as the archetypal process through which reproduction is ensured -- a fundamental framing of any strategic response to the globe. This clearly lends itself to perception as invasive penetration -- and it is difficult to see how any distinction could be credibly made in practice.

Should aspirations for a "Global Reset" be explored from that perspective -- especially given the associated promotion of stakeholder capitalism (Stakeholder Capitalism: A Manifesto for a Cohesive and Sustainable World, World Economic Forum, 2020)?

Jabberfear: indoctrination, fear-of-the-jab, and vaccination passports?

There is now a rapidly emerging confluence of dynamics associated with the pandemic -- usefully caricatured as a jabberplex. These include:

This confluence of factors merits comparison with long-deprecated historical processes:

Parallels with symbols of the past can be usefully highlighted:

Ironically the right to wear symbols of belief (currently variously challenged) is now in process of transformation into an obligation to carry an immunity passport. Curiously no mention is yet made of the historical counterpart, namely the obligation of dissidents to be visually identifiable (as in the case of those required to wear Jewish badges, in contrast to the Hakenkreutz).

Such parallels acquire a degree of focus through the symbolic gestures by leaders, most recently through media dissemination of their vaccination. The highly questionable nature of the latter is evident in that it is impossible to prove that the syringe did not contain water -- given the resources which could be deployed for such staging (Covid: US Vice-President Mike Pence receives vaccine live on TV, BBC News, 18 December 2020; Covid: US President-elect Joe Biden gets vaccine live on TV, BBC News, 21 December 2020; Obama, Bush and Clinton pledge to film themselves getting Covid vaccine, BBC News, 3 December 2020). The staging is thus a distortion of the nature of the fear-of-the-jab which is primarily associated with its after-effects, not with vaccination itself.

In the purported quest for global unity over many decades, it is remarkable to note the degree to which the jabberplex has been able to achieve it by a "backdoor" -- by the imposition of unity through invoking fear globally to an unprecedented degree. This is effectively a replication of historical patterns rendered more effective by media framing of pandemic cases and fatalities in excess of those of world wars of the past.

The strategy is all the more remarkable in that it avoids any need to respond to other issues on which appeals for unity have been made, most notably those relating to climate change and poverty. It is in this sense that, rather than any focus on the physical nature of the viral disease (and future mutations), there is a case for a focus on memetic viruses and their mutations (Memetic and Information Diseases in a Knowledge Society, 2008; Richard Dawkins, Viruses of the Mind, 1991). The study of memetics focuses in particular on meme complexes (or memeplexes), namely groups of memes found together. There is a case for recognizing that, in addition to injection being a metaphor (as previously indicated), vaccination itself merits exploration from that perspective.

Understood in that light, in the current crisis of global governance, social order and collective intelligence, there is effectively a quest for a form of "innoculation" against disorder -- of which disease and disinformation are obvious metaphors. This justifies the pressure to conform to mainstream thinking -- with an implication that it is a remedial "truth serum" that must necessarily be innoculated. Ironically reference to "mainstream" recalls use of "mainlining" -- a slang term for intravenous injection of drugs as a means for many of reframing the problematic encounter with conventional reality (Barry I. Liskow, The Politics of Drugs: marijuana to mainlining, JAMA Network, 3 May 1976; Holly M. Karibo, Mainlining along the Line: building a transnational drug market, North Carolina Scholarship Online, 2015).

Is recognizing COVID as standing for Christian Overreaction to Viral Infection Disinformation a part of that memeplex? Whilst the response to COVID has been widely framed as a global "war", is there also an unexamined sense in which this is a "memetic war" -- effectively camouflaged (Joshua Philipp, Memetic Warfare: spreading weaponized ideas for influence and control, The Epoch Times, 20 February 2018; James Scott, Information Warfare: the meme is the embryo of the narrative illusion, 2018)? What role is memetic engineering playing with respect to the response to the pandemic (Douglas Selvage, Memetic Engineering: conspiracies, viruses and historical agency, Open Democracy, 22 October 2015)?

Jabbercovid versus Jabberwocky?

It is in this surreal context that there is a case for seeking inspiration from the poem which has long intrigued children of all ages -- given its integration into the sequel of the highly imaginative classic by Lewis Carroll (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 1865; Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, 1871). This is the so-called nonsense poem titled Jabberwocky -- well-featured in literary studies, with experimental translations into many languages as a consequence. It has been argued that the poem relies on a distortion of sense rather than "non-sense", allowing the reader to infer meaning and therefore engage with narrative while lexical allusions swim under the surface of the poem.

The following adaptation is therefore in the spirit of an earlier exercise (Enrolling Winnie-the-Pooh's Companions in Climate Change Discourse, 2019).

by  Lewis Carroll

adaptation of Jabberwocky for the Jabberplex

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
      Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
      And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
      He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
      He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble on the Web:
All mimsy were the browsing goves,
      And moderna rats outsourced.

“Beware the Jabbercove, my friend!
      The jab that stings, the claws that clutch!
Beware the Vaxer bird, and shun
      The frumious Freedumsnatch!”

She took his syringy prick in hand;
      Long time the fizer foe she sought—
So rested she by the Sinopharm tree
      And stood awhile in thought.

As in astra thought she stood,
      The Jabbercove, with eyes of flame,
Came squirting through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!

One, two! Two, two! And true and through
      The sputnik needle went snicker-snack!
She left in dread, and with zydus head
      She went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabbercove?
      Come to my arms, my squeamish girl!
O frabjous day! Inovio! Hooray!”
      She crumpled at the ploy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble on the Web:
All mimsy were the browsing coves,
      With the lab rats outgraved.

As part of the experiment, variants of the names of a number of the many competing COVID vaccines have been embedded in the adaptation. A systematic list is available from Jeff Craven (COVID-19 vaccine tracker, Regulatory Focus, 23 November 2020). In the current context, the potential relevance to the questionable distortion of the poem is the early announcement by the US of the creation of "Operation Warp Speed" in order to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and medical countermeasures (Trump Administration Announces Framework and Leadership for 'Operation Warp Speed, U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, 15 May 2020).

Sonification as a mnemonic aid to global sensemaking

The Jabberwocky poem has been an inspiration to a wide variety of interpretations, suggesting the value of imaginative analogues of relevance to comprehension by any "jabberplex" -- with its current focus on the possibility of a "jab-for-all", or the variants it may enable.

Examples of widely reviewed renderings into song include the following:

This recalls the effort to use song as a mnemonic aid to comprehension of the complex pattern of metabolic pathways with which the biochemists currently focused on vaccine development are especially familiar (Harold Baum, Biochemists' Song Book, 1982/2003; The Biochemists' Songbook MP3 Files). This presents information on the complexities of interweaving metabolic pathways, set to well known songs, as an enjoyable memory aid -- "songs for all". There are complex biochemical diagrams, music notation, and an average of ten informative verses for each song.

Contents of the Biochemists' Songbook
Mnemonic songs of biochemical pathways Popular tunes for the mnemonic songs

The Glyoxylate Cycle

The Michaelis Anthem

In Praise of E.M.P.
Waltz Round the Cycle
The Battle Hymn of the Aerobes
The Chemiosmotic Theory
Fatty Acid Biosynthesis
We're Here Because Urea
Protein Biosynthesis
Blood Sugar
Haem Biosynthesis
Metaboliam of Odd-Number Carbon Fatty Acids
Regulation of Ketogenesis
Purine Biosynthesis
Cholesterol Biosynthesis
The Pentose Phosphate Shunt
A Cautionary Carol

The Lincolnshire Poacher
Auld Lang Syne
The Red Flag
The British Grenadiers
Waltzing Matilda
There is a Tavern in the Town
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Eton Boating Song
Men of Harlech
The Bold Gendarmes
My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean
A Policeman's Lot is not a Happy One
The Road to the Isles
Tit Willow
Camptown Races
Cwm Rhondda
McNamara's Band
Good King Wenceslas

See also: Jeff Cohlberg (Biochemistry Songs); Kevin Ahern (Wildly Popular Metabolic Melodies)

In quest of metabolic pathways of global governance?

Each of the above songs offers mnemonic guidance to a pathway within the following complex map -- reproduced from the extensive explanations in Wikipedia. It is in accordance with the principles of sonification of the  International Community for Auditory Display (ICAD).

Metabolic Pathway Map
Metabolic pathway map
Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Arguably the same could be done for the challenges faced by the jabberplex on a "macroscopic" scale, as separately explored (A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006; Structuring Mnemonic Encoding of Development Plans and Ethical Charters using Musical Leitmotivs, 2001).

From the perspective of a jabberplex, the approach bears comparison with the analytical overview by the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US of the counterinsurgency (COIN) initiative in Afghanistan as represented by the PA Consulting Group. This took the form of a map, notably publicized on behalf of McClatchy Newspapers by Dion Nissenbaum (The great Afghan spaghetti monster, Checkpoint Kabul, 20 December 2009; Graphic Shows Complexity of US Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, The Huffington Post, 22 December 2009).

Coincidentally that unusual "spaghetti monster" map was publicized over the web at the end of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (Copenhagen, 2009). At the time it lent itself to adaptation as indicated below -- with respect to the challenge of climate change, for which no equivalent exists (Mapping the climate change context of Copenhagen, 2010).

Adaptation to climate change
of a representation of counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan

(click on image for larger version)
Adaptation to climate change of a representation of counterinsurgency
Afghanistan COIN dynamic
(clusters in original map)
Climate change COIN dynamic
(clusters in adapted map)
Population/Popular support
Infrastructure, Economy and Services
Afghanistan Security Forces (ANSF)
Crime and Narcotics
Coalition Forces and Actions
Physical Environment
Population/Popular support
Infrastructure, Economy and Services
Activist NGO Strategic Forces (ANSF)
Dissenters ("Them")
Crime and Distractions
Initiatives of Coalition of the Willful ("US")
Physical Environment

Clearly there is a case for an analogous map to provide memorable systemic insights into the nature of the strategic challenge offered by the coronavirus.

In the case of the United Nations, given the global commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is appropriate to ask why so little effort is devoted to mapping the systemic relations between such goals as they might affect their strategic fulfillment -- the "metabolic pathways" of a deeply "diseased" planett. The goals are typically pressented and promoted as checklists or in a simple table which offer no such insights.

One provocative experiment towards considering the challenge otherwise is to make use of the Harriss spiral discoverd in 2015 -- of which one animation is shown below left. Its discovery is variously described (Alex Bellos, The golden ratio has spawned a beautiful new curve: the Harriss spiral, The Guardian, 13 January 2015). With respect to the conventional tabular presentation of the UN SDGs, the latter is even suggestive of the manner in which such a table might be transformed into an alternative dynamic configuration of goals.

The dynamics of the elaboration of the fractal are significant in their own right by comparison with the widely recognized role of the Fibonacci spiral in nature and its potential significance in psychosocial organization, as discussed separately (Fibonacci Spiral in 3D Framing Psychosocial Phyllotaxis: articulation of global governance through the language of flowers? 2020). The experimental animation explores part of a cyclic representation in which prominence is successively given to particular goals.

Use of the Harriss spiral as a basis for s memorable mapping of strategic preoccupations
Animation showing development of Harriss spiral Experimental animation of UN SDGs on a Harriss spiral
Animation of construction of Harriss spiral Experimental animation of UN SDGs on a Harriss spiral
Reproduced from Maths and science animations Superposition of SDGs on an image by Edmund Harriss (2015)

In the absence of any such map, it is clearly appropriate to revert to the original image by which the Jabberwocky poem was illustrated by John Tenniel in 1871 -- suitably adapted to clarify the nature of Jabbercovid, as presented below.

Speculative representation of Jabbercovid
Speculative representation of Jabbercovid adapted from the image of the Jabberwocky
Adapted from the original illustration of the Jabberwocky by John Tenniel (1871)

An extensive summary of the concluding day of the unprecedented UN Special Session dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic is available (Amid Threat of Catastrophic Global Famine, COVID-19 Response Must Prioritize Food Security, Humanitarian Needs, Experts Tell General Assembly, UN Meetings Coverage and Press Releases, 4 December 2020).

Challenge of the Jabberplex: Copenhagen According To Dr Seuss
Extract from a "poetic take" on events at the Copenhagen climate summit by Marcus Brigstocke on The Now Show podcast
(audio; transcript posted by Jeffrey Hill, The English Blog, 21 December 2009).

The delegates came and the delegates sat
And they talked and they talked till their bums all went flat
Then a delegate said of the country he knew
"We must do something quick but just what should we do?"
So they sat again thinking and there they stayed seated
Sitting and thinking "the planet's been heated"
"I think" said a delegate there from Peru
"That we all must agree on some things we could do
Like reducing emissions at least CO2"
So they nodded and noted then vetoed and voted
And one of them stood up and suddenly quoted
"It's the science you see, that's the thing that must guide us
When the leaders all get here they're certain to chide us"
So they sat again thinking about what to think
Then decided to ponder what colour of ink
To use on the paper when they'd all agreed....
In a similar vein: Sets and their Settings: from development to climate change... and beyond
See other Experimental "Poems" of Strategic Concern


Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss. Patterns of the Universe: a coloring adventure in math and beauty. Experiment, 2020

Harold Baum.  Biochemists' Song Book. Pergamon Press, 1982 [review]

Molly Blackal. 'The sooner the better': hope and doubts as Covid vaccine nears rollout. The Guardian, 3 December 2020 [text]

Jan Bonhoeffer and Ulrich. Adverse events following immunization: perception and evidence. Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases, 20, 2007, 3 [text]

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine Injury Table [text]

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Sarah Zhang:

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