“Which came first, the intestine or the tapeworm?” In this epigram, Burroughs suggests that parasitism – corruption, plagiarism, surplus appropriation – is in fact conterminous with life itself.
Viruses are not self-sufficient organisms; they are not even fully alive. To be able to reproduce, they need to enter into a cell of an existing, living host. A virus is DNA or RNA in a protective envelope, it is a message coded in nucleic acid, containing only the order to self-replicate. A virus is a simulacrum, a copy without an original, reproducing futilely and infinitely.