The dangers of over-immunising

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The most evident example of the dangers of over-immunising is when the reader discovers that El Tano, Gustavo and Urovich are the people who have been laying dead in the pool throughout the whole novel. We come to find out that they had in fact committed suicide, a topic in which Virginia mentions early on in the novel about a previous resident Antieri who had also killed himself: ‘se había volado los sesos’. Unable to escape the economic crisis and the thought of having to leave La Cascada, the three men make a pact to commit suicide so that their families can continue living inside the gates. ‘A lo mejor algún día, algún año, cuando manejen este país otros, algo cambie y seamos un país en serio, pero va a ser tarde, nosotros no vamos a tener edad para disfrutarlo[…]pero nosotros podemos salvar a nuestra familia de la caída’. El Tano blames the state for all his problems when in reality it is indeed El Tano himself who is to blame for removing himself from society in the first place.

In ‘Pizza, Birra Faso’, Cordobés, Frula and Megabom end up dying as well. Despite the polar opposite lives of the characters in both of the texts, their fate ended up being the exact same however the characters died for different reasons. In the novel, the characters are over-immunised to the point that the thought of no longer living inside the walls of their gated community is so overwhelming that they have to end their own lives, since they have become so accustomed to life there. Whereas in the film the characters die due to the failure to immunise themselves against modernity despite their attempts to do so and due to the breakdown of the national community whereby they were left on their own. The directors intentionally place the camera on the back of the boat in the very last scene so that the viewer can see Cordobés dying with the blurred city in the background looking over him as if placing the blame on the state and highlighting the disconnection between the city and its citizens.

Immunity, while designed to protect life, ultimately ends up destroying it, since it destroys the ‘communitas’ upon which our existence is founded. If this foundation of our existence is destroyed, we are destroyed along with it. Thus to conclude this essay, the immunisation paradigm can explain the destruction of society, its communities and urban life in Buenos Aires. I have made evident the challenges of urban life in Argentina at the time; privatisation, unemployment, corruption from above, inflation and crime all played a factor in widening the already present divide between the wealthy and the poor. The Argentine government’s attempt and consequent failure at urbanisation in the lead up to the economic crisis of 2002 created an urban environment defined by fear and uncertainty.

Naturally when humans or animals feel fear their first instinct is to protect or immunise themselves. The destruction of the national community took place because those who moved to the gated communities withdrew their contribution to the national community as a result of this fear and desire for protection. Piñeiro’s novel gives an example of a community over-immunising and the dangerous effects that this has on the community and its individuals. On the other hand Caetano and Stagnaro’s film presents the viewer with the opposite perspective, we see the point of view from those who are considered ‘the disease’ and the unfortunate consequences this has on their lives. Furthermore the film shows the boys’ non-conformity as a strategy to avoid or immunise themselves against modernisation. Esposito’s immunity theory is a key way for understanding not only contemporary society but also understanding the breakdown of certain communities and the human drive for self-protection and immunity from disease. It is important to take from this theory the idea that immunisation is natural and necessary to a certain extent, however over-immunisation can take the form of a deadly poison, thus what we can deduct from this is that for a society to truly thrive, everybody needs to contribute equally to the community.