For all the talk about an “Anthropocene” in which nature is transformed by humans, we risk overlooking an equally exciting new chapter in history: the way industrial capitalism is transforming humans. Most recently, the nation has been fascinated to learn of a new species of human, the “West Virginian,” a cunningly-designed creature whose obesity and fear of water makes them thrillingly cancer-proof.
West Virginia is not the western part of Virginia, but is, in fact, its own state, according to some. The inhabitants can be identified by their enormous ears, which in some of the region’s languages is the name they give themselves, “Ears.”
The West Virginian was first discovered by anthropologist J.D. Vance at the Morgantown Lock and Dam—which is where the more common name comes from—but its ability to guzzle carcinogens and 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol without harm has only recently begun to be appreciated. Well-suited to its particular environment, a beautiful land whose waterways are excellent for recreation (but only if your fragile Eloi bodies don’t drink the water), many of the West Virginian’s customs are poorly understood but intriguing. For example, while you and I might enjoy fishing and even eating fish, the West Virginian notoriously regards these creatures as a form of snake, preferring to use them in their religious observances. A happy and contented people, the West Virginian enjoys chewing a form of locally-produced tobacco snuff, produced from a mixture of industrial sediment and a wild onion called “Roomps.”
Local myth posits that the West Virginian developed its resistance to pollutants from its cult-like adherence to a kind of moth god, “Tudor,” whose cosmology posits a world apparently shaped like a biscuit. But representatives of the West Virginia Manufacturing Association (the region’s secular government) have explained that the creatures resistance is simple adaptation: in today’s high-paced economy, it’s important to be flexible to the needs of the economy, and so, as the water has filled up with cancer-causing agents, West Virginians have taken to subsisting primarily on “Mountain Dew” and opioids.
(The region’s hatred of water is so extreme, in fact, that it has developed a form of stream-destruction that, as a bonus, also produces coal.)
Further study is needed. Can the West Virginian breed with other forms of human being to develop a hybrid with resistance to cancer but also the capability to write code? Thus far, scientists have had little luck in finding out, as the locals reportedly refuse to marry outside their immediate family.
Anthropologist J.D. Vance—who first discovered this little-known species–has recently been awarded $250 trillion dollars to capture a family of West Virginians and relocate them to Beverly Hills, where he plans to recreate Paul Henning’s 1960’s experiments and see if the local residents can be convinced to wear shoes.
Popula is 100% ad-free, reader-supported journalism accountable only to you. Every dollar of your subscription goes straight to our work. Thank you for supporting Popula.