Saturday, June 23, 2007

JT Leroy loses

JT Leroy’s saga was quite enjoyable while it unfolded last year. One thing it wasn’t was a conspiracy to defraud Antidote International Films. LI was bummed that the jury returned a verdict against Laura Albert.

The authors of novelized versions of victimization are a dime a dozen, but the carriers out of literary hoaxes as successful as the creation of JT Leroy are extremely rare – we are lucky to get one in a generation. That AIF sued Albert for damages is surprising. Do they not really see that she sold them a property even more valuable now? JT Leroy is no longer an incestuous Hollywood-SF cult, but both a tribute and a mockery to the incestuous Hollywood-SF axis.

The age demanded a freak. Why not? The newspapers and tv are created by freaks, about freaks, commented upon by freaks – the difference being that the establishment freaks are much smugger about their incorrigible perversities, their taste for proxy blood, their laughable notion of ‘value added”, their contempt for the planet, their fetishism of the lines of the acceptable, drawn in their own baby shit, by which they sort out the acceptable from the unacceptable, the nightmare they have bequeathed to us outside the gated community, the Pandaemonium suburb to their city on the hill. Chic has contrived that each now wants his own freak. What the glitter set wanted was a freak from the furthest corner of the known world – West Virginia. So Laura Albert, who wasn’t exotic enough, in herself, gave them their fucking artificial nigger, wrapped it in an unplaceable southern accent and whispered it over the phone.

Alas, she was finally exposed as just your plain hold neighborhood freak. Institutionalized as a teen – her mother testified that for her 14th birthday, she dropped her daughter off at a psychiatric hospital, a birthday present from hell – and pathologically shy, Albert became a master of the phone call.

“Life at home, meanwhile, was bad enough. Ms. Albert ran away. She landed in the punk scene, in the East Village, with the hustlers and the addicts. This was around the time of her initial trip to a psychiatric ward. She was still in her early teens.

Eventually, she said, her parents sent her to a group home, where she lived as a ward of the state. (She considered Mayor Koch to be her father.) The stories of the girls she met were incorporated later into fiction, not unlike the stories of the punks from Tompkins Square.

Then, in 1989, she moved to San Francisco, where she worked as a maid and a baby sitter and sold her blood in order to survive. She also worked as a phone sex operator and perfected a sultry Southern accent she would later put to use in interviews as JT Leroy, including one, played in court, with Terry Gross, the NPR host.

It was in San Francisco, she said, that she started calling suicide hot lines from a pay phone on the street. Incapable of speaking as herself, she adopted the personas of various teenage boys.”

LI isn’t going to shed too many tears for Albert just yet. The age will reward her now for having done a freak dance by putting her on for the Barbie and Ken freaks to interview, on all their fucking morning news show, thus adding another small metastasizing cell to our collective groupie cancer. There will be another contract, surely. Oh, don’t ask why. Oh, don’t ask why.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Single male god seeking single female goddess...

“...everything … isn’t dead that is buried” – Heinrich Heine, Elemental spirits

In Psalm 95 we read: “For the LORD is a great God,/and a great King above all gods”. Justin, an early and influential father of the church, translated elohim, the word for gods, into daimonion, and from there on out it had a merry career – if you translate “above all gods” as “the gods of the heathens are demons”, you have a nice little program to interpret the stubbornly polytheistic world. Notice, however, that the program does not go so far as to say that the gods of the heathens don’t exist. The saying in Psalm 95 and the admonitions of the early church fathers were a powerful input into the demonization of the pagan gods. Ernst Robert Curtius, in European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, is merely pressing an old, old historical key when he writes: “For the wedding of the Frankish king Sigebert and the Visigothic princess Brunhild (566) Fortunatus composed an epithalamium (VI, 1), in which Venus and Cupid bless the marriage. But in his metrical Vita s. Maritini (written 573-4) the same writer reports that the saint threatened the demons by calling them by their names; he said that Mercury was an especially evil enemy but that Jupiter was a stupid lout. Christianity did not allow the antique gods to die in peace. It had to degrade them into demons – because they lived on in the subconscious.”

Indeed, the myths of the Greeks actually encoded a myth of the overthrow of the gods. As did the myths of the Norse. A Götterdämmerung. Zeus and his siblings gained power only by killing the old God, Chronos, their father. And the threat that Zeus would be overthrown in turn is the basis of the Prometheus myth, which the romantics took up.

LI is interested in this cycle within the structure of myth because we take myths to be fundamental to roles and figures. Alan, commenting on LI’s happiness post the other day, justly criticized us for being rather vague about the place of the figure in our claim that figures “symbolize a human life through time." They both mediate between the social whole and the individual and operate as trans-individual myths. If you are looking around for them, look in the ad sections of newspapers – the help wanted sections and the personals ads, together, give you a sense of some of the mythical creatures that roam our America. The beautician, the banker, the administrative assistant, the SWM seeking SWF, the sexy middle aged man wants younger woman, here they are, demi-fabulous. One of my aims, in leveling an impossible, Quixote like lance against happiness, is to understand how these figures have changed over time.

Which is why I am going to do my next post about Heine’s funny little essay, the Gods in Exile.

But let’s put in a foreground note:

Paul Veyne wrote a fascinating book, Did the Greeks believe in their Myths, in which he contrasts the modern functionalist view of myth, which he dates back to Fontenelle in the late 17th century, with the Ancient philosophical view of myth, which saw them as stories arising, originally, from the acts of some heroic individual, and accruing legends over time. This was the Euhemerist idea, although as Veyne points out it, too, accepted the Greek division between the gods and the heroes.

“The Greeks distinguished between two domains; gods and heroes. For they did not understand myth or the mythmaking function in a general way but evaluated myths according to content. Criticism of the heroic generations consisted in transforming heroes into simple men and giving them a past that matched tht of what were called the human generations, that is, history since the Trojan war. The first step of this criticism was to remove the visible intervention of the gods from history. Not that the very existence of these gods was doubted in the least. But in our day the gods most often remain invisible to men. That was already the case even before the Trojan War, and the whole of the Homeric supernatural is nothing but invention and credulity. Criticism of religious beliefs indeed existed, but it was very different. Some thinkers purely and simply denied either the existence of a particular god or, perhaps, the existence of any of the gods in which the people believed. On the other hand, the immense majority of philosophers, as well as educated people, did not so much criticize the gods as seek an idea worthy of divine majesty.”

It is majesty – dignity, status, position – with which we are dealing here. When Justin and the early Christian fathers degraded the pagan gods, they were also making a comment on the whole of pagan culture. The nature of the gods was tied up with the decline or increase of a culture not just by the Psalmists or the Christian apologists, but also by pagan theologians. When Plutarch writes an essay about why the oracles have ceased to speak, he sets it in a conversation between, among others, Cleombrotus of Sparta, a traveler who has come back from Egypt, and one of his favorite interlocutors, Ammonius, a Pythagorean. First, Plutarch piously warns us away from a too iconoclastic view of myth:

“The story is told, my dear Terentius Priscus, that certain eagles or swans, flying from the uttermost parts of the earth towards its centre, met in Delphi at the omphalus, as it is called; fand at a later time Epimenides of Phaestus put the story to test by referring it to the god and upon receiving a vague and ambiguous oracle said,
Now do we know that there is no mid-centre of earth or of ocean;
Yet if there be, it is known to the gods, but is hidden from mortals
Now very likely the god repulsed him from his attempt to investigate an ancient myth as though it were a painting to be tested by the touch.”

Then he allows Cleombrotus to bring up a rather ridiculous theory of the degeneracy of the times – to wit, that the very year is decaying.

“He had recently been at the shrine of Ammon, and it was plain that he was not particularly impressed by most of the things there, but in regard to the ever-burning lamp he related a story told by the priests which deserves special consideration; it is that the lamp consumes less and less oil each year, and they hold that this is a proof of a disparity in the years, which all the time is making one year shorter in duration than its predecessor; for it is reasonable that in less duration of time the amount consumed should be less.”

Ammonius in particular shows that the explanation of the priests is ridiculous through use of an argument from plausibility – Occam’s razor before Occam was around – but the lamp story sets the stage for the discussion of why the oracles no longer speak. For the most likely explanation is that humanity has decayed. It is an explanation that is consistent with the notion that the heroic age is divided from the present age. But in the course of the conversation, Plutarch has Cleombrotus expound the notion of the daemons – the kind of spirits who became very popular in Meditteranean cultures around this time. That these words are put in Cleombrotus’ mouth might mean that Plutarch is not entirely committed to them. Still, this is a crucial passage in our mythical history.

"You are right," said Cleombrotus; "but since it is hard to apprehend and to define in what way and to what extent Providence should be brought in as an agent, those who make the god responsible for nothing at all and those make him responsible for all things alike go wide of moderation and propriety. They put the case well who say that Plato, by his discovery of the element underlying all created qualities, which is now called 'Matter' and 'Nature,' has relieved philosophers of many great perplexities; but, as it seems to me, those persons have resolved more and greater perplexities who have set the race of demigods [Demons – LI] midway between gods and men, and have discovered a force to draw together, in a way, and to unite our common fellowship — whether this doctrine comes from the wise men of the cult of Zoroaster, or whether it is Thracian and harks back to Orpheus, or is Egyptian, or Phrygian, as we may infer from observing that many things connected with death and mourning in the rites of both lands are combined in the ceremonies so fervently celebrated there. Among the Greeks, Homer, moreover, appears to use both names in common band sometimes to speak of the gods as demigods; but Hesiod was the first to set forth clearly and distinctly four classes of rational beings: gods, demigods, heroes, in this order, and, last of all, men; and as a sequence to this, apparently, he postulates his transmutation, the golden race passing selectively into many good divinities, and the demigods into heroes.

"Others postulate a transmutation for bodies and souls alike; in the same manner in which water is seen to be generated from earth, air from water, and fire from air, as their substance is borne upward, even so from men into heroes and from heroes into demigods the better souls obtain their transmutation. But from the demigods ca few souls still, in the long reach of time, because of supreme excellence, come, after being purified, to share completely in divine qualities. But with some of these souls it comes to pass that they do not maintain control over themselves, but yield to temptation and are again clothed with mortal bodies and have a dim and darkened life, like mist or vapour.”

Death knell for the babydoll look. So why is LI not smiling?

After six years of a wholly fraudulent war on terror and thirty years of watching a wholly ludicrous and dangerous gated community world spring up before their eyes, a world in which have nots get the booby prize of obesity and – as a special treat – can send their kids to die, proudly, in our party like its Vietnam war for the Son of George, the people – remember the people? United? who will never be defeated? - are finally in revolt, according to the NYT:

“I sometimes walk into a showroom full of baby-doll dresses and ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’ ” said Lauren Silverstein, the owner of Amalia, a boutique in NoLIta. “ ‘Don’t you know people don’t want this anymore?’ ”

In its place her customers are craving a look she describes as “flowing, sensual, kind of sexy acid trip” — something akin to the dress Ms. Silverstein wore on Saturday afternoon, a sidewalk-sweeping halter dress from a line called Fourties, awash in Yellow Submarine tints of lemon mauve and green.

If those customers are in revolt, it is mostly against fashion literalism. Karin Bereson, a stylist and fashion retailer in New York, champions what she calls a hippie mix, “but one not done in a costume-y way.” Ms. Bereson, who favors clashing neon patterns that owe a debt to the psychedelia revived in the late ’80s at rave clubs in London, wears tailored men’s waistcoats layered over billowing maxidresses.

“My look is Pakistani tailor,” she said. At her downtown boutique, No. 6, she updates the flower-child style — all vintage Indian-printed voile dresses and bib-front coveralls — with unorthodox accents like unlaced white jazz shoes or studded gladiator sandals.”

“You tell me it’s the institution/why don’t you free your mind instead” as somebody once put it. It turns out that this here summer, folks, is another Summer of Love:

“It’s a new summer of love,” Ms. Hersh declared. “The look is Haight-Ashbury — straight out of the ’60s.”

“The resurrection of a style that first permeated the American mainstream in the mid-’60s and peaked in the sultry months of 1967, coincides with an influx of books, films and exhibitions commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco.

The florid romanticism — and drug-induced haze — of the vaunted psychedelic era is being revisited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in “The Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era,” a show of concert posters from rock emporiums like the fabled Fillmore East in New York, the Fillmore West in San Francisco and clubs like UFO and Fifth Dimension in London.”

Of course, that drug induced haze will get you ten to fifteen years in East Texas. Except if you are white. But things are kinda free on the hip streets, according to the Times. A few years ago, as the internet destroyed the music industry, it was suggested that bands would now live by selling their paraphernalia – t shirts and such. Now the paraphernalia is selling the bands. It is all about detritus, baby. It always is.

“The naïveté and renegade spirit of the hippie period, if not its aesthetic, are also alive on Broadway in “Spring Awakening,” a dark rock musical about adolescent sexuality and rebellion in 19th-century Germany. And it lives on on the runways in collections as diverse as those of Marc Jacobs, whose secondary spring line pulsed with patchwork effects and mixed floral prints, and Roberto Cavalli, who paraded a sweeping gown with Art Nouveau flourishes and butterfly sleeves on his catwalk for fall.”

LI shouldn’t be a sourpuss. We are happy that the hippies are gravediggers of the babydoll look – long may it stay buried! We are just unhappy that the hippies have been replaced with pod people. A bummer, that. A fucking bummer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

come back, bees!

LI hasn’t had a report from the bee front, recently.

So, here’s some catching up.

A story in the National Journal has everything you want from the mainstream media – smug entitlement, gross stupidity, and the idea that the environment – the planet in general – is a peanut compared to the awe-inspiring seriousness that goes on in D.C. If Richard Cohen’s heartfelt plea for Scooter Libby, today, has become an instant classic of the King Bush era – the lickspittle mentality etched in the illiterate-attacked-by-rabid-dog prose that the Washington Post editorial page is so proud of - the jokey National Journal story (“Summer's nearly here, and in the media that means science news, lots and lots of it. When the weather gets hot, the sources of "normal" news -- politics, government, business -- go on vacation. And into the void steps science, with its bottomless bag of discoveries about our bodies, the Earth, and the cosmos. Goodbye, Scooter Libby. Hello, stunning new findings about the moons of Jupiter.” Ha ha) is all about the clueless folks who think they rock our world.

After running through the terribly funny issue of the bee rapture, ticking off the points one two three, the article ends like this:

“4. Laugh. Jeff Pettis, a scientist at the federal Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., likes to make fun of people's wild explanations. He told Garreau that his "favorite theory" is, "The bees are out there creating their own crop circles, working very hard, physically pushing the crops down with their little legs." He told the same story to the AP in May. The joke's getting a little old, but its lighthearted spirit seems just right. Why panic? It's summertime, and the science is easy.”

To which, of course, we can only summon up a heartfelt and sincere fuck you. So much for one Monsanto-head tool.

The Philadelphia inquirer has a better article:
Farmers survive the lost colonies; With hives decimated, sun and trucked-in bees save pollination by Sandy Bauers

Bauers reports on the use of bees in blueberry farming. The blueberry farmers have found hives, and are paying a bigger price. But there is, as always, the problem of stress. If stress is making bees more vulnerable to colony collapse, then the healthy bees that are being used, if possible, even more this summer are going to naturally be vulnerable.
“It's possible the bees are too busy. Many hives are now headed for Maine's blueberries; others will pollinate New Jersey's cranberries and cucumbers and Pennsylvania pumpkins.
"What I'm holding my breath for," vanEngelsdorp [Pennsylvania's acting state apiarist] said, "is when the bees come out of blueberries in Maine and what they look like next November. I think this sickness and collapse manifests itself after stress."

Poor bees. I suggest, to those colonies about to rapture, that you first surround the national journal and sting all the guys there. They deserve it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

the pursuit of unhappiness

This is a good time to stop for a breather in LI’s long march through the mythology, philosophy and history of the dispute between wisdom and happiness and pose the age old question: who the fuck cares?

LI’s notion, from the beginning, is that happiness is both an ambiguous concept and one that can’t, really, operate either to determine and organize our moods (thus making moods like sorrow or boredom into ‘negative’ moods) or to give a purpose to our life. On a social level, the critique of happiness is aimed at happiness triumphant, a socio-economic system that is embodied in the treadmill of production which is bringing us to the edge of environmental collapse. The connection between these two levels is in the figural structure – the ideal roles and persons that symbolize a human life through time. Finally, I am not interested in nostalgia, or in concealing the dialectical formation of these figures within the oppressive conditions of past societies. On the other hand, the figures that have replaced them are not only also connected to the oppressive conditions of the happiness triumphant society, but are drivers of an unsustainable collective system: forever young, forever greedy.

So, in the interest of this breather, I went to blog search on Google and looked around for posts on “the necessity of unhappiness”. I turned up … well, nothing. But looking around for the philosophy and psychology of happiness turned up quite a bit. The happiness gurus pullulate in the gated community – the Seligmans advance like some mythical core of smily faced reapers. However, they are merely the guard around a more core group, convinced that capitalism is and should be the end of history. The libertarians, the techno-utopians, that lot. Of the blogs I’ve found on this recently, one of my favorites was Will Wilkerson, who writes for the Cato Institute. Wilkerson’s idea about happiness is a perfect consort to neo-classical economics – which is why I found his review of a review of John F. Schumaker’s In Search of Happiness interesting. The review summarizes Schumaker’s argument like this:

“Schumaker argues that those who conceive of happiness as “subjective well-being” — comprised of the satisfaction of individual desires and the presence of high levels of positive affect (and minimal negative affect) — have failed to recognize that genuine happiness likely consists of more than satisfaction and pleasure. At the very minimum, we must recognize that the quality of a person’s happiness necessarily depends upon the kinds of values which inform a person’s understanding of happiness and thus set the parameters for how one pursues the happy life. On Schumaker’s view, the values of individualist, materialist cultures are far too shallow, amoral, and non-sustainable for their realization to lead to a genuinely happy life. Because of this, Schumaker declares that, “in reality I believe that a heart-felt happiness is beyond the reach of most people who regard consumer culture to be their psychological home”.

To which Wilkerson replies:

“This strikes me as just stupid. Why not simply say that if individidualist, materialist cultures lead to happiness in the “subjective well-being” sense, which they do (much more so than poor, collectivist cultures), then some forms of happiness are shallow, amoral, and unsustainable. The book might be more honestly titled Against What Brainwashed People Like You Think Happiness Is. I really can’t see the intellectual virtue of such a tendentiously moralized conception of happiness. From Pianalto’s review, it seems pretty clear Shumaker believes that material and cultural progress is immoral, and wants us to live more like hunter-gatherers.”

I find Wilkerson’s response revealing, especially in the reduction of bad faith or self deception to brain washing. This reduction says a lot about the libertarian notion of the self. For the libertarian, the self is not just ideally transparent to itself, not just ideally totally informed, not just ideally conflict free – it really is all of these things. Thus it is impervious to bad faith. The self knows more about itself than any outside observer, so the self has no intellectual or emotional issues that the outside observer could ever help it with. In essence, the libertarian self is like one of those car drivers who refuses to ask for directions, for doing so would unbearably injure his self regard.

Actually, though, bad faith is not brain washing. Sartre’s example of bad faith is useful to recall. A woman is having an intellectual discussion with a man, when the man puts his hand on her leg. The woman has a choice of calling attention to the copping of the feel, or ignoring it. But to ignore it, she has to disassociate herself, somehow, from the leg. In bad faith, that is just what she does. In this case, as in other cases of self-deception, the conflict between ideas and desires is solved by means of compromises that don’t look like brain washing, but look like wishful thinking, or selective ignorance, or the triumph of hope over experience. In real life, we recognize that the sincerity of a person’s feelings or ideas is not an accurate indicator of what that person will do or is capable of doing - thus, no matter how sincerely a man may promis a bank officer that he can and will pay off a loan, the bank will make its own judgment about his creditworthiness.

Because the libertarian self is self-sufficient to the point of autism, the libertarian has to come up with an explanation of the fact that, in life, people do help each other, that people sometimes require counseling and aid from another people. The libertarian bias is to emphasize the suspiciousness of anybody actually being altruistic enough and knowledgeable enough to help anybody else. The person external to the self who actually lends advice to the self is obviously, then, expressing his own need to control – his own power lust. This makes sense: if our picture of the completely self sufficient person is correct, the only way that person would allow someone else to suggest or aid him or her is under a kind of mind controlling influence. Thus, there are only two positions – one of complete self control, one of brainwashing.

This strikes me as a very poor interpretation of human interaction, but it does contain one truth. It is true that all selves bring with them their self interest and biases. It is true that no person who takes an interest in telling you about yourself is doing so on a completely disinterested basis. Anybody who has been around people in the helping professions – psychiatrists, social workers, etc. – will recognize how much the need to be boss is part of the core motive set.

For these reasons, Wilkerson’s criticism on the brainwashing front, then, seems to be a wash. A better criticism is that Schumacher, by making the traditional move of defining happiness in terms of higher and lower happinesses - happiness distinguished by its quality – a move made by Mill in Utilitarianism, and one that has roots in the Stoics – is actually moving the definitional goal posts. What we have, here, is conceptual creep – the use of a term to mean more than the term usually means.

What is behind this conceptual creep? The stubborn notion that social welfare is defined by the increase in happiness. The stubborn notion that, in other words, the goal is to avoid all unhappiness.

My view is that this seriously disconnects from the way lives are lived over time. To put it in a too compressed form: to remain true to the spirit of the enlightenment slogan of the pursuit of happiness, we have to turn it into something else: the ideal of a society in which every individual can afford unhappiness. Can afford to be sick. Can afford to grieve. Can afford to be sorrowful. Can afford to be bored. That affordance is about not bottoming out while doing something about the unhappiness, responding to it, experiencing it. Not efficiently negating it.

Which points us to another sociological fact. As societies become more affluent, the pursuit of unhappiness emerges pretty quickly, and not just in fringe cultures. The sullenness of adolescence, the mid-life crises of middle age, the goth music grad student culture, these aren’t accidents. Affluence allows for what you might call different climates of temperament. Unhappiness is the purest response to the very idea that happiness is the ultimate parameter by which to judge one’s life and one’s society. If the enlightenment notion of the ‘pursuit of happiness’ has any value, it is in the idea of the pursuit itself – an object that is desirable because it promises happiness is valued because its pursuit is correlated with unhappiness. The test or contest is encoded in the pursuit of happiness, not happiness itself.

Schumacher puts himself in a conceptual and terminological straightjacket by repeating the happiness language, making it easy for Wilkerson to mock him. Far better to admit that as a social and individual ideal, happiness is fucked up.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

pain: a class issue

"He's gonna step on you again..."

Tina Rosenberg is an uneven writer – she wrote an excellent first book, about violence in Latin America, but since then her record is spotty – she wrote a very goofy piece on DDT a few years ago that swallowed every libertarian canard ever manufactured – as is well known, libertarian canards can be dangerous to your health. However, she is still hopping down the chemico-neural trail, and the result this time is better.

LI is an old fan of recreational percocet use, although now that we exist in the economic basement, we are content to groove on the lows procured from almost any storebought infusion of confusion. This here American culture is always coming up with more and more drugs to wipe out experience (the experience of wrinkles and impotence, for instance, which seem to truly bug your average householder), while at the same time we get bristly about pain pills – all of which points to what is at the root of the American soul: alcoholism. The only legitimate stupors are beer, wine, whisky or religion, and all else is hocus pocus that has to be justified by shrieks and years of organic damage.

Of course, given the inequality in the country, LI needs to modify this: the killing of pain, like anything else, is distributed in this country in a pattern that follows money. For the poorest, there are doctors like the central one in Rosenberg’s article, Ronald McIver - who is “a doctor who for years treated patients suffering from chronic pain. At the Pain Therapy Center, his small storefront office not far from Main Street in Greenwood, S.C., he cracked backs, gave trigger-point injections and put patients through physical therapy. He administered ultrasound and gravity-inversion therapy and devised exercise regimens. And he wrote prescriptions for high doses of opioid drugs like OxyContin.

McIver was a particularly aggressive pain doctor. Pain can be measured only by how patients say they feel: on a scale from 0 to 10, a report of 0 signifies the absence of pain; 10 is unbearable pain. Many pain doctors will try to reduce a patient’s pain to the level of 5. McIver tried for a 2. He prescribed more, and sooner, than most doctors.”

Eventually, playing near the edge, he fell in:

Some of his patients sold their pills. Some abused them. One man, Larry Shealy, died with high doses of opioids that McIver had prescribed him in his bloodstream. In April 2005, McIver was convicted in federal court of one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and eight counts of distribution. (He was also acquitted of six counts of distribution.) The jury also found that Shealy was killed by the drugs McIver prescribed. McIver is serving concurrent sentences of 20 years for distribution and 30 years for dispensing drugs that resulted in Shealy’s death. His appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the Supreme Court were rejected.

Caste crime is severely punished in this land of jails. If McCiver had been treating a higher caste of patients, he would, of course, still be practicing like a pain djinn.

“But with careful treatment, many patients whose opioid levels are increased gradually can function well on high doses for years. “Dose alone says nothing about proper medical practice,” Portenoy [chairman of pain medicine and palliative care at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York] says. “Very few patients require doses that exceed even 200 milligrams of OxyContin on a daily basis. Having said this, pain specialists are very familiar with a subpopulation of patients who require higher doses to gain effect. I myself have several patients who take more than 1,000 milligrams of OxyContin or its equivalent every day. One is a high-functioning executive who is pain-free most of the time, and the others have a level of pain control that allows a reasonable quality of life.”

There is one law for high-functioning executives and another law for you, reader.

As a drunk among nations, America is inclined, when sober and headachey, to resolve on radical cures. It’s best cure is always prohibition. Its an ace resolve, all the better because – of course – it is impossible to implement. Thus it can continue the cycle of sin and guilt, which is the whole point:
“Several states are now preparing new opioid-dosing guidelines that may inadvertently worsen undertreatment. This year, the state of Washington advised nonspecialist doctors that daily opioid doses should not exceed the equivalent of 120 milligrams of oral morphine daily — for oxycodone or OxyContin, that’s just 80 milligrams per day — without the patient’s also consulting a pain specialist. Along with the guidelines, officials published a statewide directory of such specialists. It contains 12 names. “There are just not enough pain specialists,” says Scott M. Fishman, chief of pain medicine at the University of California at Davis and a past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. And the guidelines may keep nonspecialists from prescribing higher doses. “Many doctors will assume that if the state of Washington suggests this level of care, then it is unacceptable to proceed otherwise,” Fishman says.”

"He'll stamp out your fire/he can change your desire/don't you know he can make you forget you're the man"

Elia meets Karl Marx at the South Sea House

    When Charles Lamb, a scholarship boy at Christ’s Hospital, was fifteen, one of his patrons, Thomas Coventry, had a discussion with a...