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Showing posts from April 19, 2020

A review of Tadeusz Szczeklik’s Catharsis: On the art of Medicine

Asclepius was the child of Apollo and Coronis, a mortal princess. Out of jealousy, Apollo struck Coronis with a lightning bolt when she was pregnant, but rescued the child in her womb. Medicine  begins with a femicide. We've always suspected as much.  But as always in the heavily redacted and montaged world of myth (where all that is deep is condensed with all that is shallow, where the cartoon apes the archetype), there is another story too: that Chiron the Centaur, who taught Achilles, also taught Asclepius. He taught music as well, which is how Achilles cured himself of his anger towards Agamemnon. As well, he taught the virtues that calmed the soul. Thus, as is pointed out in Tadeusz Szczeklik’s Catharsis: On the art of Medicine, Chiron taught medicine, music and justice as entangled one with the other and, ultimately, one. There’s a certain kind of medical essay, a book-like essay, that obscurely keeps the faith with that unity. Lewis Thomas in the U.S. is the best known

Is it like fun

“Is it like fun? Writing was always hard hard for me, but I think I’d love love to be a writer.” To be a poppy, though… The green pod bending the bristly, slim green stem, or - “right right right, I bet it must be like a fucking orgasm if like everybody reads your book” - Look how a stem shoots out from the others mission creeps the pod forward which stick out horizontal to the ground rather than the stem bearing the curling weight of those downward pods. They are built for wind, for distribution, for coverage. Can one imagine (“what’s the name of your book?”) what they imagine if such things   flicker in the green vegetative soul? A world of poppies. A utopia of poppies. Every flower is an aggressor. - Karen Chamisso

what is herd immunity?

What is herd immunity? A lot of old fights continue long after they should in science, if science were this instrument that the positivists extol. We are seeing one now, which is all about epidemiology and “herd immunity”. It is worth noticing that the groups attacking epidemiology are using the same instruments that were honed in the fifties. In 1951, Doll and Hill, in Britain, published a famous epidemiology paper linking cigarette smoking to cancer. This was the first of a flood of studies linking the two. The cigarette companies, under the guidance of certain genius advertisers, found many a compliant scientist to batter against the whole idea of using the statistical models employed by Doll and Hill. These people made one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th century: in the interest of ideology and profit, you can legally obfuscate mass murder and get away with it. Thus, as cancers connected to smoking regularly swept away half a million peeps per year all throug

The game of dress up: male novelists/female characters

Angela Carter once wrote that she read novels when growing up for, among other things, insights into being a woman. She read the English writers of the period – a period when Leavis’s “Great Tradition” – and naturally she read D.H. Lawrence – the Leavisite candidate for the truly great English writer (Virginia Woolf being bashed for snobbishness and Joyce for being not sound). As Carter writes, “I smelled a rat in D.H. Lawrence pretty damn quick.” This does not mean she dismissed Lawrence as an artist. But he was the kind of novelist she wanted to pit herself against, moving aside that stone on the English novel – up to and including my quasi Christian metaphor of the stone being moved aside, the kind of resurrectionary theme Lawrence was all about. One of her insights into Lawrence involves, well, the same problems that I think about when writing fiction with female characters.   It has to do with dress-up. If you read Raymond Chandler, you will notice that, for all

Why the Labour party should split up

The leaks about the Labour party that came out last week have been, I think, largely overlooked, partly because the same media that sympathized with overturning Corbyn and collaborated on the project doesn’t really want to revisit the story. But it is definitely an exemplary story. The leak shows that the rightwing of the party – the third way people, the Blairites – spent much of their time in the election against Theresa May, which Corbyn just missed winning, doing things like dissing black members of the party, knowingly diverting and wasting party funding, and goldbricking in order to bring about a Tory victory. The thinking was, the Tory victory would then overthrow Corbyn. Now, every leftist is, by nature, paranoid, for good reason: if you attack powerful forces, it is common sense to think they will attack you back and operate in the sneaky ways they have operated to get, say, tax breaks and shit. But the whole Corbyn moment was premised on the idea that Labour is still a