Monday, October 11, 2010

deaf to our own signal

its early running in this age of reason and science, this sterling era from which we expect much and require little. dazzled by the idea of new diagnostic certainties and the promise of cutting-edge 'miracles,' we invest what little hope for personal grace and glory our niggling disappointment in the church has left us with (and whatever abundant and unexamined roleplay needs we carry over from unfinished childhoods) in the peat of whitecoat autocracy and its television medicine, its supermarket politics. the combo makes for a rotten crop indeed.

the dichotomy of old was of fatalism versus free initiative. theocentric worldviews looked on disease or other functional misfortunes of body or mind as the activity of a zealous god who's plan for us we could not question, we could only subordinate ourselves in apologia servility to, ever hoping of some last minute mitigation. the rational sciences sought to distance themselves from such antiquated casuistry by divorcing any notion of dramaturgic significance from our of-the-moment complaints and larger life stories, applying instead the rules of naked objectivity and existential resignment to chance coincidence, both underwritten by a genetic lottery for which we cannot be held to account.

the emergence of an anatomic inquiry that used the tools of the butcher to render the body into its reducible parts (and once the blade could take us no further, the microscope lent its scale) which in turn fostered the reductios of descartes and his ilk, the living machine model with its construct of parts without a logic of its own save what could be imposed through projected human ingenuity in time of need. disease was no longer an act of god, but it was still a clear departure from self-preserving sense.

it's always been somewhat baffling to me that we're able to recognize the functional genius of the body when it behaves, when it serves us, its mostly disinterested and abusive masters. but when the fleshy machine begins to tend in the direction of threatened viability, we assume the worst of its strategies and seek to silence its symptom-forms like junkies to needle. we're frightened off any discussion of what we're manifesting in the role we become and continuously assume during an illness out of a goodly repulsion for being blamed for our condition. but this is taking ourselves off hook too easily.

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