By Iain Bamforth
During this wide-reaching abecedarium, physician and poet Iain Bamforth dissects the clash of values embodied in what we name medicinenever solely a technological know-how and now not fairly the artwork it was once. Bamforth brings to endure his adventure of drugs from world wide, from the hightech American medical institution of Paris to neighborhood overall healthiness centres of Papua, together with his enticing curiosity within the stranger manifestations of clinical concerns relating to paintings, literature and tradition. Drawing at the lives and ideas of a few of Europe’s most
celebrated writers, from Auden to Zola with stop-offs on the likes of Darwin, Kafka, Orwell, Proustand Weil alongside the way in which, Bamforth bargains insightful and witty diagnoses of the tradition of medication within the sleek age.
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Extra info for A Doctor's Dictionary: Writings on Culture & Medicine
Evacuation and resurrection: the Greek word exanastasis means both—the body cannot be resurrected unless rid of its matter—or as the unshakeable Job puts it: ‘And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God’. Hagens’ exhibition might just conceivably be a hunt for a tertium quid. It seems to be searching for it in the same places as the contemporary Brit Pack artists, who could well be defined as school-of-life rather than art school. It is, let it be said, a diminished life in which to go to school: reality alone counts, and reality knows nothing of representation—as if human history were an animal history.
Wherein lies the ‘contagion’ then? One possibility we are forced to consider is that the mind is a rather susceptible receiver of electromagnetically-mediated image-driven consciousness rather than the producer of the rare and difficult predicative knowledge (of the form ‘A is B’) that is a feature of genuine science. Wasn’t that precisely why Plato sought to condemn the scandal of mimetic poetry and 64 myth in Book 10 of The Republic? Isn’t that the whole force of the religious critique of idolatry?
Romains is enjoying a little joke with his audience. Ravachol was a notorious 40 anarchist in nineteenth-century France (his actual name was Kœnigstein) who ended up losing his head to the guillotine, though one of his ditties, Le Bon Dieu dans la Merde, was resurrected by the Situationists in the 1960s. His name marks Dr Parpalaid out as an oldfashioned believer in anarchism as against the power of capital and the State, though it has to be remembered that nineteenth-century anarchism was not irrationalist, and largely eschewed violence: it was the most serious utopian alternative to Marxism.
A Doctor's Dictionary: Writings on Culture & Medicine by Iain Bamforth