Posts Tagged ‘health’

Jeff Jarvis, prostate cancer, and me

11 August 2009

Yesterday, Jeff Jarvis wrote about his diagnosis of early stage prostate cancer, and then again today about (a) living la vida publica and talking about prostate cancer in some detail on the Stern show, and (b) his incredulity that Don Imus is treating his prostate cancer with peppers.

I always thought I’d write something about Jarvis one of these days – been reading his brilliant, irritating, lateral-thinking, proselytizing, reality-based posts for years. Who woulda thunk that I’d end up blogging about his prostate cancer instead? Read the rest of this entry »

Sontag, reconsidered

25 May 2009

Two ways metaphor can be of use during times of ill-health.

Own the metaphor/metaphor as social force.

Sontag wrote about how the dominant cultural ideology imposes meaning onto disease, transforming it – and the patient – into a cultural object. But it’s also more than possible for the patient to be the creative subject, actively deploying metaphor as a weapon or tool in his/her own self-definition of health and its absence. One step beyond that: when politics intersects with individual trouble, c.f. here C Wright Mills and how individual  troubles turn into public issues, metaphor can be a social force, too.

Manage the ultimate life paradox through creative metaphor.

Sontag and Cousins were so right in approaching ill-health and disease with as wide ranging and clearheaded insight as possible, even if that means looking foolish or departing from convention (or conventional authority, bound up in the drama of the white coat). But even the most benign of health troubles carries with it another layer of meaning, a confrontation with which I think is ultimately unavoidable: that being the fact of our own mortality. And that seems to me to inhabit a land that can best be given shape and contour through metaphor, rather than its absence.

Sontag, Cousins

24 May 2009

The past few days I’ve been thinking about 2 books, Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor, and Norman Cousin’s Anatomy of an Illness (As Perceived by the Patient). I remember reading Sontag’s book when it was published back in the 70s; of all her work, this one has stayed with me over the years. I was more puzzled by why my memory jumped to Cousin’s book; if I read it when it came out in the early 80s it didn’t make as deep an impression as Sontag’s – but here it was, neurons firing in their mysterious way, surfacing the title. I’ve wandered around the Intertubes to remind myself what each of these books were about, and the more I’ve read, the more it begins to make sense. Read the rest of this entry »

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