Volume 0, Issue 0

The Book of Dead Names

In Discussion on 2015/06/27 at 4:21 pm
The Cranium. Leonardo Da Vinci, April 2, 1498

The Cranium. Leonardo Da Vinci, April 2, 1498

Welcome back to high school. In this nightmare, it’s the ninth grade again. You’ve made it through the lunch line, maybe bought some milk to go with the sandwich you brought from home to save you from having to face green beans that were harvested when Nixon was president, imprisoned since then in a can large enough to have contained an adult human’s head, decanted along with nine other identical cans into a huge steel vat, and boiled for six hours or until spreadable.

Now it’s time to choose a table. For those of you who need it, here’s a hint. This is a metaphor for being born.

You see the cool kids’ table and know better than to try. Something tells you that you’d need an invitation, and you’re right. You watch and you listen, and you one of them declare a petitioner a nerd and wave her off in the direction of the Nerd Section. So now you try to work out the map and the rules.

Symptom of Illness at a Cultural Level

In Discussion on 2014/12/05 at 4:24 pm
DSM-5 and DSM-IV-TR by F.RdeC, Wikimedia Commons, CC-A-SA 3.0

French edition of DSM-IV-TR and English edition of DSM-V by F.RdeC, Wikimedia Commons, CC-A-SA 3.0

Delusions are a bit tricky.

Be aware that I’m talking clinically about a symptom of a number of scary mental illnesses — the symptom that signals a disconnect from proper interaction with the real world. A symptom, but not an illness in and of itself.

In situations like this I adhere to a pretty strict definition of illness, of pathology. Unless the phenomenon interferes with an acceptable level of function of your body and/or interferes with your ability to earn a living (or to complete your coursework, if you are a student) and/or degrades your relationships with coworkers or classmates or peers or friends or relatives, it is not an illness. Short of that, it’s just a quirk or a trait.

When We Think of Beasts

In Discussion on 2014/01/03 at 10:11 am
La Bête de la Mer (Tapisserie de l'Apocalypse)

La Bête de la Mer (Tapisserie de l’Apocalypse), uploaded to Wikipedia by Kimon Berlin

When we think of beasts, we concentrate on, instead of the volumes of overwhelming similarities, that which sets us apart from them. Distinguishing characteristics. We can own them, for one. They might communicate or not, but they don’t speak any of the human languages, don’t demonstrate a huge vocabulary, and show little facility for learning languages that aren’t the ones they were born with. They aren’t big on manual dexterity and, when they make or use tools, they get by with the bare minimum. Though many of them sing or dance or both, they aren’t big on the literary arts or visual arts — but we should take into account that we look for representational elements when we don’t even share visual spectra with many of them, as we also fail to make allowances for lack of vocabulary and manual dexterity in expression. In any case, they don’t seem to tell stories, and we do like stories.