kill all my demons and my angels might die too
It dawned on me today that I’ve followed almost the entire medical school education of Ozge through her blog. I read about study strategies, notes, old medical books, and the daily grind. I knew that a lot of study went into medical school, but in reality I didn’t have much of a real-life idea until reading about it on regular basis.
Medicine and science are so advanced, we know not our own ignorance more than ever. This breeds all kinds of dangerous egos, ones fed by access to technologies that we the users feel an extension of our own intelligence. But science is becoming a sort of voodoo practice against which groups rally with pitchforks – all because general lack of understanding. We want technology, medicine and to explore the universe, but as a whole put up roadblocks for those able to deliver it.
Margaret Atwood explains in Payback the ill sentiments towards the grain-mill owner and his family; the mill being one of the first large scale business service industries that could rob without you knowing it, for who could tell exactly how much flower was due from one bag of grain? When those delivering the solutions don’t struggle financially, or worse, are well-to-do, the suspicions and rumours start a life of their own.
So here is the simple game plan:
1. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. [And motives of others.] (Christopher Hitchens)
2. Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. (Horace Mann)
Ozge tells in one of her early posts how when she was growing up, she pretended that reading books gave her superpowers – a wonderfully simple rendering of a big idea.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer,
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air
— Sylvia Plath
It was the 2013 film trailer by the same title that moved me to read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, but even the film’s roughly 100 million dollar budget is unlikely to conjure imagery that matches or improves on the prose in the pages of the book.
The author has an insight into human nature which leaves you feeling as if he lay bare the ugly character traits that one might otherwise remain blind to in himself or in others.
He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…
“With infinite life comes an infinite list of relatives. Grandparents never die, nor do great-grandparents, great-aunts… and so on, back through the generations, all alive and offering advice. Sons never escape from the shadows of their fathers. Nor do daughters of their mothers. No one ever comes into his own… Such is the cost of immortality. No person is whole. No person is free.”
‘We judge others by their actions, ourselves by our intentions’ was my conclusion of a late morning train of thought. I knew that I could not be the first to think of it and Google confirmed it. Next stop: Was this really my own idea, or did I hear it somewhere and it simply resurfaced?
“Even the inside of your mind is endless” reminded me of a quote by Erich Maria Remarque, but it’s hiding from me somewhere or I’ve confused sources. Maybe I’ll find it later, but after reading a few quotes from All Quiet on the Western Front I wish for a lazy afternoon and a chance to re-read it. The copy I have is very old and smells of the past, as if Paul Bäumer carried it in his pocket from Mons all the way to the Italian front in Vittorio Veneto.
Spending the afternoon reading.
I’ve my highlighter out, and it’s getting good use. Sam’s book and a recent disagreement with a new friend who happened to be a young earth creationist had me wondering about biases, mine and those of others. Reading through How to Overcome Unconscious and Hidden Biases this note emerged from the text and grabbed me:
“Many philosophers have also pointed out the benefits of being unbiased, in that you are virtually nonstick. Not only in a way that mud doesn’t stick to you, even though life will always throw it at you, but also that as you wade through life, you can avoid it sticking to you and getting swamped. This means you can avoid getting snarled in pointless arguments, as you have transcended a powerful bait and trap system and you can be more happy, healthy and wise.”
This was nice to read considering that this was my final Facebook message yesterday (despite the powerful bait to send a rebuttal instead) before blocking its recipient. It was a reply to a longish paragraph essentially suggesting that true friends are interested in each other’s interests, and accusing me of being disrespectful and ignorant.
If you detected a tongue-in-cheek element, you’d be right. I’ve made several suggestions on how we can discuss religion in a meaningful way. None were accepted. The only way to clear the tension seemed to be in the form of conceding that creationism is as valid an idea as a universe without a creator, at least until I’ve fully heard the full interview with Jack Cuozzo, a dentist from New Jersey. The 38 minute interview starts with the host proclaiming “Evolution is such a weak theory that scientists have actually tempered with fossils in order to fabricate the missing link.”
This isn’t 1858.
I feel emancipated. And, I’ve spent the extra free time to finally write back to a friend in Australia three weeks after I received her Email, instead of arguing over something which has virtually no chance of ending happily.
Now I’m going to stick my nose into a book.
“Beautiful sentences pop into my head. Beautiful sentences that aren’t always absolutely accurate. Then, I have to choose between the beautiful sentence and being absolutely accurate. It can be a difficult choice.” — Christopher Hitchens