Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Two AM, just coming down from the post-evening shift buzz, and ready for tomorrow's two day seminar on "sexual choices we make". Not that 'staying home doing bugger all' was not a sexual choice I was allowed to make.

It's a weird drive home from Emerge. You leave at twelve or one and blunder out to the car-park, and the first ten minutes are normal suburban South Mordor. Then it's driving in the dark through the light industrial area: all empty garages, sheds, factories, trucks and cement mixers standing silent and still, cavernous buildings with no-one inside. The cranes and bulldozers look different in the dim light.

You know some scenes you can imagine with remarkable clarity, pictures that almost come out of your head unbidden? Often at night I get this image, just for a fragment of a second, that all the metal and the buildings are different, ore made flesh, so that the front-end loaders and forklifts become vast hands, disembodied, but real, and very capable of lifting steel and churning
soil. And instead of the flat surfaces of the warehouses there are calm, empty human faces.

If anyone else imagines - and I don't know that imagines is the right word - stuff like this I wouldn't mind hearing about it, just for interest's sake.

Anyway. Events of the last few days. Well, there's a lot I can't say, because we had a reasonably high-profile criminal case in here recently, and some of it's in the papers, and thus fairly easily identifiable. Someone I saw a few days ago is dead, a suicide, and I don't know if that's a good thing or not.

I love those old words. You can still read books where they say "His wife was a suicide", and in the older psychiatry texts people with schizophrenia are often referred to as schizophrenics, or even "the schizophrenic", whereas in our more sensitive times it is the symptoms that are schizophrenic, as if to emphasise that the person is still a person. Similar prohibitions exist for "a suicide", like "a psychotic" or "an asthmatic".

I think the rationale behind no longer publically using those terms is that describing a person by one symptom, it is seen as belittling.

But sometimes I think speaking those words was speaking a truth, maybe a truth we no longer wish to speak. If you have ever seen someone just before they die of asthma, or someone in the grips of a full depressive psychosis, or someone angry enough to kill someone, to commit homicide, it can seem for a moment that the disease is all there is. In the last few seconds it is as if the illness has seized the centre of the person and now spreads out to the periphery, invading the skin and face. It can seem like the person you knew has gone and instead there is an incarnation; asthma, or psychosis, murder, suicide become the asthmatic, the psychotic, the homicide, the suicide.

Interesting also, he says, becoming aware that this is drifting more and more towards unhealthily morbid introspection, which patients don't get named as diseases. We say Mr Williams in bed four is a psychotic, but we don't say his wife in oncology is a cancer.

Anyway. Have resolved to be less morbid in these, as well as write possibly less and better rather than more and worse. Tomorrow may be truth in advertising and periscopes for cars.



Blogger Benedict 16th said...

"that all the metal and the buildings are different, ore made flesh..."

I have heard there is a bit of DMT about at the moment!

10:35 PM  

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