Book Review: Incurables: Relatos de dolencias y males, edited by Oswaldo Estrada

Estrada, Oswaldo, editor. Incurables: Relatos de dolencia y males. Ars Communis Editorial, 2020. 228 pages. ¿En qué país estamos, Agripina? [What country are we in, Agripina?] In his introduction to Incurables: Relatos de dolencias y males, Oswaldo Estrada reminds readers that “las dolencias y males siempre han producido prejuicios, miedos, pánico. Hay males visibles e…

Suspicious Findings

One summer morning, I found myself in the hollow tube of an MRI. A technician pressed foam earplugs into my ears, gingerly placing oversized headphones on top. The hospital’s artificial breeze rustled my gown. Into the imaging machine I went: face down, breasts out. As contrast dye entered my veins, I tasted metal. A symphony…

Tale of a Colonial Tonic: or the Pharmacy of the Supernatural in Bengali Literature

What does a fledgling Bengali periodical for paranormal tales in early-twentieth-century Calcutta have in common with a contemporary anti-malarial tonic? Both sneak across the colonial divide in their formal heterogeneity. On the pages of the periodical Aloukik Rahasya (literally, Mysteries of the Supernatural), edited by the Bengali playwright Kshirode Prasad Vidyabinode from 1909 to 1915,…

Please open with a vivid and compelling short story of a patient encounter

The textbooks that I used as a medical student in the 1990s were illustrated with photographs of real patients. I can vividly recall the images of three depicted patients, stripped naked, standing with their palms facing upwards, posed with their hands by their sides and feet shoulder width apart like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man….

The Head of a Dog or Horn of a Rhino: Meaning, Milton, and Me

[H]e reproaches me with want of beauty and loss of sight: “A monster huge and hideous, void of sight.” … [B]ut he immediately corrects himself, and says, “though not indeed huge, for there cannot be a more spare, shrivelled and bloodless form.” It is of no moment to say any thing of personal appearance, yet…

The Spaces Between

Jac Saorsa, Artist-Residence// Recent health problems have weakened me a little … sapped my energy and left me feeling somewhat detached from the reality I have been living in. But the new reality, the different way of understanding myself has forced me, gently, to consider my own mortality from a deeply personal perspective. Two ways…

Health on the (newspaper) margins

Madeleine Mant and Johanna Cole // The recent conservation and digitization of prison admission records from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) and its predecessor, the courthouse jail, have made available a rich dataset for historical, sociological, and anthropological research regarding crime and punishment in the long 19th century in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Our research…

Medicine’s martial metaphors: “Fighting the good fight”

Steve Server // In 1977’s Illness as Metaphor, Susan Sontag offered a prescription for the “most truthful way of regarding illness—and the healthiest way of being ill” (3).  As Sontag noted, some of the ways in which humans make meaning on “the night-side of life” may hamper our ability to suffer in a “healthy” way (3).  “As long…