House of Sick
Medieval History

House of Sick

Iris and Eleanor and Mac first succumbed about two weeks ago, and now finally, Oliver and I have been felled.  I think we have a stronger, crazier bug: much more fever, hot eyeballs, aching all over. Debilitating.  Reading today was reduced to movie reviews (decided to love the phrase "gauntlet of formative traumas" from a scathing review of Suckerpunch - yes, I was stooping that low); writing has been nil.  I'm out here for just a few minutes to prove to myself that I can indeed put fingertip to keyboard and write in more or less complete sentences. There's a steadily rising tide of despair, as I think of the two papers that need to be written by April 15 - I love them both, want to linger over both, have core phrases that I want to build around, but it'll probably be the more usual crazed, frantic writing, squelched in between grading and committee meetings. A colleague once said "Do not be deterred."  This may be the time to not be deterred.  One thing (since I'm free associating and thinking of an essay I'm actually proud of) that's been great in reading the first four short essays of Graham Harman's Towards Speculative Realism is watching Graham Harman move away from being a Heideggerian towards the articulation of speculative realism. Heidegger's thing with Thing is the seed, I realize, to the more materialist approach to art history that we're trying to craft. And it's interesting to me that we're by-passing phenomenology (short version why: identity is too transcendent; not enough about political identity).  I want to artfully weave this all in, you see, but I know that it's not ripe enough, and so it won't be what I envision it to be. SO - I will read and think and write, not in the order that I want to, but I am not alone here and I know that summer is not far when these talks can be written up and reveled in.

Wow! That felt good! Unnecessarily angtsy, but good.  It's the first time that I've had energy to write anything and it feels great.  We've had all three kids come down for warm milk, so this can't last long, but all of us are looking forward to when this Sick lifts.  Yeesh.  In some feverish state, I was thinking about agency and consciousness again (we were all basically some kind of warped consciousness with all too little agency). Viruses are wild. Alive, intent, invasive, systemic.  And when they're gone (or die off, right?) you really do feel that sense of lifting, of being back to yourself.  This all makes medieval medicine much more understandable to me - you bet it's going to feel like a miracle to walk without aching oddly.

The comparison between episodic illness and chronic illness is hard of course.  I feel like a jerk for even complaining, knowing full well that all of this will go away.  Not the same for everyone.  My dad's birthday was so so quiet. I watched my mom love him absolutely: say incredibly kind and loving things to him, remind him of their love and their life together. And he just looked at her with this bemused look, a kind of "what's the fuss?" look. With his bright blue eyes, and his beatific smile. I see him fading, though, and it's another urgency I feel: not to capture all of the important stories of his life, but rather to seize the random ones: the picture of the two young boys on an elephant on a beach in Sri Lanka (which Dad now has gone back to calling Ceylon); the Quaker meeting house across the creek from where he grew up (and which a cousin of mine has opened up to an East Carolina University archaeological dig); lots more. I want the summer to come.  In the meantime, once more unto the breach and all that - spring break is over.

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Medieval History