The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
Zoe Elpern took a motorcycle ride in the high Rockies above Aspen, Colorado on Saturday, September 21, 2013. She sent us a few pictures taken on her iPhone. The last picture was taken in late April, 2013. These photos reminded us of a memorable poem:
Binsey Poplars: felled 1879 by Gerard Manley Hopkins for pdf: Download Aspens
My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled, Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun, All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank Not
spared, not one That dandled a sandalled Shadow that
swam or sank On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.
O if we but knew what we do When we delve or
hew-- Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender To touch, her being só slender, That, like this sleek and seeing ball But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean To mend her
we end her, When we hew or
delve: After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve Strokes of havoc
únselve The sweet
especial scene, Rural scene, a
rural scene, Sweet especial
Our Hilo correspondent, Rob Shapiro, brought an important NPR story to our attention. Reading it may save a loved one's, or your own, life!
It seems that every time researchers estimate how often a medical
mistake contributes to a hospital patient's death, the numbers come out
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published the famous
"To Err Is Human" report, which dropped a bombshell on the medical
community by reporting that up to 98,000 people a year die because of
mistakes in hospitals. The number was initially disputed, but is now
widely accepted by doctors and hospital officials — and quoted
ubiquitously in the media.
In 2010, the Office of Inspector
General for the Department of Health and Human Services said that bad
hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare
alone in a given year.
Now comes a of the Journal of Patient Safety that says the numbers may be much higher — between each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death.
"We’d like to invite you
to join us and be a part of an extraordinary event on Sunday, September 29, 2013 at
celebrate Music and Wellness throughout our great city.
In celebration of its 75th anniversary, Celebrity Series of Boston
will be presenting “Play me, I’m
Yours,” bringing 75 painted pianos to 75 locations on the streets
of Boston, Cambridge and Somerville.
In recognition of the
unique strength of Boston’s healthcare and cultural communities, we’re thrilled
to announce that Sunday, September 29 will be designated “Music and Wellness Day,” with a
city wide “flash mob for health” at 3:00 p.m."
bright sunshine, clear sky a field of scattered lanterns autumnal prologue
(haiku and photos by Yoon Cohen)
Down Green River Road, in Williamstown, there's a small public park, River's Edge Park, that is rarely frequented. In the late summer and fall a large portion of the ground is covered by Chinese lanterns. Over the years, I have watched this ornamental weed spread over the grounds. Its orange flowers are down-hanging bells of arresting beauty.
Medical Nemesis: The
Expropriation of Health (1976) by Ivan Illich
(I read this book in 1994 and it has resonated with me ever since. Here is an excerpt from the introduction. My full notes are in the pdf at the end of this post.)
The medical establishment has become a major threat to
health. The disabling impact of
professional control over medicine has reached the proportions of an epidemic.
Thoughtful public discussion of the iatrogenic [“physician
caused”, iatros=physician & genus=birth] pandemic, beginning with an
insistence upon demystification of all medical matters, will not be dangerous
to the commonweal. Indeed, what is
dangerous is a passive public that has come to rely on superficial medical
My argument is that the layman and not the physician has the
potential perspective and effective power to stop the current iatrogenic
During the last generations the medical monopoly over health
care has expanded without checks and has encroached on our liberty with regard
to our own bodies. Society has
transferred to physicians the exclusive right to determine what constitutes
sickness, who is or might become sick, and what shall be done to such
people...The social commitment to provide to all citizens with almost unlimited
outputs from the medical system threatens to destroy the environmental and
cultural conditions needed by people to live a life of constant autonomous
Fairly extensive notes from Medical Nemesis can be found here:
Download Medical Nemesis Illich Illich was a visionary. Few acknowledge his influence; indeed most are not even aware of it.
Seamus Heaney: Poet of ‘the Silent Things’ By The Editorial Board (NY Times) Published: August 30,
Seamus Heaney was sipping bourbon during a Boston snowstorm
30 years ago, trying to explain his poetry as an escape from a terrible fear of
silence that always haunted him. “What is the source of our first suffering?”
he asked, quoting the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. “It lies in the fact
that we hesitated to speak.”
The poet, who died Friday at the age of 74, mastered that
fear magnificently in five decades of lyrical composition that earned him a
Nobel Prize. But that night in Boston he kept it front and center as a dark but
“wonderfully resonant” prod, topping off our glasses while fielding questions
for a newspaper profile. “If I could make poetry that could touch into that
kind of thing, that is what I would like to do,” he said, stoking his resolve
to pursue “the silent things within us.”
Friendly and open, Mr. Heaney did not talk down from a
poet’s perch. In his workaday searching for “images and symbols adequate to our
predicament” he included all of life, not just the Troubles of his Irish
homeland. He was anxious that his lyrical gift not cushion hard truth. He
exulted in his origins as a farm boy who savored the ring of the BBC weather
forecast towns (“Dogger, Rockall, Malin, Shetland...”) as much as the family’s
recitation of the Blessed Virgin’s litany (“Health of the Sick, Refuge of
Sinners, Comforter of the Afflicted...”). He sipped and smiled at “summoning
the energies of words.” He described “the actual pleasure of feeling something
under your hand and growing,” a new poem “full of voices, full of people.”
Decades after that snowy night, Mr. Heaney is remembered for
the power of his joy in working the language, and in the spirit of his
elegiacal salute to his friend Robert Lowell: “The way we are living,/ timorous
or bold,/ will have been our life.” FRANCIS X. CLINES
Long-time Cell 2 Soul member and Berkshire County resident, Michael Symons, has written a moving essay recollecting his participation in the historic civil rights march of 1963.
Michael Symons: A Chance Meeting Among the Multitudes The Berkshire Eagle, August 28, 2013 It was exactly 50 years ago today when I stood no more than
a hundred feet from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he delivered those
unforgettable words from the steps of The Lincoln Memorial. It was August, 1963 -- summer vacation -- when a teacher’s
thoughts are furthest from the classroom and the minds he presumes to have
touched. I was working in an inter-generational, Jewish culture camp
in upstate New York and, although removed from the outside world, we were very
aware of the announced "March on Washington" scheduled for the 28th.