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Tag, I'm It

Today I picked up my first disability placard from the BMV. Like starting physical therapy a month ago, doing so required acts of both will and resignation I had not anticipated.

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In and Out of Bed with Marcel Proust

Although it is anathema in our 24-hour workaholic culture, I truly understand why people might "take to bed," as the Victorians put it, and declare themselves "invalid." When one is interminably ill, having ambitions of any kind seems an exercise in disappointment and self-loathing—and all exertion is inevitably an exercise in self-flagellation. It ultimately comes down to weighing, every day, whether pain and disappointment is preferable to taking permanently to bed. Making the choice harder still is the image in our mind of the patron saint of all invalids, Marcel Proust, who took to bed for the last three years of his life, from which position he finished À la recherche du temps perdu. I picture him in his nightcap and gown, hunched over writing feverishly, a gleam in his eye that glows all the brighter for the pallor of his wasted visage. The only sound is the scratch of his pen as his all-but indecipherable hand fills up yet another page of the manuscript grown around him like a ponderous, perilous forest.

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Comics & Medicine 2015 (Part 3)

The history of the comics form’s evolution is hard-wired to the non-novelistic narrative of chronic illness, mental and physical, genetic and environmental. Krazy Kat is as good example as one could hope to find: for over thirty years George Herriman told the story of a mouse who was compelled to throw bricks at a kat, a kat who translated the pain of those blows into love letters—a sado-masochistic relationship made more overwrought by the addition of Offica Pup, whose love made him wish to protect Krazy from the very bricks Krazy most desired—as well as a menagerie of other citizens of the magical southwestern landscape of Coconino County each driven by their own demons in ways that warp and woof together create something akin to a comics version of a beautiful Navajo rug.

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Comics & Medicine 2015 (Part 2)

Chronic illness—that grand umbrella—is the postmodern condition that seemingly moves into the spaces vacated by all the diseases modern medicine has vanquished in the past century. Today remarkably few of us will die of infectious diseases. One recent study in London found rates of community-acquired infection requiring hospitalization to be only 6.4/100,000. In the 14th century when the plagues leveled Europe no one everyone forgot they were dying, ever. The very adjective healthy did not even exist in the English language until the second half of the sixteenth century because it was as unimaginable a condition as futurity, a word that does not arise in English until around the same time.

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Comics & Medicine 2015 (Part 1)

I recently had the honor to get to give a keynote at the Comics & Medicine conference in Riverside, CA, hosted by the Graphic Medicine collective and the amazing Juliet McMullin. I thought it might be fun to share my talk, "Beyond Metaphor," in serial fashion. Here is Part 1...

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