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Christmas

Fra_Angelico_013

To the Korrektiv Kollektiv

…cujus coelesti mysterio pascimur et potamur.

No blood would pass, and maidenhead unabridged
Retained a purity beyond all words –
All words but One of course. Yet double-edged
To spit her heart and turn her sorrow, swords
Would point her toward another moment cradled
By wood before she lifted up and coddled
His body once again. While Bethlehem
Will drink the blood not his, Jerusalem
Remains in shadows not his – for King Herod
Will wait. He rests in peace. But innocence
Today awakes this hour of recompense
For evergreen and blood’s more fragile merit;
Each announces in a tremendous way
The tone and hue that colors Christmas day.

Comments

  1. Thanks, good poem.

  2. Louise Orrock says:

    I will resubmit this – I have improved the section on microscopy. It misses out the footnotes (I copied and posted), which includes the example of the scientific fact that the earth travels around the sun at 66,600 mph:

    Science 1

    Cancer, or what is said to be the proliferation of malignant or invasive ‘cells’, seems likely to be a fictitious disease that was invented for political reasons. There is no clear distinction in the literature between malignant and non-malignant cells and tumours, nor an adequate account of what it would mean for a cell or tumour to invade surrounding tissue or travel to distant organs, nor of how one cell would be able to alter another or cause harm.

    The medical literature is not consistent as to whether cancer is diagnosed as a result of cell pathology or invasion of local tissue. In terms of cell pathology, it is not clear how ‘cells’ can be viewed, since microscopes enlarge rather than see below to any underlying structure (where the various parts of the cell are said to lie, whether or not the cell is opaque). From observation, the size of the image of what one sees most clearly under a microscope is the same at that of the object itself viewed at close range. Even if the magnifications claimed were possible to achieve, the image of a cancer cell could not be seen, to use Descartes’ phrase, clearly and distinctly. From observation (for example, of what one can see in the middle distance when viewing a spotlight), what one is most likely to be seeing when viewing a ‘cell’ under the strong light, or mirror, of a microscope is an image of the lens of the eye itself, as well as the fainter image of the object(s) on the slide that become apparent only when one increases or decreases magnification.

    If there are irregularities, these need not correspond to changes in cell structure or indicate malignancy rather than non-threatening changes in tissue. Some terms used to denote pathology, such as ‘stroma’ and ‘cribriform’, are difficult to pin down in terms of why they are dangerous or by what mechanism. ‘Necrosis’, associated with malignancy, refers to exaggerated cell death (as opposed to ‘apoptosis’) and is an indicator of uncontrolled proliferation, apparently because in an area where you have more cells, or tissue, you would be more likely to have increased cell or tissue death. But increased cell death would either suggest a check on unnatural proliferation or would, in any case, also be associated with benign tumours or, if not, suggest that benign tumours are more likely to be invasive, in the sense of growing sufficiently to invade surrounding tissue, than malignant ones.

    If cancer is not diagnosed according to particular features of the cell (nor by uncontrolled cell growth, which is also a feature of benign tumours), but by invasion of surrounding tissue, this would seem to imply producing changes in surrounding cells or tissue, since otherwise a benign tumour could also potentially obstruct surrounding tissue. It is not clear by what mechanism one cell would invade another or what this would look like. If surrounding tissue also changes, it is likely to be as a result of the same factor(s) that caused the initial cell to change, rather than that the initial cell invaded the other. If it had invaded the other, would the cells merge? And would this happen to the next cell, and so on? If not, in what sense is it invading? If one cell did cause a change in the other, it is presumably through some sort of copying or mirroring, but not by one cell invading another.

    (The presence (or spread) of tumours is usually detected, or confirmed in the case of those that can be felt by the hand, by x-rays or CT scans. Again, no camera, whether or not it is said to emit ‘radiation’, can see beneath the surface of the human body, including in order to see a cell that has travelled from another part of the body. The principle by which an MRI scan works seems more plausible, ie, that it produces images that reflect the attractions of different substances within the body to a magnet, but in practice it would not be sufficiently precise, given that the body has depth as well as area, and would need to rely on attracting parts of the body towards the surface – since otherwise it would not do more than an ordinary camera – which would be dangerous if it were true.)

    If invasion is by the tumour rather than by a single cell, setting aside by what process the tumour itself formed (ie, whether through invasion of one cell by another or through a spontaneous proliferation of malignant cells, in which case it would be difficult to distinguish between the formation of the tumour itself and invasion of adjacent tissue), again, does it occupy the adjacent tissue or cause it to change? If adjacent cells change – if they are in some sense influenced by the tumour – why use the term, ‘invade’? (Surgery is also referred to as invasive or non invasive.) And if the tumour only moves, or displaces, adjacent tissue, again, this would also be a feature of benign tumours.

    Metastasis is what causes a cancer that starts in one part of the body to kill, by spreading to vital organs. A cell from the primary tumour is said to break loose when it loses its ability to stick to the initial tumour and then travels along the blood stream or via the lymph system. In the distant organ, the cell would regain its ability to stick and then begin to proliferate. The new mass of cells would be referred to as a secondary tumour – eg, a thyroid tumour in the lung, composed of thyroid cells rather than lung cells. But does that seem common sensical? That different parts of the body begin to develop tumours spontaneously, or even that one part of the body would copy another, would seem more plausible than that there are secondary tumours consisting of cells that have travelled from the initial tumour.

    How would they travel? An apparently infinitesimally small ‘cell’ would not be able to travel, would it, within the relatively thick blood or ‘lymph’, especially from a lower part of the body to a higher, and, even if it were able to travel in any spaces between blood or lymph cells, and upwards, how would it then enter distant organs, ie, penetrate, for example, the brain or lungs? And why never the heart? CT scans apparently show single cells that have travelled to another organ. Would, according to common sense, a microscope, or ‘scan’, really be able to show that? If, instead, a large number of cells broke away, what, setting aside their motive, what would propel them to a distant organ? The hypothetical force exerted by any number of cells that remain invisible to the eye would still be insufficient.

    What is usually said to kill in the case of cancer is a recurrence, because a recurring cancer is said to be more aggressive, which one assumes means it would either grow more quickly or show greater pathology and propensity to spread, although in either case it seems uncertain by what mechanism a cancer kills. If the cells, or tissue, are malignant, and become more malignant as they ‘mutate’, in what sense is this true – other than that they consist of parts of cells that are said to indicate malignancy – if they do not contain toxins of any sort? If recurrence and mutation mean they are able to proliferate more quickly, aside from the fact that this again blurs the distinction between a malign and benign tumour, why and how? If one assumes agency of some sort, then why, after surviving an attempt to eradicate it, would it seek to destroy its host (and therefore itself) or otherwise draw attention to itself? And if recurring cancers are more dangerous than the initial cancer, and often fatally so, then why do oncologists treat the less aggressive, indolent, cancers instead of monitoring them, when surgery and anaesthesia, and presumably ‘radiation’, are themselves dangerous. It also seems unlikely that drugs would be able to target parts of the body as precisely as we are told they can, and that they would all have some impact on both the stomach and the head.

    Benign growths, caused by such things as knocks, burns, sun exposure, extreme stress, perhaps certain climactic conditions, and ageing, might cause obstruction if they become too large, but in most cases they do not seem to grow, so that more damage is likely to be done by attempting to remove them surgically than by leaving them. They may have grown, after an injury, to protect a part of the body from further damage. Those growths we cannot see or feel, we have no certain means of knowing whether or not they have grown or whether they exist: for example, a persistent cough may indicate nothing more than tiredness. And it seems unlikely that tumours would grow and expand to a considerable size within the body, especially as we age and weaken, unless, again, their purpose is protective. The most likely cause may be tissue ‘death’.

    What kills in the case of apparently fatal illnesses such as cancer or AIDS is a cumulative weakening caused by the drugs (prescription or otherwise), which either weaken or else stimulate and then weaken, introduce poisons into the body, cause diarrhoea or constipation or encourage anorexia, depress or confuse and cause poor decision making, make one more susceptible to colds and respiratory illnesses (especially if one believes one ‘catches’ them from others), and as well to night sweats, rashes and spots, which are the body’s response to fatigue, cold, heat, dehydration or over hydration, and malnourishment, which, at the same time, the body may be less able to recognise and to respond to); surgery (which weakens, at least temporarily, so increasing the risk from other depressants, because of anaesthesia or blood loss); poor diet (insufficient calories, food that is not fresh or that contains toxins, including in alcohol and coffee); environmental factors, particularly inadequate heating, extreme heat, and fluctuations in temperature; excessive physical exercise in an effort to maintain fitness, and perhaps insomnia or too much sleep; and the emotional stress, and fatalism, caused by the belief, and others’ belief, that one has a potentially fatal illness. As you do not need gravity to explain why things fall to earth, you do not need cancer and HIV/AIDS to explain why people who have received a diagnosis of either might fall ill and die.
    It would strike most people as inconceivable that diseases such as cancer could have been invented, and so we have not thought about whether or not they are plausible according to observation, common sense or logic. However, the term, the Final Solution (associated with the Wannsee Conference, of 1942), might have implied the use of both intravenous fluids and alcohol.

    Science 2

    It seems likely that HIV is a fictitious ‘viral infection’ that was invented for political reasons and that the illnesses associated with AIDS are either themselves fictitious (eg, cancer) or the result of treatment and other circumstantial factors. If we set aside, as Descartes asks us to, the foundational facts of science that we have been told , and instead rely on observation and reasoning to decide what is most likely to be true, it seems impossible that virus cells would damage, or kill, the person. Even if one assumes that they are able to travel, despite their size, through liquids and tissues, or travel through membranes from spaces and cavities within the body, and thrive and multiply (by whatever means), and assuming that they have a motive for harming and killing the person, a virus cell that is initially imperceptible to the senses, and which remains invisible to the eye, will not possess the ability to inflict harm, whatever its number, ie, however many cells might theoretically inhabit the body at any one time (including those that may remain after their death). This is because the capacity of a large number of individual cells to inflict harm may not be substantially greater than that of the individual cell and will not be of the same magnitude as that of a larger organism of a size corresponding to that of a large number of viral cells. Even if the individual cells were able to join together to form a larger substance, as is the case, for example, with the constituent parts of a tumour or of an animal, or each produced the same toxic substance, the fact that the viral cell are invisibly small to the eye, even when a light is shone on them, implies that by whatever number it is multiplied, it will have no volume or weight and so not be capable of harm for the reason that it does not exist. When a person is sickened by, for example, the flu or the common cold, this is because the body is weak, not because it has been infected by a virus of any kind. Similarly, a person who falls ill or dies apparently of HIV infection does so because of a cumulative weakening caused by the treatment, perhaps including, but not restricted to, medication as well as other factors but not because of HIV viral infection.

    First, the claim that viral cells can be viewed under a microscope needs to be treated with suspicion. Although diagnosis is by a ‘colour’ test, which it is possible now to do in the home but which needs to be sent to a laboratory for analysis, it is said to be possible to view the HIV virus cells under a microscope, either within blood samples or where the cells have been partially, or completely, isolated from bodily fluids. If, as is claimed, the virus is approximately one times ten to the minus nine metres in diameter, and if, as is claimed, a magnification of around ten thousand is needed to view the cell, the image of the cell would be one hundredth of a millimetre in diameter, ie, too small to be viewed and smaller than the image of the cell apparently seen under a microscope. In any case, it is not apparent that something as small as a virus cell would exist as a particular entity, nor that anything, whatever its size, would present a clear image with such a magnification.

    A thing can be divided, arithmetically, by one times ten to the negative nine, and living things and objects (such as the image on a computer screen) may be divided into very large numbers of constituent parts mathematically (geometrically), but that does not mean that anything so small that it cannot be seen by the eye exists as a complete entity. Although particular – in the sense of whole – living things may exist at an extremely small size (even if some moving life forms appear to emerge, in some conditions, at a larger size from, for example, fruit fibres), it is likely to be possible to view them clearly only at the size at which it becomes possible to view them with the eye alone.

    The eye is able to see very small things clearly at close range. For example, it is possible to see with the eye alone tiny spores of mould and also tiny insects in motion. However, the eye blurs, and also seems to magnify, objects that are at either a greater or lesser focal length (as, for example, when a page is brought too close to the eye the letters can appear larger, as can letters at the periphery of what we are reading).

    A camera lens (or telescope) can allow us to see things beyond our normal range of vision relatively clearly and distinctly. Objects beyond or closer than the object we are focusing on will blur and be disproportionately magnified. Also, the object viewed becomes blurred if it is magnified, so that its image is larger than the size it would appear if viewed only by the eye at the appropriate distance. More to the point, from observation, the image of objects, such as tiny insects, will be blurred when the image viewed is larger than the size the objects appear when viewed by the eye alone.

    This suggests that the nature of microscopy is such that one can only view a clear and distinct image at a size corresponding to that which could be viewed by the eye alone at the appropriate distance, so that at best a microscope may be training the eye to focus on very small objects at no, or relatively limited, magnification. The magnification needed to produce a visible image of a viral cell of one times ten to the negative nine metres would, even if it were technologically possible to achieve, be such as to make the image impossible to identify as a ‘cell’.

    However, even if it were possible to obtain a clear image at the magnifications claimed, the difficulty would remain, even if it claimed that cells can be ‘sliced’, of obtaining a clear and accurate two dimensional image of three dimensional constituents of a three dimensional cell, in which some parts of the cell did not appear clearer than others, in which relative sizes were not distorted, and in which some parts of the cell were not hidden. A ‘powerful’ microscope, such as an electron microscope, which apparently presents clear images of the parts of cells, more plausibly, and from observation (of what one sometimes sees in the middle distance when looking, for example, at a spotlight) presents an image of the ‘fingerprint’ of the eye. This is because the amount of light from the microscope, or reflected from its mirror, is such as to obscure what is on the microscope slide (as one sees ones reflection in a window on a sunny day, rather than what is in the room behind the window) while highlighting what is behind it, the eye. The fainter image of what is being viewed may become apparent only when magnification is increased or decreased.

    Second, it seems odd that HIV ‘cells’ cannot survive for long outside the human body. Why would they not, in the potentially more hospitable, and autonomous, environment (in terms of temperature, hydration, available nutrition, rest) outside the body? From observation, mould, for instance, appears to thrive in certain conditions but not noticeably within the human body, and this is true of most, if not all, living things, apart from the body’s constituent parts. What is it about virus cells that make the human body an inhospitable environment for most living organisms but the only environment hospitable to HIV virus cells? And would this not make the virus cells especially careful not to destroy its host by virtue of their number or any other means, or to alter the body significantly?

    If it is because the viral cell can only live at human body temperature (although other relatively small organisms, such as fleas, can live at relatively cold temperatures, and smaller organisms seem better able to regulate their body temperature than larger ones) why would it not survive outside the body (or in other species) if the temperature approximated body temperature? And why would the temperature be correct in all climates and all physical states and throughout the body, given that body temperature can appear to vary significantly without there necessarily being a significant change in measured temperature? And what is the body temperature of the virus?

    Third, the nature of transmission seems unlikely. Why would the virus cells enter a part of the body, in the case of sexual activity, from which they might be expelled before they were able to travel, and where they would be likely to receive less in the way of nourishment perhaps (ie, where waste is about to be expelled)? If it is because they can only survive and spread by coming into contact with blood, why would this be so, given the size of the viral cell, and what would this imply about their movement within the body? If the body is able to prevent the absorption of harmful virus cells from the digestive system, despite, or because of, the small size of the virus cells, how is the virus able to leave the body of one person, enter another, survive, apparently multiply, and then travel to other parts of the body after coming into contact only with blood at, or near, the surface of the body?
    For example, during sexual intercourse, the HIV cells are said to travel from the semen, blood, or vaginal discharge of one person into the blood stream of another. In the case of uncircumcised males, transmission would seem to be more likely from semen into the blood stream. How is something as small as an apparently invisible virus cell able to travel out of the semen? In the case of blood to blood transmission, how plausible is it that virus cells are able to move in blood in order, first, to leave the body of one person and, second, to multiply, remain dormant (without necessarily presenting more than ‘transient’ symptoms at the site of entry or the rest of the body), and then travel and cause harm?

    From observation, a flea, larger than an apparently invisibly small ‘virus cell’, cannot move within even a fairly thin liquid once it has got into it without getting stuck or appearing to drown. How would a virus cell, or a number of virus cells, be able to swim within blood and discharges in order to enter the ‘lymph’, and from the lymph enter other parts of the body, especially as the spaces between ‘cells’ and cavities within the body are not said to constitute a hospitable environment, and cells would in any case at some stage need to leave the spaces or cavities in order to enter the body itself? On the other hand, if they could travel with ease within all bodily fluids, why can they not enter the body via mucous or saliva? Whatever the consistency, or viscosity, of different bodily fluids in different environments (eg, blood can vary in thickness, and colour), it seems implausible that an invisibly small virus cell, or its descendants, would be able to leave the area they have inhabited and travel within the body.

    Fourth, the process of replication seems unclear. The virus is said to replicate within the human body, since the spaces between ‘cells’ and cavities within the body are not said to constitute a hospitable environment for reproduction (which is consistent with the stated fact that they cannot live outside the body and makes the explanation of cell alteration more coherent, if not more plausible). It is said to replicate by first binding to, and then entering, the host cell, and injecting its DNA (said to be converted into DNA by an agent within the host cell) into the nucleus of the host cell. It is not clear, first, how it would be able to enter the cell. The fusing of membranes would be more plausible if the viral cell and host cell were of a similar size, or the viral cell were larger, but a blood cell is said to be sixty times larger than the viral ‘capsid’. Nor is it clear why the injection of ‘DNA’ , which is information, would lead to the creation of new life, as the two have a different ontological status: ie, one is abstract and one is concrete, in the sense of being living matter. Also, the explanation of replication suggests that the creation of the new viral cell is dependent upon interaction with the host cell, rather than simply finding the host a hospitable environment, even if it does not actually blur the distinction between reproduction of viral cells and alteration of host cells. That a decaying life form, including a viral cell, might produce a new organism seems possible from observation of nature. But there is no satisfactory explanation of why a viral cell, imperceptible to the senses, is able to reproduce with, and otherwise alter the host cell, only an assertion that this is the case. Also, whether or not the literature attempts to explain this, it also seems implausible that either the initial cell or its offspring would be able to leave the host cell with ease in order to continue the process of reproduction and alteration of cells elsewhere in the body.

    Fifth, it seems unlikely that cells would be able to replicate in sufficient numbers in areas such as lymph nodes in order later to cause harm throughout the body. If they have not been perceptible at the site of entry, how likely are they, according to common sense (which is based on our experience and memory of comparable events), to pose a threat to the rest of the body? On the other hand, if they need to alter cells in other parts of the body in order to do harm, and there also does not appear to be a clear distinction between replication and alteration of cells, is it likely that they would remain at the site of entry for up to several years, rather than travel earlier, also to make their possible eradication (for example, through surgery) less likely?
    Sixth, a virus cell, if such a thing existed, would not be able to cause harm. If it can only survive in the human body, if this is the only environment in which it can obtain nourishment and which is not dangerous to it, how would destroying its host create a better environment? If the reason is that it does not expect to survive its host and gains an advantage in the short term, then, setting aside the question of whether this is how nature, as opposed to humanity, behaves, how would any number of virus cells be able to do damage to a living being? Although not said to be the case with HIV infection, one would think that subsequent exposure would be of relevance if harm increases with the number of cells present, and especially if the body becomes to any extent resistant to an earlier version of the virus . (And that the initial exposure would need to contain above a minimum number of viral cells such that below that number would pose no risk, either immediately or as a result of reproduction if introduced in a hypothetical AIDS vaccine).

    Assuming its motive was to obtain nourishment from the host, including from feeding on it and its nutrients, how would something as small as a virus cell be able to cause harm. From observation, fruit flies may cover the skin of, for example, an apple, but cannot penetrate it in order to gain the nourishment within it. Could any number of virus cells pass through any skin, or membrane, within the body, in order to harm its tissues or organs? Small flies may enter relatively solid fruits that have had their skins removed, but they do not appear to alter the fruit’s shape substantially or cause it to decay or dry any faster than if they were not present, and, in fact, seem to feed less on the fruit itself than the mould that appears on it as it decays, so that the flies’ effect appears to be, in some way, beneficial. But if the virus’s intention was to consume a part of the body, in which case the HIV virus is essentially the ‘flesh eating bug’ that was discovered some time after the discovery of the HIV virus, how could something invisibly small erode the human body? How much damage can something invisibly small do over whatever length of time and by whatever number it is multiplied? Common sense suggests that a virus cell that cannot live outside the human body would not live for a long time or multiply rapidly and in great numbers inside it. In any case, would the virus cells not seek to regulate their number so as to maintain a hospitable environment? But, however long they lived, and however rapidly and by whatever number they multiplied, something that is initially invisible will not multiply to something with mass.

    Given the size of the virus cell, the mechanism could not be physical force: no matter how great their number, something as small as a virus cell – even if it existed – would not be able to overpower a host. The ‘cells’ of the body are apparently invisible to the eye but, when multiplied, make up tissue and organs, whereas HIV virus cells cannot be seen by the eye (as, for example, one sees particles of dust when a light is shone on them), whatever their number. However, even if something invisible to the eye did exist, which is unlikely, something that is so small that it is invisible would not be able to harm the body, no matter how many were present. This is because the capacity of a large number of cells to inflict harm, including as they die, is not substantially greater than that of the individual cell (as, for example, a number of very small simultaneous stings will not hurt significantly more than one sting, and as the sound of several birds singing will not be significantly louder than that of the song of one bird). A very large number of very small viral cells would therefore not be able to overwhelm the body by force, including through obstruction.
    But nor would it possible for the mechanism of harm to be toxicity. Usually something toxic has a taste or a smell, for example, a food that is no longer fresh or a product that contains dead organisms (eg, ammonia), especially if it contains water. But the HIV virus is said to be a living organism that has no smell or taste, for example, when isolated in numbers on a slide. A toxin that enters the body will harm it according to the nature and amount of the toxin, usually initially, and the body will generally recover. Examples of toxins include those medicines that cause unpleasant side effects and rotten food (which is likely to make the person feel unwell and which is usually expelled). From observation, it seems impossible that, since they appear to have no toxic qualities, including smell, when isolated, including after they have died, that viral cells would become so toxic within the body as to cause symptoms or kill the person.

    Although the virus is said to weaken and kill cells (for example, the ‘T cells’ that normally fight infection), if the mechanism is alteration rather than cell death (which would be the case, for instance, with cancer, where the virus would presumably become an agent or catalyst, or the initial one, of cell proliferation), how would it be able to do so? How would a virus cell, or a part of it, be able to cause a harmful alteration in the tissues or organs of the human body if not by force or through some toxic quality? The process is sometimes asserted and sometimes explained in terms such that it appears to be coherent but which is either not consistent with observation of nature or seems to contradict common sense, which is an abstraction from observation . In any case, the diseases that viral cells are said to cause are themselves likely to be fictitious. For example, there is not a consistent account of what a cancerous cell looks like, i.e., of what distinguishes it from non- malignant cells or from the tissue of benign tumours (so that a diagnosis of malignancy may be made according to invasion of surrounding tissue rather than by cell pathology), but nor is it clear how a cancerous cell can invade, or otherwise affect, surrounding cells and tissue, nor how it could break away and travel to distant organs, nor how it would ultimately kill, i.e., whether it is through the alteration, destruction, denial of nutrients, or obstruction of vital organs. It seems likely that lumps in the body are the result of such things as knocks, and represent injury or death of tissue or an obstruction of some sort, although it is possible that some might have a protective purpose (for example, to protect against further injury). And, whether or not there is an attempt to explain, rather than assert, it in the literature, nor is it clear why or how, in the sense of through what mechanism or mechanisms of causation, a viral cell would be able to cause a ‘cluster’ of different illnesses.

    What kills in the case of apparently fatal illnesses such as those associated with AIDS is a cumulative weakening that may be partially caused by medication (prescription or otherwise), especially when there are initial unpleasant side effects, but which may be as likely to be caused by other factors, physical and psychological, in the environment of someone diagnosed with a viral infection (or other disease). These include such things as alcohol, tobacco, and non-prescription medications and well as narcotics, which either weaken or else stimulate and then weaken, introduce toxins into the body, cause diarrhoea or constipation (which can cause headaches and occasionally fainting), encourage anorexia, depress or confuse and cause poor decision making, make one more susceptible to colds and respiratory illnesses (especially if one believes one ‘catches’ them from others), and as well to night sweats, rashes and spots, which are the body’s response to fatigue, cold, heat, dehydration or over hydration, and malnourishment, which, at the same time, the body may be less able to recognise and to respond to). Other factors include surgery, which weakens, at least temporarily, so increasing the risk from other depressants, because of anaesthesia or blood loss; poor diet (insufficient calories, food that is not fresh or rotten or includes ingredients derived from toxins); environmental factors, particularly inadequate heating, extreme heat, fluctuations in temperature, and gas emissions; excessive physical exercise or overwork, or too little exercise; insomnia, or too much sleep. In addition, and perhaps decisive, is the psychological stress and fatalism caused by the belief that one has a potentially fatal illness. As you do not need gravity to explain why things fall to earth, you do not need cancer and HIV/AIDS to explain why people who have received a diagnosis of either might eventually fall ill.

    In 1985, HIV infection was reported to be the cause of a group of illnesses affecting homosexuals, heroin users, and Haitians (hhh). Although there is now a test for HIV infection that can be carried out in the home, the results still need to be obtained from a laboratory. Whether or not a vaccine would be safe and effective, apparently promising trials, for example, in Thailand ten years ago, have come to nothing. Although life expectancies for those testing ‘HIV positive’ are now said to be near normal, a diagnosis will narrow life choices and create fear. Although there is said to be a global food crisis, it seems unlikely that nature would present insurmountable problems such that humanity’s survival would depend on inventing and treating fictitious illnesses, while intended rational decisions about the targeting of individuals and populations will have been made, even on their own terms (for example, the economic and environmental consequences), in error.

  3. Quin Finnegan says:

    Disease and perhaps even Death itself are “fictions” … there’s something beautiful in that, Louise. Thank you.

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Louise Orrock says:

    If I’d known I was going to get that sort of reply I wouldn’t have posted it.

  5. Merry Christmas, JOB and all Korrektivians. Evocative poem, and you have earned a first class hangover.

  6. Merry Christmas to you too. Thanks so much, you’re wonderful.

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