I’ll be lecturing on “Metaphor as Illness” at the School of Visual Arts this Sunday, at 1:30 P.M., in a double-header with media theorist McKenzie Wark.
Executive Summary: A personal essay—live, from the cancer ward!—that is simultaneously a philosophical investigation into the ways in which disease widens the Cartesian chasm, untethering our thought balloons from the Body in Pain.
Directions, program, list of speakers, HERE.
During my recent hospitalization for a medical emergency—an unexpected vacation in hell, during which I had boundless hours to muse about Illness as Metaphor and The Body in Pain—I conceived the essay in question, an essay that simply had to be written, as a meditation on language, embodiment, language as embodiment, and the ontologically dislocating experience of being a patient. Drawing on my five-year tour of duty through ER’s, OR’s, and hospital wards as a cancer patient, the lecture in question combines a cultural criticism reminiscent of Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor with the mordant humor of Christopher Hitchens’s recent reports on his battle with the Big C. It’s a philosophical inquiry into the existential black comedy of being a patient—Burton’s Melancholy of Anatomy, reimagined as an episode of the cynical medical drama House.
It’s also one of the best things I’ve ever written—a closely observed, unsparingly honest, emotionally raw self-anatomization that manages, even so, to be philosophically probing, I think.