Tag Archives: Sickness

Marginalia, no.245

It was also said of Descartes that he entertained the sick with mathematics.

~ Gaby Wood, Edison’s Eve

Oscar Wilde writes in De Profundis that friends have a right to share in each other’s sufferings and when denied that right may pound at the door till admitted. It could only have been violence like this that persuaded Descartes’ friends to let him into their sick rooms. As Job once discovered, there are friends for sickness and friends for health. We hope they know which kind they are.

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Marginalia, no.235

Love and Cough cannot be hid.

~ George Herbert, Outlandish Proverbs

Apparently I always think of this when I’m sick. A potion to inspire the one, a syrup to cure the other. From Solomon’s Song to Burton’s Anatomy, love and sickness go hand in hand. The wife and kids have had the flu this past week. It’s my turn now. The muscles in my right thigh ache. There’s a canker sore inside my lower lip. I spend all day blowing Rorschach tests into handfuls of tissue. But someone made a mistake. Love – at least in its more vigorous forms – is out of the question.

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Marginalia, no.181

When he was sick he was busy, as though about to hatch something or operate on himself. He scarcely replied to questions, not because he was bad tempered but because he was concentrating: the better he was at being ill, the less time he would have to spend on it.

~ Nicolas Bouvier, The Way of the World

In the garden of Eden no one had much to say and no one got sick. If there was ever such thing as a primordial fall from grace, it was when Adam first opened his mouth to blab about the flowers. That’s when people started catching flu. I lay more immediate blame for my current cold on the man who sat behind me on the train and spent thirty minutes rapturously yawning and sighing. He must have been sick, or else drunk. But his exhalations smelled more of bacteria than alcohol.  My father: now there’s a man who knew how to be sick, like Bouvier’s friend. He would close himself in his room and not say a word or get out of bed until he was well – and it never took more than a day or two. If I don’t get over colds faster than I do, it’s probably because I never shut up.

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Marginalia, no.125

Love and Cough cannot be hid.

~ George Herbert, Outlandish Proverbs
 
Tubercular cough is visible on an X-ray.  Love is more subtle, or else unsubtle enough to confound subtle means of detection.  Dr Krokowski lectures in The Magic Mountain on the sympathetic relation between love and sickness.  Maybe we can see them as cousinish forms of a more comprehensive malady – call it ‘Human Swooning.’  For weeks now my poor wife has suffered coughing fits that leave her useless ten minutes at a time.  After a specially bad fit this past weekend she looked at me with tears in her eyes, flushed and wheezing, and I thought: ‘See how much she loves me.’

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