The Underground Lady [Page Thirty-Three]

To be chronically ill means that you hardly ever get sick, at least not in any noticeable way.  After a while, those around you begin to suspect that their categorizing of you as “ill” is somehow inaccurate, since we have been trained to think of the ill as being violently and obviously so.  The slow degradations of chronic illness are not as visible—and those who suffer them are often afflicted a second time with guilt in the face of those who feel that they are being denied some spectacle owed to them for their sympathy.  The entire mass of confusion over the matter is often enough to make everyone involved feel pathetic and inadequate.  This is illness.

**

**

There is a peculiar grace to sickness.  It is usually associated with conditions that cause extreme emaciation.  When the outward human form begins to mirror that of its underlying structure, we feel strangely compelled to consider it more sacred.

**

**

The Christ on the cross is emaciated—painters have been capitalizing on this image for centuries.  Even Dali’s Christ is bone-thin.

**

**

Doing something simple like taking a drink of water when one is sick can be a chore.  One feels everything more, and the feeling of water descending one’s throat is not natural.  One should not be aware of such things.

**

**

Words are no comfort in sickness.  Whomever first thought that reading the Bible at a death-watch was a good idea was mad.

**

**

As annoying as religion is in times of sickness, politics is even worse.  To be ill, to be deathly ill, forces one to see political rhetoric for what it is: graffiti.  Television news is the worst, but all forms of political debate come clear as a blot on the landscape in these moments.

**

**

I have always felt that I was quite susceptible to chills.  As a result, I wear several layers of clothing, even in the summertime.  Along with insomnia, this is one of my many constant conditions.  Of course this is not the underlying sickness that I speak of. 

**

**

The truth is that I love my sickness.  I even warm myself in it at times.  But then, I have no choice.

**

**

The Underground Lady has just pointed out to me that the last statement is not exactly true.  I could end it, she tells me.  But suicide seems a disappointing end to a long cherished, well developed illness.  Besides, who knows how many more fragments I might get out of it?

**

**

Some people are appalled by my attitude toward the sick.  I have no sympathy for them.  I treat them like everyone else—exactly like everyone else.  I do not like being around them, and I tend to want them to get better quickly, and not to complain too much.  Of course, it is healthy people who object to my indifference toward my fellow invalids.  Really the healthy are just trying to maintain their own sense of separateness.

**

**

Sickness takes up much of my time.  One friend (healthy, once again) found the tone of my remarks upon visiting a mutual acquaintance who was in hospital for some surgery, to be so outrageous and careless that he asked me to step out into the hall, away from the sick-bed, so he could have a word with me.  “Nonsense,” the man in the bed said, “if he wants to be blunt, let him.”  See.  The sick understand each other.  And our mutual friend was left feeling foolish and out of place.

**

**

No one should be sick for more than ten minutes.  You’ve been reading these passages about illness for far less than that, and already you’re tired of it, aren’t you?

**

**

The most delicate dreams come to one in sickness.  They are made out of filigrees of pure darkness.

**

**

What we see through the screen of our perception is not reality, and it is not illusion either.  It is the end.  It is the end of the world and of everything, and it happens continuously.  The conception of one final apocalypse is childish.  In every moment, we witness apocalypse.  The universe is nothing but a series of horrendous catastrophes.

**

**

Music calms in sickness, before the discomfort gets too extreme, and then nothing will do.

Advertisements

About this entry