Tuesday 26th of September 2023

of cash, spray-cans and the doorway to culture...


The left is often conflicted, not because of the choice between caffe latte or camomile tea in a fashionable downtown café, but between a lot of other stuff such as the extent of freedom, the power of money, the choice of gender, feminism and the importance of protection (defence) — all of which are somewhat dependent of cash as much as ideals in the present Western system. There are a lot of grey (progressive) areas, including that of social justice, forgiveness and redemption — and a lot of guilt.




We should know that “the other side”, the right, is boloney, rabid, duplicitous, savagely capitalistic, etc, but the reality is that the right-wing people don’t have any qualms about being who they are. They are proud of being racist, rich, sexist, ruthless capitalists, though they will claim they are not racist, nor sexist while admitting to their love of money. And if they are a bit too obnoxious, they become extraordinarily charitable through tax escapism called the philanthropy of their choice.



Welcome to the hypocritical political hubris that drives our social conscience and to a great extend our culture(s).






When the top man at The New York Times publishes a sober statement about a meeting he had with the president in which he describes instructing Trump about the problem of his “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” and then three days later the paper announces that it has hired a writer who has tweeted about her hatred of white people, of Republicans, of cops, of the president, of the need to stop certain female writers and journalists from “existing,” and when this new hire will not be a beat reporter, but will sit on the paper’s editorial board—having a hand in shaping the opinions the paper presents to the world—then it is no mystery that a parallel culture of ideas has emerged to replace a corrupted system. When even Barack Obama, the poet laureate of identity politics, is moved to issue a message to the faithful, hinting that that they could be tipping their hand on all of this—saying during a speech he delivered in South Africa that a culture is at a dead end when it decides someone has no “standing to speak” if he is a white man—and when even this mayday is ignored, the doomsday clock ticks ever closer to the end.


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Is this presaging the death of "identity" politics. Especially that of the “left” since it's near impossible to kill the rodents of the right?



The present left profits from the sins of the right, through capitalism. And the right knows and exploit this. Long gone is the ideal of socialism. Even the left in the Western world has severed its original ties to the culture of officially-sharing regime. Workers are now bankers... So there are people who shake the apple tree, such as spray-can "artists" (frustrated thugs) or like Jordan Peterson, a Canadian philosopher. He expressed feelings to people who have been frustrated by the left and its too-goody two-shoes approach which tends to destroy self-motivation without proposing a truer social value other than plod through — dragging resented capitalism like a chain and ball...





The alarms sounded when Peterson published what quickly became a massive bestseller, 12 Rules for Life, because books are something that the left recognizes as drivers of culture. The book became the occasion for vicious profiles and editorials, but it was difficult to attack the work on ideological grounds, because it was an apolitical self-help book that was at once more literary and more helpful than most, and that was moreover a commercial success. All of this frustrated the critics. It’s just common sense! they would say, in one arch way or another, and that in itself was telling: Why were they so angry about common sense?

The critics knew the book was a bestseller, but they couldn’t really grasp its reach because people like them weren’t reading it, and because it did not originally appear on The New York Times’s list, as it was first published in Canada. However, it is often the bestselling nonfiction book on Amazon, and—perhaps more important—its audiobook has been a massive seller. As with Peterson’s podcasts and videos, the audience is made up of people who are busy with their lives—folding laundry, driving commercial trucks on long hauls, sitting in traffic from cubicle to home, exercising. This book was putting words to deeply held feelings that many of them had not been able to express before.




The left has an obvious and pressing need to unperson him; what he and the other members of the so-called “intellectual dark web” are offering is kryptonite to identity politics. 






So what is culture? What is the culture of identity politics?



Is culture the tradition of wearing colourful clothes, funny hats with dangling meaningful trinkets and dancing in the same steps that the family always did since time began in the village, where the idiot resides?… Is culture following the latest hair fashion in women’s magazines and/or buying a Hermés bag with gold trims, because we can do without looking at the price tag, while dismissing the poor because they show their resentment for your “hard work” which was no more than playing the stock market skilfully or having employed the poor wretches who also resent being paid peanuts? Is culture the counter-culture with spray-cans in which fake nihilism pervades with the same grubby grabby attitude as the rich who “rob” you in the first place? Is culture a way to admire kings’ castles along the Danube River or see Chambord as a masterpiece of Da Vinci's (?) Renaissance, representing the new wave of thinking while the whole of Europe was at war with itself? Have we moved on from kings and peasants in our political identity culture? Well, not much...



Is culture, the way America is exporting “democracy” by waging wars to countries that do not want it? Does culture need political correctness?



So why are so many people flocking to Jordan Bernt Peterson's ramblings? 

Is this a new freedom culture or the rehash of old views in new wrappers on new platforms? In the 1960s, people were walking naked and tits were exposed on a few Aussie beaches with no questions asked… Then tits were hidden because it offended some “cultures” and a few prunes — the prudes from the main tight-arsed religious culture. Now the Byron Bay people want the right to expose their breast on the beach without being ostracised, nor being sexualised... Great culture as long as you don't get sunburnt nipples.



Is it because Jordan rebels a bit against political correctness that has been enshrined in laws that do nothing much to educate us about what the debate is about? What is the debate again? Ah yes. About the left being caught up in PC… while the right does not care one iota about the poor people "who cannot feed themselves” — possibly because "they are too lazy and do not want to work."



So, culture is defined as "the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively…. and as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society". Hum... A bit sterile...



We should know by now that there are many cultures within a singular social context, a bit like many musicians in an orchestra. The music that is being played will dictate the harmony or the dissonance.



What remains of our culture is not the people, but the scripts, the buildings and the traditions. We preciously guards the manuscripts be it the bible or the score of the 9th Beethoven symphony. We preserve and restore our buildings, crumbing or not, except when the culture and fashion changes, or "money changes hands". Culture tends to last a bit more than fashion though — except when money enters the equation. Picasso becomes main-stream.



Church towers are replaced by minaret and this creates conflicts. Our secularity managed to get rid of the religious hubris, but a new hubris is trying to take its place. The right goes up in arms about this, as they still hang on to the Christian hubris, while the left is more lenient with a generosity of spirit in sharing but resenting secretly that secularity is under threat. The orchestra is not playing together anymore. The culture is made of broken bits. The only equalising through-line is the cost of things, debt and cash. It’s not really equalising as some are richer than others, but in term of philosophy, money is ruling the roost. Culture is cash. Cash is culture. 



Meanwhile, we need to protect the poor and the vulnerable from the vultures... Hence some laws preventing vilification... etc. You know the rest.




Gus Leonisky



Your local light-weight cultural fighter

pretty curtains...

pretty curtains...pretty curtains...

the end of corporate democrats?...



House noted there has been a lot of pressure put on progressives to push to make sure Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House. However, "They only keep her on because she's ‘the best fundraiser in the party,'" he told hosts Garland Nixon and Lee Stranahan. But with the Democratic Party millions of dollars in debt, House noted that "she's clearly not doing her job."

Tlaib's soft rejection of Pelosi last week was nothing new for her: back in May, she tweeted that "we're changing the Democratic Party, getting rid of sellout Democrats, and making sure this is a party for and by the people!"


It's over for cowardly corporate Dems, together with groups like @People4Bernie@BoldProgressive @DFAaction @justicedems @UFCW876, we're changing the Democratic Party, getting rid of sellout Democrats, and making sure this is a party for and by the people!

— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) May 17, 2018


​The mainstream Democrats are fighting a war on two fronts; they're fighting Trump on one hand, but also fighting the left of their own party: progressive liberals and democratic socialists. Emily's List, a powerful political action committee that endorses pro-choice liberal candidates for office, has nonetheless declined to support left-wing female candidates critical of the Democratic center, such as Ocasio-Cortez and Cynthia Nixon, both of whom have claimed membership in the Democratic Socialists of America.

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the socialist/capitalist buck...

Support for capitalism among younger voters has dropped drastically, a new Gallup poll reveals. The US establishment’s refusal to see this shift has resulted in Trump’s election, philosopher Slavoj Zizek tells RT.

According to the poll, 57 percent of Democrats view socialism positively. Only 47 percent view capitalism positively, down from 56 percent in 2010.

Across political lines, young Americans (aged 18-29) in general are split on capitalism and socialism. 51 percent of Americans aged 18-29 view socialism positively, while 45 percent view capitalism positively, down 12 points in just two years.


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the beginning of doom... or A Bullshit Crap?

A 1973 Australian news report has resurfaced, predicting the end of the world with the help of MIT researchers and a supercomputer. The end of days is apparently due in 2040, with a major global change slated for 2020.

If you trust MIT’s world-renowned expertise, 2040 is when “civilized life as we know it” will come to an end. That’s what researchers from the Institute predicted back in 1973, with the help of a program named World One and one of the largest computers in the world back then, located in Australia.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation republished its original report, putting it online and giving the internet two years to panic (or prepare) considering the countdown is on to 2020 when a major change is set to occur in the lead-up to the world’s impending doom.


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At this stage, THERE ARE NO ABC PUBLICATION MATCHING ANY OF THIS... It looks like a hoax that has been republished in many papers around the world with NOT A SINGLE LINK TO THE REPORT. We shall investigate...


A video looking like "old ABC footage" though can be seen at: 



It is possible that the footage was leaked to Express.co... but not published on ABC.


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not married at first sight...


By Daniel De Carlo

The decline of marriage in the United States has become a cause for hand wringing, especially among our ruling class of centrist pundits who man the battlestations of our nation’s indispensable middle-brow newspapers. The emerging conventional wisdom? The current, well documented and precipitous decline in marriage has been caused by a confluence of social and economic forces: the mainstreaming of the ‘60– well, really ‘70’s– free love ethos, currently manifesting itself in the form of “hookup culture,” declining male wages (thus making said males less marriageable in the so-called “sexual marketplace”), as well as the phenomenon of “extended adolescence.”

The popular conservative response to this, aside from the predictable moans of general moralistic disapproval, has consisted mostly of admonitions to young men to “Man up,” or a more general appeal to both sexes about the utilitarian benefits of marriage and family.

Though such talking points have been staples of center-right sociological analysis for decades, few have expressed the true essence of this line of thought in as succinent and popular a form as the (now) world-famous Canadian professor of psychology and YouTube self-help guru Jordan B. Peterson.

Peterson, though he also frequently hits many of the same talking points as, say, Ross Douthat and Charles Murray, goes a step further and takes a firm stand, not just against the decline of marriage, but against the very idea of romance itself:

Romance is a young person’s game, and the reason for that is, obviously, the precursor to having children…The purpose of romance isn’t lifetime happiness. First of all that’s insane, because you’re just not going to find a person that’s going to make you happy…The purpose of romance is to set up the preconditions for having children and doing it properly.

To many conservative sensibilities Peterson’s advice may seem like common sense, even an appropriate response to what has been perceived as a drift away from the “traditional values” of the stoic mid-century suburban lifestyle practiced by the Greatest Generation and toward the self-absorbed narcissism of the Baby Boomers during the latters’ half-century quest for self-actualization.

The problem with this analysis is that, for all their many flaws, the Boomers were generally quite fond of marriage (to the point that they frequently did it multiple times throughout their lives). The Boomers, whatever else they were, were romantics; they frequently did not let being married to others get in the way of their romances.


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"You should try to live like a peasant with 17 kids in the dark ages..." Martino Vigneroni

the guru is sick...

When I look at the people who despise [Jordan] Peterson most, on the other hand, they are people who help no one — most of them being social-media addicts and literary mediocrities who could walk Toronto streets from dawn till dusk without a single person recognizing them, let alone thanking them for their work. So if you’re looking for demons, which fits the role more perfectly: the troubled academic who took medication to deal with his wife’s cancer and the strains of life in the public spotlight — or the social-justice hashtag sadists who revel in his misery?

Self-help guru Peterson became addicted to benzodiazepine tranquilizers and was recently near death in an induced coma, his daughter Mikhaila said.

He is being treated at a clinic in Russia after being repeatedly misdiagnosed at several hospitals in North America, she said.

The University of Toronto psychologist who became an intellectual hero to a global audience by aligning self-help theory with anti-progressive politics was first prescribed the medication a few years ago to treat anxiety after what Mikhaila described as an autoimmune reaction to food. His physical dependence on it became apparent to his family last April, when his wife Tammy was diagnosed with cancer.   
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Peterson views have been the subject of counter-arguments on this site. Not that we matter much in our littleness. We value life as it is and we generally do not follow “scientific consensus" blindly.

We know that that statistics about human behaviour and choices are never pure. For example LGBTQI groups fear they will have to ‘cosy up’ to local MPs to get invitation-only grants. Change to application process has some community groups worried they may be discriminated against. LGBTQI is one of Peterson's bugbear who wishes to rekindle the maleness virility which “has suffered” via feminism push and the “no-fault” divorce…

In regard to this “group" (LGBTQI), discrimination has been horrid in the past, brought on mostly in the last 150 years by a “Victorian” English bigotry, though homosexuality had been practiced for millenniums. In our modern democracy, trying to reverse discrimination through laws is not ideal, yet somewhat necessary in order to limit victimisation — while the fear of “contamination” of the youth is strong in the conservative families. Often such groups (LGBTQI), like Christians at the beginning of their journey, find comfort in “togetherness”, though they are made up of individuals who have suffered their own angst and victimisation from the society at large. 

Peterson doubts the scientific consensus on climate change, being skeptical of the models that are used to predict climate change, and that too much ideology is involved. Here, we had to do our own research and short of repeating every experiments since Torricelli on weather patterns and the behaviour of gases in the atmosphere, we had to agree with the consensus — except to find the consensus is too restrained. Peterson is a closet Christian. 

In a 2017 interview, Peterson was asked if he was a Christian; he responded, "I suppose the most straight-forward answer to that is yes". When asked if he believes in God, Peterson responded: "I think the proper response to that is No, but I'm afraid He might exist". Writing for The Spectator, Tim Lott said Peterson draws inspiration from Jung's philosophy of religion and holds views similar to the Christian existentialism of Søren Kierkegaard and Paul Tillich. Lott also said that Peterson has respect for Taoism, as it views nature as a struggle between order and chaos and posits that life would be meaningless without this duality.

The Spectator is a repository of conservatism and fake news about many things that do not fit a populist right political movement.

And the old duality between order and chaos is expressed in Christianity by "god and the devil".

As a pure “existentialist”, Gus Leonisky can say that life being meaningless, there is no struggle between order and chaos and that order is a form of chaos while chaos is a form of order. There is no duality, but change(s) towards entropy. But this is another story. At our level, the human level, we invent stories in order to avoid the meaninglessness of life — while we forget the quality of our transient beingness which allow us individuals a small "often rewarding" relationship with space, energy and time.

So Peterson is sick… May he recover well and reassess the value of little things that can change our perceptions and ability to live. Some substances, even in small quantities, can modify our senses and reactivities. Benzodiazepine tranquilizers — or even aspirin — cannot be use in quantities such as food, yet a small tablet can greatly modify our consciousness of pain. Small quantities of stuff can change entire systems, Such as addition of CO2 to the atmosphere induces warming. 

May Jordan become more tolerant of the different. 

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ah... he's no guru...

I’m not quite sure what to make of Jordan Peterson—but then I’m not quite sure Dr. Peterson does either. Maybe that’s what makes his writings and his speeches so compelling. His best-selling book,12 Rules for Life, probably falls in the self-help genre, but he’s no guru. He doesn’t claim to have all the answers to life’s problems—just a few helpful tips. And he presents those answers with hard evidence and emotional detachment, as any good scientist would. 


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Apologies for having written that Peterson was a "guru"... The science of behaviour is an iffy one (it's partly an art form) — and this is why we have politics, in which various IDEAS are canvassed about how best humans can relate. These ideas are influenced by many things and to counterspeak like Voltaire's Candide: "everything is imperfect in the most imperfect of the worlds".


See, amongst many posts, these most recent ones:


the bus timetable to heaven...


sorry, amish, science cannot be decided by a democratic vote... you know this of course...



too many variables to achieve absolute perfection...



As written is the post above, may Jordan recover well and understand the influence of small things in minute quantities such as CO2. May I also attract his and your attention to Preliminary exploration of happiness...


less pills, more care...

Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson chose Russia for his detox because the country's medical industry is less dependent on big pharma than North America’s, his daughter Mikhaila told RT's World Apart program.

Peterson, who rose to fame for his vocal and unapologetic opposition to extreme political correctness, has been struggling with an addiction to the drug clonazepam for over a year now. The benzodiazepine-class tranquilizer was prescribed to the University of Toronto professor and author of bestselling book ‘12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos’ in 2017, to tackle anxiety caused by his lasting autoimmune problems. But the addiction only became apparent to the family last year when the psychologist's wife was diagnosed with cancer, from which she has now recovered.

Prominent health vlogger Mikhaila Peterson, who has struggled with harsh autoimmune problems of her own – but managed to solve them by developing the so-called ‘Lion Diet’ – said that her father tried to quit the drug by going 'cold turkey’, but it led to "horrific withdrawal," putting his life at risk.

Going to Russia for treatment at the start of the year was a "terrifying decision" for the family, Mikhaila confessed to host Oksana Boyko, as it's not something people from the West usually do.


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We wish Jordan a proper recovery...

we wish him the best...

 How I Became a Sick Person


By Ross Douthat


The long-term form of Covid-19 has something in common with other forms of chronic illness — strange and varied symptoms, lasting debilitation, no certain treatment. But unlike other such conditions, which tend to creep up on society, long-haul Covid arrived suddenly, creating a large pool of sufferers in a short period of time and afflicting frontline medical workers and younger patients in large numbers.

This created a sense of immediacy and urgency absent from other chronic-illness debates and a constituency for research and treatment among a population — doctors, especially — that’s often skeptical of difficult patients and mystery illnesses.

But already with long Covid you can see the usual structure of chronic-illness controversies reasserting itself. Recent articles in The Atlantic and The New Yorker cover the emerging lines of debate, which pit patient advocates urgently seeking treatment against scientists following cautious research protocols.

Meanwhile, among friends naturally inclined to skepticism, I can see the initial sympathy inspired by long Covid giving way to the doubtfulness that hangs around chronic fatigue syndrome, or fibromyalgia, or the chronic form of Lyme disease. Liberals who eye-roll at the enthusiasm for, say, ivermectin may do the same for the weirder experiments in treating chronic Covid symptoms. Conservatives who are critical of liberal public-health policies increasingly regard long-term Covid as a kind of blue-state hypochondria.


I understand these ideas because for a long time, despite close relationships with people who suffered from chronic illness, I shared some of them. Most notably, I shared a common idea of what chronic illness is like — imagining a kind of Victorian fainting-couch experience, a hyperactive fixation on tingles and twinges, an exaggerated version of the fatigue that comes after you’ve stayed up with a newborn or the aches you feel after exercising for the first time in months.

Then I got sick myself.

It was the spring of 2015, and my wife and I were moving, with our two young daughters, from Washington, D.C., to Connecticut, where we had both grown up. I had always nursed a fantasy of escaping the metropolis for rural isolation, and after our Capitol Hill rowhouse sold for an absurdly appreciated figure, we plowed the money into a 1790s New England farmhouse with three acres of pastureland, a barn and an apple tree, a guest cottage and a pool.

It was expensive, a definite reach, but we were young, energetic and healthy, and a reach was what I particularly wanted — a place that would force me outside, tear me away from the internet, the sedentary pundit’s life. On the day the house inspection revealed a daunting list of issues, I walked the overgrown paths on the property, watching a family of deer dart through the meadow. Then I looked up at the main house perched above me and thought with satisfaction: Yes, this is what I want.

A few days later we were back in Washington, having set up the closing dates so that we could spend the summer wrapping up our old life. It was a rainy morning. I awoke with a stiff neck and went to the bathroom to find a red swelling, a painful lymph node just down from my left ear.

I came out and sat rubbing my neck, and my wife came up behind me, her voice unusual: “Ross.”

She was holding a pregnancy test, the telltale strip faint but clear. Our third child.


But after I fist-pumped and we embraced, after I went out into the rain to take our daughters to their nursery school, my mind and fingers kept circling back to the discomfort in my neck. So I went to a walk-in clinic in the heart of Capitol Hill and let a young internist take a look.

“It’s just a boil,” he said after a cursory inspection. “Nothing to worry about.”

Nothing to worry about was exactly what I wanted to hear, but the next two weeks were less soothing. My neck began to feel intermittently stiff and painful and I developed what felt like a … vibration in my head. On the afternoon before I was supposed to take a trip to Europe, there was a stabbing sensation around my teeth and discomfort sharp enough to call a headache. My mother-in-law arrived that evening, to help with the kids while I was gone. While she and my wife went out to eat, I put my daughters to bed and made dinner for myself. It was my last ordinary meal.

By the time my wife and her mother got home, my whole body had gone haywire somehow, as though someone had twisted dials randomly in all my systems. I had pain all over my chest and bowels, a gagging feeling in my throat, a vibratory sensation everywhere. I searched online for “heart attack” and “stroke” and “panic attack,” but nothing seemed to fit. I tried to sleep, but I felt like a tuning fork on the mattress. Finally at 5 a.m. I went to the emergency room.

While I was there the wave receded. The blood tests came back normal, the doctors murmured about stress, and around noontime I went home again, canceling my trip but hoping that it was just a mysterious episode that would quickly pass.

The next day I felt the way you feel in the last days of a lingering fever — dizzy and disoriented, my body slightly disassociated from itself. Except this feeling persisted no matter what I did. The pain that had started in my neck was jumping around — now stabbing sensations in my spine, now prickling and tingling in my extremities. And beneath it was a feeling of invasion, of something inside my veins and muscles that wasn’t supposed to be there.

So I began going to doctors and taking tests. I had my stool and urine tested repeatedly. I underwent cranial and abdominal scans and a tilt table test. The only irregular result came from a neurologist, who told me I had some sort of peripheral neuropathy and recommended exercise and more hydration. (Maybe drink more Gatorade — for the electrolytes.)

The other doctors prescribed sleeping pills, mild antidepressants and Xanax. Stress, they said. Too much going on in your life.


I did feel stressed now, but the illness felt like the reason rather than the symptom, and my mind was the only part of me that worked. I could still write columns, normally enough that I didn’t have to tell my editors how awful I was feeling. (That was the summer when Donald Trump descended the Trump Tower escalator and politics became a fever dream as well.) And I could analyze my symptoms with what seemed like my old familiar reasoning powers, even if my self-diagnosis kept shifting based on which online source I read.

Around this time, New York magazine published an interview witha physician who had lived with undiagnosed Lyme disease for years, eventually acquiring a heart condition that required a transplant. The article came with an illustration of a man’s body spider-webbed with filaments, like something out of H.P. Lovecraft.

His symptomology resembled mine; the “boil” could have been a tick bite. My Lyme test had been reported as a negative, like the other blood tests, but I obtained a copy and saw that one of the “bands” that appear in the presence of Lyme antibodies had appeared in my test. You need five bands to appear, according to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for an official diagnosis. But with exaggerated reasonability, I persuaded the primary care physician I’d been assigned after my E.R. visit to prescribe me the antibiotic doxycycline.

She gave me 10 days’ worth — easily enough, she said, to clear up a Lyme infection. I took it. A few days into the course I began to feel incredibly strong waves of pain, stronger than before, concentrated especially in my joints, my knees and elbows.

Reading online, I encountered descriptions of the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, flares of symptoms that may accompany the large-scale death of bacteria inside the body. Named for two European doctors who identified it in patients treated for syphilis, it was supposed to be common in Lyme patients. So I took the surge of symptoms as a possible confirmation of my guessed-at diagnosis.

Around this time we drove from Washington to Pittsburgh to visit my wife’s sister. Halfway there, somewhere in the Appalachians, I began getting crushing pain across my chest, running up through my left shoulder. At a certain point the blaze was unbearable, and there was nothing to do but tell my wife — quietly, so that the kids couldn’t hear us — that I was having really bad chest pain, and she had to take the wheel. Which she did, maintaining a maternal calm that was more terrifying than panic, and when we reached Pittsburgh she dropped me at an emergency room while she rushed to settle the girls at our hotel.

There was nothing wrong with my heart, the doctors said, no problems they could see. They pushed liquids through my system, rolled me under sensors, talked sympathetically to me and skeptically to one another. I lay wrecked in the E.R. bed. Surely this was the low point, I thought; surely now recovery would begin.


I was wrong. The next day I sweated through a visit to the Pittsburgh Zoo as the chest pain built again, and built, and built, and finally I was back at the E.R. in the evening for the same tests, the same sympathetic but disbelieving attitudes.

When we made it back to Washington I called the primary care doctor, and she dismissed the idea that Lyme and doxycycline together could cause phantom heart attacks. (“The Herxheimer … ?” I said. “That shouldn’t last more than a day,” she said authoritatively.)

So I discarded the Lyme theory and went to another round of doctors — a cardiac specialist, a gastroenterologist. All their tests were negative; each visit ended with the same gentle suggestion that I consider psychological explanations.

Now the chest pain was with me every night and day. Sometimes it came over me when I was watching our little girls, making me terrified that they might watch their father collapse in front of them. At night I sat up with it, trying to decide whether I needed to rush to the E.R. again.

But I was also deep into self-doubt about the reality of my experience. The pain was crushing, but what were mere feelings set against the certainties of so many doctors, the negative readings of my blood?

The tipping point was my session with the head of infectious diseases at a major hospital, an appointment that took six weeks to get and that lasted all of 15 minutes. He listened to an abbreviated version of my story, sighed and leaned backward in his chair.


“Look, we’ve done everything for you,” he said. “If you had an infection, we’d catch it.”

“So what does that mean?” I said weakly. “I’m just in so much pain, Doctor. Can it really all be … stress?”


He spread his hands. “There’s just a lot we don’t understand about the human body,” he said. “A lot of mystery, you know? But you’re young and healthy, you’ll feel better. The important thing is that we can rule things out — that’s what we do here.”

Then, into the awkward silence: “And if you need a mental-health referral, we can definitely help with that.”

So I went at last to a psychiatrist, my 11th doctor in 10 weeks. He let me pour out my story, and then told me that the physical symptoms I was experiencing had to have a physiological root, beyond stress or mental illness.

But now I was committing to the anxiety diagnosis. I scoured books about anxiety, looking for stories about nervous disorders that affected the nerves in a painful, fiery way. I emailed an old colleague who had written a book on his own anxiety disorder. I acquired a set of exercises called “the healing power of breath,” and at night, while my wife tried to sleep beside me, I did its exercises with quiet desperation. And when the waves of pain came over me I told myself that I was being stabbed by a dagger of the mind.

My memories of that August are scant. I was sleeping an hour a night at most: I would drift off and suddenly be pulled awake, usually by a feeling like an alarm clock going off in my chest, or sometimes by the feeling that my throat was closing up.

I said goodbye to almost none of our Washington friends. With my stomach, throat and bowels all afire, I had lost 40 pounds in 10 weeks. In one of the few pictures from our last days in the city, I look skeletal and permeable, like a haunted-house ghost accidentally captured by a tourist’s camera.

Somehow we made the long drive to Connecticut and began the process of moving into our new house. I told myself that maybe the anxiety would pass once the move was accomplished, but in the house I was barely functional, crying easily, struggling to open windows and assemble cribs.


I had an appointment with a Connecticut psychiatrist. She listened, took notes and said, “I’m quite sure you have a tick-borne illness, Ross.”

The next day I saw a family doctor whose practice had been recommended to us. “A lot of possibilities here,” he said as I hunched with squeezing pain across my shoulders, “but Lyme is definitely one of them. The blood tests are really unreliable. I think you should try antibiotics again.”

At this point in my confusion it felt as though the earlier antibiotics had definitively caused the phantom heart attacks, that taking doxycycline without a positive Lyme test had rolled me farther down the spiral staircase. So although I dutifully acquired the bottle of pills, they sat on my bedside table for a week before I found the courage to take them.

When I did, the pain in my joints immediately got worse again. I stalked our unfurnished new house late at night; I woke up in the mornings feeling like I had been beaten by a boxer overnight.

But I woke up, from a sleep that was four or five hours instead of the hour that I had been getting since July. The throat-closing feeling vanished, the phantom heart attacks ceased. And the feeling of perpetual dizziness, of half my body being disconnected from the other, was gone after a week on the antibiotics.

So they seemed to stabilize me — something confirmed whenever I went off them and the disintegrating feelings swiftly returned. But they did not heal me: Instead, over weeks, then months, and then longer still, they kept me in an awful, painful stasis.

Instead of feeling like I was falling apart, I felt like my body was a cage of pain in which my self was somehow prisoned. And instead of being simply ill, I became what I would remain for years: a chronic-illness case.


This essay is adapted from the forthcoming book “The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Discovery.”



Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/23/opinion/lyme-disease-chronic-illness.html



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