Monday, July 23, 2007

I ain't got no body...

Check out the comments to the 'User Manual...' post below and you'll see we got a bit of the old mind'body debate going. What an opportunity for me to whale in with some ill-thought out amateur philosphising. See, the 'we are only flesh' has a pretty strong logical argument going for it but something - perhaps nothing more than intellectual cowardice - has always made me shy away from it. At the same time, I don't think it's as simple as the 'My body is just a suitcase...' idea proposed by my good friend Mark and by Willie Nelson, admirable chaps both. See, in some very fundamental way my concept of 'me' is very much linked to this lump of flash and blood and water plunked here on an office chair in Donegal. Regarding the suitcase theory, I just can't imagine myself getting of the plane in Derry to be told that, although my soul has arrived safely, my body has turned up unclaimed in Prestwick. Everything I feel and experience, I feel in this piece of extended stuff I call 'me.' I don't sit here in my office and feel happy in the next room. (Reminds me a bit of Woody Allen's psychic twins, one of whom had a bath while the other mysteriously got clean.) All those things we see as intangible still seem to be located about this physical old body with all its imperfections. The action is here, where my body is and I can't envisage how it would be any other way. Now, I'm not saying that nothing exists beyond the physical. What I am saying is that what exists seems to be mediated through the physical at the very least and that the two appear mutually dependent. More than that, I'll leave to greater minds than mine to puzzle out.
Smell you later.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Feelin' hot hot hot

Went for chemo yesterday and actually came away feeling pretty good. Had a chat with the consultant who felt that most of my recent problems - eg: the extreme tiredness - were more likely the cause of the chemo than the cancer. The tumour itself, from what they can tell with the blood cultures, doesn't seem to be growing much. You can't read too much into this in itself, mind. Bill Hicks' tumour shrank three months in a row but still killed him in less than a year. However, it's certainly not bad news and, although my face is still covered with acne the consultant reiterated that the people with this side-effect did seem to get the best result from the treatment.
Then, last night, I woke up shivering, a sure sign with me that I've got a temperature and - lo and behold - I was above the dreaded 38 degrees C mark. That meant I had to call up to hospital today to get it checked out. My son got really upset at the thought of me being admitted and that, in turn, really upset me. It also made me think about how he'll cope when it comes to the final parting.
But then - good news! The Dr felt the temperature thing was just a blip and told me I could go home. Big cheers all round and one very happy 7 year old.
You know the big news I've been hinting at? Well, a guy from a publishers came across the blog and thinks it would make a good book. He has to run it past his boss etc but it would be really cool if it happened. It'd be a nice legacy for my wife and son.
So, there you go.
Stay well and check back soon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Where's the user manual?

See, you're born with this body and it takes you a while to figure out exactly how everything works. But you do it. Pretty soon you can read the signals. That's hunger....that's tiredness... Then something happens and suddenly the body changes. And it's not an upgrade either. Now, your body works in different kinds of ways and, whereas before, you could read the signs, this body doesn't give you many clues at all. So, it feels sleepy all the time. But is it really sleepy? Well, it seems to be because if you close your eyes, pow, you're out of it right away. Still, wait a minute, if I go to sleep every minute my body tells me I should, I'll spend all day, every day asleep. Is that what I want?
This is scarier than it seems because, in a fundamental way, my body is me. Whoever I am is related to this mass of bone and tissue and water. So how can I not understand it and read its signs? And how could it betray me by growing this terrible thing inside me without me knowing?Where's the user manual?


Thursday, July 12, 2007

So, where was I?

Sorry about the relative lack of posts. I felt sort of ill this week and this made me a little blue. When that happens I have to fight off the black dog. See, most of the time I'm pretty cheery and stuff but, let's face it, I wouldn't be human if I didn't get down. At times like that, it's easy to be sucked into a kind of what's-the-point-I'm-dying-anyway nihilism. Even with this blog, you start to wonder if anyone other than than a few old faithfuls along with family and friends are reading. Chris Valance from the BBC sent me one of those counter tools but, eveytime I try to install it, I make some mistake and the thing fails to install. However, the last day or so have seen an improvement in my physical and mental health and, this week, while still taking the new drug, I'm on a break from chemo so that might help as well.
Loading stacks of stuff onto my mp3 player in anticipation of the time - however distant - when reading etc will be denied to me. Just finished King Curtis Live at the Filmore West and am now putting on some Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
Anyway, take care of yourselves, whoever you are.

Smell you later

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Hah, thought I chickened out, didn't ya? You don't know me...So, here it is, your free idea. Just remember, at no point did I say it was a good idea.
Al Jazeera gets a webcast from the commander of a platoon of coalition troops ( British or American? the choice you make will influence the action.) His men have been there for a long, long time and a recent incident ( friendly fire, civilians killed by mistake? again, the choice influences what follows.) is the straw that broke the camel's back. He announces that they're going home, packing up their stuff, going to the airport and staying there until a friendly plane takes them home.
So, what happens next? Are they far away from Baghdad or close to the airport. Again, that's a choice that dictates the action. I've a liking for things like Black HAwk Down or, more particularly, Walter Hill's The Warriors, where a short journey becomes an epic.
How do the authorities react? After all, this is desertion in the face of the enemy. But, in the modern world with the internet etc, these men, their wives, girlfriends and children all become well known. There's hige outrage, yes, but also great sympathy and they reflect the views of many people in their home country. So, how do the authoritied try to stop it? Do they use clandestine means, attacking with proxy forces? How do the rest of the military react? Are they heroes or traitors? What about within the platoon itself? Is everyone completely onboard with the plan or are some doubtful? Are the authorites texting them or whatever.
There are wider questions, too. In tone, this can be a serious, action-themed piece or a Dr Stranglelove style satire. Look at how Strangelove and the movie Failsafe tackle the same idea in vastly different ways.
So, there you go. Obviously, feel free to tell me the idea stinks but be kind. After all (kof,kof) I am a sick man.
Over to you.
Me, I've chemo tomorrow.