Shipwreck of the Singular, which Samizdat has just published, took more time to write than all my other books combined. The others tumbled out – often in just a few weeks.
Pharmageddon took 3 weeks. But it then took 4 years to find a publisher. I took on an agent to help get a publisher. Faced with Shipwreck, the same agent said it would never be published. She didn’t know why. She didn’t want to waste her time finding out. This made it clear to me the publishing world was changing just like everything else was. It led to Samizdat, which is part and parcel of Shipwreck.
To be fair, the original Shipwreck was 30,000 words longer.
It also didn’t have the final ‘Crusoe, we say, was Rescued’ chapter.
As part of getting Pharmageddon published I also hooked up with an editor, Jonathan Cobb, who as his initials suggest did miraculous things to the text. Guided by him, the book I thought I had written in the first place emerged.
JC looked perfect for Shipwreck also. He was happy to get involved and I was thrilled to have him on board from early on. Again, he pointed to areas that needed work. In particular, the need for a final chapter, although he was less enthusiastic about the direction ‘Rescue’ took.
Despite miracles, my agent said Shipwreck would never be published.
An old joke in Northern Ireland goes:
Man confronted on street dragged into an alley and asked at gunpoint ‘Are ye Catholic or Protestant’ answers I’m Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Atheist (take your pick). He is then asked ‘Are ye Catholic Hindu or Protestant Hindu’.
Many people on the Left and the Right, religious and non-religious, will endorse many points made in Shipwreck but are upset when it doesn’t endorse their cherished beliefs as the answer to the problems we now have. They become less enthusiastic. Both can agree its better not let something like this see the light of day – it might divert us from our ancient quarrel.
Its the forgotten, the disenfranchised who might buy into ‘Rescue’. Those who control our health, economic and publishing systems won’t.
At the moment, we are only allowed to be pro-Drugs, pro-Vaccines and pro-Science or anti-Drugs, anti-Vaccines and anti-Science. There is no room for being pro-Drugs but wary of the institutional framework through which we get our drugs. We want to believe that working with the system but campaigning to increase access to drugs for the disadvantaged can only have a good outcome. We don’t want to hear that our good intentions may make things worse. We certainly don’t want to hear that most of what has gone wrong has come from good intentions.
Marx, Karl or maybe Groucho, perhaps brings the problem home. Unless you are on the Left, and in the United States that would be the extreme Left, way Left of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, bringing Karl into the picture is a recipe for total disengagement and maybe worse.
Telling people that Karl was the maker of many a Wall Street fortune for investors who paid heed to his message about the capitalizability of technique – there were more sales of his main book in US financial circles than anywhere else – isn’t enough to save either him or me with folk from the Right.
Even trying to show them we face a conspiracy good enough to please anyone in QAnon, or that in my efforts to bring out the violence some treatments cause, I can readily contemplate working with the NRA, or that Shipwreck sees regulation as part of the problem, is not a recipe for making anyone on the Right think I am one of them.
On the Left, Shipwreck produces confusion among publishers and agents who don’t have the nerve to try and re-imagine a recasting of their cherished beliefs to face the challenges that now confront us. Even though I’m right on in a willingness to embrace (perhaps not the right word) that most progressive of-the-people-and-for-the-people enterprises, the for-women industry, in an effort to spread word about the permanent sexual dysfunction many treatments can cause and how the efforts of another industry mean that the numbers of us making love and the number of times we do so is steadily falling.
Pleading that Albert Camus, an icon of the Left, said deciding whether to commit suicide is the central philosophical question, and that Shipwreck is about the unwillingness of philosophers or anyone else to face up to the fact that close to 300 different drugs can take this out of our hands and cause us to commit suicide – falls on deaf ears on the Left.
Asking people can they not hear the ice cracking is perhaps an uncomfortable question given climate change.
When Marx appeared on the scene in the Springtime of 1848, the ice coating Europe was cracking all around him. Many of his insights sparkled. But his followers trapped these insights in a deep freeze. Fifty years later the deep-freeze of psychoanalysis completely sealed over the unsettling idea that our nervous conditions and other health disorders might stem from our interactions with each other.
Whether the Left or the Right like it or not, the Ice is cracking again. We need signs of new life, new thinking, for a new world. For 5 years before Covid, Life Expectancy had been falling. More health services won’t fix this because health services are causing it. This is a more immediate and personal crisis than even climate change – but no-one is talking about it.
Since about 1980, something has gone badly wrong with both capitalism and medicine. From 1880 to 1980, socialists like Alexandria or Kamala had been prepared to execute communists like Rosa (Luxembourg) to get a seat at the table where decisions that were increasing wealth and health all round were being made.
Their continuing presence at the table is now part of the problem. They show no sign of discomfort with a system that centers the greatest concentration of Fake News on earth on the medications our doctors give us. They seem unable to understand why someone like me might not trust them when they ask us, almost force us, to believe in this Fake News and take whatever health services say we should take.
They blame the problems we are having on anyone except themselves and work to get social media to ban anyone asking questions. If cornered they throw up their hands and say what can we do?
What we need to do is to start Caring – about each other.
Health is the quintessential place where people are supposed to Care about others. It’s the place where people who think they naturally Care go to work – along with a bunch of others who Care a lot about money.
If we ask what it is that people who Care within health do, the likely answer is they wipe bottoms or have a cheery face for the vulnerable and disabled. Some claim that sticking to the Evidence of what works is the highest form of Care.
Wiping bottoms and being cheery is not Care, even though people who have smiles and grins in their genes can do a lot of good by just being natural. The genes for sticking to what is mandated are more of a problem.
The best example of what Care involves centers on how we respond when someone who has had a drug says something has gone wrong – especially when what they say appears to be at odds with the ‘Evidence’. When what they say is not in the information that comes with the drug, or in anything ‘reputable’ you can find.
The evidence you or they can now access has become increasingly Careless. It makes a virtue of being Careless. Being Careless is how we achieve objectivity – supposedly. And this systematic Carelessness makes it increasingly dangerous for the rest of us to Care.
Agreeing with someone who claims to be injured by a drug is not Caring if you are anti-drugs and believe everything that anyone says about what a drug has done to them.
It’s more likely to be Care if you work in health and in agreeing with the person who claims to have been harmed you set up a real risk you will lose your job, or, if you don’t work in health, you set up a scenario where health professionals dismiss you.
Care is scary and the way things are going anyone who starts Caring may need to take to the woods and resist rather than get on the train when told.
Without transformation there can be no Rescue. This is what Shipwreck is about.