Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The combo whipple/right hemicolectomy guy now seems to have a pancreatic fistula (200-300 cc a day). Not entirely surprising given the circumstances (small duct, soft, friable pancreas). I have him on Octeotide 200mcg tid. Otherwise he seems to be doing rather well. Final path still pending.

Im not sure what to make of this book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The plot is quite simple. Some sort of catastrophic apocalypse has occured and the narrative follows a man and his son as they wander the burned out American road searching for food and shelter. We're hammered with imagery of scrabbled, scarred, blackened earth, an absence of green, pelting cold rain, hazy gray skies, and sooty ash coating the ground like a shroud. Surrounded by death and decay, the man and the boy nevertheless forge ahead, seeking subsistence, seeking life. At one point, the boy asks, why are we doing this, what is our goal? Why go on? I can't go on I must go on, echoing from Beckett. The scarified landscape offers nothing, danger lurks around every corner. They head for the ocean, unsure what they'll find, at least it's a goal, a destination, a source of hope. The man and the boy scratch out a meager existence, the father constantly assuring his son that everything is going to be "okay". The man is a pragmatist, constantly assessing threats and benefits to his son's life. He trusts no one. He coughs blood along the road and knows he doesn't have long to live. He knows soon he'll have to abandon his boy, his entire world, to the cold harsh deadened world. The boy knows nothing of the past. He has no memories of anything other than the ashen images that pass before his eyes day after day. He believes in the possibility of a better life, as opposed to the father who knows the best has come and gone. Are we still the "good guys"? the boy asks. Yes, the man says. Because we "carry the fire?" the boys asks. Yes, the man says. Ultimately the boy is rewarded for trusting that a common decency still exists amongst men. Otherwise, there would be no point in going on. Footsteps coming around the curve, he stands in the middle of the road, alone, awaiting his fate.

Is it an adventure story? Science fiction thriller? An allegory about our own secular burned out American materialistic society? There is no mention of religion or faith. There is only the man and his son struggling for the bare necessities of existence. Mere existence. The question haunting them is whether it's even worth it. We dress up our own lives with material possessions and we assume identities and roles in society, but in the end, is our existential condition any different than theirs? Aren't we all on our own little road, acquiring things and food in order the live more comfortably. To stay warm. Dry. Avoidance of pain or embarassment. Hopefully all of us carry a little bit of our own fire along the way.

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