Thursday, September 24, 2009

Obamacare and Psalm 42: the Russians weigh in

Yesterday I started reading Solzhenitsyn's The Cancer Ward, partly because it is reputed to be his best novel, and partly because I thought that reading a book about healthcare in the USSR in the 1950's would lend some interesting perspective to current events.

I haven't been disappointed.

Here is an interesting patient-doctor exchange to contemplate. The exchange is between cancer patient Kostoglotov and his doctor Lyudmila Afanasyevna Dontsova:
" . . . Why do you assume you have the right to decide for someone else? That's a fearful right, and hardly ever leads to good. You ought to be afraid of it. It is a right not even given to a doctor."

"But it is the doctor's right. His, first and foremost!" cried Dontsova with conviction. She was very angry now. "Without that right there could be no medicine at all."
Over the next 500 or so pages, there will be more to come in that respect, I'm sure.

The book's also reminded me how much I've missed reading Russians.

Poor Melville was trying to say the same thing, I know, when he talked about "November of the soul," but for some reason Moby Dick is sitting unread while I am savoring this from Solzhenitsyn:
How can one define it? Troubled? Depressed? When one is pinched of soul, when an invisible thick mist seeps into one's breast, loosening everything inside and compressing it toward the center, and one is aware only of the pressure and the heaviness and cannot understand at first just what it is that is pinching so. . . .

At such times it is well to take heed, to find the source of the feeling, and to erect a defense.

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