A BODY WHICH KILLS
In 1628, William Harvey published De Motu Cordis detailing a new conception of the circulatory system. In contrast to the dominant Galenic conception, Harvey sketched an image of the heart as a mechanical pump that recirculated blood throughout the body in a manner akin to the water in a (then recently invented) steam engine. Harvey's model is adhered to this day, with more and more accretions as cope for the fact that it's wrong. And while Harvey's research obviously impacted what would eventually become cardiology, it also became the initiator of "scientific medicine" as we know it: analytical and mechanistic, based on the pointless mutilation of animals, with a side of specious "calculations." Scientific medicine is worth understanding because its implicit assertions about what humans are – what we are – have become the touchstone of our deformed society and the credo of the cretins who would rule us.
Harvey's model was by no means an immediate success, in part because it makes no sense. A contemporary critic pointed out that, in order for the heart to pump the volume of blood necessary, the heart would have to be roughly the size of a whale's in lieu of the fist-sized organ found in an ordinary human. Details, surely. Harvey's mechanistic paradigm somehow carried the day, and in a pattern familiar to those of us with the internet, a campaign of confirmation bias seems to reinforce his model. Scientific "discoveries" that support such a view are loudly heralded while experiments and common-sense observation of wound healing in the organism are considered somehow anecdotal. Genetics, "information" are lauded According to Harvey and his children, a person is reducible to their body and their body is just a poorly designed meat machine. Disease, aging, death. These are all merely examples of "wear and tear" or shoddy manufacture.
Error has consequences. For once you have accepted the premise that your body is a machine, then the natural question is: Who will maintain it? Given that we are told that this is an extraordinarily complex and delicate machine, we must entrust care to the experts. Preferably highly credentialed, medical experts.
Look around you and you can see what the care of these experts looks like. "Tyranny" is too noble a word, minted as it was under the Aegean sky. "Hell" is more apt. Even before the large-scale retardation of COVID, large segments of the population's entire existence depended on one pharmaceutical product or another; whether that means SSRI, Viagra, HRT or birth control pills, it is largely a matter of degree. If you could escape from this hell, you must escape from scientific medicine.
"Yes", you may reply, "but science tells us how things are and is it not nobler to live facing reality than in a premodern dreamland. With this new clarity, certainly we can ascend to heights previously undreamt of!" Well, let's review the reality, shall we?
It is important, first of all, to understand that neither anatomy nor physiology exist as such. They were both developed for therapeutic ends, which is to say, they were developed as a means to health, perhaps the least counterfeit-able end. So the question should not be "Is this physiology true?" but rather "Does this paradigm lead to health?” I think it's patently obvious that it has not. I won't insult you with charts or statistics, it suffices to look out the window and see the shambling wrecks that populate the industrialized world. Look at your own experiences and ask yourself whether it is healthy or desirable for young children to be experiencing chronic diseases historically reserved for the elderly. Then ask yourself if there is not at least a correlation between the ascendency of a certain elite holding a certain conception of physiology and the complete devastation of such in our society in a single generation.
The good news, however, is that this is a solved problem. It is evolutionarily impossible that health relies on any of the bullshit invented in the last century since our forefathers could not have reproduced if they all had IBS and only relied on Pfizer to keep their pants clean. The answer must be in a return to traditional, pre-mechanistic conceptions of health and physiology.
Traditional views of life in general and human physiology in particular were what might now be termed "vitalist." It is important to recall that this term is anachronistic - being the common sense of all previous epochs, it needed no "-ism" to justify itself in the marketplace of ideas. Vitalism's main contention is simply that the phenomenon of life (which even the midwit must concede exists) is not reducible to components available to sense observation; ie mechanistic explanation. In its modesty, vitalism almost cannot help being correct, unlike mechanism, which according to its postulates none of us should be alive. From vitalism, it follows that no part of your body is "more you" than another part. Contrast for example, the various "vital centers" or chakras of traditional physiologies with the mechanist's obsession with an increasingly magical and inscrutable "brain", and organ which was inconsequential to the Chinese and which Aristotle thought was a kind of radiator for the blood. And since vitalism doesn't need to posit a ghost in the machine as the mechanists do, there is also no logical priority given to mind or body. Body and mind cause one another or maybe they both emanate from another (etheric? astral?) plane, one needn't decide. The most important thing about vitalism, though, is the implication that life is not one fact among many, life is the fundamental empirical fact. All matter, time, beauty, "politics" must justify themselves to life and not vice-versa.
While there are divergences between the major systems of traditional, vitalist physiologies, they are mostly in detail and terminology. The Galenic, Ayurvedic, Chinese, Unani (the Islamic heir to the Hellenic tradition), Tibetan and European folk medicines agree in their major points: the human body is a system for transforming environmental energy into growth or, in the case of damage, healing. Unlike the modern medical science, traditional medicines regard healing not as an aberration, but as the primary function of the organism. If an organism fails to heal (or is chronically ill), then the cause or limiting factor must be sought and eliminated. Contrast this with mechanistic explanations wherein chronic disease is assumed to have an intrinsic (genetic) cause and the treatment is extrinsic; preferably a pharmaceutical product invented 3 weeks ago.
The most common traditional anatomy considers the body consists of a number of organs (usually 5, no brain required) connected with each other and the outside world by a series of tubes or channels. These tubes are concerned primarily with digesting food and air, assimilating what is useful from these and eliminating the remains. Energy thus extracted is used for growth, healing or reproduction, which on closer examination are the same thing. Health is defined as optimal functioning of these and, far from being an exceptional state brought about through the use of drugs and exotic exercise modalities, it is the default state of the organism. Healthcare consists of ingesting easily digested food, walking outside, sleeping adequately and reducing your responsibilities to a minimum, even to the point of being a flake. Tell everyone to fuck off, it's good for your health. Also, please understand that the foregoing applies to "mental health" as well: there is only one set of tubes. Most "emotions" are echoes of digestive problems. The occasional chimp out at an "independent" bookstore is a powerful purgative to fight emotional indigestion.
We can immediately see the appeal of the vitalist conception of physiology over the dominant mechanistic paradigm. While brainiacs from San Francisco will try to sell you on "AI" powered "precision medicine", perhaps involving mining cryptocurrency using cancer cells. This promises to be the unique Californian combination of gay, highly expensive, and, given that the treatments will be administered by someone wearing Rick and Morty scrubs, prone to disastrous side effects. Of course the self-fulfilling prophecy of a life spent in the medical maze being "treated" for iatrogenic injury is not a bug it is a feature. On the other hand, the "low fidelity" medicine of tradition is cheap (basically) free, without side effects and systemic, which is to say, you needn't know exactly what is broken, you just need to support the body in fixing
Many answers can be heard in response to the question of how to free ourselves from the spiritual prison within which we find ourselves. There are those in favor of the resurrection of old political forms. There are those who claim that answers are to be sought in the realm of the religious. Neither will suffice, however: only a return to a vitalist physiology holds any hope. The "political" issues of our time are openly biopolitical, concerned not with taxes and roads but with the militant enforcement of the mechanistic view of life whereby the "citizen" is treated as a particularly litigious hunk of meat. No major religion in the West has sought to intervene in this state of affairs. Whether this is through malice or cowardice is unimportant: anyone looking for help from those quarters is mistaken. The reason that neither "civil society" nor religion can stand against this tide is because there is no commonly held idea of what a human being is from a physiological perspective; only a common front on this issue can provide a toehold for escape.
The important thing to realize is that this regime of bioterror under which we now live did not begin with COVID, but with the mass forgetting of the vitalist conception of humanity. The overturning of this regime does not need new technologies, new theories or new political blog posts. All that is necessary is for each of us that would be free should remember. Once you remember that you are not merely a reanimated corpse allowed to live through the beneficence of capitalism, but are a creature of living light. The threats of the regime will cease to have meaning. Once you see that health is free, you can be healthy. Being healthy, you will be beautiful. Being beautiful you will be content. And knowing contentment you will be able to birth a new regime founded not on "ideas," but as an expression of the surfeit of energy inherent in life itself.
THIS PIECE IS AVAILABLE IN PRINT FORM IN VOLUME I ISSUE III