Culture and Society
The little button lying in my hand brought the violent history of the place to life. For a moment war wasn’t just pictures in textbooks. I could feel the residue of it, the half-life of violence.
Helplessness makes monsters of people. He’s seen chairs thrown, exam tables kicked. The rooms pathologists speak to patients in now have everything bolted down.
I take the test, grade myself strictly, and add up the points. The result is that I’m likely an alcoholic and should seek treatment as soon as possible. I take the test again and grade myself more forgivingly, because forgiveness is a virtue.
This strange country of cancer, it turns out, is the true democracy — one more real than the nation that lies outside these walls and more authentic than the lofty statements of politicians; a democracy more incontrovertible than platitudes or aspiration.
In the country of cancer everyone is simultaneously a have and a have-not. In this land no citizens are protected by property, job description, prestige, and pretensions; they are not even protected by their prejudices. Neither money nor education, greed nor ambition, can alter the facts. You are all simply cancer citizens, bargaining for more life.