Discover more from Rananim Now: Lawrencian Musings on Anti-Machine Theology
The Machine Will Never Triumph, part seven
The Scientific doctor.
When I went to the scientific doctor
I realised what a lust there was in him to wreak his so-called science on me
and reduce me to the level of a thing.
So I said: Good-morning! and left him.
One very strange part of modern technology is modern medicine. Medicine itself is really one of the most humane sciences. The roots of medicine go back to the twin pillars of belief in the God Asclepius and a desire to heal. These are both good things, and so modern medicine should be good as well, but it is not. Granted, many, even most doctors are good people, and most of them truly do want to heal people and ease suffering. Even modern medicine itself is necessary and a human right. As much as we may wish all technology to vanish from the face of the earth, the one temporary exception to this is medicine, simply because one must always strive to have compassion and to ease the sufferings of others. As such, we will need medicine longer than other technologies, because where other technologies are wholly dangerous, medicine is dangerous, but needed to heal some of the diseases caused by technology. This is not to give overt support to modern medicine, for we are well aware that there are many iatrogenic diseases, and that sometimes, in modern times, the cure is worse than the disease. The important point is that while society makes the transition away from technology, there may need to be doctors trained in modern medicine and engineers able to safely dismantle factories and such that may leach toxic chemicals into the environment if left alone.
Nevertheless, a transition should be made from modern to traditional medicine as soon as possible. We must, however, move beyond traditional medicine, since many traditional cures have been lost, many medicinal plants made extinct, and many new diseases created through modern life, pollution, etc. We need a new class of shamans who can find holistic cures to modern ills, while the world—all of nature—slowly, slowly recovers its health. We can only hope that enough free and proud individuals choose to join Rananim before it is too late, for if they do, governments, corporations, and mega-churches (that are built on the foundations of Mammon, not the Divine) will no longer have a hold over people. But, getting back to medicine, the poem above by Lawrence titled The Scientific Doctor shows the number one problem with modern medicine, namely that rather than treating people as people, many modern doctors are so incorporated into a diabolical system, that they treat people as things. Even doctors who want to treat people in a non-objectified way are often forced by laws and regulations to treat the disease rather than the person. We must, urgently, get back to a holistic view of the world, and of the person. Lawrence writes the following:
As for the scientist, he has absolutely no use for me so long as I am a man alive. To the scientist, I am dead. He puts under the microscope a bit of dead me, and calls it me. He takes me to pieces, and says first one piece, and then another piece, is me. My heart, my liver, my stomach have all been scientifically me, according to the scientist; and nowadays I am either a brain, or nerves, or glands, or something more up-to-date in the tissue line.
Now I absolutely flatly deny that I am a soul, or a body, or a mind, or an intelligence, or a brain, or a nervous system, or a bunch of glands, or any of the rest of these bits of me. The whole is greater than the part. And therefore I, who am man alive, am greater than my soul, or spirit, or body, or mind, or consciousness, or anything else that is merely a part of me. I am a man, and alive. I am man alive, and as long as I can, I intend on being man alive.
Today there is a fear of illness, a fear of death that is so overpowering that the masses of mankind subject their thoughts, feelings, and emotions to every possible diversion and distraction in order to escape the thought of mortality. This is due to the perverse metaphysics of the modern world: That which is can never not be. The goals of life are to vividly live while here, and to come into touch with the Gods, for we have a long, difficult, and beautiful journey after this life, which will be discussed in the chapter on eschatology. If one is sick, one should of course try to feel better, but one should never endure untold suffering simply to prolong life. There are many people who have died young who have experienced far more than those who have lived long and meaningless lives. As with all things, it is quality, and not quantity that counts. Wendell Berry has a good corrective to the modern way of thinking about the body:
God, how I hate the names
of the body’s chemicals and anatomy,
the frore and glum department
of its parts, each alone in the scattering
of the experts of Babel.
is a single creature, whole,
its life is one, never less than one, or more,
so is its world, and so
are two bodies in their love for one another
one. In ignorance of this
we talk ourselves to death.
I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self
and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help
and patience, and a certain difficult repentance
long, difficult repentance, realisation of life’s mistake, and the freeing
from the endless repetition of the mistake
which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.
Many times a person’s illness is not due to purely physical causes, but is due to certain underlying psychic wounds. There are many cases where a person with an “incurable” disease was healed not with modern medicine, but by the miracle of prayer. This isn’t to say that it was the prayer that healed, for much of modern prayer is as mechanistic as the rest of the modern world’s systems, but that it was either the grace of one of the Gods, or it was a realignment of spiritual forces within the body that caused the person to heal. One can never heal one’s self by digging deeper into the mechanistic ways of modern man. Even when modern science helps to cure modern woes, one should always take a long, deep look inside to examine what spiritual ills remain. Healing spiritual diseases is always worthwhile, both for this life and for whatever may come after.
In summation, we quote below from Lawrence, an extended passage on the body and soul:
Science is wretched in its treatment of the human body as a sort of complex mechanism made up of numerous little machines working automatically in a rather unsatisfactory relation to one another. The body is the total machine: the various organs are the included machines: and the whole thing, given a start at birth, or at conception, trundles on by itself. The only God in the machine, the human will or intelligence, is absolutely at the mercy of the machine.
Such is the orthodox view. Soul, when it is allowed an existence at all, sits somewhat vaguely within the machine, never defined. If anything goes wrong with the machine, why, the soul is forgotten instantly. We summon the arch-mechanic of our day, the medicine-man. And a marvelous earnest fraud he is, doing his best. He is really wonderful as a mechanic of the human system. But the life within us fails more and more, while we marvelously tinker at the engines. Doctors are not to blame.
It is obvious that, even considering the human body as a very delicate and complex machine, you cannot keep such a machine running for one day without most exact central control. Still more is it impossible to consider the automatic evolution of such a machine. When did any machine, even a single spinning-wheel, automatically evolve itself! There was a god in the machine before the machine existed.
So there we are with the human body. There must have been, and must be a central god in the machine of each animate corpus. The little soul of the beetle makes the beetle toddle. The little soul of the homo sapiens sets him on his two feet. Don’t ask me to define the soul. You might as well ask a bicycle to define the young damsel who so whimsically and so god-like pedals her way along the highroad. A young lady skeltering off on her bicycle to meet her young man—why, what could the bicycle make of such a mystery, if you explained it till doomsday! Yet the bicycle wouldn’t be spinning from Streatham to Croydon by itself.
So we may as well settle down to the little god in the machine. We may as well call it the individual soul, and leave it there. It’s as far as the bicycle would ever get, if it had to define Mademoiselle. But be sure the bicycle would not deny the existence of the young miss who seats herself in the saddle. Not like us, who try to pretend there is no one in the saddle.
Please keep this in mind as we proceed further on this journey together. The following chapters are heavy on criticism, but with the goal always to tear down what is dead and rotten, so as to build back up with a joyous and positive philosophy.
Berry, Wendell. This Day. Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2013.
Lawrence, D. H. Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious. Edited by Bruce Steele. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
———. Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays. Edited by Bruce Steele. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
———. The Poems. Edited by Christopher Pollnitz. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
D. H. Lawrence, The Poems, ed. Christopher Pollnitz, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 534.
D. H. Lawrence, Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays, ed. Bruce Steele (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 195.
Wendell Berry, This Day (Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2013), 275.
Lawrence, The Poems, 1:534.
D. H. Lawrence, Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious, ed. Bruce Steele (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 95–96.