Oh, man, very funny comments about that personality test onMetafilter. Kills me. Man….now, admittedly, I was starting to feel a little like a psych case today, but man, does seeing other people’s scores ever make me feel better. And I’m glad I’m not obsessive-compulsive. That just sounds like too much work.
How I love metafilter.
Actually working today; getting ready for a meeting tomorrow. I’m reading some really FUN stuff on medical history. All the good stuff. Medical history is such a great case in point for so many things that are going on in the early modern period…for me, it really helps to pinpoint some of the ‘class’ issues that are at work, and the gender issues as well. It isolates the relationship between the past and the present. I’ve had professors try to remind us that when you’re looking at this time period, you can’t assume you understand what you’re seeing. Because everything they say and do and think is so different from what we would imagine…and we have to be careful not to assume too much….looking at the history of medicine really makes that point so obvious.
First: the history of the body: they understand the body so differently. A sack of fluids, really. No concept of the circulation of blood until later in the period, a complicated sense of illness. There some push-pull between disease come from inside (imbalance) and outside (cosmic, smell, through the eyes of others, etc). The simple idea, a northern European phenomenon, that the body is KNOWN already, that all that makes it up was known by Galen and Hippocrates and Avicenna and there’s no really need to delve too deeply…delve into the BOOKS, delve into what they thought…as if knowledge is disintigrating, it’s an element of the endtimes, that their ‘modern’ brains can’t possibly work it out, and why try to reinvent the wheel, when better minds have already done so? That knowledge lies in the past, not in the present or the future…that knowledge lay in the world of these greats, and that it doesn’t exist in the world as they knew it….
Except that some people debated that. Slowly. But what’s been most interesting about the reading I’ve been doing is the way that historians are hestitant to say that it’s just a process away from medieval ideas….because it’s not. It’s kind of a flapping around, hitting all kinds of ideas and processes along the way, some of it more obviously ‘modern’ (experimentation, ‘discoveries’, questioning of the traditional texts) and some of it clearly ‘medieval’ (looking for omens, religious healing, alchemy, astrology, etc.). The history of medicine is the clearest example, really, of the rethinking of the whole concept of the early modern period. Aha. Yeah.
And I’m not doing my reading quite yet. Almost. I quit and did some prog work instead this afternoon. Terrible.