Thursday, March 18, 2010

'Tis the Voice of the Asshole

Some asshole gets hold of the intercom:   
Two South Jersey Wal-Mart customers who heard a racist message broadcast over the store's public address system say the whole ordeal is no laughing matter.
Sheila Ellington and Virginia Tinsley were shopping inside the Washington Township Wal-Mart along Rt. 42 in Turnersville, N.J. just before 5 p.m. on Sunday when they say a man came over the PA system and said: "Attention Wal-Mart customers: All black people leave the store now."
"It was a disgusting comment," Ellington said. "Once I heard that, I was absolutely shocked and appalled."
Why do we listen to assholes?

Statistically speaking, we are less likely to be overrun by Mongolian hordes, Roman legions, conquistadors, or renegade cowboys than in the vast majority of human history.  In most countries, rape and kidnapping are frowned upon as a means of obtaining wives.  Brute force is no longer the final word in most social interactions. 

At no other time in history have we had quite the luxury of shrugging off the perspectives of assholes, in the way we do now.

And yet our bruised psyches do not believe it's true.  Thousands of years of brutality have left their mark; we still behave as though the Voice of the Asshole will inevitably be followed up by an unanswerable blow to the head.

As a result, the psychic power of assholes is magnified beyond their natural scope.  Thus I propose a mantra: call it the Mantra of Emerging Civilization. 

The next time you hear some asshole broadcasting his assholery to all and sundry, say to yourself, "Dude, you're an asshole."  Then mentally flip the switch.  Turn off the Glenn Beck in your head. Consign Rush Limbaugh to the trash heap of history.  Open your mind to a new era of freedom.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Pain and Ignorance

The more I learn about chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, the more it is clear to me that medicine is still in its infancy.  From the New York Times:
The cause of this disorder is unknown. Physical or emotional trauma may play a role in development of the syndrome. Some evidence suggests that fibromyalgia patients have abnormal pain transmission responses.
It has been suggested that sleep disturbances, which are common in fibromyalgia patients, may actually cause the condition. Another theory suggests that the disorder may be associated with changes in skeletal muscle metabolism, possibly caused by decreased blood flow, which could cause chronic fatigue and weakness.
Others have suggested that an infectious microbe, such as a virus, triggers the illness. At this point, no such virus or microbe has been identified.
Pilot studies have shown a possible inherited tendency toward the disease, though evidence is very preliminary.

Could this be any more vague and tentative?  We're only about a decade away from dismissing the whole thing as 'crazy woman syndrome.' 

Fibromyalgia is one of the reasons I became a bodyworker.  I saw people close to me suffering from it, and I saw the medical establishment making their suffering worse through ignorance, indifference and judgement. I may not be able to cure people's pain, but at least I can do someone the honor of taking it seriously. 

People with chronic pain, for the most part, cope with it by coping.  That's not a tautology.  Coping is a fluid process, different for every person and at every time.  Exercise may help, or not.  Pain medication, ditto.  Massage, sometimes.  Acupuncture, heat therapy, yoga may work, then stop working.  It never ends.

One thing I have observed, in over a decade of giving and receiving bodywork, is that there seems to be a powerful and complex relationship between fascia and the nervous system.  I have noticed that often the subtlest forms of bodywork can have the most profound affects.  I don't pretend to understand the mechanism behind it, but there are a couple of areas where I'd like to see some research done.

One is network spinal analysis.  The theory behind it is that by stimulating the spinal cord in areas where it attaches to the spine, you enable the body to release spinal tension and adjust itself.  After one treatment by an NSA chiropractor, I found my hips releasing the turn-out stress of twelve years of ballet training, and re-aligning in their natural forward-facing stance.  This chiropractor reported that many of her clients saw significant improvement from conditions as serious as MS, from treatment over time. 

The other is the M.E.L.T Method, a simple self-care technique that uses balls and rollers to rebalance and hydrate connective tissue.  It is now primarily used by athletes and personal trainers, but the results I've seen have been so dramatic that I'd like to see more research into its effectiveness on fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes.

The more bodywork I do, the more it seems to me that the mind/body dichotomy is meaningless.  I'd describe it as a mind/body continuum.  At the very least there is a constant feedback loop going in both directions, both consciously and unconsciously.  An adjustment at any point in the loop can have wide-reaching effects; my interest is in finding the most efficient points of intervention.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Satan Unmasked

Jerry Seinfeld was always abhorrent. It is simply that it took most people a couple of decades to notice:
The one star who appeared to be immune from the curse was Jerry Seinfeld who enjoyed relative success in stand-up comedy despite ill-conceived endeavors such as Bee Movie. But now with his new near-universally loathed show The Marriage Ref his legacy seems more threatened than ever.
'Seinfeld' was not a brilliant sitcom.  It was evil and vile.  It was wilfully and self-righteously shallow, trivial and vain.  It was not funny.  It was vicious in its banality.

I may have watched an episode of 'Seinfeld' in its entirety once or twice, but I never managed to do so without feeling that I had been spiritually spat upon.  Most of the time I did not last for more than two or three minutes.  Even now I feel my stomach seize up if someone tunes to a rerun in my vicinity.

The fact that Jerry Seinfeld's new show is being universally panned merely demonstrates that our collective consciousness is catching up with reality.  Smarmy, facile spite is not only destructive of the fabric of society, it is not even good for a chuckle.