About These Bones Of Mine

A blog about the importance of human osteology and archaeology...

Televisual Schedule Part 1

20.00 – 21.00 – World’s Deadliest Farts (S4 E5)

This episode focuses on the tragedy of little Timmy from Tuskegee, whose ramen-fueled fart of ’92 killed a class of twelve-year old’s. (r).

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Wanted To Know You

I wanted to love you
but you made it hard,
Turned away my cheek
and instead raised the card

That declared your hostilities
and declared a war,
It was then I knew
that I deserved so much more

I wanted to love you
so you made it hard,
I wanted to know you
but you made it hard

I wonder where you are
wonder who you became,
I wanted to love you,
but you made it hard. . .

Anger as a Fuel

On life in a Soviet Gulag labour camp in the Russian Far East:

We were all sick of the barracks food. . . Any human feelings – love, friendship, envy, charity, mercy, ambition, decency – had vanished long along with the flesh we had lost during our prolonged starvation. The minuscule layer of muscle that was still left on our bones, and which allowed us to eat, move, breathe, even saw beams, fill barrows with spadefuls of stone and sand, even push a barrow up an endless wooden ramp in the gold mine, had only enough room for resentful anger, the most lasting of human feelings.

– From the short story entitled Field Rations in the new collected edition of Kolyma Stories by Varlam Shalamov, translated by Donald Rayfield. New York Review of Books, 2018.

This Industrial Heartland

The ties that bind the population to the nearby land can seem inhuman: mechanical structures that stretch across the landscape, not embracing the natural features in any meaningful way but instead perching delicately on top. The foundations, tunnels, tubes and pipes are violently forced and rendered into and through the land, yet here is where the beating economic heart sits.

Only, we have learnt from the lessons of the past few centuries and slowly our gaze is turning into how we can instead ally industry with nature, working with it instead of against it. Is it too late? Only time will provide us with that answer. . .

Taken using a Pentax ME Super 55mm camera with Lomography Lady Grey 400 (Fomopan) film and developed by hand and then scanned into a computer. If reused please credit the author.

Taken using a Pentax ME Super 55mm camera with Lomography Lady Grey 400 (Fomopan) film and developed by hand and then scanned into a computer. If reused please credit the author.

Taken using a Pentax ME Super 55mm camera with Lomography Lady Grey 400 (Fomopan) film and developed by hand and then scanned into a computer. If reused please credit the author.

Lethargy

It is a Sunday afternoon and Father John Misty states that he is in ‘the business of living’ to mournful tones. I can’t help but agree with him, but then again here I am, sat staring at the screen and trying to ignore the world outside.

I sit and I am barely speaking to anyone, just thinking about the current state of my country, the continent it is a part of and the fool that sits in the house across the water. How did it get to this?

Christmas cheer has never seemed so far away. When I think about the trees that are burning, the refugees that are drowning, the continents dividing and the politicians scheming, when did it all come down to this? Hasn’t it always been the way?

We fall into disrepair by inaction and we are actively doing that now.

Character Study in Bb

She has an Anglo-Saxon sternness.  She could be 20 or 40 years of age, her religious conviction writ large in her plain facial features.  She loves warmly but disciplines firmly, an island of austerity in a world of plenty.

Shadows in the Graveyard

Another beautiful accident with film:

Shot using a Pentax ME Super on Lomography Lady Grey 400 (Fomapan). Developed using Rodinal and scanned. If used elsewhere please credit as appropriate and contact author.

Sorrow

And I thought of myself too, of my foot, and of Oddball’s thin, wiry body; it seemed shot through with appalling sorrow, quite unbearable. As I gazed at the black-and-white landscape of the plateau I realized that sorrow is an important word for defining the world. It lies at the foundations of everything, it is the fifth element, the quintessence.

– From Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2018.

Rio de Janeiro: Extreme City by Luiz Eduardo Soares

I started reading this excellent book recently and I very glad I picked it up in the bookstore. His writing is vivid, impassioned, and influential.  I came across this quote today and it resonated immediately:

There’s nothing so terrifying as an unpredictable power, because unpredictability makes it impossible to adopt a survival strategy and turns the dial of insecurity up to the maximum.

Soares, 2016.

Of course I cannot comprehend the conditions of which he writes, the cliche that hides the truth and the history of this city. Recent homicide rates for Brazil in 2017 do not make great reading, but there is more this country, and more to this city, then the cliches.  I recommend this book if you are interesting in South American history, social history, and travel.

Reflections in the Glass

I look out of the window in the morning, to look upon the world anew after a heavy sleep, and I wonder just what is happening to my country as I take in the news.  Antics that belong to the actions of the Freikorps in the 1920’s have taken place in the capital, and every day a new banner headline rolls across the TV sprouting more nationalist or jingoistic nonsense.  Where is the spirit of the liberal democratic freedom I grew up with?  Where are the dreams of a generation to be found?

I close the curtains, push back the duvet and climb again into my warm bed.  My voice is silent once again, but the day will come where I will raise it.  Will it be too late?

Hospital

I cradle the bulging medical file by my side and wonder just how many months of my life I have spent inside a hospital.  Has it been over a year?  More than a year and a half? How many times has my body been sliced open, how many eyes have viewed my prone body, naked save for the basic green coverings?

Silly thoughts go through your head as you await the long journey down to the operating theatre. Even if you can walk you are taken on a bed, strapped in and wheeled by porters, along the long cold corridors and into the opening lift, down into the waiting embrace of the sterile patient bay where angels check to confirm your personal details once again.  After a short while it is your turn to be taken into the surgical corridor.  This is where evenly spaced doors are to be found which lead to operating theatres where dedicated teams work to save or improve a life, perhaps both if miracles are allowed to be worked.

Once I could remember clearly waiting to be taken down to the operating theatre, having made it to the waiting bay where my name and wrist band were checked to make sure I was the person I said I was, that I was here to have this limb operated on as indicated by the black arrow the surgeon had drawn on the flesh the day before.  The two nurses who managed the surgical waiting bay came back and forth between myself and another, older individual who was also waiting patiently to be taken for his surgery.  I had left my glasses up on the ward, safely locked inside my bedside cabinet, but I could tell from when these nurses were up close that they were singularly young and attractive. The contoured curves of the green scrubs contrasted nicely against the dyed blonde hair and their friendly open faces made me feel somewhat more at ease; as if this most inappropriate of venues for sexual thoughts had lain this final temptation on before me as a reminder of the beauty of life itself, as I faced yet another grueling round of orthopaedic intrusions.

I realise now of course that they were just doing their job and doing it well, that I was projecting my worries and feelings onto them, that I in some way wanted to be mothered, nursed, and sexually sated by these babes in green because I faced the great unknown and I wanted to be reassured.

Under anesthetic there is no sleep, there is no passage of time.  There is a moment of clarity and sheer muscle relaxation, and in the next moment you are waking up in recovery, dazed by the drugs and sore from the physical manipulation of the surgery itself.

It can be a shock to find yourself trapped in your own body, hazy and in pain.  You have to remember to follow the instructions of the staff.  It really is much less painful if you relax your entire body and roll over gently as they change the bloody sheets from under you.  Do not tense, you must instead work against that natural inclination and instead relax, relax your feeble body.  Do not be afraid to ask for more painkillers if needed, do not be afraid to admit your vulnerability and to let the nursing staff wash your iodine-covered body, even if it means baring all in a moment of extreme weakness.

It is uncomfortable, and there is no clarity of thought or great moment of singular insight.  You are weak, you are waiting to heal.  The pain, which can be searing at first, often morphs into a dull and constant ache, exacerbated by occasional movement.  One of my greatest moments of realising that I am at the mercy of another person was being rolled over onto my side, no clothing on, and having my back and buttocks washed.  It became a treat in intensive care as the heat from a body lying motionless in bed is intense and causes the sheets to stick, to curdle with your sweat and pain.  The relief of having warm water freshening your skin once again is tempered by the fact that you are on show, bollocks and all.  Each crevice, each crack and each roll of body fat laid bare.  There is no hiding the essential truth of the naked flesh.

Yes, as I handled my medical file, I knew what it is like to lie strapped to a bed for many months, to lie prone before the great healing god of time.  Immutable in its aspirations of forever being, seemingly always present, never quite in the past, and never quite in the future.