Archive for June, 2014

Back from the Hamptons, Off to Maine

June 26, 2014

I’ve always been sort of obsessed with the islands off the coast of Maine, and I’d especially like to see Widow’s Island, but I can’t find it on a map.  Maybe I should just get in a canoe off Penobscot and start paddling:

Richard J. Kahn, M.D., practices internal medicine in Rockport Maine and is on the clinical faculty of University of Vermont and Dartmouth Medical Schools. Current projects include a paper on Noah Webster’s efforts in the field of epidemiology circa 1800 and publication of an annotated transcription of the manuscript, Diseases of the District of Maine by Jeremiah Barker (1752-1835). His most recent publication: “William Withering’s Wonderful Weed” appeared, with chapters by a number of Oslerians, in Clio in the Clinic, edited by Jacalyn Duffin in 2005.

Widow’s Island is a fifteen-acre island in the Fox Island Thoroughfare off Rockland, Maine. Today the island appears untouched by anyone but vacationers. As unlikely as it may seem, in the late 1880s the U.S. Navy built a two-story, brick, fifty-bed yellow fever quarantine hospital on this little island between Vinalhaven and North Haven. Certainly Maine has never been a hotbed of yellow fever. Why was the hospital built in Maine at this time and place, who were the people involved, and what happened to the facility over its forty-year lifespan and beyond?

Yellow fever was active in Latin America. In the 1880s, attempts to build the Panama Canal led to the US Navy to dispatch troops to the region. In 1883 a group of residents near the Portsmouth Navy Base petitioned the Secretary of the Navy, protesting the presence of infected vessels in Portsmouth Harbor. The then Secretary of the Navy William Eaton Chandler (1882-85), who was born in Concord, NH, decided to build a new quarantine station among the islands off the coast of Maine and ordered a search for a suitable location.

Though major ports did have quarantine stations by this time, some Navy surgeons believed that certain patients, particularly those with yellow fever, could best be treated if they were isolated in a sparsely settled, cool climate. Maine certainly fitted this description, and there had been no actual epidemics in the state. In 1884 the US Lighthouse Board, which had jurisdiction over Widow’s Island, offered it to the Navy Medical Department.

This paper will discuss the issues involved with the community response, building, and functioning of the hospital, which never actually admitted a yellow fever patient. Formal control of the hospital passed from the Navy to the State of Maine on June 1, 1904, marking the end of the Naval Hospital on Widow’s Island. For more than ten years thereafter the building was used as a summer retreat for selected patient from the Augusta and Bangor Insane Hospitals.


I Want To Read This

June 23, 2014

“My generation was obsessed with the distinction between theory and practice––I knew a man in California whose doctoral dissertation was devoted to ‘Theory and Practice in theory and practice.'” ~Tony Judt, “Girls, Girls, Girls,” Republished in The Memory Chalet

Yom Kippur Outfit

June 19, 2014
You always look so cleansed.

You always look so cleansed.


June 18, 2014

Apparently, the Post thinks this is what’s going on for me today:

“Even if you are the kind of Taurus who keeps your emotions under control you will be much more outgoing than usual today. There are so many good things going on in your life that you’ve got to stand up and tell the whole world.”

Have they not been outside yet?!  Nothing good can happen in this heat.

Chats With the Bro

June 17, 2014
me i’m going to see the fault in our stars
leaving in like 30 minutes
and i can’t wait
i would rather just leave now
part of this is because i am going to get a bagel first
it’s like the perfect afternoon
IS oh my god
you are about to have the best afternoon
wait is that the movie with the cancer patients?
me yes
IS oh my god
me it’s like dawson’s creek with cancer patients
IS catharsis
me right?

Good Company

June 17, 2014

“As later published versions make clear, she was capable of returning again and again to this primal scene of childhood, redrawing it in an almost infinite variety of colours: sometimes erotic and romantic, sometimes brutal and grotesque. Retelling the same stories; going back repeatedly to the substance that she knew was destroying her: these repetitive acts, some generative and some profoundly destructive, made the critic Edmund White wonder if Duras was not in the grips of what Freud had called the repetition compulsion. “I’m acquainted with it, the desire to be killed. I know it exists,” she once told an interviewer, and it is this intensity, this absolute and uncompromising vision, that sets her work apart. At the same time, this statement seems to shine a light on how she used alcohol: as a way of giving in to her own masochism, her suicidal ideation, while simultaneously anaesthetising herself from the savagery she saw at work everywhere, filling the world.”

~Olivia Laing, on alcoholic female writers.  Seems Duras AND Edmund White were also moved by the compulsion to repeat.  Sometimes, you have to give Freud his due.

Feeling Sick

June 16, 2014

I feel sick––like, physically unwell, although I’m also rather sure that I’m making this up in order to avoid certain writing projects that seem daunting right now.  I keep moving from room to room to see if the change of environment will make me feel better––Nabokov called this a fallacy, and so far my anecdotal evidence tells me he was correct.  I wish there was a large, clean, well-lit library around here that was open 24/7 so I could assure myself that I could stay up all night working, but alas, there are only bars.

In the meantime, I’m thinking of putting myself into the kind of treatment Paul Hammers’ mother does in Bullett Park.

“I went into my room to unpack.  The plaster wall was thin and I could hear my mother talking through the partition.  At first I thought someone had joined her after I’d left but then I could tell by the level of her voice that she was talking to herself.  I could hear her clearly.  ‘My father was a common quarry worker, often unemployed.  I had read somewhere that the trajectory of a person’s career could be plotted from their beginnings and given such humble beginnings I thought that I accepted them I would end up as a waitress in a diner or at best a small-town librarian.  I kept trying to tamper with my origins so that I would have more latitude for a career.  Having been raised in a small town I was terrified of being confined to one…’

I went down the hall and opened her door.  She had taken off her shoes and was lying on her bed, fully dressed, talking to the ceiling or the air.

‘What are you doing, Mother?’

‘Oh, I’m analyzing myself,’ she said cheerfully.  ‘I thought I might benefit from psychoanalysis.  I went to a doctor in the village.  He charged a hundred schillings an hour.  I simply couldn’t afford this and when I said so he suggested that I get rid of my car and cut down on my meals.  Imagine.  Then I decided to analyze myself.  Now, three times a week, I lie down on my bed and talk to myself for an hour.  I’m very frank.  I don’t spare myself any unpleasantness.  The therapy seems to be quite effective and, of course, it doesn’t cost me a cent.  I still have three quarter of an hour to go and if you don’t mind leaving me alone…’  I went out and closed the door but I stood in the hall long enough to hear her say: ‘When I sleep flat on my back my dreams are very linear, composed and seemly.  I often dream, on my back, of a Palladian villa.  I mean an English house built along the lines of Palladio.  When I sleep in a prenatal position my dreams are orotund, unsavory and sometimes erotic.  When I sleep on my abdomen…'”

Should I Be Concerned

June 16, 2014

that my latest style icon is Nicole Richie’s fifteen-year-old sister?


Celebrities I Hate Because They’ve Insulted Me In Ways Real or Imagined

June 15, 2014

Natalie Portman

Etgar Keret

Simon Winchester

James Franco

Kate Bosworth

Marina Abramovic

Eva Mendes
(There are more to add, definitely, but I can’t think of them right now.)

Study for “A Found Text”

June 12, 2014

Copyright ID 20o9

Not my finest, hence the "study."

Not my finest, hence the “study.”