Each week, the Sunday Post highlights just a few things we loved reading and want to share with you. Settle in with a cup of coffee, or tea, if that's your pleasure — we saved you a seat! Read an essay or an article online that you loved? Let us know at [email@example.com](mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org). Need more browse? You can also look through the archives.
Medical FAQs are impenetrable and unemotional. Either lawyers have pared them down and flattened them out to the point of nonsense, or they’ve been written by specialists with so little perspective that … nonsense, again. We walk (are rolled) into surgery like we’re stepping into a dark room filled with ominous growling — and we don’t know where to find the light switch.
In this short story, Mary South imagines a world in which FAQs receive answers worth hearing: alternately dry and lyrical, sympathetic and caustic, delivered by a jaded brain surgeon who doesn’t have one fuck left to give. Terrifying, hilarious, angry — I wouldn’t let this narrator anywhere near a scalpel, but I’d buy her a drink and give her a hug for sure. From across several rooms, with an armed guard in between.
Can you tell me about your surgical team?
Though I wouldn’t necessarily call us a team, I did fill in as pitcher so the hospital could participate in league softball playoffs. Dr. Jay Katz couldn’t make it because he had a Whipple. Jay is a terror both on and off the mound. He can remove half a patient’s pancreas without having to pee. I’d have to rig myself up with a catheter. Dr. Amy Benson is our go-to skull-base surgeon. She recently returned from maternity leave. Now the only thing we hear about is the coltish softness of fontanels, the magical myelination moment of development when her baby recognized — I mean really recognized — her face. Maybe I’m just jealous she has a child who recognizes her face.
This essay was everywhere for a while, but if I missed it, maybe you did too? Peter Schjeldahl takes the occasion of his death as an opportunity to meander through his life. Wait, that makes it sound self-indulgent and boring, which is my fault, not his. There are so many lovely or funny passages in this itinerant reflection (“Swatted a fly the other day and thought, Outlived you.”). Some of the best are about writing and life, a pairing you’d think had been utterly exhausted.
Writing consumes writers. No end of ones better than I am have said as much. The passion hurts relationships. I think off and on about people I love, but I think about writing all the time.
Writing is hard, or everyone would do it.
You’re reading an exception, which is pouring out of me. It’s the first writing “for myself” that I’ve done in about thirty years, since I gave up on poetry (or poetry gave up on me) because I didn’t know what a poem was any longer and had severed or sabotaged all my connections to the poetry world. An impermeable block has crumbled, my muse being, I guess, the grim reaper.
How will the mental health profession adapt to the end of the world? Badly, one suspects. The turtle on which the whole field balances is the repairable broken-ness of the patient. Psychology is ill equipped to heal people living in a broken world.
The emergent understanding of the psychological harm caused by climate change is at the root of a new field known as ecopsychology. According to one of its founders, historian Theodore Roszak, the purpose of the discipline is to define “‘sanity’ as if the whole world mattered.” Ecopsychologists view the Cartesian separation of mind and body — an outlook taken for granted in mainstream medicine — as antiquated and harmful, and argue that it can lead to people viewing themselves as separate from the planet they live on. Because traditional psychologists limit their examinations to individuals and their internal maladies, they stamp a “sick” label on patients like Chris and me in an attempt to treat the person instead of treating the problem.