Mediated Experience & The End
of the Pharmaceutical Age
"I began getting on to how degenerate things had really become in 1955 when I worked for the movie industry on Park Avenue in New York City. I met a man who began to show me the power of propaganda, (as in "Federal" Reserve System). Whoever penned the old saw about ... "the pen is mighter than the sword ..." really knew what he was talking about . . . I am well aware of the stranglehold of the FDA as well as the AMA (American Murderers Association). I appreciate very much the sacrifices that you have made. If I wasn't so advanced in age (83) I would leave the U.S. just as you have done. The general population here is so asleep you can hear them snoring out beyond Jupiter. Thanks ... again for what you are doing."
Courtesy of Dees Illustration
"Most Americans spend their lives within environments created by human beings. This is less the case if you live in Montana than if you live in Manhattan, but it is true to some extent all over the country. Natural environments have largely given way to human-created environments.
Years ago I was exposed to Jerry Mander's Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television [ 3 ] -- a penetrating set of polemics that outlines, from several vantage points, the dangers of television-watching and how the very medium itself is destructive and non-reformable.
Many unfamiliar with the work will laugh at the very notion . . . and I might well laugh, as well -- were it not for the fact that in the 30+ years since Mander penned his book, I have been able to observe the predictable outcome of avoiding the subject, which has become only more pronounced . . . and horrifying.
This month I focus on just one of Mander's arguments -- the first, in fact, of his book, as it would apply to medicine. Mander called it "The Mediation of Experience." [ 4 ]
As I detail extensively in Meditopia, one of the unspoken, rarely considered assumptions of modern medicine is that progress is made through the march of technology. The idea that technology is the cure for our problems is ubiquitous in modern life. If my cellphone breaks, I take it to a phone technician. If my car breaks down; a mechanic. For my Mac; a computer tech. For my refrigerator; a "frig" guy. If I lose internet, I summon the cable guy. If I lose power, my provider sends an electrician . . .
And what do I do if I get sick?
Well, that's easy. I just go to a medical technician . . . a medical doctor or similar practitioner, depending on my problem . . . someone who has a technical solution, a scientific answer, someone in touch with the latest discoveries in that field. Makes sense, doesn't it?
Sure, it makes sense . . . but that's only because we live in a mediated environment that shields us from the obvious . . . WE may live in world surrounding by technical man-made artifacts, but our bodies are not born of technology. They're born of nature. Only by living in a world that is so completely out of touch with nature could we be blinded to this self-evident fact.
The very foundation of modern pharmacology is based on a single principle that is as far removed from nature as one can imagine. It takes as Gospel that the healing arts can only find perfection through the search for discrete, chemical, molecular entities -- the vast majority of which cannot be found to exist within Nature herself. Moreover, these chemical entities must be unique and patentable . . . and they can only be discovered and sold by companies with sufficient capital (i.e. in the hundreds of millions of dollars per entity) to survive a vast bureaucratic maze, chock full of of regulatory bribe-takers, all working to prove that the chemical entity in question has at least some tangential effect on one or more disease conditions within the human body.
Only when all of these hurdles are negotiated can our entity -- which we are now permitted to call a medicine or a drug -- receive the imprimatur of official medical science.
More perverse still, modern pharmacology gives little thought to the long-term, ill-effects of the drugs to which it gives its approval. At Alpha Omega Labs we deal with cancer patients the world over, and in the vast majority of cases the damage created by one or more therapies to which the patient has been subjected is greater than the original disease for which the patient sought help to begin with. This brings to mind the observation of the late Neil Postman, namely, that inventors and promoters of technology "are always given to telling the Public the wonderful things their invention will DO -- always neglecting to disclose what their invention will UNDO." [ 5 ]
The first underlying principle behind the I Ching, the oldest and most reverred work of ancient Chinese philosophy, is that "when things reach their extreme, they revert to their opposite." An American observer might use the pendulum to make the same observation.
The scientific community, specifically as it manifests itself in the drug industry, is insanely out of control, reaching level of absurdity unimageinable in another time and another age. Mander himself used several examples in his book, even in the 1970's . . . such as a report from the New England Journal of Medicine that a team of doctors discovered that infant jaundice could be "cured by ordinary sunlight. This discovery led to a spurt of articles on the possibility that natural light might be healthy for humans. What a revelation!" [ 6 ]
Or other "scientific findings" which Mander notes, which the New York Times reported in a "six-month period in 1973":
And it is in this environment that modern medicine has been allowed to evolve into pure, unadultered financial exploitation, for as Mander again notes, "Living within (these) artificial, reconstructed, arbitrary environments that are strictly the products of human conception, we have no way to be sure that we know what is true and what is not. We have lost context and perspective. What we know is what other humans tell us." [ 8 ]
And this is where the I Ching comes in.
All of my adult life I have been studying the many ways in which Western Civilization is "unsustainable." It is unsustainable because it has lost its natural mooring. It cannot stay alienated from Nature forever . . . just as the previous 26 major Earth civilizations that lived and breathed and died over the last 6,000 years. (I cover this extensively in Chapter 5 of Meditopia.)
The pharmaceutical paradigm, which brought upon us this "Great Age of Iatrogenesis," will pass away -- just as will the other components of our civilization to which it is tethered. And it is in that passing that members of humanity will then again be free to have a direct, primary experience of their world.
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