Thursday, October 11, 2007
I am writing a column about the kinds of metaphors that I consider destructive, root metaphors that have so taken hold of us that they provide a world view. The main example I give is the one that uses war as a metaphor for curing diseases, especially cancer. Every day I read in the obituaries that someone fought a valiant fight against cancer. Or waged a courageous battle. I have many objections with this metaphor: the enemy is elusive and war is such a hateful activity are two. It is hard for me to get away from the Cartesian dualism – my body as the grubby vessel for my superior mind and soul. In all our nine months of dealing with various diseases, including three cancers, I didn’t hear any doctor use the metaphor of waging war. Bill’s body had somehow produced something that should come out, like a tooth cavity, and it was taken out. No doctor proclaimed himself the general of an army. He or she were part of a “team” of doctors.