Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Anarchism and Science (2)

Work With What You Got
- mac, Denver, CO

I am the kind of anarchist who associates Science with technology, progress and change. The word reminds me of industry, academia, efficiency and productivity. Western medicine, chemical mining and interstellar exploration. Science represents a desire for more. Nothing is sacred. Bigger, faster, easier, stronger, thinner, deeper, better, more. It means everything should be broken down, isolated, separated or combined. Science tells me that anything can and should be “improved” and that whatever it is that we have right now, it ain’t good enough. I don’t know how exactly I developed these associations (for I am also the kind of anarchist who took AP Physics as an elective), but they are troubling to my fragile, socially-conscious sensibilities and so in my daily life, I try to avoid the grandeur of Science all it carries with it. While I don’t want to take my resources for granted (the ones I have directly because of science or merely from my wealth, whiteness and other privileges that this *grand* civilization has bestowed upon me) I try to live simply. I try to honor things for what they are. I try to be resourceful, practical and responsible. Ya know, I try to work with what I got.

I collect water where it falls from the sky. I fix salvaged bicycles with abandoned tools. I read books from the library. I repair plumbing leaks with rubber bands and fabricate hinges from tin cans. I don’t carry a cell phone. I lift with the muscles I have. I learn history from my neighbors. I try to trust and lean on the people near me. My favorite flavor is the one in front of me. I patch those pants. Glue those shoes. Eat that trash.

And moreover, when my team of big shot Endocrinologists suggest that I transplant insulin-producing cells into my pancreas, I say “hey man, thanks but no thanks. I wanna work with what I got.”

Okay. I am a Type 1 Diabetic. For 15 years I have been unable to survive without multiple daily injections of bio-engineered insulin and regular monitoring of blood glucose levels with hand-held electronic machines that read in milligrams per deciLiter. That’s right. I order medications online from international pharmaceutical companies. My closet is full of sterile-wrapped plastic syringes, alcohol swabs and computerized strips. The only expiration dates I regard are those on my insulin vials. For seven years while I used an external insulin pump I could occasionally be caught excusing myself to go “change my batteries.” My glucose meter is the first thing I see every morning and the last thing I see before I go to sleep. I get my retinas scanned, kidneys screened, blood work drawn, and Hemoglobin A1C checked every few months. I have lived this way for as long as I can remember, and (until industrial collapse) I always will.

So how is it that I imagine I can “work with what I got” when exactly what I got is a deadly auto-immune disease? And where do I get off condemning Science when I won’t last more than two days without my medication? And even if I merely tried to avoid the unsustainable forces of Science in my daily life, when would I take my insulin injections? And what, Mac, exactly is the point of this article?

Are we to conclude that hypocrisy of this magnitude is inherent to lifestyle activism and angsty privileged anarchists like myself? (Or is that another article...)

Do we simply sigh, “Science: Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.” Or more accurately “Science: we can’t live with it, I can’t live without it.”

Or is the conclusion more personal? Is it that I fear and distrust the things I am forced to depend on—hence I dislike Science—and I would rather distract myself with 101 Uses for a Busted Bicycle Tube than acknowledge my own powerlessness and denial?

Or maybe, dear reader, the conclusion is that my attempt to “use what I got” is the real bad science. The idea that life can be distilled into a slogan (or many slogans) is the worst hypothesis. There are no proofs or formulas or truths for this. Not everything can be described as cause and effect, a constant or a variable, a hypothesis, then experiment, then result. Maybe it’s Science that taught me I should have no variables or unknowns in my life, that I should adhere to a consistent process, that I should isolate all the parts until the original whole doesn’t make sense anyone. The same Science that objectifies people by making them subjects, creates poisons first and antidotes later, and just won’t accept belief without proof. The Science that told this little girl it would cure diabetes. The Science that promised to take care of us all. Yup. That’s the one. So fuck you, Science. Take your desire for more, your race for progress, your future plans and your fucking islet cell transplants and shove ‘em.

Sure, we conclude that I am grotesquely reliant on Science—its most wasteful, unequal, capitalist aspects. But just as my body cannot support itself, the systems that support me now are unsustainable on the most global scale. AND I want to know and honor that reality every day. I don’t want to ignore it or justify it away. I don’t want to break it down, compartmentalize it or dilute it. I don’t want to desire something different, something bigger, better, easier, stronger or more. I want to know that this world--with all the problems and sometimes even-more disastrous solutions--and this body---with this fucking disease--is what I got. And I want to honestly and truly use it.

Or maybe the point of the article is just that I wanted to talk about my diabetes. Seriously, LVN you could pick any topic and Mac would turn it into a rant about diabetes.

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