Daily Archives: May 15, 2011

Treating cancer in the 19th century

CBS News has photoessay, at times horrific, of cancer patients of the 19th century, including:

33 year-old Jane Todd Crawford, of Wellington, Ohio, (who) rode 60 miles on horseback to seek treatment for what turned out to be a huge ovarian tumor. Anesthesia wasn’t yet available, so she sang and recited psalms to calm herself during the 25-minute operation. The surgeon made a nine-inch incision and “took out 15 pounds of a dirty gelatinous-looking substance” before removing the rest of the tumor. She was up and about five days later, and 25 days later she got back on her horse and rode home. She lived another 50 years.

Cancer still has a way to go before it is beaten, but compared to then, we’ve come along way.

Some random thoughts on the wonderful Des Hommes et Des Dieux (Of Gods and Men)

This is a beautiful film, and a great one. It’s filled with gorgeous imagery (such as the one above), but it is also beautifully written and acted. It is not surprisingly a deeply spiritual film, and it certainly helps to have an understanding of Christianity, because the film seemed highly allegorical to me. But even without that, the film can be appreciated. If you only had a passing description of it, it may seem like something that would be a dull film, but acts early in the film put the Trappist monks in jeopardy and provides conflict and high tension throughout the film.

Speaking of allegory, what I noted was:

  • the main character being named Christian / Christ. (Interesting the character Luc was a physician, and Saint Luke is the patron saint of  physicians.)
  • the Last Supper towards the end of the film
  • the army being the Romans and the terrorists being the Pharisees
  • the moment when Christian is in the garden in anguish reminded me of Christ in Gethsemane

I wasn’t paying attention to that so much at first, but towards the end, I noticed it more.  I mention it here because being aware of this earlier may help you pick up things that I missed.

The film ends in an ambiguous way. I didn’t appreciate this until later, when I found there was uncertainty over the fate of the monks as well.

Very highly recommended.

A minor note: Lambert Wilson plays Christian in this film and can be said to represent Christ (to some degree). In the second and third Matrix films, he plays the Merovingian, who can be said to symbolize the devil in that film. Indeed, the actor comes across very differently in each film, and it took me some time looking at him in this film before I made the connection.

For a good review of the film, see ‘Of Gods and Men,’ a True Story of Monks in Algeria by A.O. Scott in the  NYTimes.com

The Best Alleys of Los Angeles

This is #8:

To know why it looks like this, and to see the rest of the photo essay, see: 10 Best Alleys in Los Angeles – Los Angeles Art – Style Council