The Learned should be photographed with the natives, while they are wearing their traditional costume, and it should look a bit funny, with feathers and bits and such. They should not appear in the photographs with an Armani suit; that might lead to a misunderstanding by the audience, who are all in the Learned’s home country, by the way. In order to accommodate local fashion, the Learned Professor may wear a native hat. If the location is Africa, some of the women should be bare-breasted.
It is critically necessary that certain conceptual terms in the natives’ language be immersed in the foreign original language. The concepts must be called untranslatable, not “poorly understood by us.” It suggests that the people’s experience is so different from ours as to require an unimaginable metaphysics that we cannot grasp. The unfolding of the arguments of the learned swing between what is mysterious and what is familiar. As we all are very much conditioned to receive bullshit without much of a struggle, in school, television and the university, the entirety of the seminar or series resembles an advertisement. Professor X endorses some product.
As Professor X trots out the various elements of this foreign culture, certain words are used as linchpins to pretend to converse, as it were, in the mysterious foreign language. All we need know is several buzzwords of the culture that we take up into our recognition, those that we can assemble into a mantra or string of words that seem to convey a meaning. Such apparent significance quite misunderstood, and aha! we have a new claim to understanding this complex and unfamiliar world.
Our habit is identical to the fellow on television on in the clickbait who assures you that Gleem! is what you want. Gleem! is what you need. Your previous naivete as to the existence of Gleem! or its contribution to your happiness will by merrily shoved aside. A few associated words will make Gleem! part of your new worldview. This was the way of advertising in the 1950’s, and still trotted out in simpler and less costly marketing product.
Since American communication has become All Character No Plot, marketing sells us characters that we shall become if we grasp our opportunities; opportunities which resemble the products being sold. The Professor now sells The Professor, and the Learned Institution.
Professor X has learned the occupation of traveling from town to town, and publicly hooking up the Bullshit Hose to give a Chataqua about whatever – whatever is junk food of the day, high-fructose contemplation about something or another.. In the medical world, we of the AOA occasionally are pushed write learned articles to one another, usually as doctors fresh out of medical school or residency. We know absolutely nothing about medicine from Experience. But Experience is dangerously evidential and complex. It is much safer to trust the rules to those who have only recently memorized them, preferably Up-and-Coming physicians branded with the Mark of Fame by a prestigious institution. We brillianti communicate through such pamphlets to the wise as the Pharos.
I am always impressed by the general impertinence of we Americans, whose ancestors were living under rags and skins by the stone fireplaces of the British Isles, while other civilizations noted their history of several thousand years of enlightenment, all the while we were Braveheart. Three hundred years after William Wallace, and things we yet to be spelt the same from lyne to lyne.
And we Americans compare ourselves with envy to British civilization, which we imagine is steeped in long history and tradition. It is not. It is manga imperialism, the Cliff’s notes of civilization, reaching back only a few hundred years since Braveheart. Our American AOA has been in existence for about a hundred years, a time woefully shorter than that of civilized Britain. Most of the electrical wiring in Britain dates from the times we Americans consider ancient.
Stuff that is 800 years old, in some cultures, fits into their “modern history.” The Norman Invasion is about a thousand years ago. We’re not all that civilized, yet, and it shows.
I am genuinely intent to explore with you the Tao of Medicine. I am uninterested in exploring the Tao of Chinese Medicine, though. That’s not what appeals to me. I consider Chinese Medicine generally to be rubbish. I saw a book entitled “Dao of Chinese Medicine: Understanding an Ancient Healing Art 1st Edition” Knock yourself out. It’s in English.
One end of Traditional Chinese Medicine, of course, is based upon deep Asian philosophical concepts about the nature of things. It’s the other end that’s worrisome. In modern times, we burnt witches upon the same premises, and not all that long ago.
Rather than claiming any familiarity with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), I suggest reading the Skeptic Blog on the matter, written by a fellow who grew up with TCM.
The power of the Wu.
The Purify Mind website offers a tiny bit of help.
The earliest practitioners of healing were the Wu, shamanic practitioners who were usually women. Their methods involved exorcism and trance states that were used to formulate healing ceremonies and rituals. Speculation exists that the exorcism methods of shaking spears and burning incense and aromatic woods formed the basis for the later development of acupuncture and moxibustion. The Wu are believed to have been the forerunners of later Taoist healing practitioners. While philosophical Taoism, as represented by the Tao Te Ching and Lao Tzu, didnt become a school of thought until 400 BCE, the practices of the Wu had been in existence for over a thousand years. The outgrowth of these practices was carried into the traditions of the Tao shih, or the Taoist priests, and their ritual and healing practices. The Tao shih used dance, song and meditation-visualization to comprehend and treat diseases. The Tao shih actively invoked these states to perceive the spiritual influences that may be at the root of a disease. They combined ritual exorcism with hands on energetic healing and herbology to treat the whole person.
The Wu. First off, they were on it a thousand years before Greek civilization. The Greeks were not much more advanced than the practitioners of the Tao in Medicine. But I’m not talking about THOSE Wu.
I’m talking “WOO.” You know, like The Amazing Randi and the Skeptics talk about in modern American culture. You see, when you’re pulling the wool over someone’s eyes – running a serious scam – you need to be adept at the “WOO.” Bending spoons? Telekinesis? If you need to get your con on, you need to be gifted in the Art of the Wu. You’ve got to read the article about Randi and Uri Geller.
One of the first learning points about the Wu is that the practitioners kinda believe it. In fact, it’s hard to sell a con that doesn’t speak to you down deep, even if you know it’s a dupe. Other famous students of the Wu is the Martin Gardner, and of course Penn and Teller.
If you don’t read the article in the Times, you won’t get it entirely about the Wu.
The Woo, or Wu, has its own Chinese character: 巫 I find it looking a bit like a manga smiley face. I expect that it will creep into my discussion along the way. It certainly seems that we can’t even get to the Tao of Medicine without a thorough thrashing of the Wu of Medicine.
In case you feel a little bit lost, remember that the term “Wu” derives only from the skeptics’ term “Woo woo!” that describes the myth and pomp and setup for the performance of a trick to baffle the audience. Watch a clip of Penn and Teller; they use enough Wu to misdirect and manipulate their audience. They do not, however, lie to them and suggest that what they see is really happening. They do their bit by telling the audience that the bit is NOT really happening. In other words, they use the minimum amount of “woo” in their shtick.
…to the nonscientific mind it seems natural to credit the recovery to whatever quackery you administered… That’s the Woo
Theory is everything, theory is gorgeous. But sadly, there is yet to be a theory that can cause a fact not to exist.
Jean-Martin Charcot, instructor of Freud
When you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.
Said to be ancient Eastern wisdom.
So where is the Tao?
In medicine, it surely is within Peabody’s essay on the the-care-of-the-patient.Please read it sometime during this attempt to write about the Tao of Medicine. It’s in his lecture for sure.
This looks like it’s going to take a lot of words to lay out comprehensibly. Also, my writing is clunky and minor-league today. More later.
Embrace the Tao! Flee the Wu!