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Monthly Archives: July 2009

In mathematics, when we deal with infinity we deal with the nature of infinity in such a way that is verifiable. It’d be absurd to demand that we manipulate expressions with explicit knowledge of infinity.

In life, when we deal with God we deal with the nature of God in such a way that God has made verifiable. It’d be absurd to demand that we place our belief in God only when we can obtain explicit knowledge of God. Like infinity, explicit and complete knowledge of God is impossible to obtain.

Note: I don’t think the nature of infinity or the nature of God is any less real than actual infinity or God. Understanding one’s nature allows a small glimpse into what that nature is part of and actually is. Beyond this, I feel like this analogy is too simple and dangerous. Take it for what it is: An analogy.

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Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of medical books, blogs, and articles. The past two months have unlocked vaults containing shelves and rows of valuable insight into the profession I aim to pursue. Amidst the texts’ perspectives, I’ve singled out a specialty I might be interested in. Among two others at this point, I’m intrigued by primary care physicians, our family doctors.

Theirs is a noble role on the front lines of health care. You’d never know, though. In war, we readily recognize Marines, but we require a reminder to recognize that behind every Marine, there are a number of military personnel enabling and supporting him or her. In health care, we readily recognize the neurosurgeons and oncologists, but a reminder isn’t enough to push us to recognize the family physician. The medical practitioner totem pole, from what I gather, has carved family physicians near the bottom. That’s hardly the place for these Marines to be.

Obama has recently presented a new health care plan. I’ve no idea what I think of it since I am still trying to understand how health care works. ((Kaiser.edu is a sight that might help. One of the data the website cites is that most Americans don’t understand health care.)) What I do know, from what I’ve been reading, is that if Obama wants this universal health care, someone has to remedy the stigma that primary care physicians have been gradually scarred. Recruitment into these ranks has been decreasing, and given the lifestyle and compensation of the specialty, it appears that unless an intervention and reformation is applied, primary care physicians will soon become a sight to see. “You saw your doctor yesterday? I’m still hoping he’s received my call.”

I might want to be a primary care physician. I don’t want primary care physicians to enter the profession without ample means to reduce the weight in their bag of scholarly debt; without deserved respect from their peers and the public; without the mind of a businessman, but instead of a healer and preventer who doesn’t have to worry about whether he will be paid this hour with these — and not this — patients. Medicine — our health — is not a business, and like so many things in America, somehow it’s managed to become one.

Re: Helen Fisher tells us why we love & cheat.

Apprehensively excited is what you might say I felt. Apprehensive in that I was about to see scholarly exposition on a topic I love, and excited in that I love the topic. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist, presented an interesting, albeit somewhat awkward and plain, lecture on the biology of romantic love.

Her view, in tandem with that she was presenting love as a biological mechanism — “reducing”, if you will, love to a science — was depressing. She asserted that love, romance, is a biological drive, a branch in evolutionary history, and I believe she said something similar to, “It’s elevated levels of dopamine.” Is romance something we only dream, ravish in song, and melt into literature? Do we naively believe this illusion without any desire to discredit it?

Beyond depressing! Dr. Fisher spent 30 years of her life dedicated to studying the specific topic of romantic love, and she made that lame and lifeless conclusion. She says that the romantic drive is stronger than the sexual drive, but I can’t see her basis for that assertion. By simplifying love, Dr. Fisher has effectively severed its mysterious and lustrous qualities. ((If you watch the lecture, you’ll notice that she quotes a number of distinguished persons regarding love. None of the quotes, in my opinion, were effective — evidence that she dulled love.))

I’m frustrated with her research. Not only because it doesn’t agree with me, but mostly because it’s so simplified and ugly. She describes three drives: the sex drive, the romantic drive, and the attachment drive. These three drives ultimately serve the evolutionary purpose of reproduction: Finding a mate, concentrating on a mate, and staying together to raise the offspring. Rubbish. Love isn’t a biology; it isn’t textbook; it isn’t Darwin’s theory; you can’t contain it. That’s an intelligent escapade, and perhaps there is some light of credibility in those perspectives, but I believe romance — and Love so much more — is intensely larger than what Dr. Fisher is reducing it to.

Then, what is romance? I suppose much of romance is found in emotion, but I believe that emotion is quickly naive and immature. ((I don’t mean all emotion is garbage, only that emotion easily draws us toward either side of the trapeze.)) Although largely emotional, I think you would be missing the entire idea of romance if you focus solely on it; it would be like using a telescope to watch your television. Romance must have some deep relationship with the other facets of love. If you want to know romance, you have to know love in its entirety — exactly what I’d like to know. However, I also believe romance is a learning experience. Embarking on that experience is a large step for me.

Earlier in the week I was chatting with a friend of mine from back at university, Tegan. It was a lightly fascinating conversation about love. Specifically, our dialogue engaged us in our dating philosophies, romantic history, and — as Dr. Fisher might say — wishes for elevated levels of dopamine. I found most interesting our different approaches to dating. I don’t recall Tegan’s approach, but my approach largely focuses on the transition from friendship to romance.

I don’t understand the difference between a friend and a girlfriend. I like spending time with my friends whom are girls, but I’m almost certain that I would like to spend time with my girlfriend too. I like talking with my friends whom are girls, but, likewise, I believe I would enjoy it just as much, and perhaps even more, with my girlfriend. I speculate that emotion plays a large part in discerning friend from romantic partner. A girlfriend is someone that moves me to exhibit love’s qualities exclusively to her. What would move me to do such a seemingly selfish act? ((And what does that mean about love? Does it tolerate this “selfish” intent? Is it selfish at all?)) I propose that only experience can reveal this answer.

Is it disgusting that I’m dissecting romance like this? Perhaps, but I think it’s a smart move. I feel that too often people will think they’ve fallen in love when they really haven’t. I’ve noticed that when I first meet a girl that I have some sort of romantic interest in, I’m swept; I fascinate the thought of dating her, and saying she’s mine. It is my conjecture that failed loves and marriages are merely drawn out episodes of that experience.

I think romance is essentially a branch from a foundation in friendship. ((I feel like this is incredibly obvious. What healthy marriage or relationship wouldn’t say that their partner is their best friend?)) What separates the friendship from romance is what stirs the romantic emotion — not the emotion itself. This distinction should be largely variable, but I’m curious to know whether there is a common element.

Note: Title borrowed from a Relient K song from their self titled album. I thought it was somewhat interesting to observe that most of the love songs are usually about one person professing his or her love for another person. 17 Magazine is probably the only song I have that talks about love in the broad sense, and even then it is a stretch to say that. It’s probably an insignificant observation, but interesting nonetheless because what does that say about entertainment and love, if anything at all?

From Atul Gawande’s Complications: No matter what measures are taken, doctors will sometimes falter, and it isn’t reasonable to ask that we achieve perfection. What is reasonable is to ask that we never cease to aim for it.

This is precisely what I mean when I say that perfection is obtained in the process. We can never be or have perfection unless some perfect outside agent provides us a means to be or have so. The most perfect we can ever be on our own is to first know what is perfect. Then after we know what is perfect, we can only vainly dig our fingers into the earth and helplessly crawl toward it. Perfection is a joint effort. It cannot be achieved by an individual.

I highly recommend Atul Gawande’s Complications. His second book, Better, is servicable, but, in my opinion, is in no compare with Complications. If you are an aspiring physician, the stories are gripping; if you possess no avarice for medicine, the book still satisfies as a read. From any perspective, Gawande’s notes and thoughts are valuable and will easily translate across many, if not all, occupations and endeavours.