A detailed brazening out of big questions via a discourse on sickness and heath, mind and body, and human society and the environment.
For Sikorski (Sacrificial Rituals, 2011, etc.) the distinctions between mind and body, society and the environment indicate a politics of difference, of self and other, that perpetuates disease and “dis/ease” in the modern world. According to Sikorski, dis/ease is conditional and unique to the individual, evolving “from an ecopolitics of situation.” The modern view of the body is too simple, and Sikorski successfully complicates it for us, first with a vigorous account of immune system functioning with textbook-like precision, showing that the incidence of disease is less about good human T-cells and bad germ invaders than it is a fluid balancing act between genes, trauma, antigens and the body’s acute response to these and other stressors; the body is a complex community of cells, an “ecopolity built of different identities.” This is the book’s strongest argument; from biological context, in the language of politics, Sikorski exposes the anthropocentrism of modern science, the limitations of medical diagnoses and the askew power dynamic between patient and healer. The book’s primary concern, a weighty one, is to deconstruct the myopias of modern science, revealing new, potentially healing truths and offering practical and metaphysical alternatives. Prone to summary and overexplanation of nonessential ideas, Sikorski’s intellectual touchstones—Cartesian dualism, psychoneuroimmunology, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Christianity’s creation myth—are used to greater or lesser effect. Still, Sikorski is equally unsparing of any ideology that obstructs or represses truth, and he asks and answers big questions: Why are we here? What is beyond science and language? Why do we fall ill? Why is there good and evil? In the end, Sikorski substitutes his emphatic deconstructionism for a tone of acceptance and forgiveness, concluding that sickness is “just part of life’s struggles.”
An erudite look at disease from within and without, digressive but ultimately a convincing argument for a paradigm shift in the way we treat what ails us and position ourselves in our eco-political communities.