Weekly musings on the arts and current events.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Art of Healing

Permit an analogy. When Thomas Eakins painted The Gross Clinic, he meant it as a tribute to the advent of corrective surgery. The canvas is of heroic dimensions and the composition is classical, with the doctor attending and lecturing in a halo of light. Dr. Gross doesn't merely hold a scalpel in his bloodied hand, but the future of medicine.

Looking at this scene today, however, we are more likely to recoil, like the woman on the left. The physicians are in street clothes and there is no attempt to keep any part of the procedure sterile. We don't see the future of the healing arts, but their crude and brutal past.

Today we are faced with reforming health care in America, and as the President told us last night, we are the last developed democracy to do so. We have a system that permits insurance companies to cherry-pick their clients, charge wildly varying rates, deny benefits in bad faith, and circumscribe doctors. And yet, a vocal minority in America resists change.

It's difficult to know what part of the present system conservatives are trying to protect. Perhaps they believe that medicine will become more impersonal, more vulnerable to political machinations, maybe even more expensive. Perhaps they're simply frightened of the unknown the way all of us fear doctors and hospitals.

I think the present system is untenable and will one day look as primitive as Dr. Gross and his operating theatre. Change will come. The question is: will our nation be healed by it, or overtaken?

The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins, 1875; 8' x 6.5'. Click on the picture for a closer look.


DUTA said...

The dominant colour in the painting is dark (unusual for medical environments - always associated with white). The colour of America's situation is also dark, like that in the painting.

Health Care System cannot be singled out. All the other vital systems (financial, educational, judicial, military) have also gone out of control.

American people should be told they have to go 'back to basics' in order to prevent Collapse and start healing the wounds of the nation .But nobody, of course, especially not the smooth, talkative politicians will tell them that, partly because they all believe the old tricks (financial & social) will work again. Well, they won't work again. End of era.

What, then? A multi-ethnical nation with no money, huge debts, the Chinese insisting that the USA stop the irresponsible massive printing of money that will cause disaster to her reserves of dollars.. Well, under these circumstances, God Forbid, the dark color might turn into red.

Paula Slade said...

I'm hopeful that healing will take place on many levels once this is resolved. Frankly, I'm stunned at all the nonsense being put forward by the "vocal minority."

Janie B said...

Happened by your blog by way of Duta's blog, and I really enjoyed it. So, I am a new follower. I cannot believe that we are constantly bombarded by the media with the railings of the vocal minority. When will the other side speak up and when will the White House stand up for itself? Change must happen.

Janie B said...

Hello again. I'm answering your question about Oprah. They put out the word on Twitter and Facebook and other places asking for dancers who wanted to participate. I think they were surprised at how many volunteered. They taught the dance to several of them who then taught it to others. I don't know how long they practiced, but it was well worth it. Thanks for the follow.

Erkylurk said...

Okay, what bothers me about the doctor in the painting is his crazy hair. He looks like Dr. Pretorious in BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.