Notes from Galveston (week 6), Jac Saorsa, Visiting Scholar at the University of Texas

Scratch everything I said last week about 70,000 biking incomers to the island this week… word is that there were over 400,000 extra people here over this last weekend! It would not surprise me at all if this were indeed the case as there seemed to be a sea of bikes from the seawall to the harbourside, and little sleep was to be had, even for those who were not wanting to join the party, as the revving of engines continued throughout the night. Nevertheless a good time was had it seems by all and now – on Monday evening – all is quiet and peaceful once more. Almost as if it never happened.

I am now more than half way through my time at the institute for Medical Humanities here in Galveston and the work is going well. I feel as if I am moving forward with the project of writing up Speaking the Unspeakable, if a little erratically, but what may seem at first like tangents that I head off on are really just interconnecting trains of thought that serve only to deepen the significance of what the project is all about. I have been re-reading the transcripts from which the drawings were first generated, and the words on the page are as alive, and as engaging, and as moving as they were for me when I first encountered the women who spoke them. It is these words, even more than my own, that prove to me the worth of what we are doing.

On words, I have been reading The Science of Woman: Gynaecology and gender in England, 1800-1929, a very interesting book by Ornella Moscucci. The word ‘science’ in the title is I feel very significant here, at least in terms of its inherent necessity for objectivity. In the chapter on Woman and her Diseases I found this quote, which refers to the woman, after the menopause, who has,

passed on to old age better than man, because free from sexual activity and its many demands on the powers of the system at this later period of life; and, as a rule, suffering less from disease and more secure against external battles and exposure to the elements; more cared for, she more frequently outlives her male comrade in the battle for life.

Thus spake J.B. Hicks in an article entitled, On the difference between the sexes in regard to the aspect and treatment of disease, which was published in the British Medical Journal in 1877. I will leave you all then, secure in my immunity from external battles and exposure to the elements, to make up your own minds!

About Jac Saorsa

Independent visual artist, writer and researcher in philosophy and contemporary art practice, primarily in the field of Medical Humanities and the relation between art and biomedical science. Director and Senior instructor at The Broadway Drawing School in Cardiff.
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