Digital Readings @ Seagull: Session #1 Disease and Suffering
Time & Location
About the Event
Digital Readings @ Seagull: Session #1
10.4.2020 | Disease and Suffering | Amreeta
Duration: 45 minutes
Format: We can have a maximum of 6 readers but unlimited participants. Comment here before 9 April if you’d like to join the session as a reader. We hope to snatch some time for discussion or observations. We also encourage you to read vernacular texts in translation.
Today, when we are wrestling with disease and suffering in possibly the most intimate manner at this unprecedented scale, we'd like to begin our first digital reading session with the theme: Disease and Suffering.
What are we reading?
While the topic is broad enough to include any representation or discussion of disease in fiction and non-fiction, I would like to bring a specific framework to it. I will be reading sections from Susan Sontag's 'Illness as a Metaphor'. As someone who recovered from multiple life-threatening diseases, Sontag's piece springs from raw experience. It is an invective against using diseases as symbol or metaphor to comment on human morality in literature and common-sense understanding of human suffering. She also argues at length against the use of war metaphors to describe cancer survivors because of the adverse impact this sort of rhetoric has on the ability of the patient to take pragmatic decisions.
Although human beings use metaphors to describe their own day to day sufferings, should there be an ethical limit to authors using epidemics and diseases as metaphors to comment on moral questions?
While readers are free to bring whatever they wish to the session, it would be interesting to return to literary descriptions of diseases we've read or the common rhetoric surrounding certain diseases we are familiar with, and think about Sontag's argument.