Sanity Isn’t Everything

The television series “Bosch” is over and done after seven seasons. No more years promised or hinted at. But it is still out there to be enjoyed, because this is streaming-land, where you can have a second chance if you missed it the first time around. And if you did miss it, here’s why you might want to take a moment to put it on your list.

Everybody looking nice and noir here in this poster.

It seems that there has been one police procedural series at a time that is clearly superior ever since “Hill Street Blues” came on the scene, and Bosch was one of those for Robin and I. Taken from a series of books by Michael Connelly, we got to watch characters rise, fall, stumble, surmount obstacles … to develop in ways that we might not have predicted.

Titus Welliver as Harry Bosch. A good actor gets a fine role. What’s not to like?

The lead character, detective Harry Bosch, had a childhood that was so unjust, so nightmarish, that it made him a crusader for fairness and justice in his police work. Crusaders can be prickly people, and his character is all of that. But most of his behavior is … admirable.

Watch an episode or two if you are between series. You may get as hooked as we were and be glad for it.

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I’m reading The Great Influenza, a book about the pandemic of 1918. Now (I can almost hear you asking yourself) why would a sane person read about one pandemic when they are in the midst of another one, the end of which is nowhere in sight? I think the answer is in the words “sane person.” Sanity, if you will search the pages of this blog going back as far as you want to, is not a quality I have ever claimed for myself. It’s not even a goal that I aspire to, to be honest.

My own variation of not quite on the beam does not involve the use of meat cleavers, AR-15s, or other violent tools and actions. It’s the kind of looniness that at its worst others probably find at worst irritating or annoying, at best amusing.

But about the book. If we think that we have it bad today, it is instructive to see what happened in 1918. Think bulldozers in Philadelphia digging mass graves to help alleviate the piling up of corpses in hospitals, morgues, mortuaries, and homes. Think what seemed like an ordinary influenza season turning into a nightmare as the virus mutated into something much worse, a killer of amazing swiftness and ferocity. Think a disease that hit hardest at the young and fit and was tolerated better by the infants and senior citizens of the time, turning the usual run of a disease on its head.

The author tells a good story, and he has a fantastic story to tell. For me, the introductory chapters on the development of American medical science were eye-opening. Where we went from backwoods medicine to the best laboratory benches in the world in less than a generation, and from the far periphery of science smack dab into the center, a position we still hold. Where doctors went from incompetent butchers to the gods of society that they became. This latter was especially interesting to a former doctor-god like myself, who had to turn in his celestial robe and scepter some time ago and who has been living contentedly as a mortal ever since. (I really don’t miss all that, although I will tell you that if you ever get the chance to party with the seraphim, you’ll never be the same).

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Back when I was in the process of becoming a divorced person, I sort of lost my mind for a while. I kept bad hours, slept too little and often ate things that were not fitten to eat. I would be up nights writing poetry, most of which I recognized the next morning as drivel, some of it as just okay, but then I would read one that was really good. One which contained ideas and writing that I recognized as not mine.

Out of these experiences came my theory of how my cranial contents, and perhaps yours as well, truly operate. First of all, this spongy bit of tissue tells me what to do to keep all of the nutritional substances that it needs coming in on a regular basis. It ponders odd things without cessation, and it does this without my bidding or leave, and often without my complete understanding. It prompts me to carry it around to different places, I suppose because its fairly confined life would be too boring if it didn’t have new things to look at.

But it has become obvious that what I used to regard as my brain I now realize is a brain. It doesn’t really belong to me, and is actually pretty independent of me. But I can “rent it” like a tool when I need it to tot up a column of figures or type a blog entry like this one. When my rental hour is up it doesn’t stop but keeps on going like that mad little bunny with the drum.

Anyone who has ever begun to meditate will recognize themselves here. You sit on your cushion, arrange your arms and legs just so, and then begin focussing on your breathing. Almost immediately your brain takes off on a tangent. You bring your attention back to the breath and in a few seconds that monkey mind is off again, following its own muse. You wonder why this is so, and why you don’t seem to be in control of your thoughts. Well … now you know what I think. Perhaps you have a better explanation?

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