Rendered Fat Content


Jackson Pollock: Untitled. (1953-54)
"Sometimes SlideEffects trump everything else."

Back when we still watched television, I found amusing the many adds for various prescription drugs. Some government agency still vaguely interested in truth in advertising—a concept so long considered not worth considering that I found these ads quaint—insisted that each ad list prominent side effects, which tended toward the shocking. Who wouldn't agree to take a medication likely to effectively treat some skin condition even though it might also cause permanent paralysis or one of the more dreadful forms of cancer? The tradeoffs never seemed to make sense, the side effects just too bizarre to accept the risk, however slight, since slight risks apply to large populations, not to the individual who experiences them. My mom, bless her dear departed heart, gained the reputation of only exhibiting side effects and not usually the primary intended effect of any medication. Her doctor prescribed using a form of Reverse Polish logic to achieve intended outcomes.

Economists call them externalities, the sideshows that tend to pop up around any primary intention.
Build a bridge and you might well exert some unintended effect on the local population of sacred river squid. Some do-gooder EPA might insist that the developer pay good money for a study and invest in mediation strategies which won't add a cent of value to the bridge. This is the world we live in, one generally deeply influenced by unintended consequences. We can always imagine sky hooks, mechanisms capable, in our imaginations, of just slipping down out of the sky without requiring a lot of messy infrastructure behind them. We learn how we fool ourselves slowly, often begrudgingly. Who wants to listen to anyone who openly seems to complicate everything? It's way too easy to assume risks and even reality out of our calculations. This results in learnings, also known as moments when we notice that we were wrong. Some indictment comes in naming us responsible for harming a local population of sacred river squids, or some equivalent, and we're too late smart again.

I can't quite believe that a tablet half the size of my little fingernail could affect very much influence once swallowed. Like Covid-19, though, a much smaller critter than any pill, the medicine doesn't need my belief in it to exert its influence. My doctor prescribed this without any cautions, only promise. I might have become suspicious when the pharmacist insisted upon a little conference before passing over the prescription. I waited a few days before starting the course of treatment, until I was ready. Like anyone, I swallowed the first dose thinking it would make me feel better. And the first dose made me feel no worse. By the third or fourth day, though, a certain strangeness had started overtaking me, though I didn't relate it to that new prescription. A veil seemed to have descended over by vision. My mouth felt uncommonly parched regardless of how much water I swallowed. I felt increasingly detached and disoriented without imagining that I might be experiencing SlideEffects of that prescription, which seemed to be working for the primary purpose for which it had been prescribed.

By yesterday, my disorientation had become extreme. I could not seem to function other than to watch the ceiling fan turning overhead. I'd planned to finish prepping the front porch for painting, but I felt in no shape to operate even a sander. I could not quite operate my laptop. I couldn't write. My mind, what little seemed to be left of it, flashed back to when I used to watch television and those prescription medication ads I found so fascinating. Perhaps I'd become an externality. I checked the web for the list of possible SlideEffects and found a tick box check list of my recent symptoms. I started wondering while I idled if it was worth it to (hopefully only temporarily) lose my ability to write to vanquish the malady? The drug's taken over my brain better than any alien might have. I might have been incapable of having a thought of my own. Would it be worth losing thought to overcome the condition or would retaining the dysfunction be better? Could I even go back if I wanted to or had this drug permanently altered synapses? These were all fundamentally unanswerable questions.

I suppose I should have a conversation with my doctor. I might be an extreme case. The average person—who does not actually exist and never has—might find no rewiring happening in their brain, but us exceptional ones (everyone actually living) might experience certain externalities. Sometimes, the externalities little influence the quality of outcomes and other times, they come to absolutely dominate results. We remember the local sacred river squid decimation more than we appreciate the resulting bridge and we experience a twinge of guilt whenever we cross it. We still cross it. SettlingInto seems to include some settling for, accepting some stuff unimagined beforehand. I continue wrestling with tradeoffs. I'll attempt to finish prepping the porch and determine if I really should be operating a sander in the process. My list of chores requiring my urgent attention explodes, perhaps the most prominent unintended consequence I'm facing. Sometimes SlideEffects trump everything else.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver