Sunday, 28 October, 2012
‘PICKS FROM THE PROM’
(It is well to bear in mind that ‘PROM’ is a work of faction)
Carvel’s ‘New Genesis’ Speech
In the Summer of 1972, Carvel was invited to address a small group that gave itself the collective title of ‘Friends of Medicine’. As SOURCE was to explain years later, they ‘spoke to someone who had attended the event and heard, at first-hand, what turned out to be a remarkable speech.’ They went on to say that ‘Carvel came over as just a little world-weary, the energy for which he was famed, not totally present. Even so, the power of his words, his commitment to his subject, was all too clear.’ For all that, his soon to be referred to ‘New Genesis’ speech, passed under the radar. It didn’t even get a mention in the media. SOURCE obtained a copy of it, courtesy of the Baltimore Estate. It’s hard to fathom, to grasp Carvel’s state of mind at that time, what he was actually about. If it had received the media attention it would normally have warranted, it could have blown his plans out of the water. Perhaps the ‘Experiment’ was simply meant to be, no matter what.’ And remember, it didn’t actually happen for almost thirteen years from the time of this speech.
A new Genesis
“Ladies and gentlemen, Friends of Medicine, I thank you very much for inviting me to speak to your gathering this evening. If I may, I would like to share a few thoughts with you. Recently, I was appointed Director of a project that has been charged with the task of placing Cryogenics centre stage, so to speak, in matters appertaining to the many and varied fields of Medicine; surgery included. In this, I shall do my best, along with those more eminent in this area, to ensure it is applied to the very best advantage for our profession and the patients it serves.
I have put on record that I have some mixed feelings. As a Progressive, I am glad; as a Humanist, I am more than a little apprehensive. My gladness is in the fact that we do progress, and that it is a major step forward in the progress of things and, as you may have heard, I have been a strong Progressive Radical in my time, for which I do not apologise. The apprehension I feel is because of where this latest progressive step may lead us. I now talk only within my own area of expertise, such as it is, Medicine, and advanced Medicine in particular, which now must include Cryogenics.
Cryogenics is the science of low temperature application, in many areas of Science, of which Medicine is but one. To date, this new science, in relation to immediate benefit to the individual, has been limited. However, it is now becoming a means by which to prolong life, indefinitely, until some future day when Medicine will have discovered cures and procedures for all that ails us today. We know for a fact that hundreds of people in the United States of America have freely given themselves over to this suspended life, there to remain until such times as medical salvation is at hand. But this alone is not enough. The very means used to place these people in such a state can be used NOW, to help towards finding such means for which they wait. By the use of Cryogenic-based surgery, it’s a very real possibility that we shall, sooner rather than later, be able to remove one of the greatest enemies known to today’s surgeons: TIME. The removal of the time factor from the operating theatres of the world. I need not tell you what this could mean. However, in each step of advancement that we take, not only do we gain greater power to serve, but also to create the ability to push even further back, the spectres of age and death. In short, we move nearer to ending, either deliberately or unintentionally, the greatest search in Man’s history; the search for everlasting life. It is this line of progress, and what might await us at its end, that gives me this great feeling of apprehension. For even as we continue forward, we should still be asking ourselves, how far? How far dare we go? How far should we go? Who, if anyone, should be held to account for providing such answers to such questions, either one way or the other? At what point, if any, should we cease to search, and thereby surrender the life to He that first gave it?
It is those who are closest to these, the greatest questions, who need the greatest help and guidance. The surgeons, doctors and nurses. People such as ourselves here this evening. WE are the ones who daily both see and fight against the line that divides life from death. The greater our progress, the fainter that line becomes. Since Man first began to tend himself, both to live well and live on, this problem has been almost solely with the practitioners of Medicine. Today, almost to the doctors and surgeons alone, with precious practical help from others.
How long can we bear this burden? For how long must we continue to be both God and Man in one? I know that many do not see it as I do, say that the situation isn’t so dramatic by half. Perhaps, but I cannot, will not subscribe to that. Every minute of every day, a surgeon, doctor or nurse is faced with making a decision that will mean the difference between life and death for a fellow human being. Whether to go on or to stop. Whether to accept the coming death or defy it and, in so doing, go forward, thereby pushing IT further back.
We are ordinary beings, and as such, prone to all the weaknesses and frailties inherent in our species. The time is fast approaching when we shall not ask for this help and guidance, but demand it. Demand it of the society in which we live and which we serve. It has to be the society of THIS DAY that must help us, tell us, what is to be. What can and cannot be done in its name, for its collective benefit. If this society will not give us this lead, then we in turn will have no option but to go on alone, and leave it to our own skills and time itself to see just how far we can, in deed, go.
If we follow the foreseeable logical line of progress in Medicine, the end could be that which at first was the beginning; the making of a human life. But this time, not by the Divine hand of God, but by the progressive hand of Man. Perhaps then we would see a new Bible: the ‘Bible of Progress’, with a new Genesis, beginning where the ultimate folly in the progress of Man could itself end:
And Man madeth man, by man and of man. And the new man, madeth by the old man, called the old man – GOD!
If this is not how you would have the work of medical progress end, then I suggest you, society that is, guide us, show us, tell us and direct us in the way you would have us go. If not, then we shall simply go on in the way that progress points us, and then let it fall on your collective head.
Thank you. Thank you very much.”
Before he left the gathering, someone asked him what he meant, what he was doing. Carvel had smiled and winked as he replied: “Just putting a shot across our bow!”