Dave Rothschild dedicated Healing to “all the clinicians and doctors out there who have compassion and honest intention to help their patients heal.” It’s a strange book to be dedicated to doctors, sorta, what with the pictures of forests and suburban-looking parks, mostly in the fall and winter, and it’s really a zine mostly concerned with healing, with dealing with illness, the benefits of wounds, and it’s really pretty good.
Rothschild peppered the zine throughout with quotes from Aristotle, Lao Tzu, Hippocrates, Rumi, Pema Chödrön, David Richo, and Hurumi Murakami, and these add a melancholy, languorous, uplifting pacing to the walk through the woods.
As an aside, the dedication to medical professionals with “compassion and honest intention” (my emphasis) strikes me… I lived a charmed life as a younger man, more or less. I don’t know where I got the idea, but I honestly thought that doctors went into medicine to help people. *sigh. James, James, James. tsk tsk.
Early on in my marriage, very early on… I think we were still in that apartment in Valley Ranch, and my wife was still renting her house out, but maybe it was later, and in someone else’s narrow, too bright space. Anyway. It was before dinner, and the men, most of whom were doctors, were gathered together around a low table. As we were chatting, these doctors and I, and one of them got on the subject of Medicare, and how he regretted accepting Medicare payments because the government was such a slow payer. Trying to put a positive spin on it, as I do, I said, “but you went into medicine to help people, right?”
He looked at me like I had fallen from the sky, like I had a stalk of corn growing from my forehead or something. “No,” he said, incredulous, as if I’d said the most ludicrous and ridiculous thing. “I went into medicine to make money.” And none of the other doctors came to my defense or moved to counter him in any way.
In that split second, my whole worldview shifted, and not for the better. I went from thinking that some of us might have some good in us, to… well… we’re not all bad, not all of the time, anyway. And this is a wound I haven’t recovered from. Sure, it let in some light, I suppose, to paraphrase Rumi, and that, following Chödrön, I suppose still has something to teach me. And, still, I wish I’d kept my fool mouth shut.
Anyway. I’m glad Rothschild limited his dedication in the way that he did. It makes me think that, maybe, possibly, there might be one or two doctors that might have some small intention to heal, rather than just pad their bank accounts, if probably only in addition to their intention to profit from our illness, our injury, our disease. And a doctor that is only a doctor to make money can only make his money by keeping me ill or injured, by not guiding me back to full health. This is capitalism, after all.
I shouldn’t think that way. My niece wants to become a nurse because she’s seen how they work to help people. I have other neighbors who are doctors, and I’m sure they would be somewhat less blunt about their goals and could disabuse me of the notion that the whole US healthcare system is a total scam though, again, the other neighbor doctors at that dinner made no attempts to contradict the brother. And, still, I pay for health insurance and got the COVID vaccine (Moderna), and, yes, my cognitive dissonance knows no bounds.
Dave Rothschild is based in Virginia, and Healing was put out by Static Age in the UK… I get books and zines from all over the world, but it’s somehow strange to order a zine, filled with photographs made in (probably) Virginia, by a US photographer based in Virginia, from a UK publisher. But that’s globalization, I guess. Privilege too…
I quite enjoyed Healing. Like Rothschild’s Solitude, it’s evocative and moving, and it’s a shame that it is out of print. Overall I rate it a solid 4 stars.
Static Age put out zines fairly regularly, and the catalog is worth checking out. Rothschild’s website is down (at time of writing), but he’s fairly active on Instagram and Twitter, and definitely worth your time.