Thursday, April 07, 2005

Diseases to Watch Out For

Sometimes books are not for sitting down and reading straight through. Sometimes a book should just be dipped into at random. The Thackery T. Lambshed Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases edited by Jeff Vandermeer and Mark Roberts is just such a book. Contributors to the book include such medical luminaries as Dr. Michael Bishop, Dr. Cory Doctorow, Dr. Neil Gaiman, and Dr. China Mieville. You will be enlightened about the nature of such diseases as Ballistic Organ Syndrome, Fungal Disenchantment, and Third Eye Infection. You will also find several book related diseases such as Mendard's Disease (Biblioartifexism) whose sufferers "present to the public a tangible artifact--an actual copy--of a well-known literary work as their own accomplishment;" Poetic Lassitude (Pyrexia Poetica; also known as De Quincey Syndrome, Iambic Languor. Black Plapsy, or Sapphic Trench), victims become "preoccupied and introspective," take to wandering the countryside and staring at tiny flowers, and can often be found "gazing limpidly into a still pool or millpond;" and Rashid's Syndrome (Fictonecrosis, popularly known as "bibliopahgia"), a three-stage disease which begins as restlessness and irritability, progresses to an urge to read that "surpasses other motivations, including the sexual drive," and finally moving to the third and fatal phase when the infection moves into the central nervous system, unbalancing the body chemistry, thereby creating an "irresistible craving for paper and ink products." An enjoyable book sure to give provide a chuckle or guffaw, though you might not want to browse while eating, some of the diseases are pretty stomach turning.