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Ferris, Jim / Facts of life

Deconstruction and the body,   pp. 15-16

Page 15

Deconstruction and the Body 
One thing that happened in medical school 
started me thinking: I was working the ER 
late one night, when this guy came in, mighty 
messed up from a gunshot wound to the head. 
Blood everywhere, of course. Some of his skull 
had been blasted away, and we could see 
right down to his brain. But he was calm 
and lucid-in fact, he made more sense than 
some of my professors. While everybody else 
rushed around, he and I talked about Heidegger 
and the later Foucault. As we talked I kept trying to peek 
inside his skull, to see if anything changed color 
or moved while he thought. I couldn't tell much. We were 
in the midst of a discussion about the Nazis 
when they took him up to OR, so I went along. 
The neurosurgeon said I was better 
than anesthetic anyway. 
                      They couldn't save the brain. 
They left the brain stem and some of the cerebellum, 
but took almost everything else. By now we were 
talking about Hegel and deconstruction. I've always 
had trouble with deconstruction, so I scarcely noticed 
that I was talking to a man with no brain 
to speak of They packed his skull with styrofoam 
so what was left wouldn't rattle around. Then 
they closed him up. They wouldn't let me into the 
recovery room with him. "How can you expect to learn 
anything about medicine if you spend all your time talking 
to a patient with no brain?" the attending asked me. 
After I got off'that morning I hunted up my professor 
and asked him how I could have a deep discussion 
about Derrida with a guy with no brain. The professor, 
universally considered brilliant, told me I must have 
gone into a peculiar kind of low-grade shock upon 

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