the kingdom of the sick1

i’ve lived in the kingdom of the sick without a passport for … how long?

— long.

i’ll go with 20 years because it’s a nice round figure, and it would not be much less. i was very sick, it was like a flu, only ten times worse. my body was not mine. it was doing its own thing. i was not myself anymore. i became someone i didn’t know. i was someone who didn’t want to drink beer or wine or spirits, didn’t want to smoke tobacco or weed, didn’t want to take drugs, didn’t want to listen to music, didn’t want to make art, didn’t want to have sex. it dragged on and on. it was not getting better.

i was diagnosed with lupus — that is, a doctor, i think there were two doctors, said : we think you’ve got lupus. there is no cure.

and this is when i entered the kingdom of the sick.

but it was not a definitive diagnosis. there would need to be further investigations. and when they were done, a doctor who was so well qualified he was no longer a doctor but a mister, which mystified me but ok, said : we don’t know if you’ve got lupus or not.

i am not super well-informed about medical things but if i had been i would have said : but either you’ve found antinuclear antibodies (ANA), and/or anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies, and/or anti-smith antibodies in my blood, or you haven’t. and i’ve got joint pain and swelling and fatigue but i don’t have a butterfly-shaped rash on my face or any other rash and there is no protein in my urine.

but i didn’t say that. because, like i said, i am not super well-informed about medical things. i said : ok.

i am ok with not knowing things.

if someone asks me something and i know the answer, fine. great. i like being useful, sometimes. and some things are good to know. but if i don’t, also fine. i say, i don’t know na di don’t want to kno. ha ha. what you don’t know can’t hurt you.

ai, says, as is its wont, that this is not always true. what ai doesn’t know is that nothing is always true. even saying that nothing is always true is not always true.

there are certain situations, it goes on, where being uninformed can lead to negative consequences — and then this gem :

It is important to seek knowledge and understanding in order to make well-informed decisions and protect yourself from potential harm.

it might be good to protect yourself from actual harm but if you try to protect yourself from potential harm you would be in a state of constant anxiety.

often talking to ai is like talking to a pedantic precocious school child, 8 or 9 years old, or for that matter a twenty something, who’s been told all their lives how smart they are and who thinks they know everything already, and that you could not possibly know something they don’t know, let alone that it might not actually matter whether you know something or not, or that it might be better, or more interesting, not to know.


  1. the kingdom of the sick is a term coined by susan sontag in illness as a metaphor’↩︎