07 September, 2014

Jenny Diski � Memoir: A Diagnosis � LRB 11 September 2014

Jenny Diski � Memoir: A Diagnosis � LRB 11 September 2014: One thing I state as soon as we’re out of the door: ‘Under no circumstances is anyone to say that I lost a battle with cancer. Or that I bore it bravely. I am not fighting, losing, winning or bearing.’ I will not personify the cancer cells inside me in any form. I reject all metaphors of attack or enmity in the midst, and will have nothing whatever to do with any notion of desert, punishment, fairness or unfairness, or any kind of moral causality. But I sense that I can’t avoid the cancer cliches simply by rejecting them. Rejection is conditioned by and reinforces the existence of the thing I want to avoid. I choose how to respond and behave, but a choice between doing this or that, being this or that, really isn’t freedom of action, it’s just picking one’s way through an already drawn flow chart. They still sit there, to be taken or left, the flashing neon markers on the road that I would like to think isn’t there for me to be travelling down. I am appalled at the thought, suddenly, that someone at some point is going to tell me I am on a journey. I try but I can’t think of a single aspect of having cancer, start to finish, that isn’t an act in a pantomime in which my participation is guaranteed however I believe I choose to play each scene. I have been given this role. (There, see? Instant victim.) I have no choice but to perform and to be embarrassed to death. I wish you long life.