Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Crude and the Dignified, ...

....are two wildly different versions of the Saga of Penicillin Development during World War Two.

You know only too well the Dignified version, as propagated by the OSRD of Vannevar Bush and by just about every academic writer on penicillin (I think it is a requirement for them to retain tenure or something) - I call it the dignified rendition of "The Revenge of the Nerds".

Martin Henry Dawson's efforts to grow, purify and apply his own homegrown penicillin to
save patients dying from invariable fatal SBE - all the while fighting off his own hospital, his own government and his own (dying) body - is the most tasteless,  the most over the top and the most crude Hollywood medical bio-pic imaginable ,since the days of the dying Marie Curie laboring long into the night over her radium ores ,in a tin shed with a leaky roof.

A Forties three hankie melodrama full bore, for sure.

Enough to make any modernist scientist recoil in distaste.

Fair enough - stone-heartedness is a disease  -and they are more to be pitied than blamed, etc etc.

But the patients, the punters, the bums on the seat love it.

They like - nay - love and worship - the idea of doctors who care about them enough to be willing to die for them.

I'm telling the tale for them ---- and in hopes that a few modernist scientists and academics might re-think how they deal with the real people affected by their lab efforts....

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