I don’t know what haruspicy* means, but this is the story of my life at the moment:
Lerner, Ben (2014) 10:02, London, Granta, p. 206
A doctor discovers accidentally that the main character in poet Ben Lerner’s novel 10:02 has an unusual condition of his aortic root, which means he is at risk of a sudden dissection – a fatal tearing of the aorta.
I really don’t understand much of this book (all the poetry references are completely lost on me), and so I suspect I’m missing out on some significant aspects of the novel, but on my simple level it’s a story of a man whose life is changed by acquiring knowledge about the possible (maybe even likely?) mechanism by which he could die – and the fact that the death could occur any time from now on but there’s very little he can do to prevent it. As also in my case, the condition was not associated with any symptoms and without its accidental discovery, he could have gone on with life quite happily. Is it better to be ignorant, or to have the knowledge of your life-threatening condition but not be able to prevent the forewarned event?
I think my G.P. feels a little uncomfortable that she has, by testing for conditions for which I was not reporting any symptoms, inadvertently placed me in this conundrum. Of course, you can argue that anyone of my age (three decades older than Lerner’s protagonist), is at risk of sudden death from some hitherto unknown disease. But there is something different about having that additional knowledge. There’s also the question that Lerner alludes to in the passage above: once you discover a life-or-death health issue, how much time and money do you spend trying to define the parameters of the threat? And Lerner seems to be also exploring the issue of how this knowledge might change our behaviour. In his case, his character considers his proclivity to procreate, but in my case I wonder about what impact my death would have on the family I would leave behind. I have new impetus to clean out the shed, arrange for someone to manage my blogs/emails/etc, and most importantly, sort out my mother’s remaining life.
* OK, I did look it up – I now know what haruspicy means.