And why do they matter, these folks of no consequence?

27 Oct

Was reading The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum. It is so nice. You know, they used to believe that you could tell whether a book was written by a man or a woman. I do feel it sometimes too – when a book is written by a very sloppy man, or a rather effusive woman, or an angry confused, and it shows. It does.

And sometimes you can feel the author is trying to hold her gender in check. And writes in intentionally clinical tones. This particularly refers to women. We do have a good deal of baggage on that front. Such as – we still apparently test poorly in maths when in co-ed situations. And it is indeed a biological need, for us females to be aware of men, and of power, and how best to gain favor and care for ourselves and offspring. We are aware even in our sleep. But this is another topic.

Anyway. This is one of those fine books where I was not even aware of the author’s gender or preferences, until I looked for the author’s name to note it here.

In the chapter concerning arsenic, a little story cropped up concerning a 16 year old boy who was filling cans with benzene solvent in a small garage in the Bronx. He expired from the fumes. The city toxicologist had invented a means to extract benzene from various organs of the dead boy. Due to this evidence, a public warning was issued that garage owners should ventilate their building when handling benzene.

I wondered idly whether people in the year 1923 should have been in any way bothered over the death of an unnamed 16 year old working in a garage.

And then, I realized with shame, that yes, indeed they should be. Ought to be.

It is hard to care, for one or for millions, when we are constantly bombarded with news of tragedies. It is hard not to feel numbed. It is hard not to want to put one in one cubby hole and the other into a lesser cubby hole.

But if the folks of no consequence were never given consequence, even in their death, why, what a stinking hellhole we all would be living in.


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