Talking Heads


Submitted by ludd on May 3, 2010


Processed World is losing two of our most important editors, co-founders both--Lucius Cabins and Maxine Holz. They are leaving to strike new creative ground for themselves. The rest of us uneasily wonder how we're going to fill the gap. Maxine pushed to keep the magazine intellectually vital. Her attendance at meetings always charged up the discussion. Her articles--on pornography and sex workers, workplace actions, child care--have been on the cutting edge of the issues that Processed World is all about. Lucius has been our unpaid staffperson all these years--dealing with the mail, typesetting 30 to 100 percent of every issue, taking care of thousands of administrative details as well as contributing toughly analytical articles, offering cogent opinions at editorial meetings, shaping the graphics of the magazine... Their departure raises structural problems for us, since a lot of tasks they took care of will have to be shared.

Processed World goes travelling

Lured by a friend who edits a local left journal, and harboring visions of new subscriptions and positive interactions with devoted readers, I arranged to have a table at a recent leftist "scholars" conference in New York. It turned out to be a weekend of playing shop to an aisle of brain-dead academics. I managed to sneak away to a couple of the "cultural" workshops. It was interesting to see the same people who advocated listening to "marginal" voices, fusing art with political practice, stressing the subjective, the polyvalent, etc., completely not "get' Processed World. I would have worried, except for the several people from "lower stations" who understood us on sight. You know you're doing something right when you go out into the street and the people there have a fuller understanding of what you're trying to do than the Official Interpreters. However, I did enjoy meeting some of the New Yorkers who contribute to the magazine and would have liked to pursue more substantial contact. I wish I had been less beaten by the ennui of the conference.

Dissection Lab

Let's take a rusty scalpel and cut into our Medical issue to see what's there. Lucius Cabins and Louis Michaelson lead off with The Health Epidemic, an examination of the non-sensical boom of the medical industry juxtaposed to a national preoccupation with health.

This issue squirms with numerous Tales of Toil. Nausea swells in Jay Clemens' Blood, Sweat and Soap, a look at the squishy insides of a hospital laundry room. * Moving down the digestive tract, we locate another cause of ill health in Work Sickness at the Health Factory by Summer Brenner. Brenner straightforwardly describes the occupational stress that leads to one disease after another, ironically in the employ of one of the country's largest health care providers. This issue is further denounced in Stress: A Social Disease, a reprint of a 1983 Nasty Secretaries Liberation Front leaflet--a short, informative wave of anger. * Bob McGlynn does a time and motion study of patient as worker in Medical Merry-Go-Round in the centerfold. The plight of the "medically indigent" is examined in An Uninsured Tail by Willie the Rat, who also suggests worthwhile precautions to take if you're not paying your $70 a month to Blue Cross. Would You, Have You, Did You is about the use of medical monitoring equipment--lie detector machines--to authoritarian ends. Emerging at the other end, Derailed from the Fast Track recounts one woman's circuit from free spirit to tech writer to free spirit.

Wrangles over fiction have been causing a lot of lesions and fractures in PW. Ana Logue's review of W. D. Wetherell's The Man Who Loved Levittown provoked the most disagreement since the short story Wenda in issue 18. Some members of the collective felt that Ana was undeservedly harsh on our contributors. But Ana deplores what she considers the limited vision of much of our fiction submissions. She uses the review to call for stories that "capture the horror and the humanity of the people behind the beige curtain."

All in all, though, this issue shows enhanced vital signs. All three fiction selections are diagnosed as fictive distopias--but benign. Debth is a grimly funny vision of a future where one class of people sells body parts to earn pin money and another class buys them for status symbols. Softcore is an unsettling account of a doctor's encounter with a mysterious new disease. Moral Data, Inc. tells of a time when even art is evaluated in terms of computerized quantification rather than human response. So, patient, after your choice of one last enema, blood test, or spinal tap, you shall be released.

—Mark Leger

Processed World's Topic Wish List:

We thought we'd publish this list in the hope that some of you readers would like to submit articles for future issues. This list reflects what may become the basis for future theme issues.
NEXT ISSUE: Militarism/National Security/"Defense"
--Nurse and Doctor Tales of Toil, reactions to this issue, analyses of medical/technology issues we neglected here, etc.
--Mental Health Industry
--Urbanism/City Planning, transportation, "urban village" new exurban habitat, etc.
--Ecology, esp. Green radicalism, deforestation, etc.
--Travel and Leisure (including e.g., service workers' Tales of Toil, working in the tourist industry, alienated leisure time, tourism and cultural "imperialism" etc.)
--And of course we're interested in many other topics too, feel free to suggest themes...

SUBSCRIBERS! If your label says 20 after your name, your subscription lapses with this issue--PLEASE RENEW NOW! If your label has a number less than 20, this issue is your last free copy--renew if you want to keep getting PW! Thanks!

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