Authors: Georgia Blain
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Georgia Blain has written a number of novels for adults including the bestselling
Closed for Winter
, which was made into a feature film. Her memoir
Births Deaths Marriages: True Tales
was shortlisted for the 2009 Kibble Literary Award for Women Writers.
In 1998 she was named one of the
Sydney Morning Herald’s
Best Young Novelists and has been shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, the SA Premier’s Awards and the Barbara Jefferis Award. She lives in Sydney with her partner and daughter.
The Blind Eye
This edition published by Allen & Unwin House of Books in 2012
First published by Penguin Books Australia Ltd in 2001
Copyright © Georgia Blain 2001
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The Australian
Copyright Act 1968
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This book was completed with the assistance of a grant from the Australia Council and a fellowship at the Varuna Writer’s Centre. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of both these organisations.
I would like to thank Peter Tuminello, who answered all of my questions about homeopathy with considerable patience. I want to stress that this book is a work of fiction, and that the proving and process of cure I have referred to may differ in some respects from what I believe is the usual practice.
Thanks also to Jinks Dulhunty who gave me access to her library of homeopathic texts. I hung on to them for a long time and hope I haven’t returned them in too decrepit a state. I am also very grateful to Rosie Scott, who has always been the mentor that everyone hopes to find. Rosie, Anne Deveson, Andrew Taylor and Peter Bishop from the Varuna Writer’s Centre all had the unenviable task of reading earlier drafts and having to tell me the truth. I am grateful for their honesty. Thank you as well to Louise Marsh, who gave me advice on medical matters.
Finally, I also want to thank Fiona Inglis, my agent; Fiona Daniels, who edited the manuscript; and Julie Gibbs, Ali Watts, Sophie Ambrose and everyone else at Penguin who worked very hard in getting this book to its final form.
. . . we have only to rely on the morbid phenomena which the medicines produce in the healthy body as the sole possible revelation of their in-dwelling curative power, in order to learn what disease-producing power, and at the same time, what disease-curing power, each individual medicine possesses.
Organon of Medicine
I, of course, have no idea what it is that we are testing.
There are twelve of us here, including myself, and none of us knows. This blindness, both on the part of the people who will be taking the potential remedy, and the four supervisors (two men, myself and Seamus; and two women, Jeanie and Samantha), is essential if we are to build up a picture of the true nature of the substance we are proving. Any knowledge on our part would only distort each of our responses. You can imagine how it would be. We would not be able to help ourselves. If we heard the word ‘venom’ whispered, we would immediately begin to suspect our own bodies of displaying the toxicological effects with which we are familiar; we would find ourselves exhibiting a certain expected nature on all levels, the low mean strike of repressed passions spitting forth a venomous poison. Even our dreams would be tainted by all that we bring to that word. Or perhaps it is a plant we know, a mineral, maybe even a diseased tissue that we are testing; in each case we would see what we think we should see, we would bring all
that we associate with that substance to this process, and our time would have been wasted.
There is, of course, a director. She is not here with us, but she does know what the remedy is. I met her several times before I decided to leave my practice for a period so that I could take part in this trial. I had been wanting a break, a change in my life, and when I heard of the scale of this particular proving, and the manner in which it would be conducted, I was curious to find out more. But it was not until the director told me the location for the first phase of this experiment, that we would be staying about three hours north of Port Tremaine, that I made up my mind to take part.
She, and the others who work with her, chose this country because the air is dry and the water clean. It is also close to an ideal level above scawater, approximately 400 metres. The food we eat is organic and we are far from the stresses of a hectic urban life. Although the experiment will not be conducted solely in these conditions (it is essential that we also obtain a picture of the remedy within each subject’s normal environment), this initial testing will help ensure we get a more reliable set of results than we would otherwise have obtained.
For the first two weeks, the purpose of being here is simply to raise the health of the subjects to as, high a level as possible before the dosage is administered. We need to know the nature of each person’s true constitution. As part
of this process, everyone has been keeping their diaries as instructed, meticulously noting each deviation from their normal state at least three times a day, as well as any possible causes for these changes. This will continue when the provers commence taking the potential remedy (or placebo, in the case of some) and this is when my job will become more demanding. I am meant to monitor my two subjects, to be available for discussion, and to ascertain if and when a dosage should be discontinued. But at this stage I have less to do, and I have had moments of coming close to the quiet I have been craving.
During the days, we walk, write, read and talk, some of us preferring to be with others in the group, some of us wanting to be alone. At night it is cold, a sharp chill that sends us to bed early, so that we wake when the first light reveals a brittle frost across the flatness of the high country, low tufts of grass crunching beneath our feet, each step imprinted dark against silver.
I have been taking time to be by myself, sometimes walking for hours through the prehistoric gorges that surround us, hearing only the sound of my footsteps on the rocks and the occasional cry of a bird in the brilliance of the cloudless blue sky. On other days, I sit out on the verandah that wraps around the house in which we are staying and I look out at the vastness of this land.
The truth is, I have had Silas on my mind. Far more so,
since I came here. But that is hardly surprising, considering our proximity to PortTremaine and the fact that I ultimately chose to be involved for that very reason. No matter how much you try to guard against it, there are some patients whose stories do not leave you, and the reasons why this occurs may not be ones that you expect, nor may they be particularly rational or readily explicable.
When I stopped at Port Tremaine on my way out here, I wanted to know if Silas had gone back as he had indicated he would the last time I saw him. I also wanted to see it for myself, the town that he had told me about and, more so, the garden in which Rudi and Constance had lived. It had been some years since he had been there, and the differences between what he had described and what I saw could, in certain instances, have been attributed to the passing of time. There was still so much, though, that may never have measured up against the visions he had conjured up for me and the stories he had told.