The CuriousPages Sketchbook

The Beckoning Precipice

My thoughts on the writing of my short story: The Beckoning Precipice.

I wanted to write about this issue of the evils of Western medicine, as seen from the point of view of holistic healing. But the problem was: how to tackle the issue. The majority of people in the West still consider Western medicine to be of value, to be the “main”, and possibly the only “authoritative” healthcare system. But these days, many more people are capable of seeing Western medicine as it really is, or are capable of sympathising with such viewpoints. But even with those people, there is no clarity, no detailed analysis of the facts, in their viewpoint; only a gut feeling that what Western medicine is doing is wrong, only leads to poor health, and is to be avoided where possible.

So, there are very strong, entrenched opinions on both sides.
But tackling this issue still seemed problematic to me, from a story-telling point of view. Already, in the media, whenever “medical” matters are reported, they are always portrayed from within the Western medical viewpoint. That viewpoint is taken as “gospel”. And it was this situation that made me uneasy, from the point of view of constructing this story. If I had portrayed the story from the holistic healing point of view, it would have had no credibility in many people’s eyes. And then I realized that the best solution would be to portray a doctor (and hence Western medicine) in a sympathetic way, but still to deliver the same message—to use the Trojan horse approach, as it were. And the whole plot was then born. The idea was to portray a doctor, as the sympathetic protagonist, who commits suicide because he gradually comes to view Western medicine from the holistic healing point of view and realizes that all his professional life has been a scam that has only damaged people’s health; he realizes this and is driven to suicide by guilt.

To portray his transformation, and do it convincingly, was then the challenge in writing this story. I do believe it works, but then who am I to judge…
The other plot device in the story that I quite like is the fact that the reader is initially lead to believe that John is a rogue doctor who is deliberately killing his patients by poisoning them. At that stage he is not sympathetic. But then the reader discovers that he is just an everyday doctor prescribing standard drugs. He becomes sympathetic then, and one interpretation of the story is that he has gone mad. But whatever the interpretation, by this stage the idea is already planted in the reader’s mind that he is a murderer who murders patients by giving them drugs. The reader cannot help but then to associate this with all doctors who dole out the standard drug remedies—even if the association is subconscious, which is always the most powerful level to work on, anyway.


Read the full story here.


SOME LINKS AND TRIVIA RELATED TO Clifton Suspension Bridge,htm.htm

A famous story about a Victorian woman who attempted suicide at the bridge

In 1885 following an argument with a boyfriend Sarah Ann Henley from Bristol threw herself from the Bridge. Beneath her billowing dress she was wearing crinoline petticoats which slowed her fall, acting like a parachute. She was injured but was pulled from the mud, eventually recovered, and died in 1948 at the grand old age of 84.


27 February 2009



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