Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wizard Oil, Quack Medicine, and other American Cults

How many of the current fads are not much different than Aunt Polly's in Mark Twain's classic The Adventures of Tom Sawyer? You know if you're in danger of becoming Aunt Polly if the words "organic," "eco-friendly," "100% natural," and "free range" make you go weak in the knees. Does your expression become serious, do your eyes water, and do you sometimes speak with a quiver in your voice about the evils and dangers of processed foods and milk products and beef that was not certified organic? Please read on...

"His aunt was concerned. She began to try all manner of remedies on him. She was one of those people who are infatuated with patent medicines and all new fangled methods of producing health or mending it. She was an inveterate experimenter in these things. When something fresh in this line came out she was in a fever right away to try it, not on herself, for she was never ailing, but on anybody else that came handy. She was a subscriber for all the "Health" periodicals and phrenological frauds; and the solemn ignorance they were inflated with was breath to her nostrils. All the "rot" they contained about ventilation and how to go to bed and how to get up and what to eat and what to drink and how much exercise take and what frame of mind to keep one's self and what sort of clothing to wear was all gospel to her, and she never observed that her health-journals of the current month customarily upset what they had recommended the month before. She was simple-hearted and honest as the day was long. and so she was an easy victim. She gathered her quack periodicals and her quack medicines, and thus armed with death went about on her pale horse, metaphorically speaking, with "hell following after." But she never suspected that she was not an angel of healing and the balm of Gilead in disguise to the suffering neighbors." (88-89)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lol I really like that!