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Autobiography of an Anesthetized Patient


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The category shown barely scratches the surface of this beautiful presentation. What had humbly begun as a postscript to my other PowerPoint CONSUMERISM quickly took on a life of its own during Lent '09. I just had to share my traumatic discovery that my all-time favorite movie is really about my lifelong worst fear. This heartwrenching, unforgettable presentation is at the vanguard of film criticism, social medicine, psychology, and human rights. Its perspective is well over a half century overdue. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED: to hear the stunning Tchaikovsky soundtrack, go to my website to download the 3 music files and follow the step by step instructions to add the links to the presentation. Don't forget to download the postscript in .doc format. Running time: approx. 45 min. Rated PG.

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Autobiography of an Anesthetized Patient

  2. 3. Second Thoughts <ul><li>Citizen Kane is the second best film ever made... </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual assault is the second worst thing that can happen to a person that one can survive… </li></ul><ul><li>The Empire Strikes Back , the second installment in the Star Wars cycle, is the greatest film ever made… </li></ul><ul><li>… because its greatest tragedy is not the fate of Han Solo… </li></ul><ul><li>… nor is its most shocking revelation the relationship between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader… </li></ul><ul><li>… nor is it coming of age amid family abuse in mid 20 th century America as I had thought for over 25 years… </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  3. 4. The Deepest Lent Possible <ul><li>Rather, the greatest and most inconvenient truth of The Empire Strikes Back is… </li></ul><ul><li>… that, like Citizen Kane , it is actually based on a true story! </li></ul><ul><li>… that its subtext is about the worst thing that can possibly happen to a human being that one can survive… </li></ul><ul><li>… it wasn’t the major car wreck in California in the early ‘60s… </li></ul><ul><li>… it wasn’t the emergency trauma surgery… </li></ul><ul><li>… rather, its greatest tragedy and most shocking revelation is that its creator was… </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  4. 5. <ul><li>“ SEARCH YOUR FEELINGS; YOU KNOW IT TO BE TRUE!” </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved FORCIBLY ANESTHETIZED AGAINST HIS WILL!
  5. 6. <ul><li>LISTEN WITH FEAR, TREMBLING, REVERENCE, AND AWE! </li></ul><ul><li>“ Revelations, like ourselves, are always brought forth in pain.” —J. Michael Straczynski </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved I Can Now Hear the Silent Scream of an Anesthetized Patient Named George Lucas!
  6. 7. The Autobiography of an Anesthetized Patient <ul><li>In the first 2 installments of the Star Wars cycle (1977 and 1980), the character of Darth Vader is the anesthetic personified . This is why he is forever masked (representing amnesia), clad in black, and on life support, with which all anesthetized patients have been sustained since it got absolutely out of control during the postwar era. This is why, in the 1977 opus, neither Luke nor Han ever came in contact with Vader, and Obi-wan Kenobi’s encounter with him proved to be fatal. In The Empire Strikes Back , both characters, representing different aspects of Lucas’ psyche, have the [expletive deleted] kicked out of them. The masked Boba Fett represents injectable intramuscular “pre-anesthetics,” which “impair memory of perioperative events.” This is why the funereal “anesthetic dirge” heard in the soundtrack underscoring Luke’s arrival in the corridors of Bespin is the consummation of the Imperial March. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  7. 8. The Anesthetic Widow <ul><li>The character of Leia not only represents Lucas’ older sister, but also Elizabeth Wales Wells (Mrs. Horace Wells), who was widowed by her husband’s addicted self-experimentation with his invention. Just as he was the world’s first anesthetist, she screams out of the depths of women’s history as the world’s first anti-anesthetist, characterizing his discovery as “an unspeakable evil.” Ultimately, Dr. Wells attacked prostitutes with sulfuric acid in New York City just after emerging from a day spent under anesthesia, and was arrested. When he remembered who he was and realized his predicament, he committed suicide using his razor and a bottle of anesthetic he had smuggled into jail. Mrs. Wells’ bereavement is depicted in the original 1977 opus as Vader’s mostly off-screen torture of Leia aboard the Death Star. She even sported Mrs. Wells’ hairstyle! </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  8. 9. Reenacting the Great Schism in the OR <ul><li>The medical profession originated not from Hippocrates, but in the Scholasticism movement of the Roman Catholic Church under the reign of Pope Innocent III, the same misogynist antichrist who inaugurated the Inquisition and the Witch Hunts. Arguably, the Inquisition never ended; the Inquisitors merely started anesthetizing their victims on the pretense of “being civilized.” In 1979, the late Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D., though a Jew, was struck by the uncanny resemblance between the medical profession and the Roman Catholic Church, although he was unaware of their common origins. With a Greek surname and dark locks, Lucas had certainly been brought up Greek Orthodox, and the significance of his being a victim of the modern-day Inquisition is obvious. The Orthodox Church was the original Church, and its existence proves that the Roman Catholic and Evangelical radical rights are heretical frauds more interested in hating women and Blacks than in loving God. The millennium-old ruling-class plot to destroy the Orthodox Church is the meaning of Vader’s obsessive manhunt for Luke and Han. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  9. 10. The End Does Not Justify the Means! <ul><li>They treated him like an animal. This is the meaning of the camel-like Tauntauns, the Wampa Ice Creature, the Dagobah swamp monster, the tentacled Mynocks, the spacecraft-eating space slug, and the Empire’s animal-shaped war machines: its spidery probes and elephantine tanks. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  10. 11. “ I Don’t Want to Count Backwards” <ul><li>The 3 phases of anesthesia are induction, maintenance, and recovery. Because he was legally underage and parental permission had already been obtained, Lucas was forcibly induced against his will. This is the meaning of the Wampa Ice Creature’s inflicting a concussion on Luke at the very beginning of the film, and is also the fundamental meaning of the entire endeavor. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  11. 12. “ i’m so cold!” <ul><li>An anesthetized patient loses all ability to maintain body temperature and literally becomes cold-blooded. This is how Juliet faked her death by crudely anesthetizing herself. The patient’s plight is badly exacerbated by the personnel protective equipment, especially the masks, of the OR personnel being unbearably hot. The surgeons control the thermostat and turn the OR into a meat locker. The patient has a water-circulating heat pad (electric ones are unsafe on unconscious persons), but it is never enough. This is the meaning of the ice planet Hoth, with its brutal cold and howling blizzards. The eviscerated carcass of the newly dead Tauntaun represents his heat pad. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  12. 13. “ It Gives the Desire and Takes Away the Ability” <ul><li>Shakespeare’s famous quote about alcohol applies to all other central nervous system depressants. This is partly why anesthetization is a sexual fetish. This is the meaning of the unconsummated romance between Han and Leia, with their kisses invariably interrupted. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  13. 14. Establishing an Airway <ul><li>Induction is immediately and invariably followed by intubation, the insertion of a foot-long endotracheal tube from the mouth to the trachea (windpipe). This is the meaning of the breathing tube Luke has while immersed in a warm solution following his rescue. The solution itself represents his heat pad. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  14. 15. The Odds against an Anesthetized Patient <ul><li>Because of assured brain damage, the chances of an anesthetized patient going on to do something extraordinarily creative, imaginative, or groundbreaking are very remote. Bland mediocrity is the typical outcome. For the first 2 installments of the Star Wars cycle, as well as American Graffiti , Lucas beat the odds, thanks to good Byzantine genes, good education, an iron will, and the autobiographical nature of the 3 endeavors. He had offset his brain damage from anesthetization by assiduously eschewing the drug misadventure, a common cause of brain damage in the ‘60s and ‘70s. This is the meaning of the androids’ constant citing of hopeless odds. The long odds also referred to his chances of survival. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  15. 16. Scaring the Helpless Patient <ul><li>Although they present a monolithic front to the public, doctors do not agree with each other on even the most fundamental concepts of science, and often have heated arguments in front of anesthetized patients. This is the meaning of the internal bickering among the Imperials. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  16. 17. “ i’m so alone!” <ul><li>Nothing can possibly be more isolated than an anesthetized patient. To add insult to injury, family and friends are banished to the infernal waiting room amid an impenetrable fog of secrecy. This is the meaning of Luke and Han being separated from each other for nearly the entire film. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  17. 18. “ i lost a war” <ul><li>He valued his consciousness and did not want to be anesthetized. So he fought it like hell. Natural selection has designed the brain to resist poisoning whenever the animal gets into something it shouldn’t have. But fighting the anesthetic is a no-win situation: one either succumbs, wakes up in agony, or some of each. Making matters even worse is the postwar “innovation” of totally paralyzing the patient with strong muscle relaxants, which is the real “resistance is futile.” This is the meaning of the Rebel Alliance’s devastating defeat at Hoth. The Imperial destruction of the Rebel power generators represents Lucas’ crossing the line of demarcation called “reflex” between stages 4 and 5, at which all reflexes are abolished. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  18. 19. “ i was raped” <ul><li>Contrary to Paul’s idiotic blathering in First Corinthians, a human being’s crowning glory is one’s consciousness and memory. If my vagina is a village as Eve Ensler says, then my consciousness is a major city and my memory a metropolis with a population of millions. Human consciousness and memory are literally “heaven and earth in little space,” and intentional deprivation of these is the most brutal form of rape ever devised. This is the meaning of the chronically inoperable hyperdrive, the former crowning glory of the Millennium Falcon . </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  19. 20. “ they played god on me” <ul><li>They made many decisions profoundly impacting his life without his knowledge or consent. If the frequent failures of medicine pointed out by the legions of health dissidents are any indication, at least some of these decisions were not in his best interest. This is the meaning of the videoconference between Darth Vader and the Emperor (Pope Innocent III), in which they plotted behind Luke’s back. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  20. 21. School Days <ul><li>He saw his whole life go before him, which at that time was mostly his schooling. This is the meaning of Luke’s educational retreat at Dagobah, which even included PE. Yoda is an amalgam of several teachers he had. The perennial fog, mist, and overcast, as well as his vision of Kenobi amid the Hothian blizzard, indicate that this is a flashback. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  21. 22. Tethered to Machines <ul><li>All anesthetized patients are placed on advanced life support, consisting of the endotracheal tube connected to a surgical ventilator, the heat pad, the EKG and blood pressure monitor, and the drugs injected by the anesthesiologist and the nurse-anesthetist to regulate heart rate and BP. This is the meaning of Han’s, Leia’s, and Chewbacca’s using life support when venturing out into the asteroid cave. This is the only time in the entire 6-film cycle when characters other than Vader ever use life support. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  22. 23. “ i blame myself” <ul><li>He blamed his being anesthetized on himself and his own reckless driving, represented by Han’s flight through the asteroids. This is the meaning of Yoda’s frequent complaints that Luke is reckless, and of Luke’s startling vision in the tree cave, in which he discovered his own face underneath Darth Vader’s mask. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  23. 24. The Anesthetic Counterpart of Renewable Energy <ul><li>Incomprehensibly, people undergo dental work and C-sections with nerve blocks, the true conquest of pain, all the time, but either refuse or are denied them for other surgery. This double standard is the meaning of Yoda’s outburst, “No! No different! Only different in your mind! You must unlearn what you have learned!” </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  24. 25. Senior Year Truncated <ul><li>The car wreck and its tragic, fateful consequences struck as he was nearing high school graduation. He missed commencement and took 4 months to convalesce. This is the meaning of Luke’s cutting short his educational retreat over Yoda’s objections to confront Vader (the anesthetic) at Bespin. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  25. 26. “ why?” <ul><li>Because they had refused to communicate with him, he thought that they were cutting him up indiscriminately. This is the meaning of C-3PO’s being blown to pieces by Imperial stormtroopers shortly after arriving at Bespin. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  26. 27. “ For They Do Not Plan for Peace but Invent Schemes against the Quiet in the Land” –Ps. 35:20 <ul><li>As fellow descendants of the Nordic barbarians who had deposed and succeeded the Roman Empire, non-disease businessmen co-conspire with the medical profession to maintain an uninterrupted flow of victims to the anesthetic subjugator. This is the meaning of gangster-turned-businessman Lando Calrissian’s deal with Vader and his betrayal of Han. However, non-disease industries invariably get shortchanged via bone-crushing health insurance costs, not to mention executives and managers falling prey to the anesthetic captor themselves! This is the meaning of Vader’s constant reneging on his agreement with Calrissian. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  27. 28. No Conquest of Pain at All! <ul><li>Despite all the medical propaganda to the contrary, anesthetization in and of itself is a form of torture, in which surgical pain is exchanged for the humiliation and degradation of being deprived of the very essence of what makes one human. Being impoverished is lacking food, clothing, and shelter, but being destitute is being cut off from people and from God, i.e. being anesthetized. This is the meaning of Han’s ordeal on Vader’s torture rack. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  28. 29. I Almost Turned Away in 1980 <ul><li>Because he had resisted the anesthetic so heroically, he certainly had at least one, and probably more than one episode of partial consciousness. But instead of being an opportunity to convey his needs, feelings, and wishes, as would’ve been the case in the 19 th century, the cruel paralyzing muscle relaxant kept him imprisoned in his own body, making him feel like he was buried alive. This absolute helplessness is the meaning of Han’s being frozen. The carbon-freezing also reinforces the overall theme of anesthetization by force, as well as the half-frozen, cold-blooded plight of the anesthetized patient. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  29. 30. The Greatest Single Moment of Adolescent Maturation <ul><li>At 9:38 pm Central Daylight Time on Tuesday, May 20, 1980, a struggling junior at Richardson High School, barely 17, was attending the Dallas premiere of The Empire Strikes Back with her older brother at the erstwhile Northpark I Cinema, when, upon seeing the frozen Han Solo being transported by uniformed personnel through the immaculate white corridors of Bespin’s cloud city as though he was on a gurney, realized that someone else shared her lifelong conviction that being anesthetized is not a good idea. Little did she know, that affirmation had come from someone who literally had come of age forcibly anesthetized against his will. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  30. 31. “ it’s a trap!” <ul><li>Every checkup and “well child visit” is a trap leading hapless and often perfectly healthy victims to costly and dangerous drugs, tests, and surgery. Even the bone marrow donor program is nothing but a pathetic excuse to anesthetize people, even though marrow transplants do save the lives of victims of radiation poisoning. At the end of the 20 th century, I offered them marrow under the condition that I be given a nerve block. I never heard from them again. This is the meaning of Leia’s shouting, “Luke! Luke, no! It’s a trap! It’s a trap!” </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  31. 32. “ they crucified my consciousness” <ul><li>Like the Battle of Hoth, the lightsaber duel at Bespin also represents how valiantly he had fought the anesthetic. At first, he seemed to succeed, but it ultimately overwhelmed him. Luke’s being thrown through the control room window by Vader reinforces Lucas’ passing below reflex. His plunge into deep coma is the meaning of Luke’s precipitous fall from the gantry in Cloud City’s core. Luke’s falling out the hatch on Cloud City’s underside represents Lucas’ arrival at the intended plane of surgical anesthesia. I do not have access to the information as to which stage (5-12) that was. Because vehicular accidents tend to shatter bones, I fear the stage had 2 digits. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  32. 33. There’s Still a Person in There <ul><li>They treated him like an inanimate object and saw him as a thing rather than a human being. Not even once did they ever talk to him, firmly in his ear using child-directed speech, which would’ve helped. This is the meaning of poor, frozen Han’s being loaded into the cargo hold of Boba Fett’s ship instead of the passenger compartment. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  33. 34. Got Brain Damage? <ul><li>There is no way anyone can be anesthetized, especially since the 1950s, without causing brain damage, any more than one can throw an egg at a brick wall without breaking it. Every illiterate peasant knows this. To Paul’s credit, this is a cardinal manifestation of the ‘wisdom’ of the learned being foolishness to God, and God’s using the witness of the poor to put the educated to shame. Brain damage from this tragedy is why Lucas has had some wretched failures, such as Howard the Duck and Radioland Murders . This is the meaning of Vader’s amputating Luke’s right hand in battle. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  34. 35. The Temptation to Just Blow It All Off <ul><li>Some anesthetized patients die because they just said, “To hell with it!” This is the meaning of Vader’s inviting Luke to join him. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  35. 36. “ my father signed my life away” <ul><li>Because he was legally underage at the time of his accident, his father had signed the release to have him anesthetized. This is the meaning of the revelation of the relationship between Luke and Vader (the anesthetic). </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  36. 37. Just Barely Alive <ul><li>All anesthetized patients, by definition, are in critical condition, which means just barely alive. Even injured athletes otherwise in prime condition are invariably and inescapably reduced to this state. This is the meaning of Luke’s desperately clinging to a weathervane on the underside of Cloud City after his fall from the gantry, with certain death looming perilously below. The weathervane represents his life support. Ironically, the same surgical ventilator that was keeping him alive was also keeping him helplessly locked in unconsciousness. This is the meaning of the hatch closing and latching above the weathervane when Luke reached for it. But because he resisted the anesthetic so gallantly, he could intermittently hear the obnoxious wheezing of the ventilator, the beeping of the EKG, and muffled voices, because natural selection has endowed the auditory channel with unparalleled resilience. It is always the last thing to go and the first thing to return. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  37. 38. The Patron Saint of Anesthetized Patients <ul><li>Since Mrs. Wells spends her days in Heaven praying for anesthetized patients, and since Lucas was brought up believing in and praying to saints, it is entirely possible that he had a vision of her praying for him while he was anesthetized. This is the meaning of Luke’s summoning Leia from the weathervane and her coming to his rescue, since Lucas’ sister had been barred from the OR like everyone else. This is also the meaning of Leia’s comforting Han in the detention cell. A bold theory, but Leia’s sporting Mrs. Wells’ hairstyle in the original 1977 opus is just too unlikely to have merely been a coincidence. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  38. 39. “ why didn’t they tell me?” <ul><li>The conspiratorial secrecy of the Inquisition and the Witch Hunts has remained unchanged since the reign of Innocent III. Although millions of children and cancer patients have been kept in the dark about their prognosis, in the latter case out of fear that they might defect to alternative medicine, anesthetized patients have borne the brunt of official silence. They are told nothing, from whether they coded (went into cardiac arrest) to what the surgeons talked about and what music they listened to. If it became known just how often anesthetized patients code, hemorrhage, are disrespected or even sexually abused by doctors, have acid reflux, are subjected to employees being abused in front of them, or other adverse events, then nobody would submit to it anymore. This is the meaning of Kenobi’s and Yoda’s failure to disclose the relationship between Luke and Vader. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  39. 40. Clawing Towards the Light <ul><li>Once he was taken from the OR to the ICU, he entered the recovery phase, in which he struggled and clawed his way towards consciousness, while the residual anesthetic continued to tempt him with the peace of the grave. This is the meaning of the reunion of Luke with the others; Leia’s settling him in an ad hoc ICU, the continued temptation from Vader, and the struggle to escape from Bespin. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  40. 41. Conscious at Last <ul><li>Finally, he regained consciousness in the ICU. This is the meaning of the Millennium Falcon finally successfully jumping to hyperspace. In the following scene aboard the Medical Frigate, there is a new clarity not found elsewhere in the film, which represents his regained consciousness. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  41. 42. “ I Wanted a Nerve Block” <ul><li>It is neither accident nor coincidence that Luke underwent implantation of his hand prosthesis under a nerve block. In fact, no one is ever anesthetized in the entire 6-film cycle. The surgery is performed by an android (my own vision is for it to be a genuine artificial life form); Leia is at his side to lend support—albeit she needed to have been scrubbed up—and Luke is on the cell phone with Lando Calrissian. Luke hopped right off the operating table when it was finished. This is Lucas’ vision of what surgery should be, and it is mine, too. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  42. 43. “ I Have No Resolution, I Have No Closure, I Was Just Left Dangling to Suffer in Silence Forever” <ul><li>Because of all the pernicious secrecy and utter lack of transparency, it is extremely rare for any anesthetized patient to ever have any sense of closure. If one has a video, one is extremely lucky. One typically is practically dumped on the street to sink or swim, left with unanswered questions, to suffer in silence forever, and Lucas was no exception. This is why the film has no ending, and why the audience is simply left dangling. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  43. 44. “ A Part of Me Never Woke Up” <ul><li>Luke represents the commonsense part of Lucas that woke up, while Han represents the part of him—the more daring and adventurous part—that never did. This is the meaning of Han’s being still frozen at the end of the film. Ironically, life imitated art for Harrison Ford in the mid-’80s, a tragedy which was entirely unnecessary, and he has suffered in silence ever since, even attempting to leave his wife because of it. His self-produced project, Regarding Henry , though a reasonably good film, is an unsuccessful attempt to adequately convey the impact of anesthetization on his life. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  44. 45. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road <ul><li>During his long convalescence, Lucas sorely missed his childhood and withdrew into a world of make-believe, which he would eventually commit to film. He also pondered the forces behind his tragedy. Besides obviously driving more responsibly or giving the keys to someone else, it occurred to him that industrialism and capitalism were the prime culprits, as all this anesthetization is very lucrative and creates a lot of cushy jobs. Sadly, he developed Luddite tendencies, even though nerve blocks are much more technologically advanced, as are all other green technologies. His wish to return to hunting-gathering and for this lifestyle to prevail was shakily expressed in Return of the Jedi , the weak follow-up to The Empire Strikes Back . However, he is not too far from the truth: returning to the plow or village workshop, supplemented by renewable energy equipment and information technology, is the true alternative to anesthetization—and all other forms of militarism. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  45. 46. The Only Way to Say “I Was Anesthetized” Is Sadly <ul><li>Lucas grew a full beard after the tragedy, since veiling is not considered acceptable male behavior, partly to hide behind, and partly to protect his face, and his mouth where the intubation had been, which certainly was still painfully there in the ICU. After the record-setting success of the Star Wars cycle, he established facilities for young filmmakers and started a K-12 educational foundation. However, no amount of wealth could ever diminish his hidden anguish and post-traumatic stress, which are responsible for the excesses of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom , forcing the introduction of the PG-13 rating. When he was doing his best work, he was still so traumatized that he could barely speak! In this contemporary nonfictional Greek tragedy, his hubris of reckless driving had transformed him from a cocky adolescent into an anesthetized patient. He is ultimately an anesthetized version of both the tragic heroes of his ancient ancestors and of the 19 th century Romantic hero of the suffering artist. Multiply this tragedy to the tune of 35 million a year in this country alone, and one begins to appreciate the depth and scope to which civilization has been raped. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  46. 47. “ The Tears I Can’t Remember” <ul><li>Before the advent of feminism, most suffering in silence was because of sexual violence and family abuse, but in the wake of feminist progress on these issues, anesthetization has largely displaced them in the industrial world. Therapists and prosecutors are now willing and equipped to help victims of sexual and family violence, and some even specialize in these, but help for anesthetized patients is elusive for not only a lack of legal protection, but also because of the devastating amnesia endemic to this tragedy. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  47. 48. A Tale of Two Siblings <ul><li>My older brother had a nervous breakdown from our having seen The Empire Strikes Back at its Dallas premiere, while I had not. As a result, he wandered shopping malls during that historically hot summer instead of working, and flunked his third year of college, having to repeat it. I noticed that both his signature and footsteps changed forever and for the worse after we had seen it. However, my misinterpretation of the film as the story of an abused child coming of age had inspired me to finish high school and get into college. At the time, I had assumed that these diametrically opposite reactions were because he had strongly identified with Han Solo, who was left frozen at the end of the film, while I had preferred to inject myself directly into the action. Granted, I did have a horrible crush on Han and his portrayer, and his fate did make me melancholy. Now I understand that the diametric opposite reactions were really because my brother had been anesthetized, while I had not. We had both read the review in T IME Magazine, which briefly mentioned the car wreck, but clearly my brother had fully understood its implications from the very beginning, because he had personally suffered them, while I had not. He overwhelmed because he had known all along that The Empire Strikes Back is ultimately the symbolic autobiography of an anesthetized patient, while I didn’t discover this until age 45. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  48. 49. Another Nervous Breakdown <ul><li>During the 20 th century, my mother sang for a choral conductor and nationally known choral composer named Lloyd Pfautsch. A few years after his death at the turn of the millennium, she told me that he had suffered a nervous breakdown upon being anesthetized. The doctors obstinately denied the cause of his overwhelm, and involuntarily committed him to a psychoprison, where he was forcibly drugged. His wife naïvely trusted the doctors, and it was 6 months before he was finally freed. Clearly, he was a political prisoner as surely as Nelson Mandela had been. I am very angry at my mother for not telling me this story while he was still alive. Pfautsch’s story dramatically illustrates the urgency of the Lucas family’s valiant, successful protection of its traumatized, overwhelmed son from psychiatry. Their parish priest certainly provided counsel towards this end. I wish that Pfautsch and Lucas could’ve met and exchanged their stories, as it would’ve been mutually therapeutic. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  49. 50. Raiders of the Lost Consciousness <ul><li>Another thing that this revelation explains is why Return of the Jedi , originally entitled Revenge of the Jedi , is so weak. I bet even money that in May of 1980, the medical profession intimidated Lucas by threatening his children with extrajudicial execution. Vader is strangely emasculated in the 1983 installment, and should’ve known that Luke would’ve gone back to Tatooine to rescue Han, and would’ve intercepted him there. It would’ve made sense for the final showdown to have taken place at Luke’s—and Vader’s—home instead of aboard a second, redundant Death Star. It would’ve been delicious for the pale, intubated, and taped face of an anesthetized patient to have symbolically launched a thousand spaceships, and for the climactic revolutionary battle to be waged on his behalf as he lay unconscious and helpless. And Han should’ve been allowed to suffer from frank post-traumatic stress upon thawing out, as his rescuers gently but thoroughly explained to him what had transpired. A poignant touch would be for the androids to download their own personal memories onto removable media to give to him to replace the ones which he had been deprived. A heartbreaking dénouement would have the traumatized Han abandoning the alias ‘Solo’ for his real name and finding solace, fresh air, sunshine, and a quiet dignity in going back to the plow and having a family. The disease cartel certainly interpreted the film’s original title as Lucas’ intention to avenge his own consciousness. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  50. 51. Another World is Possible <ul><li>Lucas’ wish—and mine—is no different from that of any other institutional pacifist. With extant knowledge and technology, the majority of surgeries can be abolished right now with significant improvement of length and quality of life, and the majority of remaining, actually useful surgery can be performed with nerve blocks. Anesthetization would become a rare tragedy, and the money, time, and natural resources saved would not only cover the uninsured and help the environment, but provide all remaining anesthetized patients with much more compassionate, individualized treatment, and special care and guidance for the rest of their lives. The emerging Second World Depression can be a blessing in disguise to disabuse us from many attitudes (including the appallingly self-abusive “I don’t want to see or hear anything”) and practices diametrically opposed to our best interest. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  51. 52. Lessons from The Empire Strikes Back <ul><li>Total abolition is still a long way off, but much can be done in cases where nerve blocks are inadequate, or where hypoxia and anoxia are threats. In such cases, supplementary nerve blocks can still be used as an anesthetic-sparing technique, meaning less brain damage. Injectable pre-anesthetics should be abolished because they do not mitigate pain, only impair memory (read fry the hippocampus). The lesson from the carbon-freezing chamber is that paralyzing the patient with muscle relaxants should also be abolished. The lesson from Hoth is to warm the patient with heat lamps as well as heat pads, and for surgeons to cool themselves with personal fans. The lesson from the cargo hold of the Slave I is that the patient needs to feel included, and to talk to the patient firmly in the ear using simple, explicit language. Using a microphone and earphones can save one’s back from bending down to the patient’s ear. The patient can also be given suitable music over the earphones, which will vary widely according to individual tastes, loud enough to hear easily but not so loud as to risk ear damage. The lesson from the videoconference and the Medical Frigate is for a loved one to be there as a temporary guardian, to speak to and speak on the patient’s behalf. Another lesson from the videoconference is for everyone to have an anesthetic advance directive. The lesson from the weathervane is for the patient to form a relationship with the life support, modeled after having had an umbilical cord and a placenta for 9 months. The patient should see the equipment before induction, and should touch the airway with one’s tongue and lips upon intubation. The lesson from the nonexistent ending is that the patient needs to understand what happened, and that anything less than absolute transparency and full disclosure is unacceptable. And the lesson from the amputation is that the patient needs an individualized rehabilitation plan, including memory and cognitive rehab, teetotaling, counseling, hypnotherapy to liberate state-specific memories, music and art therapy, do-it-yourself projects, guidance, and family counseling. All of these lessons imply regulation . </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  52. 53. “ Being Anesthetized Is Hell” <ul><li>This Tchaikovsky is the shattering finale of his 6 th Symphony, the Pathétique . This is the only music I have ever heard in my entire life that adequately conveys the victimology of the anesthetized patient. 9 days after the symphony’s premiere, Tchaikovsky committed suicide because he couldn’t overcome his being gay. The liner notes of one recording correctly conclude that he had written his own requiem. God and Heaven forbid, if I ever realize my lifelong worst fear, this movement would best capture how it would make me feel. Like Lucas, I would certainly forcefully resist and lose as he had. I would have a massive nervous breakdown and suffer from catastrophic post-traumatic stress, needing extensive therapy for the rest of my life, including writing my own autobiography of an anesthetized patient. Not even sexual assault or war would be in the same league as anesthetization. The only way to mitigate this disastrous outcome is for someone to take pictures to help me understand what happened, to talk to me and to play classical and ambient music for me over earphones, as described in the previous slide, as I am profoundly hearing gifted. Interestingly, the triumphant scherzo from this same symphony, immediately preceding the tragic finale and invariably drawing applause, best depicts my elation at having a nerve block. This underscore dramatically illustrates that the tragic story of the young, anesthetized George Lucas and the movie it inspired deserve an opera by a major composer by century’s end to ensure its preservation for posterity. Critics note that The Empire Strikes Back transcends the Star Wars brand and the entire science fiction and fantasy genre. It also transcends the entire cinematic medium, and deserves a place in the West’s greatest contribution to civilization: classical music. And classical music deserves to have the autobiography of an anesthetized patient in its standard repertoire. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  53. 54. The Autobiography of an Anesthetized Patient <ul><li>I used to be embarrassed that my all-time favorite movie was a popular action-packed fantasy and not a high-end endeavor like Citizen Kane . Granted, part of my life-changing coming of age that drizzly Tuesday night in 1980 was recognizing The Empire Strikes Back as an art film disguised as science fiction, and loving art films ever since. Yet all along I had sensed something about it that was outrageously tragic. Action, adventure, and fantasy are merely its heavy outerwear, mythology and theology its winter apparel, and the theories of Joseph Campbell its thermal underwear. But its pale, freezing, barely alive, and utterly helpless tragic hero is an anesthetized patient who needs love, compassion, and a voice. Nothing has more gravity than his true story, which must never be forgotten. This poor soul is unconscious and can only tell his heartbreaking story in symbols and metaphors. The Empire Strikes Back is the story of all anesthetized patients, to whom we must respond with our deepest sympathy and compassion. Tragically, most Americans are in this demographic, so, chances are, an anesthetized patient starving for affection, compassion, and help to communicate will be oneself. </li></ul>Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved
  54. 55. “ No One Will Ever Do That to You Again” Lent, 2009 Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie E. Steakley All rights reserved