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Pain Studies

by Lisa Olstein

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2810651,489 (3.5)2
"Pain Studies is a book-length lyric essay at the intersection of pain, perception, and language. Through the prism of migraine, Pain Studies episodically and idiosyncratically explores personal, cultural, medical, and literary histories of pain--how we experience, express, treat, and mistreat it--and undertakes extended engagements with a range of sources including the trial testimony of Joan of Arc, the television show House, M.D., rhetorical attributes of pre-Socratic philosophy and mathematical proofs, essays by Virginia Woolf and Elaine Scar[r]y, and the perception-based work of artists Donald Judd and James Turrell. Written from and into its own urgencies of both form and content, it is in conversation with recent books by Maggie Nelson, Eula Biss, Sarah Manguso, and Leslie Jamison, among others." --… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was a beautiful trip of weirdness with bursts of amazing clarity. Once I realized the author is a poet, I think I appreciated this prose more. I also listened to it on audiobook from the library, and it was an experience like that of a spoken word performance.

Pain is different in every person, yet every person has pain. I’m like the author with times of unrelenting pain that can ebb and flow. I loved how she wove pop culture (House MD) with history (Joan of Arc) along with research and lived experience.

This is definitely an odd read, but I will be returning to it as a kind of solace in understanding as well as lovely prose. ( )
  spinsterrevival | Oct 12, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am part of the way through this book. I had initially put it aside for a bit and then with the coronavirus epidemic I think I was reluctant to read about pain. Originally I’d thought it was a regular memoir, which I would have been up for, but it’s a series of essays. That’s OK in that I’m reasonably intrigued by the ones involving the author’s experience, but she has veered off into discussing Joan of Arc now, and I know she is making larger philosophical points, but she’s rather lost me. It seems like a relatively quick read and I’ll probably finish it at some point, and surely she will get back to her own experience. but reading it isn’t smooth sailing for me.
  benruth | May 4, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
First off, I received a copy of this book through the Early Reviewers program on LibraryThing. I'm grateful to the publisher for the copy of this; I read an ARC, and so some aspects may have changed in the course of publishing.

This book interesting series of meditations on migraine and pain. Olstein draws cultural objects from all over--poets and writers, House, M.D., art, etc. I think some of her interactions with those objects falls kind of short for me--the book itself is not, obviously, a true cultural history in the academic sense of migraine, but it feels a little pulled thin as she tries to create essentially migraine as a kind of epistemology but never really coming to any real stance on it, which is fine since that's not necessarily her aim.

The biggest weakness of the text for me is the lack of engagement with disability studies, or the question of disability at all. I'm not sure if Olstein considers herself disabled, and she seems resistant to considering the question in any serious capacity, preferring to take the pain as its own thing. I just think addressing some of the questions that disability studies has posed about pain (I'm thinking especially the work of Tobin Siebers in Disability Theory around pain, which touches on much of what Olstein writes about here but also extends beyond it in ways I find productive,) or at least acknowledging that thought might really have enriched this. ( )
  aijmiller | Apr 30, 2020 |
I’ve never felt so seen or understood. ( )
  brittanygates | Apr 23, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Very poetic prose about migraines, pain more generally, the TV show House, and related topics. Perhaps precisely because writing about the experience of pain is like dancing about architecture, I couldn’t get into it, but I was particularly struck by the one line where the self and the pain merge: “Migraine says, this cage is a mirror, this cage can make itself disappear; here, I will make a tray of you for the sky.” ( )
  rivkat | Mar 22, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
an allusive, sometimes obscure, but more often fascinating meditation
 
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"Pain Studies is a book-length lyric essay at the intersection of pain, perception, and language. Through the prism of migraine, Pain Studies episodically and idiosyncratically explores personal, cultural, medical, and literary histories of pain--how we experience, express, treat, and mistreat it--and undertakes extended engagements with a range of sources including the trial testimony of Joan of Arc, the television show House, M.D., rhetorical attributes of pre-Socratic philosophy and mathematical proofs, essays by Virginia Woolf and Elaine Scar[r]y, and the perception-based work of artists Donald Judd and James Turrell. Written from and into its own urgencies of both form and content, it is in conversation with recent books by Maggie Nelson, Eula Biss, Sarah Manguso, and Leslie Jamison, among others." --

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