We Are So Lucky, Post #2

The POCA Tech library has been the recipient of a great deal of generosity. It seems like just yesterday that we posted a picture on the POCA Facebook page of a sad, empty bookshelf with a sign, “POCA Tech Library” -- and now the library has over 900 volumes. It’s a cool thing.

One particular donor, however, has given a gift that’s at a whole new order of magnitude.

Before I tell you about that, though, can I make a confession? I never really liked The Web That Has No Weaver. Maybe it’s just my bias, but the feeling I took from it was that the goal of Chinese medicine was to individualize everything. Maybe that’s what Ted Kaptchuk thought would appeal to Americans, and I guess you could argue that it did, but I can’t say the general tone of the book did much to inspire me. It’s not like what this country really needs is more individualism. So I haven’t been particularly excited about recommending it to POCA Tech students or prospectives. And while we’re on the topic of introductory texts...let’s just say I think there’s a reason why our library has plenty of Maciocias. People weren’t sorry to let them go.

And watching the POCA Tech punklings struggle through CAM this past year, I’ve thought, wouldn’t it be great if there were a really well-written, thoughtful introduction to basic acupuncture theory? Something accessible and clear, something that was simple without being reductive? Something that made me stop every so often and reread a sentence or a phrase and think, wow, THAT’s good as opposed to wait, what is that supposed to mean?

OK, I’ll stop with the teasers. John Pirog, who wrote Practical Application of Meridian Style Acupuncture, has written an introductory book about Chinese medical theory that is, not surprisingly, way better than anything else out there. If it had been the first thing I had read about acupuncture theory, I am sure I would have had, let's say, a more positive attitude about acupuncture theory all this time. Personally I’m happy it’s come along just in time to make me feel better about making an acupuncture school, and of course I’m even happier for our students.

What’s that, you want to know where you can buy a copy? You can’t buy a copy, not yet anyway.

John donated a pdf copy to POCA, and the only way you can get it is by being a POCA member. I’m serious. It's a new POCA member benefit. Log in and check out your benefits page, scroll down to the bottom and it’s there.

It’s called the Dark Warrior Guide to Chinese Medicine. As John said in an interview with Gloria in the newsletter, “There are three great constellations that show up in the titles of acupuncture books: The Azure Dragon, the White Tiger, and the Vermillion Bird. But there is a fourth constellation that everyone has ignored: Xuan Wu, the Dark Warrior. It's the icon of the water phase and the symbol of inner strength.”

Here’s a short list of reasons why this is an amazing gift to the co-op. Feel free to add others in the comments!

1) Textbooks are devastatingly expensive, as this recent article points out, and represent a financial burden in their own right. We’re doing everything possible to keep costs down for POCA Tech students, and John’s book is a godsend. All the punklings are POCA members, so they get a free copy.

2) Dark Warrior supports the way we want POCA Tech students to think about acupuncture theory: as a language of symbols grounded in a particular culture and a particular time. We want to cultivate critical thinkers, not fundamentalists who take the Nei Jing as objective, literal truth. Here, read these quotes and gnash your teeth, as I did, that nobody presented theory like this to you when you were a student.

"All ancient civilizations attempted to grasp an understanding of the universe by searching for symbols. It is through a study of symbols that we access a part of our consciousness that is able to see connectedness where ordinary logic can see only separation...the ancients believed that such self-evident relationships could be rationally systematized to serve the interests of science. Through the mind’s ability to perceive metaphorically, the wholeness of the universe could become entirely perspicuous and infinite numbers of phenomena understandable through a finite body of universal symbols. And so we find symbolism at the very core of Chinese medical theory, playing a role so prominent that at times the subject looks more like mythology than medicine." (Introduction)

"No term is more intrinsic to the vocabulary of Chinese healing yet more difficult to define than the term qì (pronounced “chee”)... And yet qi is a practical term, a workman’s term, a reliable and indispensable tool in the day-to-day communications of Chinese medical praxis. It is the indefinite quality of this word, in fact, that makes it so useful; for blunt instruments are preferable when excessive precision is to be avoided. Chinese physicians learned long ago that medicine must remain flexible and open-ended if it is to adapt to the tortuous patterns of real life, and so the defining principles of medical thought were painted with broad strokes and blurred lines. And no term casts a wider or looser ontological net than qi."  (Chapter 1)

"The traditional functions of the heart are derived from the symbolism of the fire phase and from primitive beliefs about the locus of consciousness in the body—not from a study of physiology. The modern reader has surely been taught that the functions of consciousness herein attributed to the heart are in actuality a product of the brain. From a clinical standpoint, these disparities are irrelevant, since Chinese organology is the study of applied metaphor, not mechanical function... natural medicine approaches healing as a search for meaning, not form." (Chapter 8)

3) We had originally hoped to share a lot of the POCA Tech curriculum with the rest of the co-op. As it turns out, though, our classes just don’t translate all that well to video; you kind of have to be there. I love it that John’s book is available to all POCA members; it’s a way for us to go to school as a co-op, part of the new model of acupuncture education we’re creating together.

On behalf of POCA and POCA Tech, John, thank you for your amazing generosity.

This story was posted on February 16 2015 by Lisafer.

Comments

  • February 16 2015 at 8:06 AM
    Presence_CA writes:

    No teeth-gnashing here; i was fortunate enough to have John as my primary instructor in acupuncture school. Thanks for everything, John, this is really most generous and everybody at POCA Tech really appreciates you.

      6 likes
  • February 16 2015 at 10:46 AM
    melissa writes:

    Finding John Pirog’s Meridian Style book felt like a bright light, and my first subversive foray outside the prescribed acu texts when I was in school. The rest of that foray led straight to CAN and POCA, so this is a wonderful full circle.

    What an incredible gift! I feel that kind of giddiness when it’s really all about the shared discovery of the knowledge, and knowing how it can change things. I’ve always been impressed by true scholars who know the joy in this sharing.  Deepest heartfelt thanks to John for such generosity of spirit.

      5 likes
    • Lisafer
    • bottley
    • Spartacus
    • crismonteiro
    • SuperSel
  • February 16 2015 at 11:27 AM
    Paxcow writes:

    As someone who’s going to have to be taking boards real soon, this just made my week.

    <3 POCA.

      5 likes
  • February 16 2015 at 12:46 PM
    chaitime writes:

    “And while we’re on the topic of introductory texts…let’s just say I think there’s a reason why our library has plenty of Maciocias. People weren’t sorry to let them go.”

    Ha, so true.

    What a great addition for POCA Tech, and a great gift from John. Its true too, his Meridian book is one of the few gems out there. Looking forward to check this new book out!

      6 likes
  • February 16 2015 at 3:46 PM
    Spartacus writes:

    Thank you John Pirog! I randomly stumbled upon his Meridian Style book at about the same time Nancy Sutton gave me a copy of Noodles, right as I was starting student clinic, and it was SO awesome to have these two bombs just go off in the middle of that. Changed the course of my life for certain. Looking forward to reading this new one, big time!

      4 likes
    • crismonteiro
    • bottley
    • Roppy
    • kcasey44
  • February 17 2015 at 3:43 PM
    andy wegman writes:

    Wow - what a terrific gift to the co-op and PT students.
    Well you know THIS excellent text will not be forgotten or ignored!

      2 likes
    • Lisafer
    • Spartacus
  • February 22 2015 at 1:40 PM
    kcasey44 writes:

    I had the privilege of having John as a teacher and he has a way of imparting the theories of Chinese Medicine in a way that my left-brained mind can process while stimulating my right brain’s interest. Basically he makes dry theories interesting.

    This is such a gift for POCA members and I’m so happy to be reading it.

    Thank you John for entrusting us and for helping POCATech students to be interested while they are learning.

    Kerri

      2 likes

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