Drinking steel for self or others
Possible Modernist’s latest rejoinder in our ongoing discussion quotes some fun literature and again attributes the recklessness involved in self-experimentation to being ‘for machismo, rather than a pure quest for knowledge.’
I don’t deny that Boyle’s account there can easily be described as manic, drug-fueled, compulsive. But that doesn’t necessarily imply that his motives were ‘showing off’ as opposed to ‘personal curiosity.’ It could ALSO be the case, if Boyle was drinking batshit things ‘to combat gout and (kidney?) stone,’ that he was in severe pain a lot of the time, and the downsides of drinking metals seemed less dramatic in comparison with his pain, than they would to you or I or someone not beset by kidney stones in a pre-painkiller era.
This has been an enjoyable discussion, and I don’t know that I have more that is useful to add–I can’t know, and I think we can’t know–the motives of Boyle. I can know that he pushed boundaries, and even though his medical “research” was erratic and unreplicated, the fact that he recorded his acts did let us learn “whelp, I won’t be trying /that/”. We can also be grateful that he was displayed less bravado in his work on gases.
I don’t want to close without a cool new weird example, though, so here’s one recently shared by @halvorz, from Jacques Pepin’s “The Origins of AIDS”.