Illness is the night side of life, a more onerous citizenship.” Susan Sontag.
The idea that health and illness are different states, sometimes to the point of being completely different territories or countries has proved to be an enduring and powerful metaphor. Virginia Woolf, for example, in her 1930 essay “On Being Ill”, wrote of the distance between the worlds of the well and the ill, and of how different those two worlds feel to their inhabitants. She described the ‘daylight’ quality of health, which is a place of community, purpose, business and busy-ness. But, she noted, in the same way that daylight obliterates the ever-present skyful of stars, so when “the lights of health go down” the “undiscovered countries” of illness are revealed. We all have another homeland, that strange and disconnected place where nothing seems to go to plan:
Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.” Susan Sontag.