Posted by: Corri van de Stege | November 29, 2007

Bodies and biochemistry

The book I have read and have underlined, in several places, despite purists’ horror at anyone writing in books or in any other way ‘debasing’ them, for me books become part of me as I read them and I want to remember pages, want to be able to go back to them and pick up bits I know I have read, is Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson.  There is much to underline, put exclamation marks next to, or circle with question marks, in this book as it is more a philosophical treatise on very personal relationships with people we love; and so it warrants reminders for savouring again, later.  One such passage that evokes a strong recognition of the fragility of our relationships, is

Molecular docking is a serious challenge for biochemsists. There are many ways to fit molecules together but only a few juxtapositions that bring them close enough to bond.  On a molecular level success may mean discovering what synthetic structure, what chemical, will form a union with, say the protein shape on a tumour cell.  If you make this high-risk jigsaw work you may have found a cure for carcinoma.  But molecules and the human beings they are a part of exist in a universe of possibility. We touch one another, bond and break, drift away on froce-fields we don’t understand. docking here inside Louise may heal a damaged heart, on the other hand it may be an expensively ruinous experiment.’

JW’s books are hugely challenging but well worth getting into as there is a vast store of wisdom scattered throughout.


  1. The book you’ve mentioned intrigues me on a few different levels. Coming from a bachelors in Physiology, I’m always up for a little scientific nerdiness, but the idea of mixing philosophy or genres of different sorts is fascinating.

  2. Amateurish: I have not helped I think by being slightly careless in my typos and copying of text – hope you got the full paragraph without too much scratching your head about what was intended! Anyway, Janette Winterson is well worth reading.

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