My first day back in the archives today. Apart from jet lag, what a treat to come back to these individuals and their various complaints. I went through 18 letters today. Not too bad considering the archives were only open for the afternoon….
Highlights? Well, let’s see… The man who encouraged Tissot to follow through on his plan to write a treatise on chastity that might somehow be seen as a moral counterpart to the treatise on onanistm (which seems pretty damn moralistic to me, but I’m also not an eighteenth century Calvinist), another patient who implored Tissot to continue helping him because Tissot would want to see his ‘ouvrage’ brought to completion (I have to admit that this one stumped me for a bit until I realized that the return to a state of health following Tissot’s guidelines could result in the patient being viewed as living, corporeal proof of Tissot’s methods)….and, interestingly, a patient with a passion for reading medical books, which, he knew, was associated with hypochondria.
And finally, a patient from Lyon who drew on any patriotic fervour Tissot might possess, noting that he was born in a small town just outside Coppet (home of the maudlin Mme Necker) and drawing on connections with a church leader in Bex. Treat me because I’m Swiss, he seems to say. Not the argument I would use, but I’m also not Swiss….
Other highlights? Lausanne in the sun is quite glorious. I can see the city of Evian, France from my hotel room. I can walk the edges of Lake Geneva for over 10 km in either direction …and did I mention that the lake is just five minutes from the hotel? And I’ll never get enough of the smell of fresh butter croissants…right in the mini Mart at the train station! On Saturday I’ll head into Lausanne centre ville before taking the train to Yverdon-les-bains, home to one of the more pathetic ( in the sense of pathos, not necessarily in the popular sense) patients. I need to be physically In the old town. I need to feel it and to consider its histories. Only then will I be fully ready to commune with the ghosts in the archives…..