Alchemist’s joke

The next time I hear someone call the U.S. healthcare system a joke, I will enjoy savoring the idea that perhaps this joke is being told at our great expense by a mythical comedian.

See if you think this joke is a funny one…


First, few people know that, until recently, the Caduceus of Hermes (what 90+% of Americans would call “the medical symbol”) had nothing to do with medicine. Since ancient times, the Western symbol of medicine has been the Rod of Asclepius — the staff carried by Asclepius, Greek god of medicine — which is a rod with a single serpent entwined around it resembling a U.S. dollar symbol.

The Caduceus only became “the medical symbol” in the early 20th century when it was confounded with the Rod of Asclepius by a U.S. Army Medical Corps officer.

Then note that Hermes is (among other things) the god of commerce. If you are cynical, you might also enjoy contemplating the fact that Hermes is also the god of thieves.

So, our medical symbol is actually the symbol of commerce. Our symbol of commerce is actually a symbol of medicine. We seem able to untangle neither these tangling symbols nor the tangled-up realities they represent, that of dollars and doctors…

Incidentally, Hermes is also a trickster god.

Good one, Hermes.

Ha fucking ha.


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2 Responses to Alchemist’s joke

  1. Cheryl Elia says:

    Love it!!! :-D This one in particular, and the whole concept of “Anomalogue”. Anomaly and analogue, I presume. My brain often travels in those circles as well. I knew I’d find you here. ;-)

    • anomalogue says:

      So the content delivers on the name’s promise? I’m glad to hear that. Anomalogue began exactly as you thought: mashing up anomaly + analogue, but, being lump of poetry, it has produced numerous interpretive layers. I think I wrote a post about it, and if I can find it I’ll post a link.

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