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Volume 1, Issue 4
Winter 2005:

Canon Philosophy and Submission Guidelines

Cell 2 Soul. 2005 Winter; 1(4):a22

In this section we plan to publish a series of Personal Canons. Our working title, "From an Ample Nation: Literature, Medicine, and a Personal Canon," is rooted in Emily Dickenson's poem:

The soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the door —
On her divine Majority —
Present no more —

Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —

I've known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like stone —

Like Emily Dickinson, each of us selects a few word-worthy boons from the thousands of books available. We posit that spending time with great minds, through their published works, is essential to becoming a compleat physician, healer, or care-giver.

You are invited to submit a selection of ten books, poems, essays or articles that quickly come to mind — those which have greatly influenced you; or perhaps those you would want your students, trainees or colleagues to read. Classics are not required; submitted lists contain contemporary books and inspirational essays, as well as works that have been in existence for hundreds or thousands of years. Some respondents have listed individual poems; others have included film favorites from the celluloid literature. Both are equally acceptable.

In the Canon project, we seek to get at the distinction that Horace makes in his treatise, Ars Poetica. He separates authors into two categories: the good, who simply delight, and the great, who mix the useful with the sweet ("qui miscuit utile et dulci"). This latter category is where we envision the Canon Project moving.

To date we have collected close to fifty personal canons. At some point, we plan to post all of these canons on a website and make them available to medical libraries and to the public. We envision them forming a core humanities library of sorts for health professionals and students who wish to look beyond mere science and technology. "Why Read?" addresses the contributors' ideas of what constitutes "creative reading" for the physician, nurse, future caregiver or other health care professional.

If you wish to submit a personal canon, please follow the format found in those published in the Why Read? section of this issue: list your ten works, followed by a brief explanation of why each one resonates with you.

(The template for the Osler Canon is the exception. Although it carries a list of ten books, unfortunately Sir William was unable to provide us with his reasons for chosing the works he did.)

Send submissions to submissions~AT~cell2soul·org.

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