When somebody comes into the pharmacy to buy medicines…they’re looking for some kind of order, since every complaint is chaotic. In a pharmacy numbers and arithmetic take on once again the no-nonsense neatness they had on blackboard at school.

How many capsules each dose? How many doses per day? During a meal?…During how many days? The answers are remunerated several times and written…on the packet…I ear people repeating figures to themselves as they go out: two on waking, three during the midday meal, two before bed, repeating them as if they were a telephone number, for like this…the silence of the unpredictable is kept at bay.

From A to X, John Berger, p 81, London, 2008 Verso

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