The business of the body

IN A. DICKSON WRIGHT’S “Quacks Through the Ages”, a study published in 1957, the “outstanding quack of all times” was James Graham, an 18th-century Scottish doctor who conceived mystical cures for all sorts of ailments using fiery electric lamps, magnets and perfumes of the Orient. The centrepiece of his Temple of Health in London was a celestial bed that he claimed could combat sterility and produce perfect babies by pouring out waves of magnetism. High society flocked to his events, which had an air of eroticism and culminated in the scantily clad appearance of the Goddess of Health—none other than the future Lady Hamilton. He may have been an impostor, but Graham deserves special reverence at The Economist. His magnetic love bed lay adjacent to the site of our current headquarters overlooking the Thames.

Once again miracle cures are all the rage, not just in London but all around the world. Electric currents are out of fashion, replaced by yoga boot camps, meditation and veganism. To immerse himself, Schumpeter hauled his flabby body to Taryn Toomey’s The Class in New York, which invites its sometimes A-list, mostly female clientele to “witness their resistance to discomfort” by leaping around on a mat to thumping music. He threw his shoulders, sweat, spit and howls of agony and ecstasy about with the best...



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