Archive for February, 2008

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the body in the pure moment of penetration

February 14, 2008

“The body” has been termed and used in many different contexts throughout media and cultural studies. It is the gendered, the racial body; it is the vulnerable, the emotional body, the surface, the container, the discursive.

Lately, it has been discussed that the body cannot be seen as either male or female. There is no pure masculinity to which male applies, neither is there pure femininity connected with femaleness. Discourse has been easing its way through and around the body, making it to be something almost virtual. As if it wasn’t there, as if discourse was everything that needs to be considered when talking about identity, whether that be sexual, gendered, or even class identity.

There has been so much discourse on the floating body, being and becoming as it may because of culture, social circumstances and whatever else that sometimes I would like to pinch myself to see whether my body is still there. And I ask myself: who am I? I am skin, bones, muscles, joints, blood, veins, organs, electricity, nerves – saying that I try to grasp some of the physical embodiment of my body. Nevertheless,  naming these I’m supposedly already leaving the innocence of my endeavour.  There is no pure, no authentic sense of the body. It is named and therefore no longer just is. 

skin

So I struggle onwards; something that has always fascinated and, at the same time, abhorred me is the sight of a needle breaking through the skin, something alien actually entering the body without any resistance from itself. It is so easy to penetrate the skin, like cutting butter with a hot knife. There it is, the pure moment of physical embodiment. Everything is concentrated on that very moment when the sharp front bit of the needle disappears under the skin, and bit by bit the metallic slides into the body, milimeter by milimeter. I don’t think about gender any more, or about race, class, sex. I am aware of the utmost vulnerability of me.

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Homo Ludus

February 13, 2008

Play is their [children’s] defence…In his purposeless activity the child, by a subterfuge, sides with use-value against exchange value. Just because he deprives the things with which he plays of their mediated usefulness, he seeks to rescue in them what is benign towards men and not what subserves the exchange relation that equally deforms men and things…the unreality of games gives notice that reality is not yet real. Unconsciously they rehearse the right life. (Adorno 1978, Minima Moralia)

I could have also started this post with “all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players” (Shakespeare). Every social context we’re in, every cultural environment we move towards or out of is set up like a game. A game that follows certain rules that its members have to or should abide by. No matter where we move, sit, sleep or eat we always play with the situation we’re in. Be it that we slightly change the ways we behave, try to push the boundaries or simply observe the new rules that need to be picked up if we want to survive in a certain setting.

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Believing that the biggest game is that of the industry where the exchange of numbers and commodities within a hierarchy of speech and action is predominant, I have come to realise that life itself with all of its different levels of play consists of game boards, sets of rules, figures to move around with, limited number of steps to do depending on the dice. And although the dice is not based on chance only, it belongs to the game that is being played. Hardly a board game without a dice. Hardly a board game without rules.

Adorno suggests that it is the children who have not quite accustomed themselves to the world of exchange value. They still play for the sake of playing and therefore resist the immateriality of a commodity’s exchange value. What might this imply if we transferred the idea of the use-value of playing our games to adult life? Chaos? A more humane working and living surrounding? Could we, therefore, get rid of our deformity, as Adorno argues? Alas, childhood is long gone.

So we continue playing in this world of ours, following the rules of – call it culture, if you will. Yet, I do not want to end without a call for agency: one does not have to cheat to escape the rules of the game. Sometimes it helps to change the perspective. Or to sit down and play for the sake of playing. Maybe someday we will become conscious of playing “the right life”.

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electricity

February 11, 2008

I am a dreamer. Ever since I was little I have felt this desire in me – a desire for stories, told by myself as much as by others. Fuelled by an abundance of enthusiasm and high spirit, I have overwhelmed those around me, pulling them into my fire of life. I still dream a lot. At night and during the day. I see myself sitting in places around the world, talking, discovering, conquering.

Sometimes I think I do look into this world from a slightly different angle. To me, this world is inundated with miracles and mysteries. And I am not necessarily talking of Medusa, King Arthur or the Holy Spirit – I see birds flying and feel a strange kind of connection with the life within them. I can almost seize their bodies onto me, listening to their wings in the wind and their heartbeats as they fly across the Downs.

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Sometimes I feel like the body of the other is covered with thousands of little electric sizzles. I hardly touch and can already feel its power. I hardly touch and am already enthralled with the beauty of this body, the waves above the hips, the lines of the jaw, the delicately defined fingers. The bodies are glowing, their surface fully and contagiously vibrant. Walking past, thereby catching the air they leave behind with my face, nose and mouth tells me stories of their morning, the beds and flats they have just come out of. It feels like a touch, sometimes, a very gentle brush of an arm. Perchance to dream I would smile with every touch.

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C’è Che?

February 9, 2008

I have just finished watching the motorcycle diaries, an utmost beautiful film of the young Ernesto Guevara motorcycling all along South America with his friend “Chubby Che”. The deeper they sink into the lap of the continent, the more they arrive at seeing a united America. What an amazing moment of realising that the world, however big it is, can hold so many of a different and yet so many of the same kind. Looking into the faces of the people through the camera, right into their old, young, sad, enthusiastic, vigorous, tired eyes felt like a reunification with the origin of our selves.

Just dreaming of the nations out there, divided by “fictional” borders (as Ernesto says) does in a first instance give a lot of hope. I can almost reach out there and touch the pure physicality of other human beings. Beautiful faces there. Beautiful people. Oh, how beautiful.

Lest we forget that what is called reality is far from being beautiful and the fact that nations do have and obviously seem to need borders is undeniable. Yet, there is the thought of a coming together of us, of our reconnecting as human beings, recognising the beauty in each and every one of us. What we make of it is our very own choice and often, we don’t take advantage of our natural bond. Instead, we seek separation, it seems.

one of them

But this is not the time and place to ponder on separation – I dare to speak of this dream and look into the face of beauty on this planet. And if it means covering myself and those around me in powdered sugar. I can still feel the electricity.

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Lève Elève toi

February 3, 2008

What’s a person’s voice? Bearer of secrets, of abuse, of laughter and cries, of the manifold of emotions pushed, shuffled into the air, voluntarily dancing from within to the outside. I remember the title of a book called “Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication”. Communication has started with the first sounds voiced from mankind. It probably all started off with the first mumbles, sharp sounds, hisses, imagined sounds that are still audible today, nevertheless categorised as affective.

Indeed, today we are able to fulfil miracles with our voices. We sing, we speak, we whisper, all this encompassing different levels of volume, signaling different ways of communication, of encoded meaning.

One might call me nostalgic, but the purest, indeed the most enthralling way of communication lies not within our mediated surrounding but within the ways of direct human discourse. There is something unique within the act of speaking. Of course, it entails not only the sound of the voice, the sometimes hardly recognisable changes of volume, of pitch and of pronunciation, but even moreso the act of looking at the other feeling the change of voice happening. It’s the little thrills charging the air with thousands of different notes, the notion of life all around.