So, just what is a body? Seems like a strange question, right? I know, I know. I gave a side-eye the first time someone first seriously asked me that question. I found myself struggling to answer concisely because the harder I tried, the further away from my center, meaning notions of my own body, I seemed to move.
I always consult a dictionary at some point in my definitional process, a process that is interdisciplinary and postmodern. In other words, I assemble meanings based upon context generated from and by multiple lenses and locations including bodily ones. However, I also recognize that context is not stagnant and that definitions, meaning so-called truths, change and evolve, sometimes toward extinction. In other other words, I accept that there are known and unknown influences working on/in me in known and unknown ways, manifesting in the known and unknown. Moreover, the so-called truth of these known and unknown things and ways is always something I must choose. In other, other, other words . . . nah, lemme stop playin’!😉
Life and death are at the heart of Derek Chauvin’s trial for murdering George Floyd. Indeed, George Floyd’s life and death brought the tenuous connection forward, reminded the entire world of the vitality of breath, of breathing. We all saw what we saw, felt what we felt, remember what we remember via our bodies. Our recognition of our own and others’ bodies was front and center as we witnessed a person—embodied male, White, State-authorized, compassionless, knee on neck—gaze outward into the crowd of mainly Black and Brown people; as another person—embodied male, Black, State-authorized as expendable, searching for compassion—looks inward, then everywhere.
Google, ‘body’: “the physical structure of a person or an animal, including the bones, flesh, and organs.”
This is how I attempt to employ ‘body’ in my life and work based upon my approach to definitions:
Body – Although philosophers such as Foucault and Butler have shown that the body is discursively constructed and able to be interpreted as a ‘text,’ there must be a physical, corporeal (aspect of the) body upon which to act that is, at least, concomitant or co-emergent (Barker 12-14; Hekman). The body is discourse relative to internal landscapes (fear, love, neural patterns relative to these ‘emotions’) and external landscapes (leg and arm amputations due to disease or war, scars from falling off a bike) that can be read because they help compose and simultaneously embody narrative. The aesthesis—sensory appreciation—is ultimately the praxis that grounds both the internal and external landscapes. Another way of saying this is that body is narrative.
So, think about the narrative that your body is, creates, tells, and hides. Think about the narrative of bodies on display, including those of the witnesses, during the at least nine minutes Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. Think about the flight from one’s humanity that would permit a person to render another’s humanity invisible, rendering them object or tool.
Odd, the continuing echoes of white supremacy, meaning anti-humanity. Or, should I say, “Oddy, Oddy, Oddy, Oddy.” S|F Blog*
Barker, Francis. The Tremulous Private Body: Essays on Subjection. London and New York: Metheun and Company, 1984. Print.
Hekman, Susan. “Material Bodies.” Body and Flesh: A Philosophical Reader. Ed. Welton, Donn. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 1998. 61-70. Print.
Stallion, Megan Thee. “Body.” Good News. 1501 Certified Entertainment and 300 Entertainment. November 20, 2021.
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