The body. Your body, my body, our bodies are a problem.
Whether we’re talking about degeneration and decay or the limitations placed on our lives through the social meanings attached to our bodies; our bodies are, have always been, and will always be a problem. Our bodies make us want things. They make us need, and they set parameters around the strategies we can use to meet those needs. Failure is pain and agony. How lucky are we that we can dissociate to free our consciousness, however temporarily, from the experience of being in our bodies.
There are so many ways to deny the body. We can go to war with it through exercise or radical modification; we can punish it through abstinence; numb it with substance abuse; or dream of transcending it altogether through religious or technological means. Scientists and tech-dreamers talk to us today of up-loadable consciousness—a triumph not altogether different from the “mortification of the flesh” early Christians hoped would lead to a spiritual transcendence of that putrid corporeal death we all face. The desire to escape the source of desire seems natural, or at least a firmly established cultural tradition.
Writers have established their own tradition when it comes to the body. They grit their teeth and stay in the uncomfortable, sometimes unbearable experience of their character’s body. Writers don’t break experience into bullet points, slide presentations, or reductive theories. Their work is always larger than that because they do not hide from this essential part of living. The works collected here will bring you into encounters with the body. I invite you to let them in, to feel them, and to accept the pain and euphoria of being an embodied creature.