Friday, September 14, 2007

Moving Bodies




"After all, I would be willing to admit that Sade formulated an eroticism proper to a disciplinary society: a regulated, anatomical, hierarchical society whose time is carefully distributed, its spaces partitioned, characterized by obedience and surveillance.

It's time to leave all that behind, and Sade's eroticism with it. We must invent with the body, with its elements, surfaces, volumes, and thickness, a non-disciplinary eroticism: that of a body in a volatile and diffused state, with its chance encounters and unplanned pleasures...Too bad then for the literary deification of Sade, too bad for Sade: he bores us. He's a disciplinarian, a sargeant of sex, an accountant of the ass and its equivalents." Foucault in Foucault Live
The Smiths were for me, as they were for most people into punk and indie music, an important foundation in my musical education. I was in my early teens when "How Soon is Now" got airplay in Maine. I liked it as I did "Panic" but kept it quiet as I was a metal head. Metal heads were not supposed to like pop. I also kept secret my love for Talking Heads. But I listened to them a lot during those early years. Then as I got into progressively heavier, industrial music, I let them go. Later when I started to do "goth" I got into Morrsisey. How could you not be goth and not love his tortured insecurity? But again, it was not quite hardcore enough for my taste.

Thus when H checked out a Morrissey CD, I was only mildly interested. I'll be honest, the first few times, I listened, I thought "Argh. It's so poppy sounding." But something happened a few weeks ago. The music crawled inside me. I felt that it was penetrating my body, and the more it entered me, the more armoured I became. His voice stopped sounding silly and began to sound sexy. The vocal plays he makes started to give me goosebumps. I found my body moving almost unconsciously. And as the sound began to possess me, the words haunted me. The loneliness, the vulnerability, and the intelligence spoke to me. Here was someone who cared about the words he put on his paper. Morrissey, it seemed to me, saw himself as a writer not just a rock star.

But love? Love came when I saw a video of his performances. Love came when I saw his body moving. It was unexpected. He's not a particularly handsome man, at least for me. He's big, bulky. The kind of person who leans towards fat as they get older. His jaw line reminds me of that stereotypical image of boxers. He looked like a meat head, a jock. But then I saw him move. I saw his gestures, the way he moved his hands. The way his body moved to the music. Unplanned, I fall in love...with a stranger. A famous stranger. I feel in his love with his fingers, his hands. I feel in love with the way his body undulates on the stage. With his old school theatrical gestures: the swept out arm that embraces the audience. The way he falls to the floor is enough to make me feel a bit weak. He has a way of looking out into a crowd of thousands of people, and making them all feel he's touched them. This unplanned love embarrasses me slightly. I'm still kind of stunned, that I cheap girl that I am, paid 80 to see him live. But I feel that I have to see him. I have to watch his body. I have to see him sing in the flesh.

And this is what amazes me about love, lust, even friendship. There is something about physicality that strikes me as vital in any relationship. As close as I feel to you, my dear readers, as much as I love to play with you, I need to know you in ways that not possible over the internet. There is something about encountering a body, be it from a distance or from nearby, that creates an unplanned intimacy. I shield myself from this, and this is what keeps me from fully embracing many people. If I threw myself open, I feel I would die from the intensity. But still I need this encounter. I want to feel the brush of hands on mine. I want to sit across from you and talk to you. I want to feel what will come, unplanned and maybe even unwelcomed. When this happens then I feel I will know you. I don't want to just know the sterilized mind but the messy body. I want to smell sweat, and the food you ate for lunch. I want the electric caress of attraction or the cold crawl of repulsion. There is only a half knowing without the body. I crave chance encounters. I want the unexpected shock of lust. It doesn't mean one has to act on it but rather that one opens oneself to what other bodies say and do.

This is a knowledge that both kills and gives live.

5 comments:

Horacio said...

YES, you can blame it all on me, not only it was a Morrissey album it was a live Morrissey album which brings out all of what you talk about.
I've always had a non-sexual crush on Morrissey (like Josh on Brad Pitt, or hell, who knows, it may be sexual) so you know i can totally relate to what you're saying.
As for encountering bodies. It's true, nothing but the body can give a full account of a life. Even if it is the bodies that, in our times, have became hiper real, dispersed, decentered...

John B-R said...

Some thoughts: first, this all makes sense, since we ARE embodied, we are bodies, and the mind is an emanation of the goop of which we are constructed. I think we only have minds to help our meat negotiate its time as life. Second, we ARE pack animals. Third, a friend of mine (my pilates/yoga instructor) and I are have been talking a lot about interspecies communication (since Alex the research parrot died). She mentioned that it's been "proven" (as much as anything's proven) that about 95% of communication is non-verbal.I can only say that much of our communication is hands-on physical. When I'm doing a move incorrectly she may verbalize my error, but she also puts her hands on me and moves me into the right position. I couldn't do without the touch. Fourth, while I appreciate H's "nothing but the body can give a full account of a life" I hesitate over the word "full", unless I'm allowed to add that for me even a full account of life = 100% mystery, and I'm beginning to realize over and over that I will die before I understand anything. Fifth, I love your last sentence, tho given what I've just said I'd change the world "knowledge" to "realization". I take it that it's only while balancing on that knife edge that one can possibly be human, much less a poet.

John B-R said...

And let me add that this is why we're all going to have to meet some time. I'm already planning a trip to England in 08, and one of the big impetuses to go there is to be in the same room with my friends, who include, of course Ernesto, whom to date I've only virtually met.

Ginger said...

Grrrr...I replied to this earlier but it didn't come up.

John, I am thinking of knowledge in a particular kind of way....more in a realization kind of way then in a rational Western thought sort of way. Foucualt seems to have a way of viewing knowledge that twists from the path of traditional philosopy but it's something I am only beginning to tease out.

And I will let H speak for himself but in my mind, we all do accounting of our selves in a multiple number of ways. I think that it's never 100% or necessairly about the truth of who we are but I do think we do it. And I think that we have to take the body into account to make that a fuller experience. Experience may be the key word here.

And yes on meeting. I am hoping to meet a bunch of fellow bloggers in Mexico over the summer. And I'd love to go to London but it's really an impossiblity for us at this time. The plane tickets alone would kill us.

John B-R said...

Ginger, I think our bodies tell the world who we are, 100%, all the time. I don't think we can tell untruths with our bodies. Our presence gives us away. I should probably amend "our" to "my", but ...