Friday 10/07/20 - bodily
I think I have a bodily reaction or a very physical relationship to certain greeness, in a visceral way, and when I started to think about it and read, it's called odor-color synesthesia. This apparently is more unique, with only 6% of people with synesthesia (synesthesia that I don't think I have) having visual experiences when they smell odors. For me some greens are a smell. I can only associate certain smells with green, for example some bodily fluids smell green, or when I recall events or being somewhere or doing something. It's very bodily, I thought in part it was sexual, though it's more complex and not always easy to define as being one thing or another.
A visceral feeling is intuitive — there might not be a rational explanation for this as it is implicit and embodied. So it got me thinking about how this might enable an individual to deliberately modify physiological processes that are ordinarily and nonconsciously regulated by the autonomic nervous system*. In a way that experiences can be translated or communicated outside written forms of language.
*The autonomic nervous system is a control system that acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions, such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal. This system is the primary mechanism in control of the fight-or-flight response.
So intuitively if I experience (sense/see) colours while perceiving smells – I think about how for centuries olfaction has been considered unimportant for humans, not as a ‘naming’ thing, rather than an experiential thing - a doing thing.
In the relationship between language and perception - languages and thoughts – smelling colour might be my most neglected sense.
I also associate temperature with colours, or my experience and sense of temperature is immediately associated with a colour/s, in thought activity. It's a bodily, internal and sensed thing. Green is a very overwhelming feeling of certain temperature/s for me or how the colour green recalls or can express experience of how it felt/feels. It is experienced in the actual being/doing, and then in how I recall being/doing. I could be very literal here with particular experiences though it wouldn’t translate through the words I am using, I think that's one part of where and why I try to make paintings.
The sky fell down,
it emptied out its contents
there was a really weird sort of peace below
it just moved on.
And so did everything else,
no remorse or refusal.
something isn’t there,
its grown back inside,
not carried over.
They put lights up everywhere,
“To see” better?
To stop you looking.
To what do we withdraw when we withdraw from the world of appearances.
When I was a child I was infatuated with a drawn image of severed hands I found at home. I couldn’t not look, although it repulsed me, I kept returning again and again to the image. The hands, severed from their arms, floated ominously, ceremoniously, they made me feel sick, but I was totally fascinated. I think about it a lot.
To have one’s body whole, is to feel in control; your limbs held close and extremities gathered, it is the ‘norm’ to which we experience the world and anything challenging this sense of security is terrifying. Peculiarly it is the plight of many to feel the sweeping gesticulation of such a disruption throughout the body; a mortal sense of protection arises as the sensation of disgust and fear and excitement and horror and illness and infections and consequence shatters and is reaped. It is not wrong, it is not right, it is amorally factual. Contested by notions of bodies as temples and avoidance of bodily tampering, there is definitely pleasure derived.
It is perhaps important to disseminate the symbolic from the practical here; fragmentation like this firmly sits in the order or the former, whilst its social ramifications can be seen practically. Of course, ‘real-life’ fragmentation does occur, but in the symbolic realm of mutilation and torture, it is not a positive reality when applied practically. This discussion takes place in gay time, on productively unstable carnival ground, the horror of dismemberment itself picked apart with the aim to reveal the truths of the flesh as mutable yet solid, seductive yet repulsive, it is constantly in contention with itself, but this results in a continuum of stable presence; the consistency of inherent opposition making it a sort of whole.
Fragmentation is multiplication; it changes, it renews, it divides and multiplies.
There is a celebratory aspect of fragmentation through the lens of grotesquerie; carnival instability evokes a certain joy in the abundance and potential this can carry. Maybe as a parable for social instability as a productive state (maybe not, maybe this is an incredibly privileged position, maybe this is not what I mean, but if societal stability entails things I think are terrible and wrong then this is definitely what I mean). Where abject fragmentation would focus on the fear associated with dismemberment, carnival would see it as potential for hilarious renewal. Grotesquerie is joy as abjection is to fear. The laughter of public punishment stands for abundance as the worry of one’s hands, feet, and head being separated from the whole is abject.
For now you have three bodies - a left hand, a right hand, and the rest of it.
Does fragmentation therefore supersede the limits, boundaries of the physical body? Or is it merely a sharp end to continuous bodily flow? Is it creating new orifices that become procreative in their gaping? Suddenly unseen parts of the internal body become external, directly interact with the world.
Turning oneself outside-in and inside-out and exposing yourself in all your visceral glory abundantly and freely - is it pleasurable. They say this is vulnerability.
What’s that feeling when you want to climb inside someone else then? Rip them open? Violence as affection? This is crossing a boundary and maybe that’s why there’s pleasure to be found — taboos or not taboos. Much taboo about nothing.
Some get broken legs and other broken kidneys but all all the same, all god flesh.
There is verdancy in piss, puke, bile. (I thought verdance was a word, I’m disappointed it is not).
There is a line that we cross between one another - flesh boundaries again - where suddenly I am not afraid of your bodily fluids, but if I did not know you I would be so disgusted. This is all excess - waste, stuffing, indulged or necessary. Abundance is taken as gluttonous so often, but interestingly when wielded properly, an embrace of it can be so productive. There should be abundance, but this does not mean it should be channelled purely into one corner.
I refuse to denounce satire, because sometimes things are negative. Laughter renews but renewal inherently entails a shedding of the old, and it is important to recognise what needs to be shed. Abundance needs to be shed when it is unnecessarily lavished.
Everything in moderation
I don’t think we should be moderate.
Abundance can in the best sense encapsulate a kind of radical potential. Laughter doesn’t disempower, but quite the opposite, providing space - green space - for dialogical liberation, which can then be translated and translated well (the symbolic into the practical).
Bits of skin keep flaking off, but I know the joy of the new freshness underneath.
The dualist idea of person-body relationship has infested my subconscious causing a frustrating sense of being at odds with my physical manifestation. For a long time I’ve felt my body is against me and I panicked all the time. But thinking properly, I don’t really believe in souls, whatever that means, and without getting too sentimental here, embracing defects and laughing at the ongoing trials that come with being in a body is far more interesting, and it helps.
Acknowledging the absurdity of claiming any sort of grasp on whatever it all is can be so liberating; in this physical reality is grounding, we all have bodies, we can all relate to corporeality in whatever form it takes, so clench bodily reality - corporeal nourishment. I hold up my hands and say I do not know, but I like it, and I can embrace whatever bile this heavenly manna is and maybe that is food or beer or saliva or a dialogue but whatever - I let it flood my organs and look at my fingers which toil and suffice in order to secede. If we are to embrace the ‘lower bodily stratum’ as Bakhtin would have us do, then we can claim our puss and bile and shit and piss and orifices as our own and wield them in radically-fuelled ambivalence, we can clown wisely.
I remembered that I should probably talk about being sick - being sick as a parable for radicality - vomiting societal poison - purging for change. Vomiting is like laughter, it makes room for the new, it destroys and gets rid but in this there is so much potential for newness to refill the stomach, the bowels, acrid acids burning the oesophagi of the societal corpus only increases thirst for something truly nourishing once the nausea passes.
I love the feeling just after being sick - unless I’m actually sick - completely giving in to convulsions, that’s some perspective for you.
Often I open my throat like a gullet and flush a pint of liquid down my body because I used to forget to drink and my kidneys didn’t like it. I’m often in a rush or something like that, and bend over quickly to wash my hands in the sink or something, and I open my mouth to breathe and the liquid just comes right up again. Like a friendly reminder. Maybe I should stop downing pints just before going to the toilet.
Green is a bepissed and beshitten notion because at the end of the day, piss, shit, and vomit are cyclical, they are liminal in their closeness to death, between body and earth, living and disintegration. It is repetitious and commonly shared, and this is why it is funny.
Imagine, experiencing a delicious meal twice!
Putridity is essential in a cyclical sense - but that doesn’t mean that things should be allowed to fester.
There is bodily affluence and I enjoy its coarseness.
Look at what, though absent (from the senses) is so reliably present to the mind.
Bile, or gall, is a dark-green-to-yellowish-brown fluid produced by the liver of most vertebrates that aids the digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In humans, bile is produced continuously by the liver (liver bile) and stored and concentrated in the gallbladder.
I guess as bile, as a fluid, comes from inside the body, we have a cultural norm that suggests it's not meant to be seen outside the body?
That there is something wrong, or private with the body, that should or shouldn’t be seen?
What do you think Grace? - D
I think that the privatisation of the body is an attempt at control, perhaps made as an attempt at understanding (this is where we should probably question the Enlightenment blah blah). It is the placement of morals upon something that merely is. To be private, whole is to be clean, pure, it keeps us from fearing mortality, apparently (a natural thing let us not forget) - and particularly for womxn it’s this ideal of purity that is used against us to further control behaviours, opinions, attitudes.
Men used to publicly dissect women without their consent - violating the ideal of privatisation enforced upon their flesh in autopsy. This was to learn, but really that’s not what it was about, was it? (Their insides should remain that way - inside - shouldn’t they.) It’s not a coincidence that this control is enacted ‘medically’ after thousands of years of women being the ones with the knowledge of life. Of what really goes on inside.
Bile is a good’un because there’s so much to be played with around lipids!
You think of bile as that pre-vomit stuff, but I didn’t really know what it was until just then. Fat is linked to abundance which is linked to gluttony which is linked to greed which is linked to envy which is linked to excess which gives fat a particularly bacchinalian sentiment - that’s fun. (This is aside from contemporary social understandings e.g. ‘fat as a feminist issue’ which I fully account for but here I’m literally talking about lipids - which we NEED to survive, yet they can so easily be excessive).
I think when I’m on this Green spiral it’s so easy to denounce the privatisation of the body and want exposure and more exposure and liberation in this sense ------ but the fact is that all these notions of ‘abjection’ and inner working of the body and all that, have been moralised, and that’s not something you can simply shake off in a heartbeat is it? - G
One common cause is bile reflux - inner working of the body - which happens when bile backs up from your liver into your stomach and esophagus. So I was thinking about ‘abjection’ and why we have this cultural issue with it having to be ‘not seen’ and I agree privatisation of the body - D
------ talking about privatisation of the body, it’s only going to get worse from here. Already the capacity of our bodies depend on our ability to receive care, which has been taken under state control to a great extent - but now this is becoming increasingly privatised too. So I think the thing I’m really keen on - is that taking into account the fact that the private, inner workings of the body have been moralised, privatised, the radical thing to do, that will hopefully lead to the reduction of control over bodies (in particular womxn’s bodies…) is to push against this - exploit the moralisation; abjection can therefore be harnessed for political potential - we all have bodies in some form, so inducing collective visceral sensation is good way to establish collective political movement. - G
Agree, and as we are living in this pandemic moment it really brings the ‘body, my body and our bodies into acute focus - D
Apple coronavirus emojis - D
Well exactly. There’s an unprecedented wave of health anxiety hitting us all - and I think there’s something to be said in this being a big reminder of our fallibility as humans, who will die… we don’t think about that very much and this is why we have that reflex to abject things that remind us of this truth… and maybe this is why mainstream religion often enforces even more control and privatisation on the body (because they don’t accept the finality of death?). It’s a survival instinct. But I think it’s also very hindering, when taken as moral sentiment.
I don’t want to be flippant or blase about death. That’s not what I’m saying. (I have come to realise that my understanding of my body and its boundaries might be different than people have not directly experienced the fallibility of their own body - maybe I don’t mean fallibility - maybe this is a moral way of simply expressing the functions and capacities and extensions of the body). - G
As a final point, I was struck by a particular cultural paradox that any green representation of the inside of the body is somehow wrong, and am asking why? And yet the majority of body cleaning/beauty products are in green bottles or marketed with greeness. So I was thinking again about green on the inside and outside of the body. It must be a culturally symbolic language, despite the ‘natural/chemical’ idea of cleaning the body, much of which is just a marketing illusion. - D
I mean, yeah that kind of green is definitely a marketing tactic to make you think it’s all good and natural and clean. In a way, all of these ‘green’ bodily functions are the body’s way of self-cleaning, of expulsion, purging the bad things - so it makes sense in a way if you think about it like that. You know, puss is the physical manifestation of infection, and the body’s way of dealing with the infection, healing.
I think this kind of ‘Greeness’ stands for abjection in the sense that - to the extent of my knowledge - psychoanalytically, the impulse to abject is seen as a protective measure against things which may harm us, and lead to death. E.g. the repulsion felt at the smell of off food that might make us ill. So the green lies in infections and vomit and puss - these are bad things - so we tackle the green with toxic green things and the harm is cleaned away, eradicated?
But symbolically, this is harnessed as a moralised negotiation. Greeness historically symbolised the ‘natural’, not the toxic - and all of these bodily functions are natural (I’m not saying they’re good, but simply that they’re not moral in their basic context). I don’t really know if I’m answering you here, but these are thoughts and I think really, in this context, Green has already been weaponised to an extent, so it’s about reclaiming Greeness? - G
...I have to go and hang my washing out now! - G
I need to wash my hands - D