AN ODE TO THE BODY

@Katherine Bibilouri

Beeta Davoudi

Our body is our most intimate environment. It is the soft tissue and bone which carries our ideas, opinions and experiences from one location on this Earth to another. While we stay up till 2am writing an essay, our body slumps into the chair, staring at the screen. When we wake up in the morning, our body carries itself, half asleep, into the cold. Once we see the sunrise, our eyes absorb the light, our skin tainted with a shade of gold.

Our body is this friend who is always with us, and whom we chose to ignore. We need her in order to do any of the things on our ‘to do’ list, but spending time with her is rarely fitted into our schedule. We call her when she isn’t working too well, but that’s pretty much it. Essentially, it is a really toxic friendship in which we are much like a parasite.

I’m not too interested in making a philosophical argument for why our souls are merely parasites to our bodies. The whole affair of the soul seems widely irrelevant to the matter. Instead I want to ask myself this question: to what extent can one give a shit about the world, if one does not give a shit about their body? The answer, I have come to, is none; in such a scenario, no shits can be feasibly given. I say this and all else in this article, I would like to point out, in my opinion. It is not the truth, but it is true for me, so I feel entitled to say it. If it is true for me, it ought to also be the case for a couple of other people too.

We live in a number of different worlds. Some closer and more intimate to us than others. The first world is our body, the next our home, then our social community, then our town, and finally the Earth; for some, also the universe. I might go out, if the weather is nice, lay on the grass and feel the it against my skin. But this is occasional. What is not occasional is the feeling of my arm against my waist. Or my hair against my face. I might meet up with a friend for a meal and speak about what has been on my mind lately. But this, too, is occasional. What is not occasional are the words that articulate my thoughts. Or the things that I remember. It is more feasible for me to avoid the thoughts of another than it is for me to avoid my own. Or to avoid physical contact with an another as opposed to with myself. This, to me, pretty much explains the why, to whyis it true?

Now I want to explain the why of why is it important?

Let us imagine the following scenario: I haven’t eaten in 9 hours, I have slept a total of 2 hours, I haven’t showered in 3 days. Will I ask my housemate how she is doing? No. Will I really pick up my friend’s call? Nope. Will I be organising a bake-sale to raise money for some cause or another? I think not. If I have not spent energy on my body, it is impossible for me to spend energy on any of the other worlds. And that is quite a problem. Firstly, it means that I am likely to get ill, which isn’t a nice thing for one to inflict upon oneself. It sends us a gentle reminder that our experiences, deadlines, feelings pack up into a huge schedule, all of which depend on the perfect operation of a delicate and fragile piece of machinery that is our bodies. Secondly, it means that in this world my body has come to be no more than an inanimate object. I am physically incapable of doing anything beyond the bare minimum, meaning not to be kicked out of my degree nor my house. And thus I quickly abandon everything which I actually care about. Saving the trees: jeeze louise. Fundraising money: very funny. Raising awareness: absolute madness.

This logic also applies to the relationship between any of the other consecutive worlds. When one does not treat their body as a gift, but rather as a commodity, this behaviour directly manifests into a pattern of exploitative and abusive tendencies.

Treating the bodies of others as a commodity. Treating the food available to us as a commodity. Treating the resources of nature as a commodity. And seeing all of these gifts, instead, as a disposable good, is a pervasive result. A result which fractures the personal bonds within human relationships. A result which dismantles the relationship between humans and their source of life, being the Earth. A result which reincarnates into a societal level through domestic abuse, food wastage, and changes in the natural landscape, to name a few worldly maladies.

Therefore, we can see that none of these societal issues can be solved until change occurs on a personal level. But what I find ironic is that whilst its super woke and trendy to be a feminist or an environmentalist, it is not too trendy to be a self-empowerer, a soul-searcher. To me it seems pretty obvious that we can’t do shit for the oppressed, the poor, the environment until we have done shit for ourselves

So this weekend I’m going to protest against deforestation by staying at home in my pyjamas, with a cup of tea, reading my favourite paperback book and burning my favourite incense.

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