24 February 2009

Corporeal Musings

People are funny about their bodies, no doubt about it.  I don't mean funny about them in terms of liking or disliking bits of them - I get that.  I mean funny in terms of moving them about and doing things with them.

A number of years ago I went to visit my best friend in Toronto, and one night we got into a strange discussion in an Indian restaurant.  I can't remember anything else about this conversation except that I said to her at one point, "I love my body," and she said, "HA!  You're always telling me stuff about your body that you wish you could make smaller, or bigger, or could change."  I said to her at the time, and I still say, that, yes, that's true (a smaller butt would be a sublime gift, for example).  But I love my body as a moving object, as a container and a machine.  Your body can hear all sorts of things that your mind can't, and can understand and embody all sorts of things that your words can't.  As you will know if you've read previous posts, I have a very intense relationship to music, and to dancing.  And that is, in part, because my body responds to music on a much deeper level than my mind does - so at moments when I'm dancing to pop music it's as if my body is in the driver's seat.  But even when I do ballet, for example, I'm aware of a kind of mind/body dualism, not in the philosophical sense but in the sense that my mind can feel my body doing things as if the body were separate from the mind. In a way, if it makes sense, my mind observes my body objectively.  

To get back to the point, what it observes the body doing is immensely pleasurable:  moving itself, controlling itself, but also abandoning itself in certain ways (not so much in ballet, but in other forms of dance, and in some casual everyday movements, certainly).  The sense of a rhythm coming through the body is immensely enjoyable, for example:  not the sense of the body identifying the rhythm and moving to it, but the sense of the rhythm affecting the body. 

Because I find this experience of abandonment, of total bodilyness, so intensely pleasurable, I always find people who do not like to dance, or who cannot take pleasure in their bodies, immensely odd.  Of course, as one alas must admit, these people are mostly men.  And to move out of realm of high intellect, I never get that.  Your body is like the best gadget ever.  The stuff you can do with it dwarves any mobile phone.  Revel in it.  Jesus, it's fabulous.

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