Fisheyes • 16 April 2008

In the ladies' after the yoga, some of the willow-women talking how fat they have gotten. Bitterness and self-revulsion. And some of the others, amazingly still, understanding what they are witnessing. But also not understanding.

The transcript replays in my head. It has knocked one of my tracking beams off course, sent my perspective of mind-bodies in to a removed third-personhood.

The bewildered side of wonderment.

What are we humans doing? What is the relationship of minds to bodies? How many different ways of being are possible, and how can you tell what they are?

Tripping myself out, watching all the undergraduates move around the campus like I'm seven, beholding brand new species on vacation at the Seattle aquarium. Giant eel! Hammerhead shark!

Where is the awareness in that one? How is she swimming through space? Why are all the ones coming out of the econ building all tilted forward and moving with their fists tight? How are these three moving together? What is the feeling in them? Do they feel? What are they seeing? What am I seeing? Won’t someone please make eye contact with me?  

Maybe this is what it feels like to be tall.

Are we all equally trapped inside our own experience? Equally free in our bodies? Students are spacey, uncertain, late for everything. Ashtangis are deliberate, quiet, controlled down to the breath. But maybe just as clueless?

Liberal political philosophy is big on this idea of “self-ownership.” My body and my essence: they are mine. The whole autonomy thing. (You can argue yourself into a corner with it, but that’s true of all theory.) This assumption—the self-navigated boundaries of personhood—is the underlying left-liberal ethic of the day.

So go for it! You are free to dislike your own body and attack your own mind. 

Or are you..?

Are you just your own? Do you have carte blanche to disrespect and fail to thank anybody else for this educated, fed, disease-free, safe, genetically refined self-body-mind regardless of who gave it to you and regardless of the circles of relationship in which you’re enclosed? Are you just yours to fail to care for, to isolate, to beat up? Is it personal? Or is trashing yourself fundamentally non-relational, ungrateful, falsely disconnecting?

I actually don't know. All I see just now is pretty fish.