The Body: A Love, Death and Hope Cocktail

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

Whether it comes from self help magazines, success gurus, religious doctrine, Western philosophy, business success or sports theory generally our culture cultivates a lot of messages about a plan,  answers, goals and victory.  We are  trained to become fluent in the  themes and vocabulary of success, triumph, and truth and many of us encounter the antithesis of this narrative; failure, loss, pain and uncertainty.  We are distanced from our bodies and their associated sensations – disembodied.

The first time I fell in love it made me stand back and question some of the structures, themes and vocabularly I was taught and socially and theologically conditioned into.  I experienced whispers of embodiment and wholeness and love made me reach for it.  I think my close proximity to religious experience as a child and in my teens, particualrly charismatic/pentecostal and fundamentalist expressions  also gave me opportunities to observe and critique as well as experience the frenzy and emotion of these moments.  I found myself trying to make sense of and find consistency between these bodily experiences and the dis-embodied, fixed and ‘known’ truths and doctrines that faciliated, permitted and fuelled these experiences.

There’s a lot of message out there/here about controlling and/or ignoring feelings and managing ourselves and our bodies with the power of logic, decision, certainty and our plans.  We are taught to cultivate and develop dualistic methods of understanding and perception, and to ignore, squash or train our feelings and our bodies to be in line with the truth, the plan and the success.  Over time I’ve stopped talking in truth, success, plan and answers and started living a journey, a story, a series of questions and uncertainties. Love and religious experiences took me there, but I continue to look over my shoulder and all around me to try and grasp what flourishment, transformation, grace and love really look like when you’re an uncertain, critical, hurt and hopeful person.

I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately..  For me the body is the antidote; the site of revelation and holds healing, restoration and incarnation alongside it’s sickness, dirt and damage.  I’ve been considering pain, mess, brokenness and death.  I spend time within dark lives and beside sad bodies and I scrabble around for hope sometimes.   This is a very brief introduction to some of the work I do on the body and in theology and oppression experiences.  I plan to write a little more in this area over the next few months.  The body is a site of deep profundity, instability and justice and ethic.  I have a hope that a deep recovery and re-membering of the body would transform injustice and the world we live in.   This week I’ve encountered a couple of places that have used very real, dark, ordinary struggles, stories and bodies to inspire, move and embody hope:

The Ministry of Funfetti – D.L Mayfield

D.L Mayfield is an incredible writer and from what I glean a deeply committed activist – I know it’s probably cheesy, possibly cringey, but deeply resonant to suggest that I found this post incredibly prophetic and sometimes I wonder if the internet is this bizarre network of exilic places that enables us to listen to voices calling in the desert.  Read this, take time to feel the beauty and provocation within it – it made me pray.

Anything that asks us to walk in our belovedness and extend that to other people is the best kind of madness there is.

Here I began to gently unwrap belovedness – and the beautiful tension of madness and love – which I have discovered and recovered to be held perfectly and exquisitely within the body.  I have question my own sense of love and belovedness of myself and of others – loving outside of myself and my body always came easier – because that’s how I’ve been taught and trained.  Feeling the blood, adrenaline, lumps, gulps, nausea, panic and tears that communicate and reciprocate love are realtively new or rusty conscious and unconcious sensations.

Top Of The Lake

Beautiful – dark – powerful – complex – haunting

Stop your helping, stop your planning – there’s no way out…there’s no match for the tremendous intelligence of the body. (GJ, Top Of The Lake)

A six hour drama series that is unfortunately not available on the iPlayer at the moment- Jane Campion/Holly Hunter and Elisabeth Moss (Zoe in the West Wing/Peggy in Mad Men)  There is an interview here – and a couple of clips from scenes – but I’d encourage you to immerse yourself in it if this is at all possible – I found it incredibly thoughtful on many levels.

1 Comment

Filed under Bodies & Beauty, Culture

One response to “The Body: A Love, Death and Hope Cocktail

  1. Have you published anything yet Harriet relating to this? Or indeed other things… Thank you for this!

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