A couple of people commented on yesterday’s post that it all looks very strange written down like that. Indeed it does. The things we do to our bodies to try to make them ‘better’, the time, the money, the resources we expend. And why? There is obviously a strong element of capitalism having to drive consumerism purely for it to keep existing, like a shark, that has to keep moving forward or it will die. But why do we buy into it? It feels to me as though we have somehow become disconnected from our bodies, as though we have been persuaded to regard our bodies as things separate to ourselves which are largely, when left to their own devices, untrustworthy, prone to laziness, greed, lust and and rage. Like intemperate children, our bodies can be controlled and improved, but only via the expenditure of effort on our part and the imposition of considerable discipline.

I don’t think capitalism can be entirely blamed for this. These ideas must partly have their origins in the western Christian tradition and the separation of body and soul explicit in that tradition,
in mediaeval ideas of the mortification of the feeble and unworthy flesh and in the Victorian moral framework which preached the subjugation of the sinful and carnal body by the pure and virtuous mind. In none of these frameworks is their any space for the proposition that we may not be separate from our bodies.

Where is there any exploration of the idea that, rather than inhabiting and controlling our bodies as if they were a cross between a mobile dwelling house and a imperfect chattel, we are part and parcel of our bodies, living within them as one part of a greater whole, and inextricably entwined with and dependent them, at least in this life? (On this topic, I am indebted to Carl Reynolds, who blogs on WordPress as The Aquatic Ape, for bringing to my attention the idea of human beings as holobionts, systemic groupings of interdependent organisms. I couldn’t begin to explain it, but do Google it, as it’s a hugely interesting proposition. Holobiont is definitely my word of the year so far.)

More tomorrow.