“It’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.” – Crash, 2004
Linda Hogan’s Department of the Interior serves as an incredibly lucid diagnosis – an idea that actually makes sense to explain the disconnectedness of Americans to our environment, our roots and each other – and the emptiness we feel as a result. The “disembodied America” she speaks to really struck something in me, as I feel that the “fear of all that it perceives as wild, including its own innerness and physicality”, explains why modern society fears and attempts to destroy anything that is perceived as different in general. This wildness, the difference, that which we cannot fit into neat and controllable categories is what we demonize in our own bodies and the bodies of others. There are “dangers inside of us, it is believed” – sexuality, hunger, lust, passion – all are too natural, they reflect our brutish, savage origins, the needs of the body that must be overcome by the wants of the mind. This struggle of who succeeds and who does not, and the resultant intolerability of the natural body becomes the justification for the hate ‘we’ spread to the intersexed, homosexual, overweight, underweight, “overly” sexual, and on and on. At its ends, our strange obsession with the higher mind as entirely separate from the lower body results in the perverse American relationship to one’s body and the body of others. Mistrust, hate, repression, disgust, and a need to escape apply more to modern embodiment than anything else. I agree with Hogan that this brokenness could very well be the missing piece in our lives, the piece that if filled would allow to us to find contentment with ourselves and unconditional acceptance for others.
Kelly Brown Douglas’ article God-Talk and Black Sexuality is a good complement to Logan’s work as it suggests that the history and progression of Christianity may be responsible for the mind-body split. I have grown up in at least one form of Christianity or another (in childhood as a Mormon, but that is quite a story, for another time) and since adolescence as an Episcopalian – a traditional Protestant branch that I feel much more comfortable in. So, I really enjoyed Douglas’ description of the embodied Jesus, justifying our bodily needs because God identified with our embodied state, and using Jesus lived compassion to demonstrate to those “Christians” who spread hate that God did not tolerate mistreatment or prejudice of any kind – and in fact seemed to love those who were persecuted the most. I also agree that a discourse on the body and sexuality could do great things for the black community, in reclaiming the bodily site that much of white society used as their justification for oppression and hate for so long (and perhaps, terribly, to this day). However- and this illustrates my point that Christianity is a large part of the body-mind split- as a Christian, I have a really difficult time accepting a God who encourages sexuality in a majority of its forms. While reading Douglas’ work I could not help but think back to (what I think was) a Gnostic gospel that talks about Jesus’ having a human son during his time on Earth. This suggestion, for many people with myself included, seems blasphemous and unthinkable. It seems terribly wrong for Jesus to have created a son on Earth, for he would have had to engage in the basest of all unclean bodily instincts to do so. But there I reiterate the distaste for the urges of the (lesser) body that seem to stick even after a discussion on embodiment as natural and guiltless. It seems I am running in a circle.