Composing(Media) = Composing(Embodiment): Bodies, Technologies, Writing, the Teaching of Writing

Composing(Media) = Composing(Embodiment): Bodies, Technologies, Writing, the Teaching of Writing

Composing(Media) = Composing(Embodiment): Bodies, Technologies, Writing, the Teaching of Writing

Composing(Media) = Composing(Embodiment): Bodies, Technologies, Writing, the Teaching of Writing

Excerpt

These are physical things, he had come to understand, memories. All that we
feel, pain and hatred and love and happiness, they aren’t some existential
experiment of the mind, but they played themselves out in the body mainly,
and the thoughts came after, a justification of what the body already knew.

—Patrick Thomas Casey, Our Burden’s Light

… There can be no history of the body that is not at the same time a study
of the various media that constitute embodiment as such.

—Bernadette Wegenstein, Getting Under the Skin

The following writing, put down a few days after my father died, reminds me of hearing his last breath. He was in the family room, where we’d put his hospital bed; from his bed he could see out into the green and azalea backyard where, in earlier years, he’d moved and worked so often. This writing also tells me about ways I have learned to feel:

Life leaving a body still looks like a leaving, like breath or movement or ani
mation removing itself. The body does seem discarded, an emptied out shell
or container or glove. No wonder we once said, “I have a body” instead of “I
am a body.”

Seeing a body go from alive to not, how can we then believe that bodies are
other than things that hold us—some real us? How can we not believe that bod
ies are what keep us from being what we are meant to be?

Seeing a quiet death of another goes a long way toward explaining Plato’s
belief that our life’s task is to master the body so that we can attend to the inter
nal. We are to make our bodies tractable rather than demanding; we are to focus
on what within that body but separable from it seems most truly human.

In the days following my father’s death, I would write at the dining room table, surrounded by varying numbers of family. I was trying to keep up with an online class and other work, and I was also writing to reflect and to plan, given my new familial responsibilities. In memory those evenings are silent and still, at least from my perspective, focused as I was on my writing while some jumble of my mother, my siblings, and my nieces and nephews chatted or made dinner.

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