Feeling a little spacy today. The system is under attack, my lungs are being occupied by a foreign body which is responsible for scraping my throat raw. War has been declared and nasal passages are blocked, eardrums crackle, sinuses are inflamed and the head goes boom, boom, boom like a cannon keeping time to some marshal melody while the invasion is in progress.
The nuns of my youth, bless their Catholic souls, did not approve of us girls being sick. Even their little pets weren't spared humiliation if they became ill. Ailment was made such a disgraceful failure of character that I can assure you, no one in my convent of 120 girls ever malingered. I remember a new girl who was placed at my table in refectory having an epileptic seizure. She was punished and eventually ostracized for her seizures. It was such a shock to me seeing that first convulsion. The poor girl was on the floor, her head banging, her legs akimbo exposing her underwear, which in a convent was certainly not something one was customarily exposed to. I must've been 8 or 9 years old and so were the other girls at my table.
Without a clue as to what was happening to her, we were horrified! Her body was completely out of control and she was out of her senses. It was then that I understood about the body; it could absolutely die if it chose to, without so much as a fare thee well. Boom! You're out of the picture. You could end up like this girl exposing your tush to the world as your final farewell. And later when I started having periods. What the hell was going on? Blood? What's this all about? I didn't plan this. The body seemed to have its own designs.
The advent of Christianity ushered in the modern city- state with its atomized, alienated, ego-driven individual, alone with his/her god, expiating their sins on this earth that caused the intellect to wage war on the recalcitrant body. Part of the overwhelming violence occurring every day is attributable to this alienation, this will to conquer, to control, to make right. And of the violence that's not sanctioned, the high school killers, the mass murderers, the drive-by shooters, they are classified as crazy.
All religions attack the body; to let it rule is to be savage, out of control, apt to do anything, maybe take up a gun on one's own and start shooting. It is no accident that the state calls our enemies, uncivilized. They are savages, out of our control. And of the suicide bombers? Well, they are crazy, deranged fanatics. Such a good word, deranged, suggesting one was once "arranged."
I've wandered far afield of my initial paragraph, but I knew when I wrote it that the metaphor of illness as a war invading the body was an alienating way of seeing oneself in illness, as if the cold virus was not a part of me, not a part of my world. Disease will not kill me, I will die, we will all die. But with my upbringing it is hard for me not to consider illness as a personal failing i.e., I have not taken care of myself, I have not been listening to my body, or to my head, not paid attention to my needs, etc., etc. Par ma faute, par ma faute, par ma très grande faute.