Saturday, April 30, 2011

In Defense of the Disembodied Part 2

Riding the night bus is an exercise in disembodiment. The blue, molded plastic seats conform to no known human configuration. The voice that announces the stops is pre-recorded and GPS-driven. The city flows past, behind glass, beyond a river of cars. Eye contact is non existent. Eyes are closed, averted, affixed to various species of electronic devices. We are home here, we ghosts. We steal glances at one another, asking: who is the more deranged ? We glower at a chattering knot of teenage girls, whose clothing, gestures, postures and glib phrases seem borrowed from some remote and common electronic font of prescriptive desire.

I gaze out the window. It is almost twilight. My seat clutches me by my dorsal spine and ischia, as if to hurl me into the street.
A gigantic sandwich, big as a truck, floats midair, suppurating cheese. I think of various depictions of Christ's ascension, the bodily Jesus midair, headed up. One would think the resurrection would be a disincarnation, a disembodiment, at the very least a reversion from flesh back to transfigured Word. But flesh and blood remains. We don't just read, we eat. We eat our Word. And become -- get this -- one body. Incorporation. Incarnation. Embodiment.

There's no getting around bodies, of course. We have visible bodies that move through treacherous thickets of gaze -- gaze that can construct and destruct, gaze that can threaten and even annihilate. "You lookin' at me ?" Travis Bickel rehearses in his mirror. Eyes that meet perform a subtle and fraught transaction. We wait for moments of mercy: an acknowledging glance, a reassuring smile.

I see you. I will not hurt you. I wish you well.

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