Every Body Implies the Violence of Its Maintenance

The sound of lungs pumping, heart beating, bowels fermenting, joints creaking; Samuel is never silent, never alone, always watched and watching, subject and object both. He stands from a chair and his bones click into place, muscles and ligaments lengthen, posture shifts, weight shifts, blood stirs and moves, all consciously, all observed, all observing, each piece self-aware, self-critical, no innocence anywhere, no privacy, no quiet, the unstoppable machinery of being.


Out there, each piece has a meaning, a limit, a process: knowable and therefore constrained. In solitude each piece shatters, expands outward, multiplies, and disintegrates. Hands becomes palms become carpals become cells. Cysts hard as a pebble up and down his arms, the same as his father, thin hair like his mother, long spurs of bone at his knees, only his. The sound of breathing, inescapable.


He spent a week, once, with nothing to do but turn his attention inward, to the labor of his body, and since then… He tells himself to breathe, and he breathes; he tells himself to blink, and he blinks. He tells his heart to beat, and realizes that he is stifling for lack of air. “Breathe, stupid,” he hisses, and his body, compliant, inhales.