The Body as Object

by Lauren Westerfield

“This is how you began to understand your body as object. You saw yourself in other people’s faces. And although you stopped singing, your body sang on its own and you knew everyone around you could hear it. You couldn’t stop hearing it. You were nineteen years old.” 

From a haunting and marvelous and hard-to-read essay by Susannah Nevison up at the Rumpus.

"Paternalia." Rumpus original art by Erech Overaker.

“Paternalia.” Rumpus original art by Erech Overaker.

The body as object — one of the many and yet most common frames through which we view bodies, our own and others’. A body that is beautiful. Or unexpected. Or failing; that is burnt or broken or stuck somewhere, inside. Or perhaps a body that is whole when we are not and so we find some flaw, some tiny fissure or failing to ridicule.

Nevison writes about the body, about disease and wounds and healing and family, with a lyrical grace that still never shies away from the raw, the honest. Making beautiful words, even structures (I admire the use of the numbered sections in this essay), weaving three separate stories together, sharing brutal and tender details side by side (singing Salt-n-Pepa while washing pins in a wounded leg), never slipping into the melodramatic, the overwrought…it’s this kind of work I want in my head when I sit down to write.

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