I've been making my own sort of course on body politics this summer, starting with Susan Sontag's Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors, and my investigation increasingly seems to bleed into everything I watch/read/see; though given material existence that's not really surprising. For me being a trans & queer body has increasingly felt more medical than necessary, more confrontational than necessary. The Western philosophical split between mind & body both feels more true, as I am essentially encouraged to find fault with my body from a mind that "knows better", and less true, as my life and experiences are necessarily extremely related to my body. Not to mention the history of homosexuality as a mental illness—or I remember once reading bisexuality appearing as an "indicator" of other mental illnesses because it signifies "confusion" or "unbridled desire," and wondering which sickness begat the other.
“Illness expands by means of two hypotheses. The first is that every form of social deviation can be considered an illness. Thus, if criminal behavior can be considered an illness, then criminals are not to be condemned or punished but to be understood (as a doctor understands), treated, cured. The second is that every illness can be considered psychologically. Illness is interpreted as, basically, a psychological event, and people are encouraged to believe that they get sick because they (unconsciously) want to, and that they can cure themselves by the mobilization of will; that they can choose not to die of the disease. These two hypotheses are complementary. As the first seems to relieve guilt, the second reinstates it… Patients who are instructed that they have, unwittingly, caused their disease are also being made to feel that they have deserved it.” (p57)
This kind of criminalization of illness of course becomes even more pointed during the AIDS crisis. Still the ravages of the crisis are often mellowed through even tempered historical retellings or analysis like Sontag’s, so I was completely unprepared mentally for David Feinberg’s Queer and Loathing. Death permeates the book as much as humor, the levity somehow bringing the situation much closer.
“For some reason, I’ve always viewed my warts as the manifestation of some deadly character flaw I should have long ago eradicated through a concentrated act of self-control” (p142)
Trying to pull all the books together in some cohesive way has become overwhelming—there's so many different threads to follow—so for now I'll give you the rest of the list to do with what you will.
Natural Causes, Barbra Erenreich
"Many doctors were outraged, with one arguing that in lay hands a speculum was unlikely to be sterilized, to which feminist writer Ellen Frankfort replied cuttingly that yes, of course, anything that enters the vagina should first be boiled for at least ten minutes"
"The clitoris is a direct line to the matrix" -VNS Matrix
Fabulous, Madison Moore
The Biopolitics of Gender, Jemima Repo
Lots of Donna Haraway (if nothing else, do read the Cyborg Manifesto)
Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl, Andrea Lawlor (fiction)
Fashioning Value — Undressing Ornament, Femke de Vries
getting into Technopaganism & other mediated forms of the body
partially read/to read:
The Birth of Chinese Feminism (also good if yr into non-Western anarchisms)
The Biopolitics of Feeling, Kyla Schuller
Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici
Testo Junkie, Paul B. Preciado
Also watching a lot of project runway oops, but please watch Pose. Not a Queer Eye fan but obviously A Lot going on there too.