Mouth by Maureen Connor
Subject: A little something... I wrote this while sitting at the cafe tonight, much to my surprise. Comments? Please be gentle, this is not something I am used to comfortable with.
CARE OF THE BODY
A stranger writes to me of the body. Of his concern for the body. Answering my e-mail, he tells me he is skeptical of e-mail, concerned about the detachment of thought and affect from the fleshbonesandblood. An ethical matter, a concern that we will abandon our environment, that our being-in-the-world will be replaced by being-in/being-with/being-one-with/becoming-with the machine Tracing back through endless stacks of mail headers, we find the stranger at his home, on a quiet street in a Midwestern college town, around midnight. He is reading my message, addressed not to him but to a multiple that includes him, that he intersects. There is soft jazz in the headphones from a beat-up old cassette deck as he reads, sitting, naked, in a chair in the corner of his bedroom, books on every side, the screen propped to the proper height by a pile of books and a couple of dusty old manuscripts.
He is reading, deleting, saving, replying; harvesting the list which grows, in fits and starts, but grows, in its non-organic medium. His hands move on the keyboard, and sometimes, unconsciously, during the reading of a long message, they slip from the keyboard to the pile of books to his left side, books long unread. Sometimes, unconsciously, he caresses the books. Sometimes, too, unconsciously, his hand slips from the stack of books into his lap, unto his semi-erect penis which, from time to time, unconsciously, he also caresses...
Reading my post he feels concern. He needs to speak to me. He wonders if I cannot see the irony of discussing embodiment by e-mail. He wonders what I look like, what I am doing at that very moment, and what would happen if we were to meet in the flesh.
He must reach out to me, touch me with his concern. His hands linger in his lap as he ponders the words, stroking himself. Then they move to the keyboard and he begins to type, sharing with a disembodied stranger who has not, in any case, addressed him exactly this concern about the abandonment of the body. Carefully, he composes clear, direct, generous sentences, filling them with more than he dare say or even acknowledge he is thinking about.
We must not abandon the body. Finishing the message, he hits the key sequence that will send it off to me, feeling satisfied that he has pointed out the danger he sees, and something else, too, has been communicated, something that should not be brought to the level of thought... He hits a switch and powers down the computer, stands and turns out the lights. A sudden breeze through the window makes him aware, for a moment, of his body, and he muses, absently, for a moment, at how he has managed to become erect during replying...
He crawls into bed, mind wandering from the pleasant sensation of cool sheets on his cock, balls, nipples to vague, tangential thoughts about my message, his reply - for a moment imagining himself speaking to me, his words convincing, compelling - about Marx, Sartre, Immanuel Wallerstein... thoughts of pleasure and the lack of it rising and receding in Kondratiev waves across the longue duree of his life. At some point he is asleep, dreaming.
Fifteen, he is on the beach, with Wendy, his hands reaching and reaching for the clasp that holds on her bikini top. A couple of weeks ago, he is peering out the window for a second and then a third time at the smooth, well - formed chest of the tanned boy who is mowing the lawn, feeling all the different kinds of difference that separate the boy's body from his own. Last night, he is in my bedroom, watching me read the reply he has written, pleased to see that I, too, am at home, alone, naked in my bedroom before my terminal reading the text of his desire. His mind is touching mine. Dreaming of me, he wakes to find his chest sticky, his hand on his slowly receding erection. He wipes his hand on the sheets and turns over, feeling, for a moment, as he falls back into sleep something like... concerned. We must not abandon the body, he murmurs...
In the corner, the computer listens for his breathing to steady, then switches itself on and dials, disks spinning with anticipation.
[From a post. Michael Current, moderator of Deleuze-Guattari email list, and co-moderator of Cybermind, died in 1994 at the age of 31.]
Subject: monogamousbody (excerpt)
I look up from the pages that hold the latest in a series of theories that claim to explain to me the relationship between my body and your text and my text andthetextofthatguyoverthere. I think of a dream that I have now and again. I am tied to a chair, one of those old ones with a high regal back and arms with roaring lions at the ends, and I am watching with a fair amount of interest as someone uses an old-fashioned straight razor to slice open my wrists. The skin splits under the steel kiss, the crimson overflow runs down the sides of my forearms, sticky new varnish for the chair of my opening. They tell me that I should Examine My Life when I have this dream, that I should Think About the Issues that I Obviously Have with Loss of Control. I tell them that I don't particularly feel like it. I like my dream. The scarlet opening, inside becoming outside, makes me think of the shadowy twining interplay of text scrolling across the screens of my eyes. How can I claim simple closure with myself when the words that explode into and out of my head have desires of their own? I open the veins of my ghostbody, smear my asciiblood across the keys, laughing at the always-failing meat puppet that tries to controlcontainrestrain it and me. Damage to flesh performed by textual delirium, I'm splitting (up with) myself.