The Body

The Body. A simple phrase yet not clearly defined. The image that first appears when I hear the word body is the physical. I imagine the structure that performs my daily functions and allows me to do things like type this essay. But to reduce the body down to this simple definition is to neglect the nonphysical. Looking past the physicality of our bodies, we see a more complex system that encompasses our soul and what make us who we are. Thinking back to the Buddhist concept of no-self, it forces us to consider the body in a smaller scope. It forces us to look past our physical parts and even past the personal aspects that shape our personality. It almost renders the body and ourselves down to mere illusions or machinery that hold our earthly souls. So then how do we clearly define the body when there are so many varying ideas?

Let’s first consider the idea of that the body is something that is indefinable. However, if the body is indefinable, how can we as a society define the bodies of others? In our society, we define bodies upon our first impression of the physical and then based on what we see from the mental aspect. Black, white, male, female, etc. are all definitions placed upon our bodies by others. But who made these definitions and why do we uphold them in such a way that it has led to much of the injustice we see on the news. Going back to the Buddhist ideal, we consider the idea that naming is something that is insignificant. In Professor Robbs unit we often discuss the idea of conceptual schemes and how that influences our being. Our very own biased schemes often lead to the inappropriate definition of someone else’s body. What we perceive to be truth, goes on to impact our mental, and will in the end determine how we look at another body. So then if the body is indefinable for other people, can we define the body in terms of ourselves? Can we truly understand what the body is on a personal level?

Our personal body is our home. The safe keeper of all our thoughts, the vessel that keeps us moving through the day, so how can it be indefinable to the owner of the body? On a personal level our body acts as a template of the present and an ode to past generations that existed before us. Is this how we define the body then? As an archive that shows our present, past, and possibly our likelihood at the future? I turn my discussion to the Dr. Fache’s unit where we discussed Josephine Baker. As a black woman dancer, Baker’s body was defined endlessly by others, specifically white individuals. However, she on a personal level defined her own body. She decided what she was going to do and how she was going to do it. So is the body a personal entity? Or is our own personal definition tarnished the very moment we expose it to the definitions of others? The complexity of what the body is and how it can be defined stems from this idea of public definition. However, this aspect cannot be excluded from the idea of how or even if the body can be defined.

Let us now consider the idea of how bodies are defined after we have left them. Even when we no longer inhabit our bodies, they continue to be defined. This further connects to the idea of others placing their own ideals on to our bodies. Many times after one has passed, their body is defined by the achievements it made during its lifetime, or by the mental aspects such as kindness shared with others. However, there are other times when bodies are defined as cautionary tell or in a way in which to prevent a certain type of event. Thinking back to the unit taught by Dr. Tamura, we looked at the Rwanda genocide. This genocide left the bodies of its victims to be defined as a cautionary tell. Defined by their deaths, these bodies were reduced to a warning of what happens when evil is allowed to be in power. However, is it fair to define these bodies as such? Was there not more to them? Did their own mental define their personal body as something else before it was redefined as a victim?

With these lingering questions it because almost senseless to attempt to define something that seems almost indefinable. Yes, we can look at how the body functions, how it feels, etc., but can it truly be defined? There is no clear-cut definition of what the body can do or does, and often this definition is distorted by others placing their own definitions on to others. The units in this course made me take an in-depth look into my own body and see that it is complex. It is forever changing and indefinable.

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