queericulum vitae #3 -

Ill biographies. Sickness and body politics- january 2008



Our first contact with this world, the first touch, the first hand that touched us, or more precisely pushed us, was that of a doctor. From that first discourse that spoke on behalf of us, (the historical. "it's a girl!") until today, we have been left many times in the hands and knowledge of a "special" mediator, who describes, explains and finally takes away from us anything that prevents us from being "healthy".

This discourse follows us. We grew up listening to it, it defines what is good and what is bad for our health. We become sleepless guardians of our health and our body, because being healthy is defined as being in the 'normal' condition. That is how we can be good social individuals, enjoying the goods that society offers. Life is being advertised as healthy. The toilet detergent as well as the consuming loan are being consumed by young, healthy, full-blooded people, enjoying themselves as I should. They pose smiling in the series I watch, in the news where I learn the truth, during the football match where my favourite team plays.

Dear Doctor, what can I do if I don't look like them?

Apart from trying to be like them, I should also hide whatever hurts me, be silent, because otherwise I will be expelled. And then how could I face my guardian, my neighbour, my boss?

Enough with the imagination of scientific reality!

When bodily reactions are infiltrated with the power of medical knowledge, what could our resistances against this seemingly universal "Reason" be? Is knowledge and information capable of calming the fear of the unknown and the pain when facing an illness?

When knowledge mixes up with moral standards, that are based on social norms, and is being served through a Discourse of scientific validity, then the body, being already spread with dominating dressing, is served, as the main dish, in the ceremony of a medical dinner.

Suzan Sontag would wonder if such a metaphor is innocent. In the essay "Disease as metaphor", she criticises the Discourse about illness and more precisely the means we use in order to speak about illness. A Discourse that shapes experience and creates the subject-patient.

Locating the imprints of this Discourse in our familiar bodies, we are wondering. Are we just imaginary healthy?