Monday, April 7, 2008

against, into, through

I have been feeling conflicted about the movement exercises we did in class. We did several different exercises, on the floor, against the wall. Mainly just moving, seeing how our bodies felt as we moved with our eyes closed. For one thing, I've been menstruating this week which is always challenging for me. Usually I can maintain a distance, a division between my mental being and my physical being, but menstruation always has this tendency to pull me back into my body. It's always intellectually complicated for me, because I feel like I shouldn't be as concerned about menstruating. It's a biological fact, and there's really nothing to be done about it for now.

In the same manner, the movement exercises also kept seeming to push me back into my body. I think it's partially because the exercises made me more aware of having breasts, and they kept feeling like they were getting in the way, moving in ways I didn't want them to. Which really means moving in any way that reminds me they are there. My drawing that I did reflects this actually, I drew a black form that represents my body as I see, as I wish it would be, while the red curves I drew represent my body as it is. It was interesting, because while other students in the class shared that it was easier and more comfortable with their eyes closed because they were able to shut off their external view of themselves, it was more difficult for me. I think this is partially because keeping my eyes open allows me to maintain my self-image of my body without feeling completely in my body. Closing my eyes and focusing on how my body moved was incredibly uncomfortable at times.

On the other hand, my discomfort is a good illustration of my struggle with embodiment and borders. The exercise in pushing against the wall, into the wall, through the wall was actually pretty illuminating. A lot of times I feel like I'm pushing against myself when it might be more constructive, healthier, to conceptualize my struggle with my body as pushing into myself, becoming myself.

After class I was thinking about the similarities between "Nervous Conditions" and the exercises we did. For one thing, Nyasha and Tambu both experience a schism between their lives as Africans, as women, and as students. Nyasha's experience in particular seemed parallel. Nyasha struggles more than Tambu because she lived in England when she was young, and saw the complications between colonization, education, globalization and being a woman and how these affected her own experience. She was constantly pushing against her father, against the social expectations placed on her, against her own expectations of herself. However, for both Tambu and Nyasha it isn't as easy as learning to push into their obstacles. When Tambu goes to the mission and then the integrated school it's evident that assimilation is not the best method, but staying at the homestead wasn't an option either. Basically, no matter what they do, Nyasha, Tambu and their relatives are all bound to struggle because of the forces of colonization, globalization and development active in their lives.

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