Ghost Viscera

Did you see that retweet of the screenshot of the story-post of a girl minding her own business reading a book at a bar? “Pick me, pick me,” the photographer mocked. Did you find yourself performing outrage or were you genuinely concerned? Can we know the difference anymore?

Do you know what it’s like to be pushed around? To be there no earlier than fifteen minutes before your scheduled appointment? To take off your jacket and belt and empty your pockets? Your boots too. Now your shirt. You have fifteen minutes to run.

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Do you know what it’s like to run into the river? To get into the water. To get out of the water. To stand over here, if you please.

To waltz. To smile. To separate the red from the white. To stand a little closer. To sit and sip pennyroyal tea.

Does your body know that military formation? That first trimester? That optimal flow state? That surgical strike?

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I am thinking about viscera. I am thinking about how my insides were in knots all yesterday as the tides of grief closed in and pooled around everyone I love. No man is an island. No one gets out alive.

What are these feelings I’m feeling? Is it empathy? Is it solidarity? Do I really understand when I say “I understand”?

It’s visceral, “felt in or as if in the internal organs of the body: DEEP,” as in, “a visceral conviction.” It’s “not intellectual: INSTINCTIVE” or “UNREASONING,” as in “a visceral drive.” It’s “dealing with crude or elemental emotions: EARTHY,” as in “a visceral novel.”

Can you imagine a body protected from harm by nothing more than media ethics? That’s what healthcare as a side effect of a right to privacy really means: that the image is more precious than the body.

This quote is how Balzac explained why he wouldn’t be photographed: he believed that every photo stripped a person of a layer of their humanity.

How many of us are born translucent? How many of us live as ghosts?

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