Trespassing Journal

Editor’s Note: Trespassing Bodies

Elif Şendur


Manus vero has ipsas, totumque hoc corpus meum esse, qua ratione posset negari?"[1] (René Descartes Méditations)

One of the most basic gestures of the modern subject was to cut the body apart from thought. Cartesian res cogitans is slightly more active, more important, more defining than its counterpart, the extended substance, res extensa, especially if and when the latter oozed, burned and ached. Perhaps now an ossified tradition of thought, this dual relationship of body and its negation – be it thought or other things – still haunts our thought, our ways of being and our ways of thinking.

This issue invites you to care: care about the body, and care about an easy dismissal of the body, especially when ideas, thoughts, arguments and metaphors appear with all of their shine and glory. We invite you to be disturbed by the fact that the existence of the body – in its carnality, in its flesh, in its health, in its sickness, in its fat and in its muscles, in its old and in its young – is something that we can put aside in order to think.

Rather than to forget the body, we are asking you to put it forth in all of its aspects. We can ask how the body moves, how it looks, how it smells: “Light shone out, caught the dark glitter of the Partial's skin where tiny fruiting bodies had taken hold. Uncanny left eye in a gaunt face. Always twitching. Moving at odd angles. Pupil a glimmer of blue light at the bottom of a dark well. Fungal.” (VanderMeer 52)

Jeff VanderMeer’s Finch describes a universe where bodies are expanding beyond the limits of the human or cyborg; they merge with other beings, constantly becoming, constantly changing. Fruiting, composting, smelling and bloody, this understanding of the body that never is an “is,” but constantly becomes more than itself, is perhaps closest to what Deleuze and Guattari invoke when they think about an egg and a Spinozist substance all at the same time. Here it is not easy or possible to make the body secondary, just like it is also not very easy to make sense of it since it merges into other things, other bodies, and other substances.

Can a decaying, fungal body be an invitation to think of immanence? Can we be comfortable with the idea of a body without organs? A BWO that leaks between sense and non-sense where non-bodies and bodies co-exist? Such an inquiry would require forgetting the binary relation between res extensa and res cogitans, thought and the body, thought substance and body substance. Yet, does not that binary dominate most of the social and positive sciences today? Do not, for instance, so many studies about trans or gender non-conforming experience take this duality for granted as a starting point rather than seeing the experience itself as fluid, refusing to be defined?

Does a fleshy, decaying, fruiting, fungal, fluid body that sometimes becomes someone else or someone else’s defy the concept of a body immediately tied to an external identity politics, or does it call for a language or discourse that is not uttered easily?

What happens when the body becomes “a set of more or less solid parts arranged in space,” constantly pushing the thought of the body either towards the realm of a politics of subjectivity or identity, or to the realm of health and human sciences where it is treated rather than thought or felt? (McWhorter 204)

We invite you to think about the body, seriously. We invite you to think, ask and write about the discourses, languages, tropes and perceptions that surround and form the body, including the binary understanding of gender identity and gender expressions; the secondary nature of the body to the intellect or mind; the religious body; the political body; and concepts of natural, organic, dead, healthy, unhealthy, good or bad bodies. We also would like you to think about the limits of the body, from its relations to space and time, to types of bodies from where it begins to where it ends. Here one can examine different layers as conceptualized by Eastern philosophies and practices as such. In short, we want to think about the body without it being an idealistic, objectified, transcendental thought of the body – of course if this is ever possible.

Works Cited

Cottingham, John. René Descartes : Meditations on First Philosophy: With Selections from the Objections and Replies. West Nyack: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Ebook Library. Web. 01 Mar. 2016.

McWhorter, Ladelle. "Natural Bodies, Unnatural Pleasures: Foucault and the Politics of Corporal Intensification." symplokē 3.2 (1995): 201-10. JSTOR. Web.

VanderMeer, J. Finch. Portland: Underland Press, 2009. Kindle E-book file.

[1] “Again, how could it be denied that these hands and these whole body are mine?” (Descartes 25).

Suggested Citation

Sendur, Elif. “Editor’s Note.” Trespassing Journal: an online journal of trespassing art, science, and philosophy 6 (Winter 2017). Web. ISSN: 2147-2734