Friday, November 02, 2007

pain, embodiment, law

Here's something I just encountered, which fits well with the thinking about embodiment that has been a pleasurable tangent I've been pursuing this year. Maybe a good point to be at as I turn my face back toward the shiny law building and maybe time for me to try and work out what Kristeva is on about when she casually refers to the inherent masochism of women...

I might have been destined to live a life of submission to the noble law of reason, had not an unforeseen accident - the result of an inherent defect of my own - brought about its untimely destruction. Great pain, if the imagination meddles with it ever so little, urges action, the body of a woman being the only instrument she understands. The intense pain brought about by this grinding of the molar teeth galvanised me into an infraction of the laws. For shocking power to the body may indeed by transmitted by means of electricity, but not, by such methods, reason to the brain. However, in the writhings of extreme pain I obtained proof of the exciting nature of the exertion of the muscles, multiplying to such a degree the vivid pleasure of terror in the nerves that I felt at last in possession of a body whose capacity for the experience of sensation could now be determined. Pure sensation produces the most simple knowledge. Pain, if sufficiently severe, can never be alienated: these excruciating sensations were mine alone.

Anna Gibbs, The Contract, Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 12, no. 26, 1997, p. 208

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