Body Functions/Body Fluids

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Spent blood samples and scarred fingers.

I am fascinated with bodily functions and the tangible traces they leave behind. Sweat, blood, semen, snot, etc. act as reminders of my corporeal presence and ground me in honest, animal existence. Living processes often leave behind visual reminders of past bodily experiences in the form of stains, marks and residues on material that I come into contact with, such as clothing or bedding. One of the most appealing things about these traces is that they are not necessarily confined to my individual existence or experience alone. Sometimes they represent the results of directly or indirectly shared bodily experiences – fucking or childbirth, for example. More broadly, though, they represent universal experiences that are not particular to me, or any one individual. The physical ties that link us together are both vulgar and deeply profound. “…we are all just animals… stuff comes out of every hole we have, no matter where we live or how much money we’ve got.” In the deeply elegant words of author Tarō Gomi, “Everyone Poops.”

Besides my innate fascination is a coerced preoccupation with the quality and state of my bodily fluids. I’ve been a Type 1 diabetic for almost my entire life, which necessitates almost constant monitoring of my blood and other fluids – sometimes urine or the interstitial fluid just beneath the skin. Maybe a dozen or so times a day I need to draw a small sample of blood from my fingertip, and insert it into an electronic glucose meter for testing. The information gathered from the combination of blood and machine helps me to calculate the doses of liquid hormones that are pumped into my body by another small machine, the insulin pump. This is the process that keeps me alive and functional. The condition has been with me long enough that these quite visceral operations have become second nature. It seems ordinary to me – or at least, unsurprising – to leave small trails of blood samples in my wake throughout the course of the day. And to have precise, prescribed protocols – rituals, really – for how to interact with and respond to these bodily processes, and the fluids and machines that mediate and control them.

by 4 years ago

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