Some years ago I wrote a draft on my left arm. An inarticulate tale. Scarry. A slasher script. Part-listless, part-restless. Preverbal. The script looked—and still looks—like tally marks. The kind of marks used to count ever since upper-paleolithic days. Tally marks to count days, for example. The days of a sentence.

Have you ever thought of your body as a prison cell? [Y/N]

If the body is a cell: how ironic it would be to notch days on the outer wall of it. Maybe the body is more like an open-air prison, where walls do not have the tangibility of bricks & mortar, but do have the impregnability of an adamant ocean. Waves hard as steel, for as far as the eye can see.

Have you ever thought of your body as an exile island? [Y/N]

Being stranded on an island, stuck, surrounded by an ebullient medium to which one does not belong. Except that: in an era of intense surveillance, where the Panopticon has deposited its spawn in everyone’s neighbour’s eyes, whose body is really an off-grid isolated island? Here I am again, tempted to quote & tweak John Donne’s Meditation XVII: no body is an island, entire of itself, every body is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. Every body is a part of the global program grid — every body is the hyper-localized, hyper-customized focus of a Truman Show.

Do you feel like you are being watched? [Y/N]

Billions of hyper-reality shows interacting: rating each other, tagging each other, scribbling on each other’s outer walls, with one of our many pens — be it our eyes, our tongues, our hands. Whatever your writing modes: be aware of ink bleeding. Your eye-words, your tongue-words, your hand-words, they all may soak through the body you are reviewing & leave an indelible ghost on the other side. We are settled by such marooned ghosts. Our fellow inmates.

Do you feel like a palimpsest? [Y/N]

The body is constantly being overwritten. A permanent construction site. With cells being both building sites & building blocks. The expressions of the body draw an ever-morphing map. This way. No, that way! Turn right. Take this smile, copy it, paste it there, right, move it 1 px up & 1 px left — perfect. Every body is a stage. Every body is a brand.

Do you know how to #brand yourself? [Y/N]

LinkedIn says: Achieve an all-star profile in just a few steps. Write your resume, rewrite it, overwrite it, überwrite it. Gorge on self-branding. The masquerade shuffles everyone’s lines. ResearchGate says: You have one more profile view. Every body is a pretender. The body pretends to be free, yet it notches another day on its many walls.


Florence Lenaers is a usurper—a physics PhD student pretending to be a poet, or perhaps the other way around. When not meddling with words, she weaves tales of atoms trapped in cages of light & castles of magnetic field lines at the University of Liège (Belgium). She can be found online via Twitter, @flloaers, or via her not-that-verbose blog [https://flloaers.wordpress.com/].

Image: Elm, who were you, who will you be (28) by adam. (Creative Commons)
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