A response by María Firmino-Castillo:
Another way to phrase this is: “What happens to our persons when we encounter the unknown?” Is my body my person? And if I didn’t have a body would I be a person? Or if the body didnt have me, would I be me? Do we have bodies, or do we inhabit them, or are we bodies through and through?
What are our bodies? Where do they start and finish? In a viral pandemic, in which the porosity of my body becomes more apparent, I am made hyper-conscious of how my body’s leaks make for a presence and agency beyond my orifices, beyond my pores, beyond the edges of my skin, and beyond my control. Now, in the space of the virus, the effluence of my body—my body and my person— are more dangerous than before. As are other bodies, strange other bodies, and those most intimate to me: all deadly.
Death: the unknown. The spectre of death all around. now. What happens to our bodies when we encounter the unknown? And the unknown brings me back to death: the state of not having my body, not inhabiting it, or my body no longer having me to give a name to its matter.
We face the unknown everyday; we face death every day, every moment. How does my body, my person react?
On some days, most days, the body feels its weight; its heaviness, its mass; it seeks stillness; it hides; it sleeps more; it seeks escapes, and it succumbs to becoming virtual, to being swallowed by zoom, by the screen, happily becoming non-bodied.
On other days….few and far between days: the body feels its weight; its heaviness, its mass; it does not seek stillness, though — but rather, speed, alacrity, movement, the will to do something, not nothing. There is a drive to move the architecture of reality around, to make it make sense again, or at least new sense. But not having easy access, the body–or rather this, my body, facing the unknown changes matter, changes the cosmos how it can: it rearranges the furniture; it plants new things in the garden; it cuts one’s hair, cuts one’s own skin; it beaks things or makes things: antidotes to paralysis in the face of the unknown…in the face of death…