Monday, January 24, 2011

Yoga/Animal Studies

This morning as I was being given a ride home from Conrad's while my Saab
headlight was being replaced, I started thinking about yoga positions and then
animal studies. Having just read Cary Wolfe's "Human, All Too Human: 'Animal Studies' and the Humanities," I guess I shouldn't be surprised that thinking of yoga led to my thinking about the meaning of appropriating non-human animal positions by the human animal for an exercise that brings self-awareness and spirituality to some. As Wolfe, agreeing with Derrida, proposes the erasure of plurality from animal studies, that humanism be abandoned by animal studies since it simply reinforces the binary human/non-human, I thought yoga a wonderful example of just such an erasure. The human form imitating sentient and non-sentient forms, becoming simulacra not as performance (although I'm sure much can be said of both the child making wings of his arms and quacking like a duck, or the lead ballerina in Swan Lake), but as a meditative aid, when perhaps even the emptiness of our minds resembles more the state of an inanimate object, or an animal with a more simplistic nervous system. During yoga, the human animal is assuming the shapes and stretches of other animals not as a symbolic act that identifies the ways in which non-human animals resemble humans, but instead an act in which human forgets its anthropocentric perspective and explores the limits of its body by assuming positions other animals take more naturally. I'm just rambling here, and I know many Eastern cultures have a less anthropomorphic perspective on animals, especially in religious texts, but as the West as borrowed yogic exercises from the east, perhaps it is justifiable to consider yoga from a Western animal studies point of view. Developed far, far pre-Enlightenment humanism, then showing a return in a post-human era, yoga reinforces that closing parenthesis Ferry describes in The New Ecological Order. Each time I enter into "Downward Dog" or "Cobra Pose" or "Half-Moon Pose," I will consider it an act exposing the non-existence of a boundary between man and animal.

Monday, January 3, 2011

pulls the pieces from the sand

I pray tonight brings that sleep which, uninterrupted, results in a sense of well-rested calm and focus. I took a step away from my present work for a few weeks, knowing the holidays would be a distraction, and now I find myself too far afield from where I need to be and the journey back is frustrating and I am overwhelmed and anxious. I know I have so much to do and so little time and I spend so long worrying about it that I get next to nothing accomplished, thus compounding my anxiety about how much yet remains undone. A wicked, vicious cycle, truly. I consequently cannot sleep through the night, but instead wake up drenched head-to-toe in sweat around 3-4am, after which my only options have been to read Augustine and Plato and to scour Webmd for evidence that my night sweats are only the result of my medications and my anxiety and not a symptom of some rare and fatal disease. "I love being me," he said sardonically.

Regarding that present work, I finally approached the Troilus and Criseyde materials again today, and was, though not surprised, disheartened to find only a few weeks away from my readings and research was still long enough to really sever my mind from the project altogether. I'm looking at all these scattered notes and articles and musings and wondering, "why did I highlight this?" and "what the hell does that mean?". But I knew it would be this bad so at least I've started the project of gathering the pieces to reassemble and, hopefully, complete the puzzle this time around.

*I must note, I have not kept a journal/blog in a very long time, I have done little casual writing the past few years, and thus my diction is pedantic and my metaphors atrocious when not downright silly. But I have to start writing again somewhere or I'll never improve, so instead of being ashamed of my shortcomings, I embrace this opportunity to redevelop a voice I have not used for years.