16 de set. 2014

The body

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
e.e. cummings

It’s been three days since I came back to Alexandria after one month in Barcelona. Bureaucrat holidays that can be summarized as a feast of pork and beers, of gossips and hugs. Before taking the plane to Barcelona, an Alexandrian friend told me that he was in love. That he had wanted to kiss her even before hearing her voice. And luckily enough, she wanted to kiss him back. By the time when he told me about it, they had already had tea in every downtown café, the had walked every kilometer of the Corniche and once they had even held hands while watching a German movie.

On August 26, a 32 years old man ate something and then stopped eating. “At 4 pm today, I celebrated with my colleagues my last meal in prison”. He stated it in a letter that was published in several newspapers and countless facebook accounts. A man 32 years old, a woman 27, a woman 20, a man 26, and thus up to 130 people in Egypt with their empty stomachs, on hunger strike.
Before being in jail they were in the streets, shoulder to shoulder. Some of them were already there before 2011, some of them arrived later to the catacombs of resisting against something thick and shapeless. They come from the teenager rooms with stickers on the walls and from the slogans scratched in virtual walls. They carry diverse reasons through dispersed jails, women and men who have considered that they haven’t any other tool left but their bodies locked in a cell. And they won’t eat until they leave it.

I’m drinking a beer with my friend. One month later he’s still in love and I ask him to update me and tell me everything about it. And he tells me that he feels very tired, with pains in his bones and his brains, he lacks strength and feels down. He’s been searching in Wikipedia for an explanation about what’s wrong with him. And internet says that depression the closest name for what he’s going through. My friend is simultaneously in love and depressed.
Following the path of Wikipedia knowledge I discover Herophilos, a Greek doctor of the days when Alexandria was the center of Greece. The internet says that many centuries before christ, he was the first one to dissect corpses to learn how to diagnose the human diseases. That he would count the pulses of his patients with a water clock and analyze their hearts to find out about their pains. And thus he established, apparently for the first time, that we think with the brains and pump with the heart,

As of today, I am depriving my body of food (…) for the dignity of the body needs the embrace of loved ones”. On September 13 the man who signs this letter is still fasting. He’s somebody’s son, brother, husband, father and friend and yet with all this love, after much thinking, he has decided to stop eating as a strategy. Doctors say that after 15 days of fasting, you lose the sensation of thirst, you feel cold and cannot stand up. By the 35th day you might vomit constantly and your eyes move out of control. After 40 days you might get deaf and by the 45th day your heart can stop beating at any time.

Herophilos found out about the functions of a couple of fragile and critical organs. And by the time when he had published many treatises on how we live and how we die, he started to suspect that his patients’ pains had something to do with their dreams.

On march the 2nd 1974 four men and a woman have dinner in a Catalan house. A cinema director has secretly gathered them to discuss the why of their experiences as political prisoners. They speak with complex words and very organized sentences. Synthesis, conjuncture, enemy, struggle. They get lost in the path of red book rhetoric and discuss tactics, techniques and strategies.
By the time of desserts, with whisky bottles and ashtrays on the table, the only woman takes the floor:
there’s something a want to say. I believe that the revolutionary doesn’t discover enthusiasm for life when in jail. That is, one of the reasons that I find fundamental for a process of struggle (…) is nothing but this enthusiasm for life. A passion, an energy.” 1.

Throughout the day, today, my friend in love will be hugged by his girlfriend. Throughout the day, today, a group of men and women will eat out of their previous hugs. And their pulse will accelerate. Sometimes the body gets sick. Sometimes the world gets sick. But we don’t know how to diagnose it. 

1El sopar, Pere Portabella. 1974.