Who knew the body could be so nostalgic?

| | Comments (0)

From the first page, I knew I would enjoy reading The Body. For whatever reason, the first page I visited was the nose. Author Shelly Jackson starts the page with "things I can do with my nose," and from there branches off into various thoughts, from the memory of a single tear flowing down her left cheek after getting her nose pierced to nose bleeds in general. "I remember other kids in school whose noses would regularly bleed for no reason, a violent color gushing out of them, while they sat calm and rather saintly, the center of a fascinated crowd. I would have been happy to be one of those people. My nose rarely bleeds, but I take a secret luxurious pleasure in it when it does. I like the sudden warm liquid welling up in my nose, flowing extravagantly forth. I show off the brilliantly spotted tissue in an off-hand way, enjoying the worried remarks," she says. Wow, someone else like me. There is something about having a bloody nose. Like Jackson, I rarely had bloody noses growing up as a kid, and my only memorable one was when I was kicked in the face during a karate tournament. Just like Jackson, I more or less paraded my bloody nose and fat lip around for all to see. Yes, I was proud of myself for not getting out of the way in time.

What I really love about this piece is the ease at which readers can identify with the author. She spends a few paragraphs in the nose section describing how children draw noses in comparison to adults, and then a link moves us on to the eye. "On summer mornings I lay in bed until I was called to breakfast, conducting lazy experiments with my eyes, closing first one, then the other. The different views were sometimes startlingly different: one eye saw only blankets, the other eye saw the sun coming through my Alice-in-Wonderland curtains." The image conveyed here shows just how differently we all see the world through our own eyes.

More than anything else, Jackson's hypertext brought on an immense nostalgic feeling from my childhood. Jackson uses images from her own childhood, such as "...the uncomfortable plastic chairs I sat in all through grade school: if I rubbed my arm against the back of the chair on a dry day, I got a funny feeling as if there were a layer of warm felt between my skin and the plastic. If I held my arm the right distance away, every hair stretched straight out toward the plastic." Every child has experienced static electricity from one of those plastic chairs, whether it be in a classroom or in a waiting room at the dentist or doctor's office, but there's still something exhilarating when a child feels that buzzing on their skin.

Regardless of Jackson's intentional meaning, which was obviously an artistic one, she still conveys a message about remembering our childhood. Her descriptions of the human body allow us to look at the body in a new light, and thus, we can appreciate the nose as more than just something to fill in the center of the face--it has purpose, and is just as important as the rest of the body is.

So what does everybody else think?

Leave a comment

Type the characters you see in the picture above.