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The noisy body: a performance poetics on hypochondria

The noisy body: a performance poetics on hypochondria

Smyth, Cherry (2011) The noisy body: a performance poetics on hypochondria. In: Poetry and Melancholia Conference, 7-9 Jul 2011, University of Stirling, Scotland. (Unpublished)

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This short paper (of 12 minutes) and performance (of 8 minutes) looks at how medical and psychoanalytic discourses around hypochondria can be re-envisaged as a poetic-performative text. If hypochondria, the imagined and/or imaginary disease relies on the diseased imagination, can a poetic-performative text be read as an adaptation of the symptomatic imagination? Using research by Steven Connor, Darian Leader and Julia Borossa, I will argue that hypochondria itself is the mind’s way of adapting the gap between the imagination and the body and the terrifying lack of knowledge latent in that gap. As the hypochondriac can only voice difficult emotions through the anticipatory fear of illness or an imagined condition, I will explore ‘health anxiety’ which was once seen as akin to melancholia, as an adaptation that voices the subjectivity of the body and the anxiety and despair caused by the opaqueness of human flesh. Hypochondria attunes the sufferer to perceive and interpret ‘body noise’ in a heightened way, until only by being ill do they how they are and who they are. If ‘stubborn interruption’ is a condition of the contemporary and subjectivity that is constantly queried and undermined a condition of postmodernity, then, in some respects, the hypochondriac can be seen as defining the experience of the body in modern culture. My poetic-performative text will become a further adaptation and embodiment, through language and performance, of what medical discourse fails to articulate. It will use the visual work of Portuguese photographer Helena Almeida and Japanese painter Tomoo Gikito to counterpoint the self-separation that can result in fortress hypochondria, leading to self-barricading and auto-empathy.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: [1] Presented at Poetry and Melancholia, held 7-9 July 2011, University of Stirling, Scotland. [2] Abstract published on conference website.
Uncontrolled Keywords: poetry, melancholia, hypochondria, performance
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Communications & Creative Arts
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:16

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