1 The constraints: 1) No more than
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The result ? Genius or Not.

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23rd November 2010

By Cassandra Moss | 2010 November 23

The interchangeable faces and songs of mid-90s pop stars were always present, always unintentionally sound-tracking one ill moment to the next as I coughed and vomited into a bucket next to the sofa. They existed in a way that I didn't: as materials, lyrics and well-lit angles, as colours and sound-bites, all of which were more self-evident than the heaving, the mucus, the eye-watering, the breathlessness, red face and raw throat that were visceral realities for me. But physiological processes ostensibly debunk what is with the rhetoric they inspire, that disassociation between subject and illness. I was twelve and had had shingles in September and then got whooping cough, which stayed with me throughout the winter. Although my condition was never serious, the separation between my supposed self and experience was automatic: being indoors and sick were not real, while every image on screen was. Once this thing, this bacterial invader, left me, I would be myself and able to access the fundamentals again, those shapes and runways of regularity. The very material presence of Bordetella pertussis in me had no association with the bodies I watched. They were not bacterial, they were functional people who were in and of a world that surely didn't consist of grimy micro-organisms. But you don't always know how things are going to affect you when you're twelve. Since then, what's at the microscopic level and what is physical have become things of utter fascination. You cannot escape bodily form. If there is a location of 'I', it must be distributed amongst every cell and contained within each tremor, spasm and convulsion. Character is endocrine: motivations and reactions are secreted by the glands, and not in that way of describing people as hormonal to mean irrational or over-sensitive, and not necessarily evidenced in overblown gestures and acts, but in that 'I' is caught up in a constant, daily process which is largely uncontrollable and unnoticeable until it stops working. It's a process that doesn't depend upon conscious recognition and which it may be impossible to ever feel the 'I' within, but it mitigates the structure of life.

Bodies, Sickness

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