I say that poetry is flesh.
Édouard Glissant, “Lava”
Returning to Christian texts, I have identified differentcorporealimaginaries—
the somatic and the carnal— that reverberate in contemporary accounts of
bodies. The somatic strand represents flesh as inessential. Discarding flesh,
this strand tends to reject im por tant traits of corporeality: the earthy origins
of flesh, its constitutive relations to other human flesh as well as to the mate-
rial elements, its malleability and feebleness. Desiring the other’s touch or
the fruits of the earth opens our bodies to the world, disturbing the illusions
of autonomy and self- control. We are moved by the world. And thus these
somatic Christian imaginaries and the contemporary accounts that they in-
flect have judged carnal desires as the root of sin and of mortality. Discard
desire and overcome mortality, they counsel; abandon the flesh to live in the
body. And we dream of fleshless bodies freed from the weight of earthy sub-
stances, the menace of death, or the determinations of our social histories.
We might not pro ject visions of glory to the end of time. But we invent tech-
nologies to produce bodies that appear untouched by time, unmarked by
race, unaffected by social- material environments. And we surround ourselves
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