Image Courtesy of Adele Kava / http://menteurmenteur.tumblr.com.
Lucian was brought up in a town just outside of Toulouse in France. His parents both loved him unconditionally yet were emotionally distant, both highly valuing wine and educational vigour. At twenty-five years old, Lucian was a keen reader and an overachieving yet lazy academic student. He plodded through his physiotherapy training whilst he watched on as his sister, Lea, studied to become an English teacher. Other than a brief affair with a tourist who had worked on his family’s recreational vineyard plucking grapes, Lucian had never experienced what all the other French boys continued to be consumed with.
Both Lucian and Lea were well-educated, especially in the field of anatomy with their father working in pediatrics. As children, their father suffered from projected hypochondria in which he would give them check-ups weekly. Lucian felt elated as every week he would learn something new and enthralling about his own body. He listened to his own heart beat as an observer. His father did not speak rhythmically but in a matter of fact tone, as he made sure everything functioned optimally with his only son and daughter. Lea was highly emotional, and often reported feeling things that concerned the father. Lucian, on the other hand, having always been an introspective young man, established his sense of normalcy by absorbing the feelings of his sister. Together with his father, he would inspect Lea’s tongue for discolouration and eye pupils to ensure they were appropriately dilated.
With Lucian’s adoration for language, he grew troubled. He poured over his text books relating to the visceral systems of the body and frustratingly noted its blunt expressions. He wanted poetry. He admired the way language could be utilised to form waves in which each word so easily and comfortably flowed into the next. Trains of thought were being manifested. Lucian was present at the birth of these thoughts. His stomach rumbled, and he smirked placing a hand on his solar plexus. He plunged into this state of flux willingly as he let the words of the books he loved wash over him.
Whilst his father tried to be poetic, Lucian couldn’t help but get frustrated with his prose as he grew older. He wanted to create a unity between his love of language, and his love of the body. But how does science become intertwined with the inextricable beauty of the written word? His Dad, named Philip, couldn’t formulate his words with fluidity. Almost robotically, Philip spoke. "We are a cage. Our ribs secure its contents and hold us as its prisoner, containing us by the peripheral walls of the skin. We come into acquaintance with our bodies as we begin to associate it to our selves. Every part has a name, a function, a meaning. We hold our space and declare it our own, despite it being outside the extremities of our body.”
Lucian read Milan Kundera, who gripped his insides with his articulation of there being a unity between the body and the soul. His revelation was that "When we ignore the body, we are more easily victimised by it.” Engrossed by this idea, he lay down on his bed as he tried to burn a hole in the ceiling with his eyes. He felt utterly sick. This wave of uncomfortable electrical impulses zapped up and down his insides, paired with an uncontrollable urge to start screaming and thrashing his own body to urge its departure. He held onto a conflict not yet articulated.
Reading up on different types of conditions relating to a form of agnosia, Lucian investigated his condition. “Bodily awareness can be characterised by its representations. A man who has lost a limb still feels the aching throb of its existence. A woman possesses a body of perfect proportions, yet cannot recognise a part of herself as her own. Both relate to the neural systems of the brain. Where the man has a representation of a limb no longer there, the woman contains an absent representation of a limb fully functioning yet inaccessible to her.”
Lucian became far too concerned with the physical constituents of his symptoms rather than the psychosomatic reasons that could be causing them. He pondered carefully. “I woke up with this strange sensation of wanting to unzip my front torso and let all of my insides free themselves into a bloody mess onto the floor. All I want to do is just explode.”
He laughed at the absurdity of it. It’s not that he wanted to self-harm, but it was if his mind wanted to commit mutiny from his body. What is it I am experiencing?
It was only when he received a letter from the tourist whom he had had the affair with that he realised. Her words were the feedback her body had relayed into her mind, into which had fueled the development of what he phrased as “emotional recognition." The notion of her language being a descriptive way to elaborate on her emotions ultimately confined her expression. She was too busy experiencing her emotions like she was drowning in a tide-infested body of water rather than observing them. Lucian only observed. She had written down her feelings. It was no use as Lucian couldn’t empathise with the words laid out on the page. He questioned the stirring in his stomach, and pinned it down to being uncomfortable and unsettled at the awkwardness of her vulnerability. His undying devotion to language left no room for any emotional relationship. All the living he wanted to experience was under the umbrella of another’s identity. He observed his internal workings with an air of arrogance overcoming their cues. In a supercilious manner, he watched the tourist drown in her emotional weight throughout the letters’ progression. He observed as a bystander rather than making an attempt to swim after her awarding him with an utmost sense of power and control.
Lucian had been conditioned to be an observer of his body, as well as its internal workings. Emotions were chemical reactions, and he was only capable of looking onto these emotions with amusement. He recognised them but didn’t feel as if they were his own. He was inept at feeling, rather, he took an interest into delving into the pathology of emotions. What is their use? Their function? They inhibit me and make me want to escape from my body, to be free from the only capsule that allows me to live. Utter ridiculousness. Lucian felt a pang of pathos at what he knew would make him superior to every other living thing on the planet. Only because he knew that this same quality would be what made him be perceived as the scummiest person on this Earth.