When bodies are discussed, especially in popular culture, it has often meant a very circumscribed set of themes, largely to do with what the body looks like or how to maintain it at a pinnacle of health. The body as a set of surfaces, of more or less pleasing aspect. The perfect, unattainable body, so smooth and gleaming it is practically alien. What to feed it, how to groom it, the multiple dismaying ways in which it might fail to fit in or measure up. But the element of the body that interested me was the experience of living inside it, inhabiting a vehicle that was so cataclysmically vulnerable, so unreliably subject to pleasure and pain, hatred and desire…

I wanted to formalise my understanding of the body, and I was fascinated too by the idea that it might have its own language, distant from speech but just as eloquent and meaningful, composed of symptoms and sensations rather than words… Over the next two years, I drew every bone, muscle and organ in the body, memorising their functions and their names, right down to the tiny bones of the hand: lunate and pisiform, named for their resemblance to moons and peas. On sheets of butcher’s paper, I mapped the metabolic transformations that went on inside the miniature factory of each cell. At the beginning I had only the crudest notion of how the body worked, but I struggled gamely on, fascinated and a little appalled by how much of my life happened beneath the Plimsoll line of conscious control. Gradually it all came into focus. The body was a device for processing the external world; a conversion machine, hoarding, transforming, discarding, stripping for parts.

Olivia Laing, Everybody: A Book About Freedom (W. W. Norton & Company, May 4, 2021)



  1. If only we all considered our bodies this way. A conduit for our minds/soul to move around and learn, listen, feel. A miracle that lasts but a swift moment in time.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Vera Kanigan says:

    Such a unique perspective! Would love to read the book! Actually we sing a hymn that refers to a body as a “Living Temple”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. fascinating

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Absolutely love this. Our body never lies. It definitely has its own language. I never listen to my mind. We should teach this to our children in schools. 👏😊

    Liked by 2 people

  6. sounds like a labor of love, and a fascinating one at that…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Have to say I got stressed by her words. This is not a battle to win. It’s not something to prove. It’s an embracing of this vessel that we are in.
    Let it hold and support us…. no matter the shape or size. Let us support it with our choices and never ending appreciating of being alive in it.
    It is such a gift .. yet the Ego Mind continues to diminish it

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Saw the title and thought maybe it was about my line of work. 😎. Good article, even though it wasn’t

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, this sounds fascinating, DK. Have long marveled at the body. Feel like mine is a little city working on my behalf, humming along unbidden.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “The Plimsoll line of conscious control” – love this

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Wow. Wow. Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a wonderful post. Leaves you feeling …. spiritual.

    Liked by 1 person

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