Capacious
Capacious
Journal for Emerging Affect Inquiry
Image: Emaciation Dans L'Anorexie Hysterique, Nouvelle Iconographie de la Salpetriere, 1888

The Grace of my Perfect Skeleton: An Autoethnographic Analysis of the Anorexic Body

Lea Muldtofte
PhD student, Institute of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22387/CAP2018.17
First online: June 30, 2018

Abstract

The psychiatric realm as well as social scientists are trying to understand and give insights to what is going on in the mind of a person, who is suffering from the diagnosis anorexia nervosa. However, for various reasons, the voices of the anorexic subject are usually discarded or misunderstood, which seems paradoxical, since drowning their voices have usually lead them to speak through their bodies in the first place. This essay provides a nuanced account of the suffering from anorexia from the perspective of an embodied experience with the disorder and reveal a paradoxical construction, a bloc of becoming that produces a very specific becoming. Through the thoughts of Deleuze, this article presents a first-person encounter of anorexia as a protest at three planes; on the level of the body, on the level of the closest intersubjective assemblage and on the level of culture and context.

Keywords

anorexia, body politic, Deleuze, organism, agency

Wearing a white dress, I was sent to the hospital directly from my final exam of high school, shivering with cold in late June. People were complimenting my tan, not realising that it was the colour of my inside shining through my transparent skin. I went smiling through the doors that were immediately locked behind me, triumphantly hungry, wearing my anorexic diagnosis like a crown on top of bones, innocent and virgin-like, so close to nothing that I was finally heard, that I finally had a voice. My bones spoke. More effectively than my voice ever could administer. I was not let out for almost a year.

It had taken me 8 months to delete my monthly periods, accentuate bones instead of flesh and make every vein flow visibly over my skin like small purple channels. Even one right on my forehead. I created a translucent corporal landscape; I thought it beautiful and I was so proud of my project. Eventually, I could not sit or lay down anymore without it hurting, so I used my computer sleeve to sit on wherever I went. Never had I done anything in silence so perfectly, so visibly, so obvious for the world to see. I offered everybody with eyes to share my terror and my beauty, my power in the fragility that could never have been attained in any other way. And with my continuous smile, and “I’m fine” responses, I held people away. I spent hours looking in the mirror, feeling myself and my bones, and pain became a measurement for success. If I had eaten more than what my standards could tolerate, I would strip naked, lie down, roll back and forth to the rhythm of wooden floor against vertebra, vertebra, vertebra, until it hurt so much that I was certain that the bones were still there.

What seems striking, looking back, is that my shrinking was applauded all the way, until I was finally just bones with diaphanous skin—not by the ones closest to me, the family, who saw nothing until it was too late, trusted the reasonable, good little girl to have everything under control as always. My surroundings implicitly or explicitly admired my body, my dedication, my discipline, and their assumption of my power. Three weeks before I was admitted to the hospital, I was approached by a modelling agency, and in the gym women would ask me for diet and exercising advice in order to lose weight—since I had the looks of an obvious expert. At some point, I almost ran a little geschäft, where I would make diet plans and training schedules for people, and if I sometimes responded to a compliment with “some say that I look anorexic,” they would comfort me with the fact that “people are just jealous.”

By the time I entered the hospital, however, with the diagnosis anorexia nervosa, jealousy was replaced with a rare combination of disgust and admiration. People would either tell me that I resembled someone out of a concentration camp, a cancer patient, or a fashion model (exaggeration, of course). They would accuse me of being vain, immature, or insane as well. I will not dismiss that I was, or definitely became, all three of these things in some ways. Self-constitution through restriction, deprivation, and inhuman rules is unquestionably self-centred, and would undoubtedly make most people mad. However, only to make defects or the extremity of the suffering person’s mind responsible for the disorder—as it is done within treatment at least in Denmark—would be to completely ignore the complexity of the phenomenon of anorexia. Maybe that is why the treatment is so ineffective.

This essay will try to explore three directions with regards to the anorexic body. Three directions that might appear contradictory, and they might very well be, but then again, the overall point here is that the enigma of the anorexic body does not have one answer, but multiple inexhaustible explanations. I am positive that this essay will leave behind more questions than answers regarding anorexia; but these questions need a voice within the field of cultural and affect studies. Anorexia, and eating disorders in general, should not be left to the psychiatric realm (exclusively) to be explained and treated behind the locked doors of impenetrable institutions. Because behind those doors anorexia, as I just mentioned, becomes a problem on the level of the individual: a product of an insane, irrational mind, an unfortunate, weak, passive victim of media influences. What a load to put on one person’s shoulders and mind! Especially since the anorexic body is more or less the opposite: it has extreme force and agency. It is, of course, produced through assemblages, family, and cultural structures as a protest against obedience, via extreme obedience.

The three directions are inspired by Gilles Deleuze and his description of anorexia in Dialogues,a conversation with Claire Parnet. Here he tries to define anorexia as a “history of politics” (1987, 111). A protest on three planes: on the level of hunger/food, on the level of the family, and on the level of consumer society. I have reformulated them into three themes, which will be the focal points for this essay: the body, the family or the closest intersubjective assemblage, and the culture and context. They cannot strictly be separated since, of course, the body, the family and their cultural surroundings are constituted through a connection with each other, but for the sake of analysis, as we know, separation can be helpful. I will progress through these three directions and discuss Deleuze’s argument, which I follow most of the time. Eventually, I part from it in certain ways.

As for material, I will use myself and my embodied experience with anorexia. Why have I never before thought to engage in academic discussions concerning anorexia, much less engage my own experience with it? Because to have your every-minute negotiating hell exist in one’s work is not particularly attractive. But, even though intelligent and respectable literature on anorexia in cultural studies is emerging and includes literature that incorporates voices of anorexic subjects, the discussion would benefit from having more non-interpreted voices with an embodied experience of anorexia talking back. Examples of scholars who engage their bodies and experience with anorexia in their work in order to explain, explode, and nuance opinions and discussion around eating disorders include Elspeth Probyn (Probyn 1993; 2005) and Paula Saukko (Saukko 2008). My voice and body can be a contribution making this voice stronger. Further, the anorexic voice is usually contested or dismissed as being unworthy, because the discursive opinion of a person with such a diagnosis is characterised by notorious manipulative behaviour. As Rebecca J. Lester states in her ethnographical analysis of anorexia patients: “[P]atients are frequently perceived as not only incapable of accurate reality testing but as being deliberately manipulative, or playing on others’ emotional investments in order to obtain desired ends (cf. Ramjan 2003)”(Lester 2016, 9). Speaking as an anorexic, admitting to your illness, immediately cancels the sincerity and rationality of the voice. Anorexics are silenced.1 But I have a privileged position, ways to channel my voice, so that I hopefully may reach readers and escape the locked-in position of being diagnosed a liar. As a way of highlighting certain aspects from a poetic perspective besides my own body, I will also use an excerpt from the novel Morte ai Vecchi by Franco Bifo Berardi. Eventually, I hope to reach a non-concluding conclusion about anorexia as a paradoxical construction, a bloc of becoming that produces a very specific becoming and, thus, proposes anorexia as a space for introducing the ends of constructivism.

The body praxis

Throughout three pages of Dialogues, where Deleuze ruminates over anorexia, he sees the phenomenon as self-evidently a refusal (1987). Anorexics do refuse, they do eat less than other people, that is true. But, in fact, contrary to what many might think and contrary to the general opinion of people that I have met (especially in treatment), it is not a refusal of the body image as such. It is not, in all cases at least, only or primarily a dedicated punishment towards a look which the anorexic subject is not content with and therefore tries to alter. How could it be that simple? On the contrary, as I read my own thoughts through the thinking of Deleuze, I did not hate my body or my look at all, not prior to when my shrinking started, and especially not during it. I used my body. I did this in a constant and meticulous negotiation and calculation between body, flesh, and intake: like weighing myself (at least) three times a day, reducing food to its value in calories, measuring myself, sitting on the bus making sure that my thumb and index finger could meet around my upper arm etc.

Instead of a refusal of the body, Deleuze calls anorexia a refusal of the organism,2 which is slightly different: “There is a whole plane of construction of the anorexic, making oneself an anorganic body” (1987, 110). While it seems paradoxical, it should be highlighted that refusal and negation, then, apply to a construction of a specific doing, which I find important. More than a frozen diagnosis attributed to a certain status of a body, anorexia should be regarded as first and foremost a praxis, preceding the diagnosis. And this praxis, however extreme, corresponds to a generally acknowledged praxis of dieting, a correct way of eating. The praxis of anorexia then is what Bray and Colebrook, with reference to Deleuze and Guattari, calls “a series of interconnected practices,” connections and disconnections to and from body, praxis, and surroundings. In this light, anorexia should be considered not only for what it destroys, but for what it “creates and invents” (Bray and Colebrook 1998, 58).

This praxis of a refusal of the organism in interconnected practices I truly recognise because this is about mastery, about refusing, and about mastering the disturbance of needs and signals from the body, which seemed to me so claustrophobic. The need for food, or responding to the need for food, reminded me of dependence. Dependence upon a system which was forcing me into social settings and temporal restrictions (oh the horror of mealtimes, and the fact that clocks, and daily pauses surround eating—this I will return to). The constant disconnections and connections between the exterior restrictions, my own restrictions, the numbers representing my restriction in weight, my representation in the mirror, food and how this was represented in calories, all affected my constructed praxis, and determined how I felt. It numbed my loneliness and made me continue. I would say that instead of responding to hunger as a signal and need from the organism, the representation of my body and of food in numbers was violently intervening. They interfered and affected me, and caused me to be, literally, moved.

In a reading of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time Deleuze demonstrates exactly how representations or signs in the world are not primarily referring or representing, they are not mediators or conveyors of information. Instead, a sign induces a violence in its encounter with a body, and this meeting doessomething to this body, forces it to react or to transform in some way (Deleuze 2003). Frederik Tygstrup observes that the sign concept, which Deleuze introduces here, is inspired by Spinoza and his understanding of affect. Spinoza distinguishes between affectio—a sort of incoming affect, and affectus is to be understood as an outgoing affect: the reaction of the body, the being affected (Tygstrup 2015). Affectivity, in this sense, is a dynamism of affecting and being affected, but as Tygstrup points out, it does not stop there: “when somebody is affected, this somebody is likely to change agency as well, affecting the environment in turn” (Tygstrup and Devika 2015, 15). Seen in this way, the refusing and measuring practices of the anorexic in regards to body, organism, and intake are “practices of connection” and these practices, as they affect representations—which, in turn, affect the anorexic body—”form the event of the anorexic as such” (Bray and Colebrook 1998, 62).

Accordingly, the praxis of refusing the organism: measuring, calculating, and regulating body and food; deprivation, restriction, and adjusting is then that which partakes in constituting the construction of the anorexic. Discovering that my body worked, my brain worked, and I could force it into functioning, even though I was refusing the organism’s greedy demands—all while occupied with the thought of minimizing my numbers every minute of the day—was a triumph. And then it paid off in shrinking. I watched with pride the organismic transformation, the sculpture, I was creating through refusing this organism.

Getting at the same point but through a phenomenological analysis, Dorothée Legrand insightfully suggests that obeying the organism reduces one to exactly that—an anonymous organism, an object:

while eating, one is not only assuming survival; one is also negating one’s subjecthood by incorporating food, thereby incorporating oneself into the realm of anonymous organic processes and of corpses, assuming one’s dependence to one’s objecthood, thereby negating the sovereignty of one’s subjecthood (2011, 506).

The anorexic, then, will regard the very act of eating as a feeling of losing subjectivity, according to Legrand. In another study, Anna Lavis, discusses the absence of food, the practice of starvation as a way of understanding the anorexic subject, understood as maintenance through absence (2013).

Importantly, however, as is also noted by Legrand, my anorexic praxis was not a refusal of food full stop. It was not absence. On the contrary, I was obsessed with food, and not only in the way that it is clinically proven that starvation causes a manic fantasizing of nutrition, although such fantasies were also present of course. For me it was this neurotic game; these negotiations, calculations, compensations, tricks, in order to make me master of the organism for the purpose of approaching my bones. I would not not eat. I would eat very specific things. And, in fact, most of the threads on pro-ana websites, which are created and used by people with eating disorders, are dedicated to eating and not not eating. In this way, I differ from Deleuze and how he describes the anorexics relationship with food: “The anorexic thinks that food is fundamentally bad, hence the need to select and extract particles, or to spit it back out” (1987, 111).

I understand why people, including Deleuze, would think that anorexics in general are disgusted with food. Especially because it is a common lie that the anorexic tells people around her in order to deliver a logical explanation for saying no. And spitting things out is a clear manifestation of disgust, a gesture of “I don’t want that in me.” But I have met only a few anorexics who fight food because they truly think it is poison or unclean. In these cases, the person has been so maddened by the disease that delusion has taken over. The “taste and spit” that Deleuze talks about here is a common starvation praxis, but has more to do with refusing the organism than with disgust, I would say. It concerns, what Deleuze beautifully calls, the anorexic’s double betrayal in all three planes. First is hunger, the betrayal of the organism’s needing signal: “anorexics are enthusiasts: they live treason or the double turning away in several ways. They betray hunger, because hunger tricks them by making them subject to the organism” (1987, 110).

This double turning away is described in Dialogues in relation to a regime of treason with a centre of subjectivation, instead of a centre of significance (1987, 107). Like God becoming the point of subjectivation, he turns away from his subjects, who then turn away from him. With regard to the anorexic, the “taste and spit” is definitely a betrayal performed by the betrayed, a trick played upon the organism. Being extremely hungry, putting food in your mouth, letting it rest there, tasting it only to spit it back out is a refusal of the organism within the organism itself; it is treason to the point of mockery. I would do it with bread, because that would be what I would feel like the most. Along similar lines, I was in the hospital with a girl, who would consume extreme amounts of sugar-free sweets. They disappear into your mouth without you having to swallow, bordering and guarding the organismic entrance, without giving in to it.

Germinating organism

In an excerpt from Berardi’s novel, a chapter called “Anorexia Sister,” we also see this behaviour. The chapter is a stream of consciousness from Anita, an anorexic girl, and it includes a description of her anorexic friend Marcella. At some point during the stream, Marcella has a grain of rice in her mouth for 42 days, which she refuses to swallow, just keeping it in her mouth, just inside the gates of the organism:

I saw Marcella sucking a grain of rice for 42 days. She also kept it tight in her mouth in class. It seemed that a green string, a talking plant, would sprout from her throat. Her mother begged her day and night through hiccups that resembled rattles “do it for mum, do it for me!” but Marcella simply sputtered (Berardi 2016, 175)

Marcella in this way performs the ultimate betrayal. She not only tricks hunger with constant taste without giving in to it, she also blocks the entrance of the organism, refusing any other possible nutrition to enter, clinging to—almost protecting—her grain of rice.

In this description, a tension and a fear towards not being able to master the organism is present in Anita, poetically written into the fact that a grain can germinate. Germination, something that an organism can perform on its own, is something she cannot control, and this is anxiety-provoking for her. As when Marcella finally swallows her grain of rice, and Anita imagines the reaction of the organism, which has now been given life within Marcella, through that rice grain. She imagines, thus, her own sprouting as well. Her organismic development as a result of eating (gains weight is what she means here):

Marcella swallowed her grain of rice, and in vengeance, it started to geminate. A rice paddy was born in her stomach. Today I feel like that grain of rice which remained stuck in Marcella’s mouth for 42 days (2016, 176).

The anorexic betrays the organism, because she feels the organism has betrayed her. The double betrayal. The anorexic tricks the organism, tries to master it, and she does it in an almost cruel way.3 She masters a transformation of her body by denying the organism. She constructs and, paradoxically, becomes through negation, becomes through subtraction and shrinking. However, this absurd but dedicated mockery of the organism ends up mocking nothing and no one more than the anorexic herself. I will come back to this at the end.

The family

Moving next to anorexia as a protest against the family, or what I have called closest intersubjective assemblage. I do this in order to avoid limiting the occurrence of anorexia to one set of particular relationships. Following Deleuze’s anorexic double betrayal, he continues: “they betray the family, because the family betrays them by subjecting them to the family meal and a whole family politics of consumption” (1987, 110). As I described before, the need of food, or responding to the need of food, was a praxis associated with dependency and constraints; dependency upon a system, locking me into social settings and institutions dictating my time. Sitting and eating together at a certain hour is a standard for well-functioning families in proper-functioning Scandinavian upper-middleclass suburbs. It is inherent in cultural norms; it is something we do and should do with our children or partner. Quality-family-time. Sitting and not eating, however, does shake up the fluxes and structures within any given family; hacking at and exposing this somnambulistic “quality-family-time.” This small protest changes the affects and rhythms of numbness, disrupts the routines, which are part of a family-time-checklists and usually questioned by nobody. Even as this protest eventually causes intersubjective tension and intensities, exuding pain, frustration, and other kinds of imprisonment for everyone involved.

Eating is the clock of institutions as well, it is breaks (in fact the word for meal in Danish is måltid; mealtime). Breaks are unpredictable social assemblages, assemblages one has rarely chosen oneself. You are enslaved to social situations, to a social organism, when a clock strikes 12, or 6.30 pm because the cosmos has decided that bodies have needs at that time. To me this was claustrophobic, and anorexia was definitely a way to disrupt it. I disconnected from these outside restrictions in order to connect to my own new rules, creating a “being otherwise” (Bray and Colebrook 1998, 58). It was treason. A way of silently saying, “I don’t need your mealtime or your breaks.” However, anorexia for me became the most powerful tool with regards to voice. I unfortunately discovered that extreme shrinking is a very visible process. It works because the anorexic body invites other people to be spectators of its slow destruction. Others are sort of chained participants, involved without the influence to intervene. In this way, the anorexic practice of starvation and slow disappearance changes intersubjective assemblages, such as the family and the relationships, in which the anorexic participates. It is extremely inclusive and exclusive at the same time. Twice in my life I have been deprived of a voice, interrupted, mocked, not worthy of being listened to within my own home. In both cases, anorexia saved me, even as it almost cost me my life. Since I started talking through the visibility of bones, creating a space where no one could interrupt me, this was eventually and, sadly, very effectively heard.

Returning to Berardi’s novel, Marcella also has a fallout with her mother, who begs her to eat. I am not a mother myself, but I can imagine, and have experienced through my own mother the fundamental contradiction of not being able to feed one’s child, since that is the very purpose of a mother’s body. Interestingly enough, Marcella’s refusal is also mute, also bound to the fact that she uses her mouth to do something other than talk. She is using her mouth to not eat, which becomes her very explicit activity, and this activity is also her answer to her begging mother: not eating her grain of rice.

Culture and context

This is a huge discussion that I can only superficially touch upon. I have tried to show in other settings how the praxis of anorexia speaks just as much about the disorder of the culture surrounding body-ideals and food-trends as it does of the disorder within the anorexic mind.

Turning to this third protest, for Deleuze, anorexia becomes a political act against consumption as such. A protest against eating as consumption, obviously, and against being consumed by structures. But he highlights the political act against consumer society in particular. He says: “anorexia is a political system, a micro-politics: to escape from the norms of consumption in order not to be an object of consumption oneself […] She will turn consumption against itself” (1987, 110). Consumption, yes. Earlier I have found it amusing that people would think that anorexia had anything to do with the fact that Iwanted to look like a fashion model. Now it makes me angry that it seems to still be the dominating discourse regarding the cause of the disorder.

In a recent Danish newspaper article, the head of the Danish organisation against eating disorders comments on a new study showing that native Danes are more likely to develop an eating disorder than first and second-generation immigrants. His explanation is that Danish girls—note girls—have a tendency to become more affected by fashion magazines than girls from a different ethnic origin than Danish, because their relation to Danish body and ideals are different. Immigrant body ideals are more curvy. He was quoted:

It is often more accepted to have curves as woman within the immigrant community. We witness a tendency, where native Danish girls are more affected by fashion magazines than girls with an immigrant background, because there is a difference in body ideals (Folkman 2017, my translation).

Besides the racial and stereotyping problems in this statement, and the automatic segregation in placing non-native Danes in a pool of non-western Danes (assuming the west against the rest as usual), male anorexics are also shut out of the discussion here, as they also usually are. Furthermore, this quote confirms a simplified version of the anorexic subject as a vulnerable reader of mass media images, thus completely reducing the complexity of the disorder. Such statements serve to do nothing but confirm a discursive misunderstanding of anorexia, and instead of focusing on anorexia as a set of interconnected practices of protest with a high level of agency, it is reduced to what Bray and Colebrook call “the pathologization of women’s reading practices” (Bray and Colebrook 1997, 51).

To say that torturing your body and mind has the purpose of becoming something out of a magazine, inherent in this purpose must also lie an assumed desire to be consumed, to be attractive, to “look good.” To be the object of consumption, in other words. The anorexic body definitely wants to be consumed, but only in the double betrayal. Anorexics are grotesquely aesthetic, yes, but they betray the cultural standards of beauty and stereotypes—by becoming the exaggeration, by exactly refusing to become an object of consumption. I was not interested in beauty. I was interested in looking dangerous, in looking fragile, because therein was my power. It was not myself as overweight I was trying to escape. It was the healthy, good-looking, completely normal version of me that terrified me. I was relieved when my partner lost sexual interest in me.

I am not saying that my anorexia had nothing to do with body ideals. In fact, I have to admit that if my surroundings were not obsessed with being fit, sticking to a diet, correctly exercising, correctly eating, I am sure I would have chosen another self-destructive solution, and the disorder wouldn’t have stuck with me for so long. For some, me included, anorexia cannot be detached from western body ideals; but I was not so much reacting to my own desire to be ideal as I was reacting to other’s desire to be ideal. Understand that anorexia is a solution to a problem: a solution to an emptiness, a voicelessness. You are willing to let your body become an object for principles, a “micro-politics” in Deleuzean terms, to be at least something. I performed the norms and ideals of culture to a grotesque perfection. One of the girls I was admitted to the hospital with spoke a beautiful sentence in relation to this:

If I can be more than they want to be, if I can do more than what they want to do, I might be good enough. Not good. Just good enough (Britta)4

In this way, anorexia is the ultimate performance of the norm that dictates the ideal—the correct way to eat, train, and exercise. It is a becoming-structure, a becoming-discourse, an act of perfection, of correctness, which in its treason becomes a caricature. Eventually, for some (most of the users on pro-ana websites for instance), anorexia is a paradoxical becoming-diagnosis, where the goal of becoming is nothing but destruction.

Deleuze uses the term: “involuted body,” which means a body that becomes a body of the in-between. The anorexic is the in-between; it is betraying organisms on several planes. She is treason, mockery, irony.

Ends

Anorexia illuminates multiple layers of constraining organisations within life as such, or more accurately, within western life. Read the anorexic body and practice as a visual text, and it reveals the order, or the disorder, of society—and this is important and valuable. However, I want to make a concluding note. In Deleuze’s description of anorexia and in other mass-media understandings of anorexia, if the anorexic body is not insane or a victim of capitalism or patriarchist stereotypes, then the anorexic becomes an aesthetic figure, almost a feminine hero, defying these categories. I am afraid that I am painting that picture myself—have painted it—which is regrettable, because it undermines the pain and torture that comes with anorexia. And this does not need aestheticizing, and it is definitely not heroic.

“It is a feminine protest of a woman, who wants to have a functioning of the body and not simply organic and social functions which make her dependent” Deleuze says (1987, 110). And that is the paradox of everything regarding this disorder. Trying to escape dependency and fighting claustrophobia, traps one in the cruellest of addictions; a maddening obsession. I became addicted to shrinking, to watch my bones’ visibility under my skin. An anxious, compulsive act that stripped me from anything social to the point where I—literally, as one of my friends pointed out—had nothing left to lose, nothing but the anorexia of course. In this void the disorder will thrive. The betrayal becomes tripartite, the betrayed betrays what betrayed her, and in that process, she betrays life. I betrayed the hunger, which I despised, yes, but I was never able to extinguish it. I let passions go instead. In Deleuzian terms, I did micro-politics by performing the double betrayal of systems that were threatening to constrain me. However, in my understanding, politics belongs to conversation and solidarity, and there is nothing like solidarity about anorexia; it is self-centred and lonely. The final treason, and the most obvious, is when the construction comes to a final end: she dies. Anorexia for all its building, constructing, and becoming has one linear trajectory, and that is towards death; which will end whatever micro-politics she was performing. I was admitted to the hospital with seven other people, three of us are alive today. If the anorexic does not die, many will be in and out of hospitals for years, very much constrained to the identity of the sorry un-Deleuzian binary of being either sick or normal depending on numbers on scales and body mass index 17.5. I was. Anorexia is a boundary figure, an involuted body that escapes definition (eventually), even its own definition as involuted.

I will end with Anita, and her prayer to mother ana, who art in heaven: “may it triumph, the grace of my perfect skeleton” (Berardi 2016, 173).

Hopefully not.

Acknowledgement

A special thanks to Christina Jerne for translating Franco Berardi’s text from Italian to English and for providing me with the courage to write this piece.

Endnotes

1. People are outraged and baffled when anorexics, and people with other eating disorders, create online for a where their voices are not deprived. Pro-ana-fora are communities of understanding.

2. The body, family, culture, and contexts are of course organisms. Anorexia can thus be said to be a refusal of organisms in general.

3. Limited by language, I use “she,” but I mean all kinds of anorexic bodies.

4. Britta’s real name and identity are hidden.

References

  • Berardi, F. B. (2016). Morte ai Vecchi. Milan: Baldini & Castoldi.
  • Bray, A. and Colebrook, C. (1998). The Haunted Flesh: Corporeal Feminism and the Politics of (Dis)embodiment. Signs 24 (1), 25-67.
  • Deleuze, G. and Parnet, C. (1987 [1977]) Dialogues. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Deleuze, G. (2003 [1964]) Proust et les Signes. Translated by Frank, Søren. København: Det lille Forlag.
  • Folkmann, A. (2017). Forskning: Danskere rammes oftere af Spiseforstyrrelser end Indvandrere. Jyllandsposten [online] https://jyllands-posten.dk/indland/ECE9777029/forskning-danskere-rammes-oftere-af-spiseforstyrrelser-end-indvandrere/ (Accessed 09 August, 2017)
  • Lavis, A. (2013). The Substance of Absence: Exploring Eating and Anorexia. In: Abbots, E.-J. and Lavis, A. eds, Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters between Foods and Bodies. Surrey:Ashgate.
  • Legrand, D. (2011). Ex-Nihilo: Forming a Body out of Nothing. In: Mackay, R. and Negarestani, R. eds., Collapse, Vol VII: Culinary Materialism. Falmouth, UK: Urbanomic, pp. 499-558.
  • Lester, J. R. (2016). Ground zero: Ontology, Recognition, and the Elusiveness of Care in American Eating Disorder Treatment. [published online ahead of print October 24, 2016]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1363461516674874. [Accessed 08 August, 2017]
  • Probyn, E. (2005). Chewing the Fat. Griffith Review (4). https://griffithreview.com/articles/chewing-the-fat/ (Accessed March 30, 2018)
  • Probyn, E. (1993). Sexing the Self: Gendered Positions in Cultural Studies. London: Routledge.
  • Paula S. (2008). The Anorexic Self: A Personal Political Analysis of a Diagnostic Discourse. New York: State University of New York Press.
  • Tygstrup, Frederik (2015) Proust og Det Frynsede Selv. Passage—Tidsskrift for litteratur og kritik. 30 (73).
  • Tygstrup, F. and Sharma, D. Eds. (2015). Structures of Feelings: Affectivity and The Study of Culture. Berlin / Munich / Boston: Walter de Gruyter.
Lea Muldtofte is a PhD fellow at the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University in Denmark. Her work concerns the conditions for subjectivation processes in contemporary sociotechnical milieus, and how this is thematised in contemporary aesthetic articulations. Recently her interest has also included body politics and ortho-practices with special regards to the micro-politics of the anorexic body.
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