Today, we’re going to engage with questions of the mind and of the self.

Phillippe Rahmy wrote a book-length poem, Movement Through the End, which addressed his experience with chronic intense pain.  Here is an excerpt from it:

I allow myself an injection whose power cannot break up the pain, but covers it with a skin that isolates me for a while in a body in which I can write
my infirmity, which is hereditary, dominates me. Thinking about it allows the illness to advance towards its completion. Suffering develops words, like a spirit created through the movements of the heavens

have you never waited for the angel of morning?

the bloody storm rips the ceiling away

my body is a splinter of glass. As I hear my bones breaking, I lose the power of sight and speech

my eyes fall to the bottom of my skull, my tongue swells, extending from my mouth. A frozen filament wraps itself around the ankles, another slices the legs, yet another strips the buttocks, the back, another and still another

a rain of barbed wire. Hanging from hundreds of hooks, my hands seek the memory of their gestures

I lean over to vomit, astonished to feel that my illness is on its last legs. Nothing comes, I swallow mud

I’m including this because pain (physical and otherwise) is one of those experiences that is exceptionally difficult to communicate to others, and/or to understand deeply when someone communicates their experience of pain to you.  As a result it is a good test case for some of the problems of the mind and the self.  Think about this in relation to the Wittgenstein readings (The Diary and The Beetle in the Box) for today, in particular.


Wednesday, our class meets in E-230, the e-portfolio lab.

Next Wednesday, 10/14, please bring a draft of one of your response papers to class for our writing workshop.