I have forsworn the cliché of the aspirational January blog: that kitschly righteous intermingling of self-flagellating melancholy for the year past and peppy optimism for the shiny new self which will make the coming one into a personal utopia.
Except I haven’t. I don’t feel I can righteously avoid reviewing the last twelve months and trying to sign up to a treaty with a better future self, however much I find that glibly idealistic in the face of my own tedious compulsion to repeat the same failures year on year, however much I find a simple changing of the date insufficient propulsive force for meaningful self-improvement.
Perhaps it is the the post-festive excess of embodiment which drives the mind to introspection. My weaknesses tell on me in the dough at my lap. I have podgy armpits. I feel like I should be able to unzip this fat suit and rise up to shake hands with the ideal me I will be this year, to breathe the spirit of that into myself.
As a feminist I am uncomfortable equating betterment with weight loss, however it is simply that now the shitty condition of my physical body is an avatar for the slovenly state of my mind. And that it is somehow inextricably linked to me – the physical body and its ever shifting relationship to the life of the mind.
I am a gold standard, international competition level migraneur. I have pretty much had a headache for the last five years. In this way my meatsack being on the fritz can be an enormous barrier to creative thought: at these times my body is an anchor with the mind tightly cased inside it.
Sometimes the wild array of neurological disturbances is inspirational. Visiting John Martin’s ecstatic visions of heaven and hell I experienced a sense of falling while standing still so sublime and terrifying it was like an ecstasy. This sublime panic was so rich it inspired a series of works.
In some ways the new year preoccupation with the streamlined self fascinates me on the basis of its intense distillation of the constant state of discrepancy in which we live, that unbridgeable gap between ideal and actuality, eye and mind, dream and experiment.
As a performance artist, having made my career out of filming myself for years I am often unpleasantly aware of the mind/body relationship. That transcendent thoughts are stubbornly denied realisation by the limitation of the physical. The body sometimes imposes the ordinary on attempts towards the preternatural.
Even Neil Armstrong probably got an itchy bum on the moon. Imagine that – the pure superlative experience of conquering other planets, gazing back on the blue dot of Earth, a moment only for the life of the mind surely but taking place within the deficient margins of a clunky, vulnerable human body.
The thought of that is a moon to shoot for. Extend the mind beyond the body is the root of it all.