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We are dismayed that discussions of climate change have become so polarizing and have receded from the arena of informed public discourse and debate. Political posturing and budgetary woes cannot be allowed to inhibit discussion and debate over what so many believe to be a salient national security concern for our nation … Time and tide wait for no one.

U.S. military leaders release firm climate change warning

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(via policymic)

You know you’re in deep shit when your military leaders have a better understanding of a coming catastrophe (climate change) than your government/politicians. 

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I want to insist that female pain is still news. It’s always news. We’ve never already heard it. It’s news when a girl loses her virginity or gets an ache in the rag and bone shop of her heart. It’s news when she starts getting her period or when she does something to make herself stop. It’s news if a woman feels terrible about herself in the world—​anywhere, anytime, ever. It’s news whenever a girl has an abortion because her abortion has never been had before and won’t ever be had again. I’m saying this as someone who’s had an abortion but hasn’t had anyone else’s.

Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain by Leslie Jamison in VQR.
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The Pain Organ, Moorer and Schwartz, 2014. Graphite on paper, mixed media, heme.

“for what is quite literally at stake in the body in pain is the making and unmaking of the world.” Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain.

This is one of several sketches I made during a particularly bad flare-up. Delirious with pain and exhaustion, I decided that there must be a pain organ somewhere making all of this pain. If I could just turn it off or find someone to remove it, the pain would end. But when I tried to picture it, to draw it and describe it, it got bigger and bigger until it exceeded the body. 

the pain organ sits in the head

the pain organ is bigger than the head

blebs out (maybe it’s really a gland) of its casing 

smothering over skinbodyparts 

the pain organ is a greasy membrane that filters, throbs

an electric tantrum of skin, tissue, blood

nerve.

In 2013 an article appeared in the medical journal PAIN detailing a breakthrough in neuroscience that finally describes the physiological mechanism behind fibromyalgia pain. The thing you’ll notice when you click through to these articles is the consistent assumption that what these women were feeling wasn’t real or ‘rational’ until neuroscientists ‘discovered’ the mechanism behind it using instruments. There is a long history of women’s pain and ailments being reduced to ‘psychosomatic’ (look up the history of ‘neurasthenia’ if you want to know more) or ‘all in her head.’ But now that doctors have discovered the mechanism, this particular kind of pain is ‘real.’ 

‘Pain isn’t real; it’s just an electrical signal sent from an injured part of the body to the brain.’ This is the mantra (or some variation of it) that self-help books tell us to repeat to remind ourselves that the terrible, mind-altering (literally, physically mind-altering) pain we are suffering is not really real pain (a cut, a broken bone, a burn), but only a message that we can choose to ignore. 

But what if it is ‘real?’ And not just in the way that can be measured in blood? What if it is another sense like vision that ‘feels’ something out there or in here that we can’t sense in other ways? A sense for violence. A sense for things that break and cut, burn and penetrate. A sense for things that are breaking in a way we can’t sense otherwise. What would it feel like if the liver was trying to communicate that it was processing too much insulin and failing? That is why we can only talk about it in terms of itself. There is no language for pain outside of pain because the pain itself is a sense, a feeling that we don’t recognize like ‘seeing,’ which is only ever vision done in infinite ways.  Instead of sensing light, or chemicals, or audio waves, pain is the sense for things that are breaking or being broken, of Too Much or Too Little, which is happening all of the time around us and to us, inside of us. So maybe we are feeling the pain of things breaking out there as well and instead of listening and changing or understanding, we ignore and control.

If pain is another sense, then there must be a pain organ that can be located. That organ seems to be the brain although sometimes I am sure that the pain organ is outside me, somewhere I can’t see. The pain organ is out there, sensing things I cannot, sending me overwhelming, terrible signals I can’t interpret or understand. The pain organ is also inside me making pain chemicals and hormones that are nothing like the opposite of pleasure chemicals.

The pain organ is probably the bodymind, which is everything in the world.

The Body

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The body knows things before you do and it (they) knows things you will never know in a way you will never. You may have a feeling, an impression (where body presses against consciousness and leaves their mark), but you will never get any closer. The body is already there between. The body is everywhere. You are just a small place contained. A state. Inside the body, made by the body. There is no outside, though you dream of it and imagine it in memories and that thing you call now. The body were never yours. Will never be.