Pain as Performance

Thus far in the blogosphere, I’ve been wary of directly discussing pain.  Here are some reasons why:

  • We’ve all experienced, are experiencing, or will experience physical pain of some sort during our lifetimes.  What’s the use in reading one individual’s diatribe against Mr. Pain?
  • Discussing pain is depressing.
  • Analyzing pain does not lead to a reduction in felt pain.
  • I don’t want readers to cast me as “that annoying blogger who complains a lot.”

But my current physical state (I bet you can guess what it is!) is compelling me to “verbalize pain.”  I put this phrase in quotes because I’m using a linguistic construction from sociology/gender and women’s studies (GWS):  scholars imbue gender with a performative component — “doing gender” — to demonstrate that gender is not objective, biological, or set in stone but rather subjective, culturally constructed, and subject to change.  Gender is a performance.

A dangerous path to follow.

I want to attempt to discuss and analyze pain by thinking of the dreadful phenomenon as a performance (perhaps more comparable to a John Cage piece than a Handel…)

Pain, like sex (versus gender…I know you got excited there but this is not turning into 50 shades…yet), is biological.  Shit breaks, shit hurts, and we feel crappy.

Pain, like gender, has a socio-cultural component.  You’re in pain for a reason.  You’re in pain in a specific place in your body.  Your body is in a distinct location.  Your society treats pain a specific way.

If I had to sum up our society’s attitude towards pain, it would be with the old adage “no pain no gain.”

So how are we as individuals to respond to pain without gain?  Or worse yet, to pain with loss?



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