Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
– Auden

St Francis of Assissi had, to be sure, an odd relationship with his body. As a strict ascetic, he considered it of utmost importance not to give in to its cravings for pleasure and leisure. He dubbed his own body “brother ass” and felt that it should be treated as any other domestic beast of the time. Beaten when in need of discipline, and given only coarse food upon which to subsist. He was known to curb his temptations by hurling his body into snow, or even on one occasion a briar patch which he tossed himself about in until his flesh was ripped and bleeding. However, by the time of his death, the great man had reconsidered his ill treatment of his body – his earthly vehicle – and asked the Lord to pardon him for having treated Brother Ass so cruelly. He realized that he had been indulging a fascination; an attempt to conquer that which his Creator had given him. Finally, it seems, that he who loved life and all its manifestations, had finally learned to love, or at least honor, his own organism.

Although many may feel that Francis’ relationship to his body was downright bizarre, I think it is difficult to escape the conclusion that we, in our modern age, relate to our own bodies in even more dysfunctional ways, or at least are encouraged to. We obsess over its skin layer, its most superficial aspect. Say the word “body” to a teenage male, and no doubt the image that will result is a female with Playboy-approved proportions. Or perhaps his own body, “ripped” and sculpted. It is doubtful that he will think of the intricate, mechanical wonder he inhabits, the magnificence that goes far beyond the skin layer. I’m reminded of a scuba diver, who, seated next to a friend who looked out at the ocean at sunrise and remarked at how beautiful it was, replied, “yes, and that’s only the roof!”

We indulge our bodies in exactly the way that St. Francis frowned upon, as we load up on ice cream, tortilla chips, cola, coffee and red wine. We then scan it for signs of resultant flab, and hold it up for critique alongside the impossible ideals that mass media relentlessly parades before our eyes. In magazine articles and website pages we are asked to consider which Hollywood hunk or starlet has “the best body”, when presumably the correct answer should be the one that functions best – the one that digests, eliminates, breathes, repairs, etc. most efficiently.

No greater indication of our dysfunctional relationship to our bodies can there be than the fact that we have created a trillion dollar industry that has as its sole purpose the manufacture of machines and devices that destroy and disfigure it by the millions. Our so-callled “defense industry” would perhaps be looked upon less favorably by its supporters if it were referred to, more honestly, as “the body destroying industry”. Although it has numerous competitors, perhaps the most atrocious and obscene example of this in all our sad history was the Treblinka II Death Camp in Nazi Germany. This was the Industrial Revolution meets Dante’s Inferno. For the first and only time in history an actual factory was built, with train lines leading up to it, that served no purpose other than the destruction of human bodies as quickly and “efficiently” as possible. People were carted in by the train car-load, and few lived more than 24 hours after arriving.

And these bodies that we waste and destroy so casually are near miraculous machines that are far beyond the capabilities of our greatest scientific geniuses to create or even imitate. Each cell, when it is first birthed in us, is like any other cell in our bodies, yet each knows how to evolve through exactly the right iterations so that it becomes part of our hair, our eyes, our lungs, our genitals, etc. How do the cells do this? Nobody knows, but it is likely the answer will someday be found in the portion of our DNA that biologists have lovingly referred to as “junk”.

We punish bodies mercilessly, and yet throughout the history of our species they have never sinned in any way. They serve us faithfully to the fullest extent they are capable at any given moment, until they can no longer. When they long for sleep we deprive them of it. When they need healthy natural food to stay strong, we insist that they make do on starchy, sugary, salty substances they have little use for. We keep them chained to chairs when they long to move about in the open air, as they were evolved to do. If we treated our pets the same way we treat our bodies we would be considered negligent, at best. And we punish bodies for the transgressions of the mind. I am opposed to the death penalty because I believe it is always a miscarriage of justice, as the body merely did what it was told, no matter how heinous the crime. To the body, slicing a cucumber or slicing into a human finger is essentially the same act, insofar as it merely follows the instructions of a healthy, or deranged, mind. An eye for an eye is thus two outrages, not one.

I am only writing to say that human bodies are innocent. We have yet, as a species, to demonstrate our worthiness to inhabit them. We should never harm them in any way.

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In searching this morning for something to get me away from politics for a while, I found your piece about the human body…loved it!

It is still amazing to me that so few people actually have any knowledge of how the body functions to maintain life…like the homeostatic mechanisms that keep us cool in hot weather, safe when there is danger, blood sugar to maintain our energy levels, and any number of hormones to balance our reproductive functions as well as growth and metabolism. It is a truly amazing thing of beauty!

I remember that in nursing school, I was always in a state of amazement as I learned. What always puzzled me though is how the brain is so susceptible to the urges of the body. We are constantly barraged with incoming messages from advertising media, telling us how we should act, look, dress, eat, buy and yes, think! When we incorporate these messages, we seem helpless under their sway. We do the most bizarre things to our bodies, spending ridiculous amounts of money to dress up, pile on cosmetics (one of the biggest industries in the US), and even go so far as to place “artwork” on our skins. Tattoos, to me, are the most ridiculous! Why does the brain, as the ultimate controller of our behavior, allow us to do these things? Why do we allow outside forces to so drastically shape how we treat ourselves?

I know…rhetorical questions all! But interesting, nonetheless! Thank you for writing this and providing me with some gray matter exercise that has NOTHING to do with deficits in the budget, but instead, deficits in the use of critical thinking!


Many people do these things to “fit in” with peers and many people do these things to show off their wealth. It’s akin to the old adage “keeping up with the Joneses.” Young people get tatoos and body piercings because they are popular, which is funny, because these things used to be had by a desire to appear as an individual, not a member of “the herd.” Now it is exactly a “herd mentality,” that motivates young people to do these things.
I forget who said it, but I always liked the thought. Who would get art permanently inscribed in their skin, that they wouldn’t hang on their walls?


“Say the word “body” to a teenage male, and no doubt the image that will result is a female with Playboy-approved proportions. Or perhaps his own body, “ripped” and sculpted.”

Ahem! 😉

I don’t necessarily disagree though. However, I saw a fascinating girl today. At first glance, I thought she was guy. But, as I looked again her feminine features become so readily apparent that I was amazed that I had first taken her as a male. Also, she was extraordinarily pretty, but in an unconventional way.

All in all, I was quite happy that I’d seen her.


Some of my favorite quotes about the body:

“The body is meant to be seen, not all covered up.”
~Marilyn Monroe

“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.”
~Thomas Jefferson

“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.”
~Friedrich Nietzsche

“The human body has two ends on it: one to create with and one to sit on. Sometimes people get their ends reversed. When this happens they need a kick in the seat of the pants.”
~Theodore Roosevelt

“When I die, I’m leaving my body to science fiction.”
~Steven Wright

“The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around.”
~Thomas A. Edison

“I have the body of an eighteen year old. I keep it in the fridge.”
~Spike Milligan


In recognition for all that it has done for me, I have actually decided to give my body the month of August off. I think it’s going to tour around Europe on a bicycle.

While it’s gone on holiday, it will admittedly be nice just to have a little “me” time to think about things and just relax. Just hope the maid doesn’t come on Tuesday, see a brain sitting around and put me in the fridge like last time.

You spend two weeks in a refrigerator next to a jar of snarky pickle spears, tell me how much you enjoy it!


AdLib- count your blessings- mine was adjacent to the litter box for two cats on a three day weekend. 🙂


A great line from “Angels In America;”

“The body is the garden of the soul.”


So……. absolutely no one else is even a little freaked out by the gray penis?


wts, here in the western world, we do treat our bodies rather shabbily. In the far east though, for centuries, the people there believed strongly in the tri-angle of Mind, Spirit and Body. They believe that any change in one of these three, effects the other two. A negative change in spirit can bring about negative changes in the mind and the body. Or a negative change in the body can cause negative changes in the mind and the spirit…..etc.
In the far east, this concept is taught very early in life. And children are made aware much sooner than in the western world.
I always think it strange when western medicine scorns some medical practices in the east. But now, and probably for the three decades, we in the west are beginning to realize that those in the east weren’t as far off the path as we once believed.
I don’t know where I heard it, but I always thought it was good advice and it is this, always leave the dinner table just a wee bit hungry.


The biggest threat to the body? Oxygen.

One of the most corrosive substances on earth. Oxygen breaks down the body on a molecular level. The thing that gives us life is also slowly killing us. How’s that for irony?

And I guess it all depends on how you look at the body. What if you are spiritual and believe the body is merely a temporary vessel? As Jesus said, “It is not what goes into the mouth that corrupts the body but what comes out of it.”

And the thing about the body, about us, is how it adapts. Did you know our bodies are evolving the fat we store? The body is adjusting to the human diet. Figuring out ways to make it work for us. We may give up on our bodies but they try not to give up on us.

But some do betray us. Not everyone is born with the body they should have. Or some see it break down far, far too early. What then? The body is actively working against the person to shorten their time with us.

As far as the superficial stuff goes, you can blame that on the brain. we’re naturally drawn to the most aesthetically pleasing things. And it’s not like thousands of years ago someone set the standard for what beauty is. What we consider “sexy” has changed very much over the centuries. It’s only in middle of the last century that “rail thin with a huge rack” became the popular choice. Or ripped abs with frosted hair.

How much sleep do you think the body needs? It actually only needs a few hours. Maybe a little longer if you’ve really pushed yourself. The body is a miraculous healer. Most of the hours you put in to sleep are for your brain. But even it can be trained to accept shorter rests.

Pain and fatigue are weakness leaving the body. If we never pushed ourselves, we’d never advance. We’d never get beyond our self imposed limitations. No one knows their body’s limits til they reach it. Running a mile hurts. It hurts a little less the next week. And the week after, until it no longer does. And the body doesn’t mind. It accepts the challenge. It want to be better, just like you. It is in it’s DNA to be better. Even if it has to do it for you.

Plutocrats really suck
Plutocrats really suck

Adonai, you have it right, especially about oxygen. Anti-oxidants can help, but not much. It is a total irony that which sustains us is breaking us down and eroding us physiologically. Bummer.


Indeed pluto. The first time I heard it in biology class I thought it was the craziest thing ever. Oxygen is killing me?!

But then you get older and realize everything is killing you. Especially time. So you get over it.

And good to see you back. Don’t be a stranger.

Plutocrats really suck
Plutocrats really suck

Adonai, Good to see you around too, it’s been a while. I’ve been weaning myself off of the internet as a hobby, only to replace it with playstation. 🙂

I’ve had this conversation with others when they talk about anti-oxidants, green tea, yada-yada. it’s surprising how many people don’t know that Oxygen is a poison, pure oxygen will fucking kill you.


Good stuff, wts- I must admit that my longing for White Castles didn’t appear to be torture..
but, I guess, for my own protection-providence intervened, I am now 1,000 miles from one!
Makes me feel sad that I didn’t quite look at it that way before; but if you can say no to an ice cream, sweet tea or icy beer in FL heat- you have achieved sainthood!!!
I am not in any danger of being burdened by That honor. 🙂