Excerpt from the ongoing project "Wellness as Metaphor"
1. Many times I have seen written the phrase “illness as metaphor.” I have mostly seen it written like this: Illness as Metaphor, Illness as Metaphor, Illness as Metaphor. Because it is, or was, the name of a book but now, through being written so many times, it is now just illness as metaphor.
But illness is a thing that really happens. And aren’t metaphors supposed to be narratives about the only way an unimaginable thing has become possible? Or maybe that’s “myth: finding a hidden plot in a metaphor.” (Simic 47).
Since illness is a thing that really happens, how can it be said that illness as metaphor is still the whole myth or still the only narrative through which to imagine a possible unimaginability? Since illness is a thing that really happens, where is the metaphor of opposing belief, the myth that illness never happens as a metaphor or a real thing? Many times I have asked “Where is Illness Not as Metaphor?” which isn’t what I mean now. A different or opposite or non-metaphor of illness isn’t the same as a narrative about how illness never happens. To be a perfect myth about the absence of illness, illness can never be mentioned, as a myth or a metaphor or anything else. It must be something else.
It must be wellness.
2. Wellness feels good. Wellness feels like smoothies and coconut and January all year and whole foods and natural foods and local foods and organic foods. Wellness feels clean. Wellness feels like clean living, like a detox or like a tonic or like an elimination diet or like getting toxins out of your system. Wellness feels anti-inflammatory. Wellness feels so anti-inflammatory it is “cancer-free”; “getting to the root of all disease”; “anti-aging.” Wellness is good for you. But wellness is delicious and indulgent and decadent and never tastes good for you. Wellness is a practice of living. Wellness is homemade. Wellness is for life.
3. Or: What, exactly, are toxins? This is never clearly defined: I have yet to see in any wellness-related media a list of bacteria or pathogens that accumulate in your body, cause demonstrable harm, and can be removed through things like “tonics,” which can consist of anything from lemon and cayenne pepper in water to raw apple cider vinegar, or juice cleanses, which, again, can mean anything from more or less fiber to more or less entirely sugar. Whether through a tonic or a juice cleanse, toxins are subject to being flushed out of the body. This is, in fact, already the job of several organs, notable the kidneys, liver, and intestines: human excrement can contain as many as 8 million bacterial cells. This is a design feature of the human body, one utilized with little to no additional support necessary from lemon water. In other cases, “toxins” can also include a seemingly more deeply embedded substance, like the toxins that are found in or leach into your body through plastic, iPhones, cans, food packaging of any kind, multiple kinds of cookware, water, proximity to industrial or urban sources of pollution, pesticides, fruit or vegetables grown in non-organic conditions, as well as several other sources (all of which cause cancer).
The well body is at a surprising amount of risk for being so healthy.