Sunday, February 25, 2007


I love medical mysteries. About a year ago, I saw a "Dateline NBC" show on people who have a strange condition called Body Integrity Image Disorder (BIID) or apotemnophilia (from the Greek αποτέμνειν, "to cut off" and φιλία, "to love"). It is characterized by an overwhelming desire to amputate one or more healthy limbs or other parts of the body, though it is also used to refer to people who wish to otherwise alter their bodily integrity (sans amputation). I remember telling Kyle about the program after I saw it and, in classic Kyle fasion, he refused to listen for fear that simply knowing of such a condition would cause him to develop it. (I guess you would call that apotemnophiliaphobia!)

Anyway, I've been recently interested in the metaphorical implications of such a condition. I imagine that we all have experienced, at one time or another, an overwhelming desire to cut off or cut out some part of our lives that is not necessarily "diseased"--and may seem, to the objective eye, perfectly healthy--but nevertheless somehow doesn't fit our own image of what an integrated life should look like. How do you justify such an amputation? (Of course, one of the ethical dilemmas of apotemnophilia is whether or not doctors can perform these "elective" amputations... after all, the patient is clearly suffering, but the procedure is irreversible.) One of the patients interviewed on the program I saw described looking at herself in the mirror and being deeply disturbed by the "unnatural" attachment of her (healthy) leg. What I'm wondering, for the sake of conversation, is whether or not we experience these same kind of disturbances at the sight of non-corporeal attachments?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Official Announcement...or... Why I Should've Been a Hegelian

Here are the mutliple options I was considering for opening this post. (I couldn't decide, so they're all here):
"The universe is a funny, funny, thing...."

"Ever since Odysseus, we've all been heading back home in some way or another..."

"I always wondered how it would feel to actually come 'round full circle..."

Whatever... the news is that I have accepted a job in my old hometown, Memphis. After 6 years in the Northeast-- Philly, Syracuse, State College, then Hartford-- I'm heading back down to the South. (or, as my friend Kristen calls it, the "dirty dirty")

And there it is.

Friday, February 09, 2007

When The Critic Outsmarts The Critiqued

In Eduardo Mendieta's recent review of Nicholas Adams' philosophical text Habermas and Theology, Mendieta begins with the following:

"Adjoining two nouns in the title of a book is like writing a blank check to "cash." One better know who is receiving the check and one better make sure to have sufficient funds when it gets cashed. "

So true. So very, very true.