- More Lessons from a Starfish: Prefixial Flesh and Transspeciated Selves
Mr. Muscle forcing bursting Stingy thingy into little me, me, me But just “ripple” said the cripple As my jaw dropped to the ground Smile smile
It’s true I always wanted love to be Hurtful And it’s true I always wanted love to be Filled with pain And bruises
Yes, so Cripple-Pig was happy Screamed “I just completely love you! And there’s no rhyme or reason I’m changing like the seasons Watch! I’ll even cut off my finger It will grow back like a Starfish! It will grow back like a Starfish! It will grow back like a Starfish!” Mr. Muscle, gazing boredly And he checking time did punch me And I sighed and bleeded like a windfall Happy bleedy, happy bruisy [End Page 64]
I am very happy So please hit me I am very happy So please hurt me
I am very happy So please hit me I am very very happy So come on hurt me
I’ll grow back like a Starfish I’ll grow back like a Starfish I’ll grow back like a Starfish I’ll grow back like a Starfish
I’ll grow back like a Starfish I’ll grow back like a Starfish I’ll grow back like a Starfish I’ll grow back like a Starfish Like a Starfish . . .(Antony and the Johnsons 2000)
I call this piece a critical enmeshment rather than a personal account. For I want this to be a doing and a knowing that I get knotted into—a kind of phenomenological telling that grapples with the mundane and sublime. I am not only describing and articulating, not merely charting the geography, but am pulled into the fleshy gerunds of what I write out. That is to say, I am not telling my story; rather I’m simply entangling myself within the stitches of ongoing processes. I am here not to confess, but to confect.
As such, the following sections or interludes are not some teleological account of transsexual/trans-species becoming, or a disclosure of my stakes. Instead, it is in the encountering of my body with Antony’s song, in the interacting of the text/sound and myself, in the changing patterns of lifeways that this essay is sense making. “Critical enmeshment” is always a verb just as it is also always situated and historical. And for this essay, critical enmeshment is a phenomenological compounding or [End Page 65] enfolding in which language, music, and matter are lively (even bumptious) relatings of what Donna Haraway calls, “others to each other” (2003).
A Moment of Species and Sexes
I listen to the “The Cripple and the Starfish”; I find the layered tones of Antony’s voice haunting and the lyrics startling: “I’ll even cut off my finger”; “I’ll grow back like a Starfish”; “Happy bleedy, happy bruisy.” My iTunes player calls the song “alternative,” that ambiguous, overpopulated term. The music “ripples” through styles and textures. Antony’s voice vibrates (vibrato), fluctuating and undulating with emotional expressiveness: sometimes soft and tender and ripe with satiety and fulfillment (“I am very happy/So please hit me”) then shifting in cadence to declarative, even triumphant (“I’ll grow back like a Starfish”). Following the rise and fall of the song, Antony’s voice shifts between low and high, deep and bright. His/her voice creates a waving space, a singing sea—the pace and rhythm of his/her phrasing expresses frenetic and calm movements, the periodicity or the punctuated changes of things and events, as with something gone adrift in its passage through material-discursive space, as a bloom of jellyfish carried by riptides and doldrums may be rinsed out to sea or washed up onto sand or rocks. Could it be that Antony sings the tones of whales calling, the syncopation of pods, the transfiguring surf? This is to ask, nearby Gaston Bachelard’s (1983) own wonderings about the literal matter of meaning, how do the tone and the wording of “The Cripple and the Starfish” put us in touch with specific senses, things, places, and relations...