Ageing, corporeality and embodiment by Chris Gilleard, Paul Higgs

By Chris Gilleard, Paul Higgs

This ebook investigates the emergence of a 'new getting old' and its realisation in the course of the physique. The paintings explores new sorts of embodiment considering id and care of the self, that have noticeable the physique turn into a website for ageing another way - for aging with no changing into old.

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Their relevance lies as much in what they cannot be as in what they can. Many of these performances, the various masquerades and the stories accompanying them will be unsuccessful. Some already have and many more will never be realised. But all embody the central idea of human beings as ‘desiring’ subjects, active in creating and sustaining a place for themselves in society and a society in which they can have a place. Acknowledging that human beings can and do influence the conditions under which they live, these new ways of narrating and performing age have emphasised desire, potential and agency over need, vulnerability and limitation.

As such it is an unwelcome guest at the carnival of alterities, passed by in the breathless haste of academics keen to discover yet another distinctive or transgressive mode of embodiment. Ageing seems all too solid for a liquid world. The Sociology of the Body and the ‘New Ageing’ Despite the tendency toward marginalising agedness in the ‘new’ sociologies of the body, some important beginnings have been made in applying the ‘turn to the body’ to age and ageing. In their work on the ‘mask of ageing’, Featherstone and Hepworth (1991) considered how individuals deal with the contradiction between the social discourse of ageing as decline and their own sense of possessing a non-aged identity.

In such writing, however, these illnesses and misfortunes are treated more as the accompaniments of ageing than as indices of age’s essential nature. The corporeality of ageing that dominated the premodern world was not dependent upon the clinician’s gaze, nor was it based on the measuring of the pulse or the colour of the urine. Age emerged as the blush off the rose, a change witnessed first and foremost in the eye of the beholder. Only later would it be marked by the clock and the mirror. Within such a cyclical world, where the passage of time was framed by the changing seasons, the ripening of fruit and the fading of flowers, old age appeared white like winter, drooped like a dying flower, shriven like rotten fruit.

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