Can Anorexia Swallow Your Anti-Anorexia? A Letter to Mary, Caroline, and Robert
DATE: 12TH SEPTEMBER, 1997
Dear Mary, Caroline and Robert,
I found our discussion last night very challenging indeed as I learned more and more how anorexia was colonizing your anti-Anorexia. Would it be reasonable to believe that anorexia would roll over dead the moment you started acting, speaking and being against IT? That it would flee from your life the moment you dared raise your voice against IT? Such a tyranny will not succumb to pleas for mercy, the cries of the anguished or Sunday school moralising!
How can we explain what we (The League) have in mind when we use language forms like the adjectival ‘anti-anorexic’ or the noun ‘anti-anorexic’? Are these linguistic conceits vulnerable to being ‘read’ against their avowed intentions? By pursuing this linguistic ruse, are we at risk that our very ways of anti-talking/being/doing can be swallowed up by that which we speak/are/act against?
After all, anti-anorexia is out to unmask the very ‘truths’ by which anorexia rules over you, Mary, so that you can find out what is good for you in your own good time. These practices of anti-anorexia refuse any claims to ‘truth’ but are generated by their antagonism to what anorexia would require of you. anorexic ‘power’ that rules is invisible, even though it infuses itself into every nook and cranny of your life. In our resistance to such ‘power’, we flush out anorexia and disclose it. Admittedly, anti-Anorexia must remain hidden and underground until such a time as your resistance (and that of The Leagues) is prepared to dare ‘facing off’ with it or standing against it.
Anti-anorexia is strengthened by ‘community’ which, of itself, contradicts anorexia’s solitary confinements. As a site of resistance, anti-Anorexia for some time must keep on the move, assume false identities and have false papers. But its counter-force comes from the moral vantage point its critique provides against the so-called ‘truth’, the so-called ‘morality’ and the so-called ‘reason’ of Anorexia.
Anti-anorexia can be contacted merely by attempting to break free of the ‘concentration camp’ of Anorexia. Immediately you know that it is no summer camp. When you hit the barbed wire, you then know that anorexia is not your ‘nature’ but your imprisonment, with your execution as your only departure. anorexia tries to camouflage this with the same slogan that derided the inmates of Auschwitz (ARBEIT MACHT FREI= Work/Perfection Will Set You Free!)
Anti-Anorexia’s strength comes in its counter-claims for the lives of women that it articulates, circulates and spreads underground. Anti-anorexia has no shape, no size, no boundaries. No one can ‘fit’ in because there is nothing to ‘fit’ in to. Anti-anorexic practices do not measure, weigh, assess or number you. It is only what it is against that substantiates it. It is what it refuses to be. And that changes according to your wishes, desires and appetites. The ‘shape’ of anti-Anorexia – if you want to call it that – is the very resistance that ensures your freedoms some day, some time. Those freedoms may have to be secured at the price of your vigilance. After all, anorexia is nowhere but everywhere. Anti-Anorexia is merely somewhere.
anorexia does not require shows of brutal force or public executions. It spares itself the need to recruit a cadre of professional torturers by having you torture yourself. And when that becomes unendurable for you, it recommends self-execution. Because it blinds you with terror, you can never know when you are under its surveillance. In fact, it no longer requires ‘watchers’ because it now has you surveil yourself.
Everyday/every night life becomes a prison without walls, without bars. If you were to ask me, “Is Anti-Anorexia a place?” and “If so, where is it?”, my reply would be – “Wherever you wish!” If you were to enquire in the same vein – “What is Anti-anorexia?” I would reply – “What would you like to try on? What shape do you want it to take? What would suit your kind of personhood?” If you pursued this dialogue further by requesting information as to how to get to Anti-anorexia, I would probably match your query with one of my own – “What path will you take of those that lead to a satisfying anti-anorexic future? And “how might that path diverge from an anorexic path to your (living) death?”
If you became frustrated and insisted on knowing what your Anti-anorexic destination was, I would patiently respond – “How can you know your destination before you know your preferred directions for your life?” And a smile would cross my face envisioning you at some time in the future returning to tell me something like Lee told me, “Anti-anorexia put the me in me!”
Mary, along with your mother and father, I fervently believe in you to the extent that I disbelieve in Anorexia. I have utter confidence in you.
Yours forever anti-anorexically,