Acker and the Language of the Body

the part of the ‘I’ that bodybuilds: Acker and the Language of the Body

As long as we continue to regard the body, that which is subject to change, chance, and death, as disgusting and inimical, so long shall we continue to regard our own selves as dangerous others

Acker writes with an incisive precision which is at once both meditative and generous. Lingustically, she has the deftness and suppleness to navigate, hone, and define the various splinterings of selfhood that you can imagine her applying to the training of isolated and distinct muscular group within her body.

Ironically, Acker writes with punishing eloquence about the difficulty she suffered when attempting to transpose her experience of bodybuilding into written word. She writes of the antagonism between bodybuilding and verbal language, characterising it as an experience that rejects language.

I want to fail

Acker’s account of visceral tuning and the experiential qualities of bodybuilding is characterised by a calculated and profoundly understood relationship to failure. Failure is not encountered as some kind of binary opposition of success but rather as a confrontation with the material body, encountering it’s own edges and limits - wandering within the labyrinths of the body. She writes:

By trying to control, to shape, my body though the calculated tools and methods of bodybuilding, and time and again, in following these methods, failing to do so, I am able to meet that which cannot be finally controlled and known: the body

This notion of failure is particularly valuable within the context of Cursor given that the prevailing ideologies at the centre of many QSelf and fitness tracking applications are predicated on ideas of success and goal oriented or incentivised achievement. They coach the competitive externalisation and articulation of this activity that is rewarded by ‘gains’ that are becoming increasingly material.

Resistance Training - using an opposing force

The space created by bodybuilding for Acker offered a geography of no language, a space that foregrounded gestures of self presentation that are not structurally linguistic.

Self tracking applications could be seen as a kind of violent imposition of language that has colonised the body. A process of enforced contortion, they motivate with reckless agility the urgency to transpose experience to capital that tears, strains, and fatigues. The tacit potency of the slow twitch of deep tissue is wretched into language; legibility is total rupture.