So much is made of Simone Weil having starved herself to death. The Nazis, you know. I could starve myself to death for a thousand good reasons and none of them would be good reasons after all. I would still lack the saintliness for righteous starvation. I would only be bodily dysmorphic.
Or maybe saintliness has been pathologized.
Maybe what was good about the Nazis was that they wore those stupid signs that read EVIL with such semiotic boldness. You could starve against them without question.
Some of my friends are photoshopping a hunger strike. You can watch them turn to wraiths. Limp skinned, bonesome. It’s too much competition for the real. I stare and feel obese. That dysmorphic thing again.
What I don’t mean to say is that hunger is always saintly.
Knut Hamsun, of course.
Simone Weil wrote a book called Gravity and Grace. Can we set grace apart from weight? Can we place it only in the image-body, in the body at a remove? My friends are fasting electronically.
When a person doesn’t eat, the body eats itself. Starvation is the activation of different kind of eating, a total eating. A phone call, concerned: Are you eating? An honest answer: Of course I am.
Simone Weil tried to be an anarchist freedom fighter in the Spanish Civil War but her comrades would not let her into battle because she was so clumsy and such a terrible shot.
She had to get picked up from the war by her parents.
She failed also, several times, to become a spy.
That is to say, she was trying to disappear into her self. She succeeded by way of starvation. To spy, though, is a dissociation of the self from the body, to starve a dissociation of the body from the self.
I am on a train right now. I did not say that before. I am draped in baggy clothing on a train.
If you starve to death, quietly, on a train, that will cause quite the to-do. But you have to time it right. It’s important not to only almost starve. God forbid some rough Samaritan snatches you up and deposits you in an ambulance. Those I.V. fluids, those feeding tubes.
There are so many ways to eat besides by mouth!
If I were a saint, my miracle would be some new kind of eating. A pure eating, through the eyes or the air. Nothing to get stuck in the depths of my teeth, the mounded valleys of my throat. Nothing to coat my tongue in untonguely color.
On their website, my friends are so devastatingly skinny. They’re getting attention too. The news. Such tiny bodies eclipsing whatever cause they’ve claimed.
And those bodies of course, not even theirs. But theirs indisputably. So I’m wondering who’s pulling off miracles now? My stomach is growling its mouthless language, my body is eating my body. Then there are my friends, saintly, on the internet.
I do like the trees that are passing my window. I am always happy for my friends and acquaintances. It is pleasant, these days, to ride on American trains.
Ben Segal is the author of 78 Stories (No Record Press), co-author of The Wes Letters (Outpost 19), and co-editor of The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature. His short fiction has been published by Tin House (Online), The Collagist, Gigantic, and Puerto del Sol. He currently lives in Los Angeles.