Edwin Brun

There is nothing like losing feeling in your face. And arms. And legs. Generally, all over really. Many would consider it a harrowing experience, and at first, I would have been inclined to agree. Yet, after a decade of panic attacks it’s hard to say that I find them truly disturbing in the same manner. Though, of course, they still bring about dread and discomfort, when I see my body lying there nearly lifeless, breath haggard, I cannot help but see a certain artistry.
In the moment of the inevitable sinking into and floating out of my body I see nothing but beauty. A moment so terrifying, a moment of pure panic, and yet only in this moment do I feel that I am free. Rather than trapped in the material reality that is my body, this fleeting moment of madness allows for my escape into the ether. No longer must I grapple with what my body is, what it represents, but instead see its beauty. Only when you have been ripped from both the delight and displeasure of the body can you truly comment on its existence. The material world is much too complicated, there is simply too much baggage to carry for such artistic commentary.
The body holds too much meaning, too much power in a way that you cannot control. Your body has been inscribed meaning from your very birth. As soon as you are no longer within the confines of the prenatal home you are marked. The most glaring of which being that of gender, forever inscribed. You must understand, dear reader, that it is in this inscription that we find not art, or beauty, but rather its death. That from this initial moment, far beyond our control our fate is sealed and the relationship to our bodies is forever characterized. We become trapped; this holds for all people, whether they be cis or trans.
It is not the mere inscription of this meaning, this gender, however, that creates a prison, but rather the assumption that such meaning is static and beyond reproach. To be given gender is to be denied self-actualization as you are denied the chance to derive your own sense of self. That is to say, when such a large portion of one’s identity is seemingly predetermined at birth you are unable, or rather it becomes incredibly difficult, to form that own self. When gender is given at birth, and all of society exclaims to never question it, there is no exploration of the self, no traipsing into one’s psyche for introspection, but rather a stifling of the self. There is no path to unity when that path is predetermined by a doctor at your birth.
You must understand, dear reader, that these are not simply the mad words of a trans writer, but rather a caution against the material inscriptions many so casually take for granted. There exist real world complications and tragedies surrounding meaning. As I write, I am inundated with the news of a trans child losing their life to suicide. Fourteen. There is no artistry there.
I dare not speak for them, I dare not bring them from rest so soon, so instead we shall turn back to me.You see, when I realized that there may be some incongruities in my bodily inscriptions and my truth there was a great deal of discomfort. One that led many times to writing, though not like this. No, rather they were another beast altogether, one that I hope my generous readers can surmise on their own. Though never fully completed, and though I sit here now today, I was changed.
To sit, to contemplate my own life, my own death.
There was no beauty.
If, dear reader, as Freud suggests, all life endlessly hurls itself towards the inevitable chasm of death why was it so? Of course, Freud never describes this drive as beautiful, but…even in the dark and macabre one can find beauty, but not here. Often people write that the end is what makes the beginning and middle so beautiful and meaningful, but what if it doesn’t? How can we look to this tragedy, and many like it, and find beauty? How dare we? I am reminded of the Montana legislator who claimed she would rather her child lose their life to suicide than be trans. I cannot help but believe that she saw beauty in that potential death, and I weep.
I weep, and yet I do not despair, or at least not again. Though I had been lost to despair in my youth I find myself instead full of another feeling altogether: rage. I find that as much as I have spoken against the beauty in death, I long for it. Not of myself, not of any person even, but rather the entire symbolic order that guides us. I long for its complete and utter desecration, pulled down from the heavens in which we have perched it. There is only joy in such thoughts, only beauty. Only through that longed for death of the symbolic shall we find beauty and freedom my dear readers. Only in the end of its life shall the meaning inscribed upon our flesh be excised for us to inscribe ourselves.
Perhaps then, there is indeed beauty in the end, though not of human life, but rather the principles that stifle it. What would I know however? I do not write this with any authorial credibility, in fact dear reader, I beseech you to understand that much of what I write are nothing but the mad ravings of someone who too often skirts the line between life and death, the beginning and end. After all, it takes madness to find beauty in disassociation no? Or perhaps I write a death warrant for our social order, actively seeking out those willing to aid in such an endeavor. The first would seem much wiser dear reader, to slip back into the safety of what already is, I would not blame you. The decision, my friends, as always, is yours.

Edwin is a second year XE student at NYU. They have a background in gender studies, psychology, and comparative literature focusing on the intersections of monstrosity and trans identity in visual media.