Percival Everett’s Body intervenes in the blazon form. More specifically, the poems may be understood as mocking this idea that the sciences are separate from the humanities. According to the poetry foundation, blazon is, “A literary blazon (or blason) catalogues the physical attributes of a subject, usually female.” This is seen throughout the series of poems as Everett describes different parts of the female body starting with The Hyoid Bone and ending with The Epigastric. Each poem uses flowery language to describe the part of the body, which goes against what many think is proper. As discussed in both Metaphor is Hard Science, and Interdisciplinarity chapter 5, those in both disciplines are interconnected, whether those who study it want to believe them or not.
For some reason, tensions have built between these disciplines, both having a major superiority complex. I admit to having discussions defending the humanities to my biology major friends. One consistently says that people who are English majors don’t work as hard as people, like herself, who are bio majors. My response is our understanding of the nuances of language which makes what she does possible. Now, I have metaphors for proof of this, but the point of this blog post is not to prove that my major is superior to others. The point is that the rivalry between the two affects all levels of the fields.
It is this rivalry that I believe lead to Percival Everett to write Body. I believe this because Everett seems like the kind of guy who likes to stir the pot, per se. This might be wrong, but from his writing, I picked up on how he writes what he feels, no matter what. He likes to shed light on important issues, yes, but he also likes to make fun of them at the same time. I have a feeling this is what he was doing with Body. He was proving he could be both artistic and scientifically accurate at the same time. To put it frankly, he wanted to prove the scientists wrong, and maybe even make them a little angry. If this is true, I might actually like Everett for how petty he is.
This interpretation solves the question I’m sure you had, since I too had it, about what in tarnation led Everett to write a series of poems about the female body. Not only why, but why he wrote it the way he did. He wrote it in a way that only scientists could understand with all of the vocabulary words he used while also making it flow like any other poem. I find this very impressive, but without knowing the conversation between disciplines, it would have left me confused. Although my interpretation is based on Everetts writing style in his past works and what that leads me to believe about his personality.
Now you may be asking why should I care? And to this question, I say that knowing the intentions, or guessing at them, makes the meaning of the piece change. I say guess because we will never know what Everett’s intentions are unless he tells us, which probably won’t happen any time soon. While some say knowing the author’s intentions should not change its meaning, I disagree. Literary Analysis: the Basics by Celena Kusch cites William Faulkner’s introduction of context to his work The Sound and the Fury with a picture he based the book off of. The same can be said about the conversation that Everett was responding to. So, knowing the interpretation could alter how you look at the piece.