Book

Imperial Physique (2019)

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Abstract

"In 2008, JH Phrydas wrote a story about how bodies talk without words. He wanted the story to not just describe the silent ritual of nonverbal communication but to perform it. The interaction would be visceral – the exchange melancholic, yet full of lust. He wanted words to retain the unsayable: the subtle movements of a body in heat. In the years since, Phrydas kept rewriting this story, using different techniques, different syntaxes and forms, in hopes that he would find a successful method of gestural writing.

Imperial Physique is a collection of these attempts. They explore the way our bodies hover between animal and human, civil and wild. The bleakness – and underlying verve – of imagining Western empires in decline serve as a backdrop for a lone figure searching city streets, decaying architecture, and sand dunes for some type of physical connection. What arises is the loss of – and longing for – touch at the edges of imperialism, historical violence, and personal shame."