More Primitive, More Sensual, More Obscene

Marina Benjamin at The Paris Review:

In all its varied symptomology, menopause put me on intimate terms with what Virginia Woolf, writing about the perspective-shifting properties of illness, called “the daily drama of the body.” Its histrionics demanded notice.

Menopause asked that I pay closer attention to bodily experience almost minute by minute, because with each bodily dip and lurch, each hormonal spike and roundabout, every shiver and sweat that wrenched my guts, a new filter was placed between my reality and that of the larger world. As Woolf described: “Meaning comes to us sensually first, by way of the palate and the nostrils, like some queer odour.” But because this proximal knowing—raw, experiential, strangely insistent—so fully absorbs us as it twists our existence around the new co-ordinates of illness, “the whole landscape of life lies remote and fair, like the shore seen from a ship far out at sea.”

more here.