Re-Routing the Global Litany of Bodily Goodness: The Good Body, or Eve Ensler’s Last Supper?
The increasing mediatisation of global consumerism and power inequities has ushered us into the post-panoptical world of power that “has ransacked all of the strategies of simulation: parody, irony, and self-mockery” (Baudrillard 36). As Baudrillard explains in The Agony of Power, the global coveting of power relations has re-routed interventionist sites of resistance while simultaneously pre-empting “the radicalness” of critical discourse by “reconcil[ing] secretly with those it criticizes” (39). Eve Ensler’s 2004 play, The Good Body, is an attempt to challenge the increasingly global re-routing of western consumerism, but also to expose how consumerism, or so-called bodily goodness, travels across cultural and geographic, as well as gender and racial divides. A play about women’s relationship to their bellies, but also a post-dramatic performance about the victimry of race and ethnicity in the wake of global homogeneity, Ensler’s The Good Body rebels against the illusion of western democracy and its gluttonous feeding on the tokenized ‘other’ by forcing dramatic conventions to travel beyond their formal, geophysical, and bodily limits. In what follows, I argue that, by re-routing the global litany of so-called bodily goodness, Ensler’s play stages not only a simulation of power and representation, but also its formal consumption. If “what is at stake in global confrontation is this provocation to generalized exchange” as Baudrillard puts it (69), then I propose that Ensler’s The Good Body stages globalization as the western world’s very own Last Supper. Last but not least, I ask whether the play’s re-routing of bodily, racial and gender divides does not in fact re-enforce the gluttony of the global machine that it so vehemently strives to challenge and redefine.
Dr. Pavlina Radia is an Associate Professor in English Studies at Nipissing University, Canada. She is also the Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Collabroation in the Arts and Sciences at Nipissing University. She specializes in American and postcolonial literature, media and performance studies, gender studies, and critical theory. She has taught gender studies at the University of Toronto and published articles in international journals and books. She was a guest editor of the Double Dialogues issue 15 on hunger in the arts. With Ann McCulloch, she has co-edited a collection of essays, Food and Appetites: The Hunger Artist and the Arts (2012). She is currently finishing her bookon American modernism, as well as working on another monograph that focuses on the politics of consumerist performance in contemporary American literature.