The book focuses on characters who are yearning for something more, some way out of the binary that is gender, the divide between the flesh and the digital, the disparities and inequalities that result from those dichotomies, and dares the reader to dream of different spaces, of Other spaces.
This collection points to the body in a very specific way: to ask about its limitations and push beyond them.
This collection is not about utopia, but it is about utopian dreaming. It leads us to ask, what would a utopia of the body even look like? What are the boundaries? Who stands on the outside?
In “Des espaces autres,” Michael Foucault speaks of the present (for Foucault, 1967) as an era of change, an “epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed. We are at a moment.”
The tales in Body Outlaws peek into that “epoch,” that space we’re still reaching for; contemporary body politics, perhaps more than at any other time or place in history, is poised for change. The narrative of our lives, of society, is told with many voices, and conflict, as in Foucault’s observations, takes place between “the pious descendents of time and the determined inhabitants of space.”
This conflict is not one that can be resolved by segregation of space into separate spheres, mini-utopias, if you will, of male/female, gay/straight, public/private. It’s a conflict that forces these spheres into coherent relation, into dialogue. As Foucault reminds us, “we do not live inside a void that could be colored with diverse shades of light, we live inside a set of relations.”