What is the active body?
Yukio Mishima was a Japanese novelist and playwright who reflected on his passion for fitness in his book-length essay, The Sun and the Steel. In it, Mishima tells the reader that as he began to lift and practice martial arts, his sense of his body changed. He came to see it as “an orchard,” which he could either “cultivate, or leave for the weeds to run riot in.” But he didn’t merely choose to cultivate his body, he set out to understand the ramifications of the changes he wrought by seeking “a language of the body.” Throughout the book he offers a fresh perspective into the term skin-deep, inverting the shallowness of the superficial.
It seems to us that we have wallowed in the shallows too long, that we need to follow Mishima into that perhaps unnamable genre where one can explore in words what the body does. We hope to encourage an examination, from many perspectives, of the active body, that which lifts and carries, sprints and swims, pushes and pulls. To that end, we offer Ultraphysical: a space unconstrained by academic formulae or jargon yet more flavorful than the mental snacks proffered by social media; a space where language can match the elegance of the body in motion, the body improved or altered, the body performing.