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Creative Engagement with Min Jung Oh’s Body in a hydrophilic Frame (Monkey Puzzle Press, 2012)



“This is my house. You may enter through any of the three doors.”


Part memoir, part miasma (in the Greek sense re the terms place in mythology) Min Jung Oh’s Body in a hydrophilic Frame is a stunning subject. This work stares into itself (as all good renovations of trauma should), subjecting us to its depths and its rapids (nothing vapid). We move through the animate tears of this non-subjugating subjectivity and in doing so, we are nourished by a non-dogmatic sacrament wherein we are turned into wetness “catalyz[ing] water’s mutations.”

There are three sections to this book: Breakdown, Memory and Water. As we move through these sections we are cautioned that we are entering a sacred space. This caution prompts us to treat the space in sacred ways, which actually places us (as readers) in poise. See me holding my legs above my head. See the sweat.

It is possible to drink another’s tears as a way to transition through them (“consider: In one of his books Bataille says that tears are the ultimate form of communication”/ “substitute tears for words”/ ”each tear transports bits of her to the sea”). In this book we are spoken to through a repetition of the phrase: “Dear reader” and this repetition, like the many droplets of wetness in a sea, touch us because they treat us in a personal manner. Min Jung Oh treats us as if we are already wet in her house, as if she were here, offering herself to herself in front of us as she moves in and out of our view because she is lovingly filling and offering us this goblet full of liquid.

Through drinking the contents of the cup offered us are we becoming moist parts of Oh’s own voice (splintering, becoming more of itself) ? As we are here with her, are we wetness on a molecular level? I hear this book being read as an underwater scream: declarative descant empowering self-emancipation.

In Body in a hydrophilic Frame, Oh references “the inner mother” (a few times) without explaining in detail what is meant by that phrase. In the phrase, I see a self-mechanism designed to reverse the adverse effects of trauma. But, to work oneself into betterment or relief by way of working the wet trauma itself–is that not a hysteric or maniacal movement (“he tells her to be real/ she lights a cigarette/ he wants to know/ what scratched a grid across her arms”/ “what dragged a skull of the dead half of her own typed soul through a field of rotting fruit”/ “her hair on fire/ she is departure over and over”)? “I am (not?) your newest monster” Oh proclaims. Am not. Definitely am.

 Body in a Hydrophilic Frame at Monkey Puzzle Press

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