(Photo credit: Sara Fuller.)
This autoethnographic account of fibromyalgic experience in academic culture and clinical and therapeutic settings interrogates how we think and talk about pain, how we engage each other about each other’s pain, and how language, gesture, clinical protocols, technological interventions and reformations, academic expectations, and social norms around propriety attempt to delimit pain and bodily experience to standardized normative expressions. Institutions and standards, from pain questionnaires to requirements within the academy, ask us to quantify pain in ways that minimize chronicity, contingency, and idiosyncrasy to craft acceptable experiences of pain and embodiment to which we must conform in order to be believed.
I collect these narratives and materials from the lingering resonances of clinical and professional encounters that chronic illness has made “infra-ordinary,” Georges Perec’s  (1997: 205) term for an everydayness whose banality requires exorbitant attention and interrogation. In accordance with Perec’s exhortation to “question your tea spoons” (207) and Lisa Keränen’s (2011) call for hybrid methods like biocriticism, “a sustained and rigorous analysis of the artifacts, texts, discursive formations, visual representations, and material practices positioned at the nexus of disease and culture” (225), this project looks at a broad set of medical texts, academic communications, technologies, agents, objects, and practices from my quotidian experience of fibromyalgia. It asks: What can a body do? What are the rhetorical stakes of care and cure? How have technologies and discourses calibrated hegemonic ideals of wellness and neoliberal responsibilization in relation to chronic pain and how we “do time”?
To which there are no ready answers.
“Causes are a physician’s horizon.”Ceronetti, 1993, p. 25