Allow me to be metaphorical, even though I’m not quite fluent in tropes: I’m a text. Sometimes I think this metaphor is faulty, especially since my body isn’t booklike, and, although I do have a spine, I don’t have pages or a cover. But new media scholars such as Jay David Bolter (2001) argue that “text” isn’t of necessity confined to print, that “text” is actually more analogous to artifact than it is to codex (p. 4-15). And because mummies, having once been alive, are considered artifacts, I think that text properly refers to living, breathing bodies, especially since many hip writers often conceive of words as being alive, of words as jumping off of pages. My body is text personified.
In trying to dissect my metaphor, I mull over what a text does. A text communicates something, represents something, I suppose. And while my body is often perceived as being a faulty source of communication, it does nevertheless possess its own quirky commonplaces and discursive moves. I often like to think of my face and hands as the student failures in Patricia Bizzell’s (1997) “Cognition, Convention, and Certainty”: they have difficulty approximating certain discourse conventions**, of entering appropriate discourse communities, academic or not—but that doesn’t mean my limbs and eyes don’t have their own [invalidated] discourse conventions.
If every communicative thing or person is a text, then it has a language, and it certainly has or employs a rhetoric. My own rhetoric just happens to diverge from mainstream rhetorics—but, chameleon text that I am, I can mimic other textual bodies, and I can pass for a marketably textual body, perhaps even a marketably textual composition instructor. I can mold my eyes and hands (which are like pages?) and modulate my voice (which mirrors writerly voice and tone?) and move through space and time among other bodies, other texts (which is like intertextuality?).