Borborygmus Auscultation of Stomachless Ecologies
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HDGC, or Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer, is a rare form of stomach cancer caused by a mutation of the CDH1 gene. Screening protocols suggest upper endoscopy biopsies every three to six months, however, since HDGC is nearly impossible to detect in early stages, the recommended preventative measure is total gastrectomy (TG) surgery—a complete removal of the stomach. Modified lifestyles for stomachless persons include many changes, but some of the most quotidian aspects surround the novel anatomy of the intestines and their lively gastrointestinal conversations. One patient describes their own intestinal dialogue as “so loud and so rumbly that you could hear it across the room.” Another claims how their “gut has made lots of noise, but these noises [post-surgery] are new, and REALLY loud .” For these patients and others, sound and listening become key characteristics and significant aspects of a stomachless body.

This lyric essay explores how audible bodily expressions can, on the one hand, manifest feelings of uncertainty, fear, self-loathing, and physical alienation; and, on the other hand, serve as forms of empowerment, healing, and physical remediation. Moreover, this piece is  a meditation on environmental thinking, and questions the delineations between objects of listening (sonic phenomena as material objects) and listening-subjects. Here, borborygmus auscultation foregrounds the broader ecologies (from microbiomes to conservation field sites) in which listeners are enmeshed.
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