Editor’s Notes

Body and Soul

In his poem, “I Sing the Body Electric,” Walt Whitman celebrates the physical in all its “sprawl and fulness.” The poet inventories “the bent head, the curv’d neck ... the vigor, calmness, beauty of person,” along with “the wildest largest Deirdre Kellypassions,” to bridge the gap between body and soul. Human frailty and infallibility are equally examined and revered as parts of the same lived whole. “All is a procession,” Whitman writes, “a procession with measured and perfect motion.” We couldn’t agree more.

In the Summer 2023 issue of The York University Magazine we follow the American poet’s enthralling lead to give shape and voice to the wealth and variety of corporeal experience as a conduit to positive change. We write about the pleasure of planned sex, the science of obesity, and the challenges faced by an aging population.

We take you inside the collective body of York’s gospel choir, and back in time to when Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean first tumbled through space as a member of the University’s award-winning men’s gymnastics team. And we pull you into the crowds at Pearson International Airport, guided by York aviation experts who study the root causes of flight delays, and the traditional Indigenous community of Colombia’s Wayuu people via a York grad who now works with them to sell their artisanal wares in Canada at fair market prices.

We investigate sustainable finance as a tool for creating a more equitable future and the accolades heaped on a York visual arts professor’s ongoing investigations into the human condition. We also have articles about the disembodied – subatomic particles to predict the age of the universe, overcoming the body paralysis that followed a catastrophic collision with a moose, the endowment of a new University Chair in dementia studies, and more.

Like Whitman’s original 1855 poem, this issue is composed of many interwoven parts. Wonder is here reserved for University alumni and faculty, their achievements and aspirations for righting the future. There’s energy in the exchange of ideas. We hope you feel it too, the spark arising from the body electric at York.  ■

photography by Mckenzie James

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