Disability vs. the Wounded: Some Thoughts on Permanence and Nomenclature

Disablement is to disability as the spider is to the cricket. They belong to the same Linnean grid but not in the same terrarium. The reasons are many, but strictly speaking, disablement is transitive implying that just perhaps it has a back door, much like a tarantula. In other words you might not always be in the hole. “Disablement” suggests impermanence, as does the term “wounded warrior”. You’re not disabled if you’re wounded; not a cripple if your present circumstance is marked by disablement.

Compositional figures in language and the interpretational capacities of its speakers are seldom in conflict because “usage” predominates. For instance, we don’t think of direct objects as transitive: He was experiencing disablement is both in terms of embodiment indecipherable, and culturally comforting. (He was not disabled.)

A “wounded warrior” is unspecified and as a figure of embodiment unlocatable. In turn, disability is to the propositionalist’s imagination static and local. A pro tem or makeshift physicality is an inference. Disablement is a variable. Disability a constant.

“Can you be cured?” is the baseline proving the love of the transitive.

When I use the term “transitive body” I echo Merleau-Ponty but I don’t mean the body as a subjectivity in a state of awareness but instead multiple embodiments of what Goffman called “spoiled identity” and in turn the culture’s resistance to a crippling stasis.

It would be better for the Wounded Warrior project to stop its appeals to the imaginary transitive but of course such appeals make money, in large part because like religion, the prevailing narrative is metaphysical.

Moreover the transitive appeal of disablement has as its root, the medical model of disability, and proposes sites of overcoming within an extended charity model. That disability is static and requires a profound commitment to civil rights is never part of the TV commercial.