3/February/2021

Scars as Portals

by: Nerges Azizi



Illustration by Fieni Aprilia
www.fiensh.com and Instagram: @Fiensh

In popular imaginary, the scar tends to allude to the hold which sublime and terrifying forces acquire over a human body. The scar is seen as haunting a person forever and signifying the looming potential of something beyond that person, of energies and will beyond them, of other spirits taking hold over them, and at times dominating their existence. Think about the anime character Naruto and the seal on his navel, which is hiding a fox within him, or Sasuke in that same manga, being linked to Orochimaru through a mark. Scars, marks and imprints seem to hold a kind of portal into other worlds, something beyond the given and the human understanding, mainly to the demonic and evil.

Scars in our everyday worlds have lives of their own: they itch and get sore, they change their size over time, rashes erupt around them, it is hard to lie on them, because they still pulse pain. They react to temperatures and climates, to weather changes and seasons. Over long periods of time, one hopes that they fade and assimilate to the background of the healthy skin. For some people, scars heal quicker, although for most, they stay forever.

They signify the parting of the flesh, the unclenching of the dermis, a wound that runs deep, a trauma that is haunting. The body tends to hide what is within it, the scar remembers that its skin can be violently opened up and never closed the way it used to be again. Scars as sites of divergence and of stitching painfully back together.

Scars are sites of remembrance, of taking back, of presence, and of imagined futures, merging what is now, what ceased to be and might wait to come. A rupture to that which used to be. An omen for an errant path.

Thinking about Naruto and Sasuke, they are uncontrollable. Scars came along without consent, they just happened by some forces that are beyond the imagined and foreseen naturality of the body and life that one assumes one should have had. They are terrible in the sense of (over)coming the human without any control, being inflicted on the body and always reminding one of the pain which is beyond the perceivable and that which makes the human faint and lose their sense of themselves.

“They signify the parting of the flesh, the unclenching of the dermis, a wound that runs deep, a trauma that is haunting. The body tends to hide what is within it, the scar remembers that its skin can be violently opened up and never closed the way it used to be again.”



It is a site of strong discomfort, feeling so alien to oneself and so hostile. It is a site of not-being-at-one with the body, a site of feeling like a stranger to oneself, a site of multiplicity and of disassociation. It is a site of change, of never-the-same-again inscribed on the body, it is a site of vulnerability and of that which cannot be anticipated.

These days I am meditating a lot on the what if – what if one does not hate the scar, the bad, the ugly, the evil that has inevitably become part of oneself. What if one attempts to be more attentive to its splendidness and otherworldliness, not a site of hate and more so of ambivalence. Taking it even further, what if the scar is also a site of magic, a portal? A site of strength that is not to be apprehended, the magic of having survived that inflection of terror, the site of remembering mortality and a portal to the dead and the sublime.


“Scars came along without consent, they just happened by some forces that are beyond the imagined and foreseen naturality of the body and life that one assumes one should have had. They are terrible in the sense of (over)coming the human without any control”

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About the writer:I am a PhD Student in Law at Birkbeck, University of London. I also work as a translator and interpreter with refugees.









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