My face, my bones, my brown eyes, my manner, they go back farther than me and I am here, some kind of human-shaped conduit for histories of hate and actions of violence, for love and for fears that I do not fully understand. But I bring it – I bring them – everywhere with me.
It is 2015 and I couldn’t tell you if anything has changed. Ever. At all. And almost everything looks like a threat, smells like a threat, moves with a dull desire under the guise of aspiration, the search for something better, a search that only perpetuates that terrible something that is already t/here by being dependent on it.
I have stopped reading any books.
I have started producing conduits of my own. Up until this point, all my education has been misleading; and so I have decided that I will refuse to be led, that I will not go forward but that I will try, simply continue, to Be.
I am obsessed by dancing. This is a response, a reaction, to inhabiting what feels like a world where violence has punctured and punctuates. I close my eyes so that I can see different (the story of the blind man that spoke about seeing through his knee caps, the floating bone of his patella…) Stories I can tell only by showing you – describing to you – my bones, and they as surely describe my context as well as the landscape itself. They say – I say – body is the site of politics, the stage on which this play of life and interaction takes places and, this body is mine. What I show from here requires no other person’s consent, can assume no other body’s position and although my tongue speaks a language that has long ravaged, raped, pillaged and usurped, my body remains the ground, some other earth, responding, reacting, continuing, shifting…
If all I have to give, to fight with, to fight from, are time and a body, my presence is my only weapon. Here, I sharpen and construct my resistance. I am writing (dancing) to affirm, to testify, to conjure, to summon, to render visible, to be some place I couldn’t have imagined before this moment: to be present.
I is a vast/dense expanse of which I have no measure, I house many people and inside of me, you can trace my environment and this place speaks about the hugeness of systematic oppression that is bigger than this body, older than this mind, wider than my hand span, the spread of my buttocks – and so I put myself in front of you, hopeful and naive, green and brown.
Here lies the battlefield. I partake in some kind of unwilling warfare as soon as I open the front door, as soon as I have a front door. And how, then, do I understand this ravaged ground that is not only a victim but also an agent. This is about choices, this is about terrain, this is about consent.
Where it is that I end and you begin? When do we learn to understand boundaries, bodily boundaries?
When I was still reading books, I read something from Elizabeth Grosz writing about Lacan and she described an anecdote about Mary and Jane (five years old), Jane falls over, Mary cries, Jane asks Mary why it is that she is crying and Mary cries more because she is forced to recognise that she is separate from Jane, that Jane is the Other; the anguish of severance, of distinction, of separation. That empathy is lost. Maybe on the ground of my body I can invite you to discover it, maybe on the ground of my body I can find you again.
It is also about visibility; I expose myself because I see many bodies but I don’t anywhere see bodies that move like mine about the world. My fantasy of identity was crafted out of 19th century novels, Absolutely Fabulous, Chuck Palahnuik and The Smiths and the idea that I could do anything if I just worked hard enough, was intelligent enough, was tough enough. Defenses crafted in a haze of hope and delusion and desire; in a hole I thought was absence I thought that I could build my Self but actually I was attempting to shoulder a ton of bricks and a face full of abuse with a body growing curvaceous in ways no-one had warned me about. What is it to be seen? This alienation is false and exhausting – and some sleazy guy once told me that persistence is the trick. I think he may have been right.