Silence

This vast storm of words and defenses.
Silence is needed. The time and space within it may regenerate the mind
as I see the earth renewing itself with the promise of spring.
A winter and a sleep may come again, but so will spring and the sense
of life. The winter storms seem to have been here, and the cleansing
rain. The glaciers have melted and I can see into the cave under the
rocks…
To be able to say to each moment in life, as Keats said to Autumn, "thou hast thy beauty too"…
 

Words, words, words…

Z- asked me today, while we were taking the bus back from Jerry’s IGA
to campus, what I felt about the crisis in Jerusalem and Palestine,
about Ingmar Bergman’s "The Seventh Seal," about the Middle Ages and
the Enlightenment. After a lot of fumbling, I managed to meander to my
old refrain–that I feel a monstrous forest of words all around me,
that the words we speak are houses of cards, light as air and as
polluted. Without doing so I gave her my answer–I cannot think because
I am caught in my own forest.
She told me that perhaps I could be another Spivak and find ways of
making the different worlds speak to each other. I said, "The question
is, do I want to?"I laugh alone at the other question.

“Another Country”

The title of James Baldwin’s novel does not refer to geography, which Brent Edwards
articulated as part of the binary geographic/erotic. It refers instead
to the dream and the desire for utopia, and to the prayer that the
grace of that utopia would touch this present that we must endure.

"…she was waiting, in a despair, which steadily chilled and hardened,
for some word, some touch, of his. And he could not find himself, could
not summon or concentrate enough of himself to make any sign at all"
(430).

On Cosmopolitanism and Mobility-Part I

Almost a week ago, I played truant from class, sick in my heart from
routine and ‘haziri’…the walk home was cold and not extraordinary. It
was when I was at the mailbox next to the steps of the house I live in,
one foot inward, that I heard the honking of the geese. I looked up,
glad to hear other sounds in the wintry remembered pall. They were
circling far above, crying and gathering, perhaps in preparation for a
journey, and more joined as I watched with blinking eyes. At least I
wanted to believe, rationalized, that they were gathering in
preparation for a journey. For, spring was halting here, and it was
time to come back, or depart.
And watching the birds, remembering a beloved childhood book about the
Ugly Duckling, I thought that mobility and migration is natural, yet we
humans make it so forced and stupendous a thing. How many cliches do we
have in the language?…That which has arrived will depart…this too
shall pass…how many?

And still we choose to be as trees, to put down roots without taking
into account how vulnerable we make ourselves to lightning strokes,
floods, earthquakes, all the disasters we know as natural. We would
believe ourselves charmed within the ‘lakshmanrekha’ of humanness,
forgetting that we transgress our humanity by forgetting it. We are
standing flames on earth, born of water, and dead unto light or
darkness. How much we must hate what we are to always wish to be
otherwise.

Race and class: random thoughts on reading James Baldwin’s “Another Country”

Race and class belong to entirely different axes. They may intersect,
come into conflict and create drama and blood and life may spring from
that, but they cannot merge except by overlay and separateness of
layers.

The theory I read inevitably divides in order to classify and
understand. ‘Us’ and ‘them.’ To argue against. To rise against the
water table. To voice. To shatter silence. To speak. To wrest space.

Begin to see why Marxism as theory will always remain locked in binary
conflict. It may try to be multicultural but will remain pan-national.
For it binds by ties of situational solidarity experienced, not
inherited or happened into. Economics and political affinity are not
the first things one thinks of when asked ‘who are you?’ and they are
not usually the things one dies with, although they may be the ones
that kill the most.

Spivak’s weakness, as far as I can imagine now, is that she still works
within the imperial sexual fracture. As do all postcolonialists.
Perhaps that’s why I hesitate to call myself one.

On reading a novel again, with feeling

A good novel feels like a drink of water. As theory felt once. As all
literature does, and all art, when one is open and receptive to it. And
theory still feels like an intricate garden; very rarely does it feel
wild and perfect and contained and fertile all at once. Often, one may miss
in it the vital artery from life that should suffuse all that springs
from human hands or mind, the sap that keeps the woody stem alive.

To begin at the beginning…

They do not know what is at stake, said W. B. Yeats a hundred years
ago, for it is myself that I remake. Self-fashioning is all that our
days should do. Is there aught else? We make the world in our own
image…we imagine each other in terms of ourselves…we live in terms
of each other’s purported words and acts…every thing that is spun is
a shadow, a veil, a light on that mirror of our selves. Which is
civilization. As Sartre said.

This little imagined storm in a teacup I spin around every day, that is
the spindle for my dreams and desires and the tears that are wrung from
them. I live ina world of my own making, reflecting my shadow and
believing it is my earth-space. Not Caliban, not the sorcerer, I am the
island in the sun. I know no other than the roots of my body in this
volcanic soil and the shape of my trees in the sky, and perhaps the
shades of the coral water around me. And so, when I see beyond my own
shadow to my reflection, I become, as Miranda, aware of " a brave new
world"….

Perhaps I should move on to Aldous Huxley before I manage to arrive at the twenty-first century.