The Invisible Bodies of War

So the Westminster establishment has begun air strikes in Syria alongside its band of neocolonialist thugs. David Cameron has warned that this will be no rapid intervention; the bombing will be sustained, the attacks ‘long term’. We have heard many guarantees about the precision capabilities of UK firepower, (Brimstone; the irony will not be lost upon us that a thoroughly biblical and hellish symbol is being used in an attempt to tame religious fundamentalists) and received assurances that civilian casualties will be kept to a minimum as Da’esh strongholds are targeted. Sadly we’ve been here before; rhetoric is not reality. There will be civilian casualties. As the news of this intervention slips from the headlines, countless bodies will be left marked. Rarely if at all considered, people with physical and mental disabilities will be created by this conflict. They will survive and remain as legacy, the living archives of war; though not an archive many will choose to acknowledge. They will be cast invisible by the political and corporate agents of this ‘intervention’.

We should be aware of the enormous death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan, and certainly for those who have cared to consider the reports received in the West, it will not have escaped your notice that these reports predominantly feature the loss of lives from within Western forces and organisations. As with the outpouring of support and grief for Paris, while global empathy did not flow so freely in the directions of Yola, Beirut or Ankara; our collective sympathies are steered (without too much question) in a colour coded, imperialist direction. A dangerous agenda can be read here. Not only are citizens in the West being spoon fed highly racialized information which focuses our attention on loss of life in and from regions (mainly Euro-American) deemed worthy of our solidarity by the powers that be; we are also being denied the possibility to acknowledge, and therefore demand action for those who become disabled as a result of the conflicts our government plays an instrumental role in.

Do disabled lives and the lives of people of colour really mean so little to the hyper capitalist imperialist project? I think most of us know the answer already, surely by now we can see it? There is no escaping the reek of postcolonial/neocolonial desire for power, and if I’m honest the current neoliberal narrative with its select absences, has overtones of eugenics. Bodies of little worth to Western rulers are rendered invisible not only by the corporate media but also militarily, with unmanned combat aerial vehicles/drones reducing people on the ground to digital representations; to coordinates. The inconvenient body is effectively disappeared from the conflict zone.

It’s too easy to resign in apathy as people the world over are rendered invalid; powerless and voiceless. It’s too easy to slip in to a ‘what can I do?’ mentality. There is no denying the privelege many peoples in the West enjoy, and there is also no denying how overwhelmeded many of us feel. However, I contend that this is a further luxury and privelege that we should not indulge. Simply by right of birth and/or residence, as citizens in the UK we have a degree of privelege which, for the moment, permits us to act. I am not suggesting a naive belief that the government can be sent off course and we can ‘change the world’. I am suggesting that if we discuss, write, protest, organise; read between the lines, read the missing parts, seek out the missing voices; we can at least try to erase our own blind spots, and the blind spots of others. Invisibility is lethal, we have to start talking about race and disability and war.

As internally displaced peoples (IDPs) and returning refugees attempt to navigate the shattered remains of their country in the years to come what infrastructure will be put in place, particularly for those with disabilities who are left with complex needs? How will public health infrastructure be reinstated? Will health and social care provision be addressed? Sanitation, food, water, housing, medical supplies and education; rehabilitation and care services, psychosocial support? These reports will never come, and the UK government will predictably carry on its rhetoric alongside its bloodthirsty rampage as it spills beyond Iraq and Syria.

We need to start understanding this behaviour and calling it out for exactly what it is: a fascist agenda which has allocated a hierarchy of worth to people’s lives, and furthermore has effectively mastered the art of rendering bodies it deems of no value, invisible.

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‘We’re A’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns’: Scotland’s Politics of Fostering in an Age of Global Displacement.

In a previous post: ‘Who’s Talking About Refugees With Disabilities?’, I considered UK government policy in particular, the reason being that I live in the UK and am aware that granting asylum and building community along with refugees, is the major humanitarian need of our time. History has taken one of those paradigm shifts that call for a complete overhaul of ‘business as usual’. My country of nationality is Scotland and so far the majority of people there are keen to welcome refugees; folks are launching and getting involved with all kinds of projects to try to create some kind of normality and happiness for and with new arrivals.
Coming Home (800)_tcm4-573339As many of you will be aware, Scotland remains under control of the Westminster establishment in London for the time being. Unfortunately this means that the UK Home Office has the final say regarding asylum. The Smith Commission recommended that the Scottish government manage the support of asylum seekers, but did not suggest overall control of the asylum process. This leaves Scotland, and Westminster, in a rather awkward position as they hold directly opposing views on the subject. Scotland has experienced an enormous socialist /social consciousness uprising in the last few years, not only due to the bid for independence, but because of the capacity for collective, grassroots action and caring against the harsh economics of a dangerously right-wing Conservative government. Scotland will always unite against the Tories, even if doing so under vastly different political banners. At a time when the most vulnerable in our society are being endlessly attacked through cuts to welfare and social spending, Scotland at large appears to feel compelled to open its doors and hearts beyond perceived borders.

We have some wonderful sayings/proverbs in Scotland that I think help to explain something of the national consciousness (not a term I use lightly and uncritically by the way!). Here are two I’d like to share:

“We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns”.                We are all one family in the end. (Not to be confused with the ‘Better Together’ unionist slogan, ever!)

‘The bonds of milk are stronger than the bonds of blood.’                                               It’s not where you are born, it’s where fosters you, and where you foster in kind that matters.

These statements are more than just fluffy slogans in Scotland. As the diversity of political parity in the ‘Yes’ Campaign, and the voting regulations of 2014’s referendum proved; one only has to foster and dwell within the nation to be welcomed as a fully recognized and (hopefully) politicized Scot. My apologies if I am describing a country with no discrimination to speak of. Of course hate and violence are present around the subject of difference, and of course many are still marginalized; it’s not perfect, but it’s reaching forwards. I would argue that Scotland’s contemporary politics are developing in a manner that will prepare the country for this new paradigm of mass global displacement that we are moving in to.

Inclusive approaches and strategies are being formed between Scottish Government, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Scottish Refugee Council, and with members of the asylum seeking and refugee community. Support in accessing housing, health and education along with benefits and work; well being is discussed freely and held as priority. Moreover, an inclusive and participatory approach is already establishing itself firmly.

Humza Yousaf MSP in his role as Minister for External Affairs and International Development from 2012 – 2014, had this to say about Scotland, and Scotland’s fostered refugee’s futures in the strategy ‘New Scots: Integrating Refugees in Scotland’s Communities 2014 – 2017′ (I’ve included a link to the strategy below):

‘In an independent Scotland, we will go further and end inhumane practices such as dawn raids and enable asylum seekers to work while waiting for a decision on their application. As we have made clear in our vision for an independent Scotland, we want to establish a progressive nation, which provides a place of safety and fair, sensible and humane policies on immigration and asylum.’

and

‘The Scottish Government maintains its strong ambition for equality in Scotland – for a society in which social justice, equality and human rights are at its heart, where advances are made by building on the assets of all of its people and communities. We want to ensure that everyone – no matter their race, religion, cultural background or any other personal characteristic – is given an equal opportunity to succeed in Scotland. We recognise that all partners have an important role to play if we are to make meaningful and measurable improvements to the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland over the next three years and beyond, and we are committed to working together to ensure that the implementation of the strategy delivers our ambitious outcomes.’

http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0043/00439604.pdf

sheep tamson

If only the Westminster establishment would drink some of the highland spring, wake up to our new age of global displacement, and avail itself of a similar heartfelt logic; not likely, bring on independence.

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You Disturbed My Narrative! When Autism Went to the Theater.

Let’s think about interruptions. How flexible are we really, how open and accepting? So maybe we can think of life as a stage, and we are all actors on that stage. Wouldn’t it be just ideal if everyone knew their place and lines, if everything occurred exactly in time, in order, as planned? The inconvenience of the disruption destroys our sense of control, throws us into disarray. The moments out of time when characters can’t or won’t fulfill expectations in their allotted role, when convention is dismissed or missed entirely; those moments are special, Zen like if you will. I would argue that these are teaching moments, and opportunities for real development as caring human beings.

I have just read an article about an autistic child who went to the theater. Not an extraordinary event perhaps, but the young boys actions triggered an extraordinary and polarized set of reactions, reactions which I consider demonstrative of the essence of human conflict: “You disturbed my narrative!” To set the scene, a production of ‘The King and I‘ was taking place on Broadway and a mother had taken her son along to the matinee performance. At the moment of the whipping scene the young boy grew very vocal, yelling out despite his mothers best efforts to calm him. Now the audience having their enjoyment tainted, apparently expressed disgust and outrage at the boys outbursts, displaying contempt not only at the boy, but also towards his mother for having the audacity to bring this great disturber in to the hallowed grounds of the theater. We surely must reflect upon this. Where and when are differently able and minded people welcome in normative society, what spaces exist for the mutual sharing of community, the arts and culture?

ELEPHANT BUS

Institutional abuse of the vulnerable has run amok for some time in the UK where I live, and we now have a movement towards supported living in communities. But can we really think this shift is a definitive solution to systemic abuse if people still find themselves being ostracized and made unwelcome at something so ordinary as the theater? If people with different abilities, learning disabilities, autism and/or sensory processing issues continue to be muted, shunned, barred, placed out of sight and mind; then the abuse continues. How can we as a society justify condemning people to a solitary existence wherein rejection and disapproval is an everyday experience? I appreciate that this occasion was a mother and son dynamic, and members of the audience may have assumed that this was simply an unruly child misbehaving. However, what concerns me about this tale and what I feel it teaches, is that normative society holds normalcy dear, dangerously dear. Any thing or person that disrupts the insidious authoritarian codes of this often unquestioned normalcy, is relegated to the abject realms; deemed an affront and refused entry.

How many people with disabilities of any description do you know? Do you have friends who identify themselves as disabled? If no, then how about within your community, do you often meet people with disabilities in the shops, restaurants, nightclubs, theaters maybe? If you score poorly on these questions I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it, we have a serious inclusion issue globally regarding disability. What I would suggest however, is that you begin to notice the gaps. Begin to notice the missing many, their absence is visible, their silence screaming out for recognition.

I can thankfully see hope through this Broadway tale. Actor Kelvin Moon Loh witnessed the whole uncomfortable event as the desperate mother attempted to remove her disruptive son from the theater while the crowd jeered. He went on to write an all at once scathing and loving post on social media, and attracted wide attention for doing so. Here are some extracts with a link to his original post below.

‘The theater to me has always been a way to examine/dissect the human experience and present it back to ourselves. Today, something very real was happening in the seats and, yes, it interrupted the fantasy that was supposed to be this matinee but ultimately theater is created to bring people together, not just for entertainment, but to enhance our lives when we walk out the door again.

‘When did we as theater people, performers and audience members, become so concerned with our own experience that we lose compassion for others?’                    

Kelvin Moon Loh.

https://www.facebook.com/kelvinmoonloh/posts/10104340543612609

So what are we going to do next time the fantasy is interrupted? Ultimately that is all normalcy is, a fantasy which the majority have unconsciously consented to; a narrative awaiting disruption.

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Who’s Talking About Refugees With Disabilities?

I couldn’t help but wonder as I witnessed the recent footage of refugees making vast journeys to seek asylum, what is happening to people with disabilities who are in need of sanctuary, where is the discussion taking place around their safety? People with disabilities tend to be the most vulnerable to abuse in our societies, and can face many environmental, social, financial, political and communication barriers, and that’s before you consider the trauma of having to flee your home.

Syria-Refugee-pushes-his-two-disabled-cousins-along-the-Serbia-Hungary-border

According to the Women’s Refugee Commission:

as many as 7.7 million of the world’s 51 million people displaced by conflict have disabilities. People with disabilities are among the most hidden and neglected of all displaced people, excluded from or unable to access most aid programs because of physical and social barriers or because of negative attitudes and biases.’

https://womensrefugeecommission.org/programs/disabilities

Given David Cameron’s delayed and arguably pathetic response to the needs of his fellow human beings, needs which the Westminster government has long held an element of responsibility in creating; I was curious as to what level of assistance DC may be planning.

‘Since 2011, the UK has granted humanitarian protection to almost 5,000 Syrians through our normal asylum procedures. A further 216 people have been relocated under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons scheme so far.’

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/syria-refugees-uk-government-response

One could be forgiven for assuming these acts to be generous, at a glance. On closer inspection however… it’s important to understand the Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme.

‘UK to modestly expand “Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme” for Syrian refugees David Cameron has announced a modest increase in the numbers of Syrian refugees to be resettled in the UK under its “Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme” (VPRS). A further 200 refugees will now be accepted under the VPRS to the UK, on top of the 187 who have so far benefited from the scheme which was initially intended to provide resettlement for “several hundred” of the most vulnerable refugees. The Prime Minister emphasised, however, that the total number of resettlement places under the VPRS will not exceed 1,000. Survivors of sexual violence and torture, as well as disabled or elderly Syrian refugees are prioritised under the scheme whereby UNHCR representatives are tasked with identifying particularly vulnerable refugees from camps within the region. UNHCR has announced, however, that the numbers of Syrian refugees registered in camps in surrounding countries has now surpassed four million; and a growing number of reports emphasise the high risk of further violence, including sexual violence, particularly for women and girls in Syria and the camps in surrounding countries, Asylum Aid is calling on the government to vastly expand its resettlement efforts.’

http://d2ihhomkd2yhtk.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Womens-Asylum-News-131-final.pdf

The figures stated above (187/216) do not even meet the governments own meagre targets under the VPRS scheme, and the question begs in my mind, why is such a feeble hand being held out to those in most need? Whilst numbers, quotas and timescales are being thrown around political chambers; we hear nothing of the paltry efforts that are being extended to the disabled.  As is usual, not many of us stop to consider the most marginalised; disability has always had a habit of staying off the radar, of remaining hidden to the mainstream view. This has to stop.

If this post has got you thinking about these issues then please read, research, discuss, and inform at every opportunity. Write to your MP and ask questions, organise a fundraising event to bring about awareness. Just some ideas, but I sincerely hope that the discussion about refugees with disabilities can find a voice; the silence around people with disabilities is overwhelming, and it is dangerous.

Sumana-45-a-Syrian-refugee-from-Damascus-on-the-Greek-island-of-Lesbos

Further reading:

Women’s Refugee Commission:

https://womensrefugeecommission.org/programs/disabilities/disabilities-fact-sheet

UNHCR:

http://www.unhcr.org/pages/4a0c310c6.html

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The Body Re-Written

Freshly back from a relapse, well almost; readers will have to forgive my intermittent silences while I go and have a word with my immune system from time to time. It’s been a horrible month for symptoms old and new but my head thinks she can handle the screen again. So if nobody minds I’ll just pick up from my last post and carry on; as you were…

289756xcitefun-human-body

Three years ago, with no MS diagnosis under my belt, I would not have published a blog which discusses my clitoris (nice start right?). I would no way have engaged freely in conversations about my experiences of sexual dysfunction in spaces open to strangers. I always preferred to keep my weaknesses and ailments to myself, and I also used to keep ‘intimate’ details about my body strictly between my partner, my doctor, and I. So what’s changed? A diagnosis? A need to be heard, and to hear the stories of others who share my conditions, to not feel so peculiar and alone? Yes, all of the above, but there is so much more to it than this. A transition has taken place while I’ve been immersed in anxiety and panic attacks, a shift towards a surreal place where we talk about our bodies as though they are machines. Dehumanized, detached, medicalized; our bodies are now a series of parts which we locate and assess; sacred becomes mundane. The language I use does suggest loss, or damage to sense of self, and yes I have experienced a certain distancing from my ‘self’ (embodied self?/in bodied self?). Beyond the personal estrangement however, an entirely different sense of self has arisen by which boundaries are constantly being renegotiated and barriers to discourse dissolved. It feels like finding a new voice/person, and she is less concerned with social conventions than with the immediate testimony that the body can make. Materiality in all its harsh discordant splendour has moved me to speak and share, and scream and roar. I find myself exposing to delicate ears the more embarrassing moments my MS has brought me, and waiting to see the response. At times I do scream and cry, refusing to comply with acceptable procedure. Shock, pity, disgust, awkwardness; these reactions take on new meaning around our very validity, for those of us with conditions that cause distress by default. Then there are the ones who know exactly what I’m talking about and they offer warm smiles, nodding heads, sighs of relief that we are in a safe space, and sometimes laughter in the understanding of how bloody ridiculous the whole matter is.

Disease and chronic illness will inevitably change relationships to self and other, and beyond the likely pain and distress many of us face, there are unexpected transformations that take place in these new states of difference. I’m not talking here about silver linings or any other bullshit feel good cliches. I’m trying to say that there are real benefits that come through having to reconsider yourself anew so frequently, benefits that I personally do not believe I would gain from the comfort of a normative able body/mind life. Maybe it’s a capacity that comes with truly grasping ones own mortality, maybe it’s an indifference that responds in kind to abundant social indifference; maybe, even, and not without irony, the demanding and unpredictable nature of our bodies somehow creates something altogether transcendent, and invites entirely different perspectives; so intensely in the self that we somehow move beyond the self. I’m not claiming to have had a religious experience through chronic illness, but I can claim that this illness has enabled me to move beyond the boundaries I used to adhere to, and to comfortably assume a position of multiplicity. Life and self no longer feel linear; the body/mind is marked and most certainly re-written.

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Re-writing the Body?

Image from Obitsu, make your own body dolls.

Image from Obitsu, make your own body dolls with changeable parts.

In my last post I discussed the power of narrative and how reclaiming our stories can be a transformative and empowering act. Now I want to disrupt that claim and have a bit of a ruckus with myself in order to complicate matters. It’s a nice idea that we can simply imagine ourselves anew whenever we choose, and that there are unacknowledged others within all of us just awaiting recognition. I can invest in this belief as a feminist, a disability theorist, a writer, and an optimist because in each of these aspects I refuse to accept master signifiers. I cannot however adhere to this belief quite so easily as a disabled female. I hold firm to the therapeutic value of such a practice, and encourage those of us who feel insignificant, damaged and redundant to have some revision time with the self, but as a mind/body which experiences pain, confusion, and the consequences of being removed from the socially preferred and thus privileged body norm; I quickly feel the flaws in this strategy.

When I was eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I had known for years what was occurring in my central nervous system, and thought the final verdict would have little effect on my sense of self; how wrong I was. The initial relief of a solid diagnosis soon gave way to complete existential crisis. My body was at war with itself; my worst neurotic tendencies had become manifest in my physicality. The lesions on my brain and spinal cord represented to me every self desecrating thought I’d ever had. Questioning everything in my past from diet to nationality to the abusive relationships I have tolerated; I performed an historical autopsy on myself. I’m not quite a control freak, but I confess that I do not cope well when I can’t understand and unpick something. The worst was yet to come. Probably due to the stress I was putting on myself I began to lose knowledge: words, sentences, useful facts, grammar, you name it I muddled it, or misplaced it entirely. Not such a big problem perhaps if I hadn’t just returned to university to finish a degree. I couldn’t say with any real conviction who or what I was anymore; it became so clear to me that I am just a collection of utterances and influences, once they fade away…

Then there was the sexual identity collapse. In and out of hampered vision, vertigo, limping, forgetfulness, depression, incontinence, numbness (including clitoral and labial), distorted sensitivity, hyper-sensitivity (Queue Mercury: don’t touch me now, cus I’m havin’ a shit time); I lost all sense of myself as a sexual being. Desire was out the window along with any feelings of body agency or worth.

Why am I sharing such intimate details (again)? Because these experiences put contesting flesh on the bones of my personal ruckus with the power of narrative. On the one hand I was in (and still am, under the terms and conditions of a relapsing remitting contract that I do not recall signing) so much pain physically, emotionally and psychologically. The idea of reimagining and reclaiming anything whilst in such a space is quite frankly an insult. When a person can barely hold a pen, look at a computer screen, or string a sentence together; how the hell are we going to see the potential diversity within ourselves, or connect with a mode that entices our potentiality into realisation?

I can feel a rather academic squabble coming on regarding the medical and social models. Endlessly debated in disability studies in the UK at least; I have been living with these theories as well as analysing them for the last couple of years. In short, the medical model places disability in the individual mind/body; it is a totally pathological phenomena. The social model holds environment and attitudes responsible for ‘disabling’ people with impairments. As with many theories, I find the battle for dominance somewhat unnecessary, and in this instance the two really must remain in conversation. Without a doubt, my MS is pathological and no amount of supposed access, or reasonable adjustments from society is going to make the very embodied fact of the matter disappear. Society can tweek architecture and town planning, enlarge text and lower contrast, give me extra toilet breaks, hell, you can even bubble wrap me on particularly bumpy days. None of this ‘enables’ me to step beyond the dis-ease of the illness. It can help, but we can’t design disability away. Equally, there is no magic medicine to ‘cure’ me, there is no rehabilitation program that can outrun or outwit my condition.

Back to the story then.

Strangely, it was in finding these competing narratives within disability studies that I realised the power of narrative itself. As I began to work with my now legally and medically binding status, I decided to seek out alternative stories. Beyond access and rehabilitation debates, I found a vibrant world of difference where people are setting their own agendas. This would be the side of crip culture that is rarely if ever spoken about in polite society, in fact hold up, crip culture, how many of you know this exists? Artists, musicians, dancers, writers, actors, acrobats, burlesque, kinksters and deviants, everywhere expressing and demanding the right to personal autonomy, creativity, pleasure and desire, everywhere demanding the right to reclaim and reimagine their own stories and identities in whatever way they so choose, or are able.

When a group of people are marginalised, a sub-culture will rise and the margins will begin to define their own centre; no longer erased from the page, bodies write themselves back in to the text. By our own terms, in our own time and with our own abilities. I can’t help but come full circle and feel content with the notion of narrative unfinished. Always in the becoming with latent possibilities. We can find our selves from seemingly the most hopeless conditions, and make new meanings with seemingly the most final of verdicts. By our own terms, in our own time and with our own abilities.

  •  Just want to acknowledge the death of Oliver Sacks earlier today. What a man, what a story.
  • I want to make it clear that this blog is a very personal set of ideas and I appreciate the complex challenges faced by many who identify with the term disabled. As I move forward with the posts I hope to address issues around learning difficulties and impairments as well as pmld. This blog does not attempt to universalise, essentialise or simplify any body. If any such feeling is caused please contact me.
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Écriture Féminine?

Photograph used with kind permission from the artist Luciana Urtiga

Photograph used with kind permission from the artist Luciana Urtiga https://www.behance.net/lucianaurtiga

Writing as therapy; I find it cathartic and adore being lost in words and their fluid, malleable meanings. Words are like people. It’s too easy to get stuck in definitive limits. Becomings are better; more promiscuous, more playful. Meaning is up for grabs and can be persuaded to bend and distort. I always hark on about the power of narrative. When your story is not working for you and seems out of control, reclaim it, re-imagine it, and redirect it. Don’t be harnessed by the reiterations and utterances of previous formulas. Write your own story, an entirely new story if you wish. A great thinker and writer landed on my page a couple of years ago: Hélène Cixous. I owe her a lot for her work and her knowing. Cixous calls for us to write ourselves in to the text. History has erased and muted the bodies and voices of many. For Cixous, and I utterly agree, we have many bodies, many voices within our selves. The self is as malleable as the text, as promiscuous and playful as the words. Perhaps these selves exist in latency but for Cixous they can find voice and substance through writing; the body can write its selves so to speak. Giving your self/selves permission to write seems for Cixous to equate with giving yourself permission to live, to express and to morph at your own choosing; not to be at the mercy of finite structures and their impositions. She developed something between a philosophy, a theory, a technique, a strategy, and a style; it’s very hard to pin down. She calls it écriture féminine or feminine writing, without gender or sex you understand; for Cixous we are all polymorphous and multiple, although she does posit an urgent necessity for women and other othered bodies to reinscribe their positions and being.

Reading Cixous, I felt emboldened to trust my own stream of consciousness more than ever before. I want to share this rather strange and intimate example of writing because I feel it captures performatively some elements of what I want to explore here: our difference not only sets us apart from others, but is something that dwells wholly within ourselves, our multiple selves.

The feeling of submitting to thoughts as they come, and allowing something more subtle, more plural, than the rational mind to speak, is peculiarly ecstatic and revealing. Without purpose or intention I allowed my mind to drift around the issue of my French-Portuguese father who abandoned my mother and I while I was still in her womb. I have rarely grieved for his absence, I have however felt resentful over the loss of potential selves, their cultures and tongues, or was that the echo of past traces running through my veins? It matters not. This is what came out, and it was the first experience for me of truly therapeutic writing, and of beginning to address something of the other/s in me.

Écriture féminine?

 But I am not French; at least, not this one; another one yes, she is there; unspoken with all the other not yets; perhaps, never will be/s. She waited; hoped, between this and ill feeling; she might be acknowledged, permitted to know herself within this, me, that found a voice; my voice? The voice that spoke me, responded to my imaginal, silent cries. No name came; non, no nom du père to speak of. Who’s law then?

The Father set no limit: I will not do as I was not told. “I will not do, as I was not told”, this, the maternal voice, gentle and Real? His word is a borrowed word, without regard, je regarde, as it has always been; his ground not his own, but still, sought foreign lands; seeded alien bodies.

But I wonder, do you speak? Écriture féminine? Parlez-vous français?

Not enough in his absence; his silence betrays us; shouts louder than his law.

The feminine law? Of feminine writing; in another woman’s tongue, another woman’s mouth. We share this tongue but you are down there, hidden and silent. You refuse to meet; don’t come to my mouth; or, perhaps, I refuse you. No matter, non, I am here and you are there; it is never enough, will never do; it is neither here nor there; we are neither here nor there, no matter, non, except, I was told, I will not do. His lack, his void, yet I am dark and unknown. His mute non sets my limit from afar; his absence overwhelms my presence until I break, “I will not do what I was not told; I will not do.”

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