December 4, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Lately waking up I am not sure where I am, in-between dreams or half awake, coming to lucidity or falling into hypnagogia. I wake to find the contours receded, the shapes without form, the figures blurred, the forces attenuated.
I was lying in bed when I saw a figure in the doorway, chased it downstairs into the kitchen, through the backdoor to the garden, out the backyard past the fence and into the open where it turned out, eventually, to be your shadow.
I have been grappling with the undulating shape of your departure. The quiet unexpectation of your return. The unspeakable distance between us. The weight of what lies unsaid. The shadows that have laid my dreams to waste.
November 25, 2013 § 2 Comments
Perhaps because I do not know how to think about photography, and because I never take nor do I like to be in photographs, I am trying not to think about selfies.
A few weeks ago a white man addressed me as a woman. This has happened before, more than once or twice. And I have spoken to black women who recount the many times they have “accidentally” been referred to as “sir.” It is not the implied androgyny that bothers. More exactly, it is how we are and are not looked at and seen.
Even though some of the rhetoric around selfies is about self-acceptance and affirmation—hinting, in some way, that people are taking photographs for themselves, even as they circulate the same images in social media for other eyes to see—I keep returning to the way the selfie attempts to eschew how the body has always been a political problem. I find myself wondering if race, or rather how we see race, is the unspeakable that allows selfies to happen.
But I want to avoid the beaten path of which bodies—usually white, usually thin, usually able bodied—are presumed desirable or even lovable. I would like to think, instead, of those moments when I have been hailed as a woman, and of what is presumed “accidental” in those moments when black women are referred to as “sir”. I would also like to think of the well documented inability of digital cameras to focus on black faces.
[I find Tumblrs, especially those that circulate images, overwhelming. It is something about my inability to process the barrage of images. In another project, I am thinking about the corporeality of foreign bodies in Kenya, where Somalis are produced as spectral figures that haunt the social with their ubiquity—they are here and everywhere, and are a threat; and where newspaper articles about dating routinely contrast ostensibly chivalrous Nigerian men in a cosmopolitan Nairobi with local men, but in a way that produces the Nigerians as the stuff of phantasm. To borrow from my friend Keguro, I am thinking of how we encounter—I need the fraughtness of “encounter”—those figures we see at the corners of our sight or field of vision, those figures whose materiality becomes a blur. It is precisely this blur that returns me to what I was writing about at the beginning of this post: how we—black bodies—are seen and not seen]
I am still making lists, which is to say: still not thinking.
November 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Somewhere not here I am posing the following questions:
How do we make the social-ordinary, that presumably benign scene of attachment, appear as unpredictable and already too fraught? How do we locate the socially benign zones on a map diffuse with possible to probable sites of wounding? And how do we name the horrors that arise seemingly without reason, that resist naming precisely because they inhere in the ordinary of what Keguro has termed “the obviousness of obviousness”?
I am busy trying not to think.
November 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
Alone in the elevator after the Americans have walked out, the Englishman asks me where I am from. And then he interpellates me with his “we,” meaning he and I against the Americans. We, the Commonwealth.
But perhaps there is no better metaphor for the Commonwealth than an elevator. The tight space, the forced sociality, the going nowhere.