Monday, December 6, 2010

moths's powder (12.onemonday.04)


dear moth's powder,

the problem, of course, is the ontic relationship between being and becoming, or maybe even the possessive apostrophic and that which is possessed. you did not want to be homosexual, so regardless of how you felt as i'd hold you, you thought (not felt; definitely thought) you were being something other than your "self," as if we ever are nothing other than the continued movement and dissent, the perpetual suture and rupture, the dehiscence that emerges. if we are anything, if we occupy any stability, it is in that the core is itself nothing but flux, tones up, chords down, sound that cuts and sound that is cut. you did not want to be possessed by the becoming, by the fundamental choreographic emergence of an irreducible togetherness. and it was seen in the ways i held you and you would tense up every single time. every. single. time. i'd put my arms around you and, ever so faintly, you'd shudder a bit, your body physically reacting, wanting to throw down and off and move out from that which was becoming: too good. you were wary of the sustenance of such becoming, thought that emergence would eventually subside and you'd be some shit you didn't recognize and wouldn't be able to hear. well. but isn't that the beauty of the apostrophic possession? the way that possession and plurality - against singularity - tether to the other. one could, of course, say: the shoes that belong to Betty. but to say Betty's shoes? well.

there's this wonderful little group of short stories by Faulkner titled Go Down Moses and i was impressed and totally into this one character who was referenced as Tomey's Turl. in the story, he is enslaved but on the run, on the run - yet again in almost a dance of game and play with those who so owned him - toward the woman he loved. he was Tomey's child. Tomey's beautiful, beautiful child. well, i had one professor once who argued that to be Tomey's Turl was to be - to smuggle in a bit of Du Bois - a problem, a fundamental problem. of course, i don't think Tomey's Turl thought of himself that way, he likely looked at his movement as aspirational, as exuberant, as ecstatic against individuals and institutions that would desire to rob him of that possibility. the professor argued that because enslavement had that "status of the woman" law, that Tomey's Turl highlighted a more general sorta irreducible dispossession of black folks, that he made very real the fact that black people are melancholy and abject because we do not so possess: Tomey could never claim that which she bore and this inability was the disarticulation of motherhood or some shit. Tomey's only relation to Turl would be through negation and Turl by dispossession, or so that professor taught.

let's just say, i never really liked that theory much. i think people misread Du Bois much too much. of course, they sorta skip over the fact that his explication of the "strange experience" of being a "problem" came after he said that the question "how does it feel to be a problem" was asked of him and even the asking was a sorta refusal to ask. you know, i don't think that Du Bois's Negroes thought of themselves - ourselves, really - as fundamentally problems or problematics. but it is our movement itself against the stillness and abstraction that is posed against us in the guise of policy procedures and Rockefeller laws and Rodney King beatings. people take up Du Bois's question of the being of problem without thinking more about how this state of being is exteriority enforced and placed, how it befalls the one who would be so problematic.

of course, maybe we could recalibrate - if we want to think from the position of the one so called - and ask of ourselves: what does becoming problematic feel like? well. i think that's a bit closer to you and i. and i think Faulkner was smarter than to posit Tomey's Turl as some sorta being rather than a fundamental becoming. and i think we can know this because the story starts with Tomey's Turl moving and running and escaping. he was reaching for something, loving for someone, creating a path, constituting as a way of life. maybe possession by one like Tomey critiques the notion of the ways in which folks try to own their children as possession itself. it's not that Turl does not bear a relation to or have an intimate relation with Tomey but when constituted (rather than constituting) as Tomey's Turl? well. the only thing he could do was run, not from Tomey, but from the institution that would both name and misname him by notions of self-possession. his running for love was instantiation of giving oneself away.

but why your shudder when i held you? of course, when i wanted to have becoming with you, when i held you - though you learned to surpress or regulate it as much as possible - there was something that you had to fight, some exterior, some way of being that befell and continues to befall. we might call it theology or religion or wanting to be loved by your family. and mine. we have both been indoctrinated in a world, in language and in the idealization of the individual, one who owns and possesses oneself most fully, the ability to control oneself and the many things around us. i think your shudder was twofold: you loved my arms and the warmth but knew that yielding to such feeling would likewise to throw off the ruse of the bourgeois subject. me would, of necessity, become we. and it happened ever so wonderfully and for a long while, we worked. or, rather, we was working toward some constituting of new ways to becoming in our world. see? even the ways to say this are jumbled, our language does not accomodate for such togetherness without occasional, if not overt, misunderstanding.

i think Faulkner is the quintessential southern writer and i don't think Tomey's Turl ever spoke but i've been thinking a lot about southern accents and the north's positing of itself as cosmopolitan. by now we're both well acquainted with how that particular president of ours - no, we did not vote for him, so i suppose we should not claim him, no apostrophes here - but we are aware of how he is cast in the media as inept and stupid, and this by way of his voice, by the accent he utilizes when he speaks. of course, this happens as much in audiovisual reproductions as well as in texts and transcriptions of speeches. and i find the latter - the transcribed word from spoken to written - intriguing. not because he doesn't say em instead of them. he indeed does, and we have both heard it. but it is curious to me because other folks who have likewise served as president or some other such position of power and authority have not been transcribed with such speeched text. it's as if the media wants to show this is but another way to know that this guy is stupid. well.

do we even give attention to how accents are racially and class coded ideas? i wish that em wasn't used to index some purported inherent inability to grasp knowledge. but of course. well. i am more intrigued by how the north conceives of itself as a place that was (and is) progressive, how they lacked enslavement. of course, we know this to be a farce and particularly after the Fugitive Slave Act, each state in the union effectively became a slave state. whatever. but the north posits itself as progressive and often by way of the lack of accent. (this, of course i'm telling you now, is on my mind because recently at a bar someone told me that i do not sound as if i am from an "urban area" because i sound "educated" and "clean." i almost had a fight. right there. in the bar. well.) to lack some accent is to remove the sound material - what Derrida called phonic substance - for some type of universal language. of course, the north can conceive of itself as cosmopolitan and progressive because they never had slavery. and never having slavery is never having had the close, intimate relation to blacks who share in that southern accent. the north, i think, gives itself a non-black accent and the whites in the south are sullied because they speak with such close intimacy with blacks.

well. of course the north as a concept is a ruse and farce. and of course, this depends on being rather than becoming. but i wonder what being is - philosophically - when it is fundamentally becoming, or, when it is always in process, begotten rather than made? i wish you knew that never wanted to possess you, only wanted to be becoming with you. there is, my dear, a difference. maybe if i use my suthun drawl, you'd hear me. and the concept of our separation is also a bit of an untruth (i wouldn't say lie, of course). our bodies have rubbed up against each other in so many ways, you've read my thoughts, you've heard my voice, felt me inside you and i've felt you in me. we'll never be accentless. our voices will be intermingled and whenever you speak, something of us will emanate. i am, of course, thankful that this is as true of me as it is for you. i only hope that you are likewise. but do know: i will never write you again.



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