I’m writing this from 30,000 feet in the air, literally. From this vantage point, roads look like scars. We are ensconced by a million boundaries.
Pontifex refers to someone who is able to produce a work of enduring stability that spans the distance between two opposites (via Cabinet, Issue 23). The space between that distance is what I’ve traveled within and through this long week.
It was a gamble to bookend this trip with nostalgia. Like the roads seen from such great heights, I acutely saw those evolutionary experiences and recalled all that knowledge gained from each right, and wrong, turn. These are the scars within me.
Walking around DC, lost but generally in the right direction, allowed me to settle back into my bones. I recall the room you asked me to think about: yellow paint raised like Braille; its speech ready to be discovered through touch.
Judith Butler asserts, “the very terms by which we give an account, by which we make ourselves intelligible to ourselves and to others, are not of our making”.* This theory is comforting and forgiving. It allows for perception, which is shaped by unconscious distortions. It means the first person narrative is always unreliable. This should not be seen as negative or even fatalist, nor submissive. It’s obvious which is why it is shocking. I am not who I was yesterday.
I think about memories and where I store them. Some have leached back into my consciousness despite the high security barriers I placed around them. Others have settled into the rhythmic beat of my heart, my speech, and my ways of knowing. Many have been crushed into the mortar that binds me.
“How does she get rid of that thing standing between her and what she wants? She says God may show her. But how much more does she need to see? Every day she pulls her chest open and looks at a ruined life. The heart all bloody. What is the name of the thing eating up her only life?”