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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Poetic Embodiments of a Dis/abled Disaster



Light Box Body - Scream



“[T]he only philosophy which can be responsibly practised in face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption.”
-Adorno, Minima Moralia

“We must write poetry but with wounded words.”
-Edmond Jabès, “The Ineffaceable The Unperceived”



The disabled refugee’s self-maiming, mutilation and torture is the crying lament of a body rendered speechless, voiceless, and mute. When a body is manipulated and intentionally dis-figured in order to be read according to legal and biological standards, bodily verses whisper and whimper in their literal-ness. Although, a new and hitherto unknown body has been created and produced, the act of writing the body is itself hidden, concealed, rendered illegible in its very composition. The self-infliction of bodily degradation is written with the intention, and by necessity requires, the effacement of all traces of author or artifice

The refugee’s dis/abling lament is composed upon a canvas whose creative potentiality must coincide with the prohibition of its revelation as a canvas as such. The inexorable tension between a body disciplined into illegibility and its uncertain status as a lived, performative utterance of the poetic constitutes the incommensurable space dividing and connecting two irredeemable nights; and their passing over, into, and past one another.

The body’s self-inflicted violence is the cry of the lament “a paradoxical record of loss” – the body becomes a fugitive to itself – the cuts, the whips, the burns and scars are letters which remain illegible even in their narration – the meaning of a body’s transfigurations can be neither identified nor apprehended – in the communal doctor’s office, the detention center’s medical clinic, the prison’s health care center, or the aid station of the camp: speaking a body’s truth remains prohibited, only its biology may be read – The ‘true’ discourse of a body’s meaning is inscribed in blood and bones where speech falls upon deaf ears:
the lament does not produce a document but simply inscribes, in a neutral register, the absence of documentation…if the lament can be said to produce anything at all, it would be only the deferral of production…it is ‘[a]s if suspicion of the letter in its regulated sense wanted, through innovative tension, to precipitate the course of the shattering and the flagrant diversion of the forbidden.’ (Duffy, “Emergency Poetics
The gaping wound of a forced choice becomes the revelatory event in which the chains linking bio-medicine and nature, zoe and natura, break free, shattering the correspondence between an external telos and the mimesis of scientific representations. A body missing a linguistic prosthetic but retaining the capacity to communicate exposes the fallibility of a restricted economy of linguistic meaning.
the blank literal event within which ‘words begin to become their appearance,’ where words no longer reflect an established order outside of language but rather the self-referential inscription of letters, their gaping detour (Duffy, “Emergency Poetics”).
The err, the rub, lay not with the fibers or systems of bodily vitality, but renders visible the already distorted, and disfigured nature of the totality of worldly relations, of the system which translated bios into biology.

The Protagorean yardstick remains an inescapable yet formalistic proprioceptive filter until perception becomes blinded by the messianic light:
perspectives must be fashioned that displace and estrange the world, reveal it to be, with its rifts and crevices, as indigent and distorted as it will appear one day in the messianic light [...] It is the simplest of all things, because the situation calls imperatively for such knowledge [...] But it is also the utterly impossible thing, because it presupposes a standpoint removed, even by a hair’s breath, from the scope of existence (Adorno, Minima Moralia).
What emerges is a writing that does not write; a space, a non-communicating vacuole in which an event emerges through its very disappearance. The incomprehensible task of documenting the disabled body remains forever impossible because its wounds, its blind spots, its gaping openings and disfigurations are stuck within a series of infinite displacements, an unfolding of markers that bare no essential marker of absolute meaning absent a legible referent of really existing able-bodiedness. The fractured body’s representation is both the simplest of things to speak, since it is the condition of articulation itself, but also the most impossible of things to speak, since it assumes one’s articulation isn’t itself already disabled by the finitude of existence.
‘[T]he disaster ruins everything, all the while leaving everything intact…because the disaster itself is properly unthinkable, unpronounceable and illegible (Blanchot, The Writing of Disaster)
Thus, the dis/abled body’s remains remain stuck within the paradox of effacement and remainder; dis/ability persists as dis/aster.

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