The sourball of every revolution: after the revolution who’s going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?
– Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Maintenance Art Manifesto (1969)
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by Ivona Bozik
I almost forgot the warmth of the September sun, its gentle rays that stopped burning our skin some time after the last heat wave (now, I’m sitting here, sunbathing with the usual lateness, offering up my outside to its caress).
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… this happy white woman who is constantly shoved under our noses, this woman we are all supposed to work hard to resemble – never mind that she seems to be running herself ragged for not much reward – I for one have never met her, not anywhere. My hunch is that she doesn’t exist.
– Virginie Despentes, King Kong Theory
The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation. Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek – it must be rejected, altered and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind. Sexist language, racist language, theistic language – all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.
Be it grand or slender, burrowing, blasting, or refusing to sanctify; whether it laughs out loud or is a cry without an alphabet, the choice word, the chosen silence, unmolested language surges toward knowledge, not its destruction. But who does not know of literature banned because it is interrogative; discredited because it is critical; erased because alternate? And how many are outraged by the thought of a self-ravaged tongue?
Word-work is sublime, she thinks, because it is generative; it makes meaning that secures our difference, our human difference – the way in which we are like no other life.
We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.
– Toni Morrison, Nobel Lecture 1993
by Blanka Pillár
I forgive him for the little lies. The little fibs that slip away and the broken promises that go unkept. He always tells the same lies, and sometimes I believe him, because the story paints itself like a vivid oil portrait; first the figures are painted, then the background, then the corners, edges, contours, and finally it becomes as if it were a real scene on the canvas of life, but only the immensity of human imagination has made believable what could never be real. It tells me what I most desire, and so I reach for it with all my heart, stretching out the arms of my soul to preserve all that its lips say, and to hold it within me for eternity. I love him with all my heart, but when my reality is keen-eyed, it sometimes smells like the scratch of jagged-edged infidelities in the dawning dawn or the wistful night. The cold realisation slips into bed beside me, or touches me as I walk.
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I’ve concluded that bittersweetness is not, as we tend to think, just a momentary feeling or event. It’s also a quiet force, a way of being, a storied tradition—as dramatically overlooked as it is brimming with human potential. It’s an authentic and elevating response to the problem of being alive in a deeply flawed yet stubbornly beautiful world. Most of all, bittersweetness shows us how to respond to pain: by acknowledging it, and attempting to turn it into art, the way the musicians do, or healing, or innovation, or anything else that nourishes the soul.
– Susan Cain, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole