At this moment I find all language inadequate. Its inadequacy is both irreverent and irrelevant, for use, however crude and imperfect, must be made of it. At least this is where I have now landed.
For weeks (more precisely months) I have fumbled and foiled in my attempts to convert thoughts, feelings, a way of being in this new world of ours into language. Failure after failure, bumps after bumps, I have been wholly discouraged, disappointed, disheartened, and dispirited by language’s inability and impotency. I have been terrorized with brutal imaginings, fear that ultimately I could write nothing – at least nothing worthy of that which I seek to describe, reflect on, analyze, and deconstruct in order to find a way forward. NO!!! ways forward/backwards/sideways/upside-down ways to transform this present moment through language (written, oral, and embodied) that speaks into healing, health, resistants, joy!! I seek language that disentangles from rhetoric of disease, denial, destruction and breaths life into this and the next moment. And yet…
Today I start here:
Eric Garner’s “I can’t breathe”echoes through corridors and waiting rooms of hospitals, care centers and homes around the world: And in a multitude of languages, across times zones, and age-range, the reverberation of ‘I can’t breathe’ hangs in the air, haunting the contemporary moment. This is the age of Coronavirus/COVID 19. The privilege of breathing is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. The air is cleaners because a force so small it is imperceptible to the human eye has literally put the world on pause, caught between breaths, waiting to exhale. And Garner’s cosmic reckoning is upon us, bring the world’s economy to its knees as everyone fears that next inhalation will be an ill-fated journey to that final gasp “I can’t breathe.” The weight of the virus is on our necks, we are in the preverbal chokehold, and even atheists are praying that the last time they saw their loved ones will not be the last time of having seen their loved ones; and if loss must be had, if Garner must die as he did, let it be someone else’s breath that is aborted, let someone else be sacrificed to the ritual fight that ends in a whole bodied “I can’t breathe”.
Who will we be after millions across the globe (including our own near and far) have succumbed, when we are all madmen from grief, catastrophic loss, and survival guilt? How will we protect innocence (our own and others) when we have already perverted innocence and turned it on itself? What type of global community will we build from this fear of breathing and from the enormous threat of unchecked hatred and biases embodied in the micro and macro? What dances will be create to immunize us against external harm and from internal afflictions?