I can feel his love. Sometimes I think I can taste it.
It hums around me, even while he remains distinct, self-possessed, contained. I feel it when we walk in silence along the canal, peering into the riverboats. I feel it when we’re in a roomful of friends, eating roast lamb, and he puts a hand. a gentle hand, on the small of my back. I feel it on the phone, in exchanges and in silences – warm, pulsating silences, hearing each others’ breathing. I feel it when we stir in sleep. And I feel it when we are on the rugged tracks of desire, careering towards something, pitching this way and that, threatening to tip over any moment, when his hands are in my hair, and he is inside me, and I am biting him, and we are all teeth and claws and wings. – Katherine Angel, Unmastered: A book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell, p.92.
This book just swept me away.
How do you feel? No, I mean, how do you feel, energetically? If I touch you here, hold you there, breathe with you, sense the movements of the body; how do you feel? This is superficial and deep all at once. It’s primal but not specifically sexual. You’re revealing something in this moment or you’re holding back. If you share this with me, I can give you this; this energy. I can give you all this if you want, it will not diminish me.
Something’s happening to the energy in my body but its been too close and exciting to talk about. The body is responding on a level the mind hasn’t quite caught up with. Or maybe this is how it works: being a body. When you start breathing through those fears and make new and wonderful shapes with the body; that point on the horizon – that ever-reaching point on the horizon in which you focus in the yoga practice (the always somewhere elsewhere, never quite specific, formless – god??) blurs, it all blurs. Having a body to being a body.
How do you feel?: (how does it feel) to be a body.
Back in the home town I revisit the multiple ghosts of my past. How can such a small space contain so many versions of myself? The clumsy, youthful, inauthentic expressions of my self; it makes me cringe. And it occurs to me, as it always does, quite how the only thing we know is that we don’t know who we will become. That’s the theory: I don’t know.
Being a body is about situating yourself in those layers of becoming, not so you crystallize an identity, but so you can observe how the past selves either dissipate away or comes to rest inside, settle in the porous, membrane, cells, flesh, bone, tissue as tension, tightness, or softness. This is what I’m seeking in a touch. I’m trying to disperse it with you, or let it go.
I’m wondering if this is what it means to be home as I sit and pick the leaves off stems of mint and coriander and listen to the paath on PTC Punjabi. I recall the times in the kitchen of the Gurdwara sat over heaps of potatoes shoulder to shoulder with the elder women as they told tales in Punjabi or gossiped under their chunnis and we peeled the potatoes one by one. And I would sit up from time to time to stretch out my lower back, my hands sore and chapped and mud stuck under my fingernails.
Out of the corner of my eye I see the lines of people shuffle into the Golden Temple with their hands placed together. I think about repetition. What repetition does energetically. “This is what you need to keep you from delving into the 12th house in your mind”, the astrologer tells me as I sit patiently labeling crystal after crystal. I smile and nod. “You have a tendency to fly away”.
Is this what home is: the encircling motion of the same. To know that somewhere there is a place or space (within the self or between two) where everything stays the same. When I look up at the shala in the early morning darkness and see the lights, it feels like home. This is what love is, I think. It’s about feeling like you’re home.
I’ve always felt at home with those who don’t belong. Bodies out of place. When the world makes you feel out of place, you become aware of being a body; a disappointing body, a willful body, a body that refuses to resign to a normative fantasy. Your body is always a statement whether you wish to say anything or not.
It’s funny the ways we can be read, and read ourselves, and read others. We’re always becoming something else in this mis-recognition. Attributing characters to ourselves and others. I never quite understand it when people tell me I have changed – what else would I do? “Who are you?”: I’m being a body. “That’s not like you”. Haven’t we learnt by now that we can never know the other, only the fantasy we make for them, the ideals we invest in them. “You weren’t the person I thought you were.” Well of course. You will always be other to me. But instead of trying to overcome this difference lets make it our centre. Let’s work towards a ‘we’ that never implies sameness but promotes the understanding of difference. Let’s make the act of understanding one another the most powerful gesture we can attempt as humans. Let’s allow ourselves to breathe in one another’s bodies in such a way that we can both blur into that space in-between, if only for a moment.
Oh and I could drown that gap between us with words and stories; stories about what it means to care, and how it feels to not recover and how I got stuck year after year. Or how I spent my university years drinking masala tea and watching Zee TV and why the feeling of being alone in the world never leaves. I could tell you what happens when you lose the object of your desire. I could tell you that you were never my type either; it was just that I was looking for difference not sameness, and I always want to be different and new and everything. I could tell you when I started minding not having it all and how I’m carrying you close. And I could tell you what it means to care, I could show you what tenderness feels like, and I could tell you that I’m sorry and how I don’t like these things you’ve brought me so can you just take them back? I could tell you how to care. And I could tell you how in my dreams you stain the landscape but when I wake up I can’t remember all the things you were saying.
Filed under: Grief, Love, Subjectivities | Tags: difference, Luce Irigaray
“I love you” is addressed by convention or habit to an enigma – an other. An other body, an other sex. I love you: I don’t quite know who, or what. “I love” flows away, is buried, drowned, burned, lost in a void. We’ll have to wait for the return of “I love.” Perhaps a long time, perhaps forever. Where has “I love” gone? What has become of me? “I love” lies in wait for the other. Has he swallowed me up? Spat me out? Taken me? Left me? Locked me up? Thrown me out? What’s he like now? No longer (like) me? When he tells me “I love you,” is he giving me back? Or is he giving himself in that form? His? Mine? The same? Another? But then where am I?, what have I become? – Luce Irigaray, ‘This Sex Which is Not One’ (1977).
Filed under: Grief, Love, Recovery, Subjectivities | Tags: Cruel optimism, Lauren Berlant
Reticent affect is often dramatic because it refuses the abreactive mode of demand. People who yell all the time stop getting listened to; so do the quiet. So creativity gets caught up in making new idioms for feeling things out and for being found. Care, tenderness, stuckness: we see ourselves seeing the world emerging from gestures, and seeing the critical need for the present to be extended, held out there, walked around in, rested in—to honor what’s tender. In this style of being in relation (in sex as in politics) to care for the world is to keep something of it close, not just to imagine displacements or futures. Casid and Wilson perform this so beautifully: refusal, attachment, a multiply voiced “don’t let me go, don’t be gone, don’t let go, get out of here, leave, well, not completely, I just need to move from this impossible knot to a more possible one.” What does it mean to have a sexuality when the world is so bad at it? – Lauren Berlant (emphasis mine).
Filed under: Love | Tags: Claude Sautet, un coeur en hiver, unrequited love
Still chance to see this beautiful film at the BFI.
Filed under: Love
“I often talk about love as one of the few places where people actually admit they want to become different. And so it’s like change without trauma, but it’s not change without instability. It’s change without guarantees, without knowing what the other side of it is, because it’s entering into relationality.
The thing I like about love as a concept for the possibility of the social, is that love always means non-sovereignty. Love is always about violating your own attachment to your intentionality, without being anti-intentional. I like that love is greedy. You want incommensurate things and you want them now.”
Lauren Berlant and Michael Hardt: