DEAR INFLAMED FOLLICLE,
THERE IS A COMMEMORATION IN MY SKIN (2019)

 

The fear of being left out. Snow eats at my hand while I squish it. Mother's hat warm-fuzzy. My face is wet, sweaty, moist. (I don’t) let my pants get wet. Let my knees touch snow. Moisture is trouble. My breath is moist. Snowy weather starts and ends with water. Not that water is moist, it doesn't even contain moist. When water contains my body, my skin is never moist. Water is not wet. [Gargle] the phenomenology of moisture. A hand can only be sure of having touched a wet surface only if it has originally been dry. For a body to know that the air its lungs consume is dry (enough) it first has to be born. Lungs exp-p-plode, or implode really, to really really really know that the air it'll consume is dry enough. With dryness starts grieving. And I don't mean womb-grieving. Air-grieving. Grieving the waters to come. Fear that my dry lungs will at some point risk being submerged in wetness.

A snow sculpture is not wet. Me and mother make a snow sculpture. I'd like to think of her as a woman. I transmit my warmth through the mesh of my glove. Not that I think the warmth as being mine. But this particular warmth warps the body of 'her' at my will. You could say it is a collaborative work. A relational work. Tips of fingers shape the shoulders while I imagine my shoulders being rubbed by something cold. For something to shape a warm shoulder (soldier?) it'll need to be ice-cold. Cold is precise, cold precision AND warmth is unorganized, like 'warm-fuzzy'. Worm-fuzzy. I would have loved to be just a worm in a can of worms. Being together, not taking any cold orders from other soldiers. Sometimes I think that I might be overestimating togetherness. Together does not equal symbiotic. Symbiotic does not equal an overlap. Overlap isn't kinship. Just because me and mother birthed 'her', 'her' is not our kin. I loathe this creative side (of me).

Before I was born, my skin was already there. Like the moisture I had to part with, something else which was also wet corroded my skin. Corrosion=hyperpigmentation. My skin was a fringe-skin, at the fringes of my kin's skin. Before the fringes were cut, it was rolled out on a table like dough. Corroded copper plate, beautiful elastic. Bahia, Benguela, Calcutta—all of our cheeks were inflamed. Lay a World map down to look at it from a distance. It’ll say: MAP (break) SHOWING APPROXIMATELY (break) THE PRESENT. It’ll be a map showing approximately the present distribution of leprosy in the World. Some areas on this map will coincide with your cheeks. NOTE Countries where the disease is severe are indicated by the deep shade of red; where it is less intense by the lighter shade. Practicing a non-hierarchical approach will be hard. Start by avoiding concentration. The eye is flexible but risks being clunky; once put to rest its movements will become predictable. What we’ll need is a wandering eye. That escapes patterns, escapes focus, escapes the red spots. My great-grandmother’s eye did not wander, so she had to cover her marks. With a non-hierarchical approach, she too could have been blinded to her leper scars. Rolled out and folded together, the seams coincide with where my cheek-skin meets my nose-skin. Twice every month, my seams are inflamed. Hormonal shooting, engorged follicle, hurt hurt hurt. There is a commemoration in my skin.

A gathering by the construction site. In 1974 I am minus 22 years old and my family is together. At -22 they have a feud of their own. Teeth biting into their inner lips, lesions made apparent by the before & after images from a satellite. My grandfather says I feel abandoned. My grandmother says I feel abandoned too. My dad says I will never abandon you and at +22 he still hasn't. The migrant abandons her family. The unit is scheduled to disband. The migrant leaves behind the 'left-behind' the 'left-behind' abandon the migrant the disbanded unit abandons the feud once the 'left-behind' understands that having been left behind does not equal abandonment. I am still trying to understand what has happened or is happening without having to disclose my own feelings. I may be denying agency to others in order to get my way, escaping the possibility of dialogue so to not be confused and challenged. And then, there is the possibility of dialogue. (e.g: Peace dialogue, UN intervention, Dear Impartial Witness,) I am becoming aware of the shortcomings of my coping mechanisms that lean on being too analytical, detaching myself from the situation resulting in a State of indifference and passivity. Such passivity oozes of a desire to be punished, for that same indifference with emotional cruelty.

Where do you draw the line of your own permeability to others? (e.g: Green Line? Blue Line? Iron Curtain?) I am struggling with the fear of becoming (or having become) too receptive and vulnerable at the expense of my own worth. I want to practice radical permeability. Physical share / material blur / likewise / therefore / meanwhile / minimal contrast / babies around the belly of a spider. As much as I'd like to claim receptiveness, I am not yet able to navigate the relationship between the baby spiders and their caregivers. I am resentful. Images of mothers embracing their newborn. 2100 BC lactation, 1400 BC lactation. Images of lactating mothers erode with time. Eroded bodies become conjunct. Conjunct bodies want out. This is not an archive of bodies. I am not an archive of my relations. My family is not an archive of untangled entanglements. Torsional vibrations. Vibration of continuous systems. Non-linear vibrations. Electrical similarities. A stick with equal weights (m) hanging on both sides, is attached to an anchorage bar with the linear spring constant k and the torsion constant K. K and k, what is attachment?

Mother Tongue, escape therapy. The tip of an inflamed follicle is nearing expulsion. I am trapped in strange nature, and it gives way to fragility. No more attachment theory or pore-reduction serum. Just as it is, as it comes out, as it is pouring out and being wasted; contaminated, reduced, leaky, sticky, needy. Bacteria found their way to my skin because they needed me. Now that they want to be with you too, physical touch and proximity become vessels for contamination. Technological advancement: Communication through single-celled organisms. I command a tangent, skin on skin, vulnerable, permeable, grievable to one another. I am scraping through dead skin cells, archives of the body: Dandruff, sebum, scaly, flaky excess. All this, for an infectious contact, teaching a language whose words are forms of infestation. The beauty of it is that its words affect our interfaces differently. You are deformed and reformed and deformed in a different pattern than I. No pathologist or anthropologist can detect how we deviate from each other since a group of singular deviations does not really make a good category. In this sense, the savage and the leper share a position. Useful terminology, urgent diagnosis. Dear Field Work, can I extend the leper as a category? An imagined leper colony of mutual grievability and sound contamination. Shared bacterial compositions can do wonders for communality.

Care. There is life after the incubation and it’ll need to be reproduced at every nook. In the colony, survival is only partially implied. While it is accepted that discourses on survival are strategically significant what we do isn’t that. Skin speaks the language of extinction. Inversion, protrusion, decay. Non-leper imagination observes deformation, lost case, lock out. In the lazaret, there is no case. It is post-inflammatory and post-deformative. Care is implied, as work, as necessity, as leisurely activity, and often beyond strict classifications. Futurity is not the driving force behind all this, as it once could have been. We could even say that futurity failed us. Beyond it, in between survivalism and agonism, or recess and reproduction, a spider is processing grief as she goes on netting semi-productively.