- 4 min
It would have been easier only to be a poetess – authentic, political, serene –, a feminist poet of course, obviously, communist of the right period, or a libertarian type, funny and erudite, a solid guy, a fluid girl, those who wherever they go find their place, those who go unnoticed in the tapestries of bourgeois salons and appear suddenly revolted over the course of an election night. Angry when one should be and good company otherwise, with no hesitations or hard feelings. Capable of forgetting the most sordid situations, amnesic witnesses of the harmful gestures, of the black bouncer’s empty look, of the bodies we quietly ban on the doorstep of safe places, never on the bad side of an argument, gliding on the curtain’s soft surface without ever lifting it, and who know how to play the cool fable of possibility, of let-everyone-give-what-they-have-and-may-the-best-win.
But the map is also populated with those who won’t fit – sorry, not tonight. They have not chosen to but feel it very early on and carry out, with this peculiar feeling, a whole string of things that should not be done. Starting with wanting to speak up and look behind the curtain. Like Bluebeard’s wife committing the fatal move and becoming a witness against her will, a witness of her whole body, marked, until she can no longer pretend as if it hadn’t happened, act like before. So it’s not tonight for these women and men, though they learnt to pee where they’re told and listen to the lessons of those who always know what to do and how to live all the possible lives, including yours of course. When you don’t have the means, you just wait for you turn to come, on hold in the toilets of history. Because if you don’t have the means, the right gestures, if your words are a little off-kilter, your profile blurred, if you can’t build ideal conditions, the smooth perfect surface of ideal conditions, then you should remain quiet because you won’t be doing things properly. To make a place, truly, is to puncture this surface of the fable of the politically immaculate, it is to scuffle with the conditions, to dive to a situation’s mucky source and inquire, about where it’s all coming from, and to whom it really costs, to gigantic leeches basking in the shallows. One does not do this. One should stand still and quiet, looking to strike the perfect pose, the perfect grainless image. Be a good sport.
But there was a place to make. Fatally. Why so? We do not know. Khiasma is an accident that’s become so meaningful in time that it’s difficult to picture it as the result of pure chance. Difficult, too, to explain it otherwise than as an old itch turned one day into a thought in action. The place had to become. And it is us that it found this time around, lurking in the area. The place had to be done or perhaps the « making place » grabbed us as it passed through with its animistic power. Maybe it figured we looked a little broken, that we were surely a bargain. We shouldn’t play smart about it because the place found us a little ignorant and a little naive. It was forbearing in that way, no doubt about that. It left us the time to learn and the time to undo some mess, and also to invent our lives by failing over and over again. The place became within us, all of us who worked within it, passed through it, came to it looking for something, a hand’s warmth, some cold water to put out the city’s fires. The place pushes its membrane to the outside, we are its skin and nerves. We filter the anger which makes the place, and the joy, which makes the place. Making place is to be caught, life Bluebeard’s wife, our hand and soon our whole body at the heart of the problems, in the very matter of the political who, in turns, dazzles us, disappoints us, harms us. The place is surprise and lowness, is pleasure and ugliness. The place is deceptive in that it is generous, teaching us what we do not wish to know, putting us in the presence of undesirable thoughts and forcing us to live and think with them. It is not only a question of affinities, it is also subject to misunderstandings. It infiltrates us against our will. For a long time we ran after the right harmony, a way to understand each other but then we realised that the worst frustrations, the stupidest of attitudes are among the place’s gifts as much as the most profound friendships. What we did wrong, the mistakes, the words that went too far and the words we lacked are the place’s treasures, its specific knowledge, powerful and toxic, difficult to grasp, a place’s pearls deep down inside a place’s shit.
There is no heroic way to make place, no chance of succeeding over time. Each piece of good news brings its part of scum, all the ideas bear their weight and shape as they lay their fat behinds down onto your life’s keyboard and write out something else than what was planned.
The place needs no heroes nor heroins, though it demands and consumes sacrifices. It is unclean matter, an ambiguous and misshapen distillation of all the presences that negotiate their space within it, of all the egos saving their skins for want of saving the world. One doesn’t come out of it unscathed, or even proud. The place grinds, pushes and distorts, flees. There are no good thoughts other than those who make place and unmake it all at once.
One sometimes thinks that the place’s most depressing mundanity, the dumbfounding litany of administrative literature, the muted violence of reptilian policies, the systems embarked inside young bodies through which they speak, the lacks and the losses, destroy the place’s poetics and desire. But everything is contingency, and the place a machine fabricating new poetries, affected by and surviving to what could kill the place. The place welcomes since it translates the world, the thoughts and the voices, the works and the poems into its language where all have a place, inside its mouth full of matter and bruises.
It is a story that exceeds but does not forget, that swells with anger and with celebration. It isn’t its appearance, it isn’t its surface or its everyday routine. It isn’t just local, it is in many places at once in such a way none can surround it, seize it, possess it. The place flees its envelope, builds alliances in the near, transduces the faraway.
The place becomes within us and does not disappear.