31 May 2017

The Political Is Personal

First on the Wire.
In Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, 'All our phrasing – race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy – serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.'
Every word here – and in the book itself – serves to underscore how primal experience is. Terminology is important; studying the events that make the world what it is – that’s important too. But all of this, all this reportage and study, our obsession with current affairs, with having an opinion on current affairs, might yet obfuscate the impact of the affairs themselves, of the individual strands that make up collective memory, the faces that add up to statistics.
Critics have been prophesying the death of the personal essay – and, by extension, the memoir – for a few years now, disdaining the inward struggle in favour of subject matter of wider import. But interiority lends focus in times of upheaval; subjectivity can be a matter of relevance and even necessity. How does one disengage from oneself, from identity politics for that matter, while addressing events of global significance? And how are these events to be amputated from the inflections of the body and mind and heart?
To eject the self from the larger narrative is a kind of renunciation that might be celebrated for objectivity, but objectivity can be a kind of laziness too, a kind of fence-sitting, a refusal to commit to a stand or an opinion. To forget that the part can stand for the whole is also to miss the trees for the woods; to liken the personal essay to the narcissism of the Instagrammable moment, to the capsule-sized wisdom of a viral tweet, is to rob the first-person ecosystem of grades and shades and nuance. Not every personal experience is reflective of the state of the world, but is it so reductive to say that some of them are? Isn’t this what we do anyway – mine the richness of personal history for insight?
How is one to untangle the labours of grief and tragedy without surrendering to the yawning depths of rawness and honesty with which our greatest writers have given it voice? There are sentences in H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald or The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion that I have stared at for hours, unsettled by the accuracy with which the writers seemed to be disassembling feelings that I had thought were my very own, and mine alone. The comfort I have taken from the books, the solace, is not merely in identifying with them; it is in knowing that bereavement is a thing that has been experienced by people other than myself, that others have gone there, to wretchedness, and – here’s the thing – that they have returned; that in wreckage and rubble, there is room for construction, for magical thinking. And of course I am fully capable of coming to this realisation on my own – just as MacDonald is fully capable of recovering from her loss without training a goshawk named Mabel – but these little acts, reading and rereading, writing and rewriting, are ways of looking for ourselves within the design of human complexity, of taming our sorrows alongside our falcons.
There’s hardly a sentence that I haven’t underlined in my copy of A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit or in The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan or in Living by the Word by Alice Walker, my marginalia mapping my own journeys alongside theirs. Personal criticism – my favourite writers on their favourite writers and artists – cultivates intimacy with the unknown with a kind of connectedness that cannot be anything but a private relationship laid bare: Teju Cole on Virginia Woolf in Known and Strange Things, Pico Iyer on Graham Greene in The Man within My Head, Zadie Smith on Katharine Hepburn in Changing My Mind.
It doesn’t always work, and it doesn’t always work the same way for everyone. I’ve been unmoved by Haruki Murakami on music, Cheryl Strayed on survival or David Foster Wallace on anything in the world (but especially on Dostoevsky), and I’ve failed to take to Knausgaard on the subject of Knausgaard, but I’ve seen these writers annex the thought patterns of other readers in ways of which I’ve been jealous. Where the form does crumble is when the writer takes precedence over the text, when the medium becomes the message, when provocation is the intention and not the result; that’s the vainglorious, self-righteous petulance (I’m looking at you, Lena Dunham) that leads critics to compare the art of the personal essay to the espresso-shot cleverness of the social media missive or the thought-for-the-day calendar,
Reading is a hall of mirrors that winds unendingly, each reflection a jolt of memory and consciousness. It is a reminder of the unknowability of the self and the desire to know it anyway. The personal essay, even when seemingly unserious, humanises the universal and locates the global within the local. The subject can be less important than the way it is unpacked. I’d read an essay on a toothpick if it was written by, say, Annie Dillard or Jeanette Winterson or Mary Oliver. The personal essay – the kind that is intimate and indwelling, confessional and probing, raw enough to be tender and real and blistered, the kind that scrapes away the clean neutrality of verifiable fact in favour of the wringing, dirty cesspool of emotion that is the effect of these facts – is a spectacle of empathy, a way of reacquainting you with yourself, yes, but also with the world.
The personal is political because the political gets personal. If we forget this, we might forget to read each other.


Learn Digital Marketing said...

Great article, Thanks for your great information, the content is quiet interesting. I will be waiting for your next post.

Nita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emma Williams said...

Are you associated with Binance? Have you been stumbling over unwanted obstructions in connecting with server in Binance? Is this obstruction giving you headache? Don't worry if this is the case because a whole team of experts are at your service. Dial Binance toll Free Number 1888-764-0492 to avail the services of an elite professional. The representative at Binance helps you out in every possible manner.

Emma Williams said...

We can face not only to register in to binance.com we can also face various types of issue like 2 fa and password recovery we simply attach the following document like front or back of personal id on which complete information of person are seen and change the date and time and request for reset 2 fa you cannot withdraw within 48 hours and this is for the security of our account. If your issue cannot be resolve after doing it you simply call on Binance 2FA wallet and inform them to fix out such types of issues they will always ready to help you
More Info Visit Here: https://www.cryptophonesupport.com/exchange/binance/

jain sah said...

Hacking attacks on the wallet software with Binance.
Hacking errors are the most dangerous error faced by users ever. To deal with such errors, you need to protect your account from unwanted viruses and online attacks. All you can do is speak to the elite professionals if you suspect any doubt while working on Binance. Get in touch with the experts who are always there to assist you. Dial Binance Customer Service Number +1877-209-3306 which is all the time active and users can speak to the team anytime to avail the best results. Binance Customer Service Number +1877-209-3306

Loan Offer said...

Hello Everybody,
My name is Mrs Sharon Sim. I live in Singapore and i am a happy woman today? and i told my self that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, i will refer any person that is looking for loan to him, he gave me happiness to me and my family, i was in need of a loan of $250,000.00 to start my life all over as i am a single mother with 3 kids I met this honest and GOD fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of $250,000.00 SG. Dollar, he is a GOD fearing man, if you are in need of loan and you will pay back the loan please contact him tell him that is Mrs Sharon, that refer you to him. contact Dr Purva Pius, call/whats-App Contact Number +918929509036 via email:(urgentloan22@gmail.com) Thank you.

Post a comment