Asphyxia

I know.
I cannot afford to stop.
For I know.
That it’s too soon.
To forget.
Aretha Franklin

 

These are ideas of memory. The question of when it becomes too soon to forget—we will revisit that.

Towards first ideas of memorials then, of bodies as sites of protest, as sites forgotten, no hello to rhyme, little remains to be said,  but let us see what can be said for now—we deserve it? Towards the existential definition of the body, and the Kenyan state erasure of it, we are alama za dukuduku. Kedolwa talks about our bodies as the first sights of protests.

Marks on a page. Dots. Symbols. The complete nothingness. Wind. A flash of lightning. Completely nothing. This is the body we carry as Kenyans. As Naigerians. As South Africans. As Ugandans. Ghanaians. All the black bodies against police brutality. Against the rights of queer people.

 

Do you see what I was trying to do?
I was trying to make myself more real.
Esmé Weijun Wang,  The Collected Schizophrenias.

That our bodies no longer exist?

Fred Moten’s Blackness and Nonperformance? How can the fluid be so far from life?

The black outside is a meta-outside, Moten goes on to say in a conversation with Saidiya Hartman.

Afterlives?  After-place?  Being outside. Being inside. Even the question  of being.

To fail then. Saidiya Hartman: The enclosure is so brutal […] the practice is always about trying to produce an outside within that space […] a new form of enclosure (The Black Outdoors: Fred Moten & Saidiya Hartman).

 

Time is not blankness through which light travels, more like plasma
Consciousness embodies it by acting self-referentially, not dualistically
as in seeing, not seeing.
Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, A Treatise on Stars. 

We resist. In our small ways. Often in private. This is not even Kafkaesque. To be Kenyan is to be beyond irony. Beyond catatonia. We woke up dead. Woke. Wake. Awoken.

Ulikuwa wapi? A recurring question; situating ourselves, locating ourselves. One of our central conversations with the spaces around Nai, and by this we mean Maasai Mbili. Ulikuwa. Ulikua. Swahili lessons in the curriculum. The curriculum IS everything. We keep returning to bethuel muthee because he’s the only poet who has figured our most blasé phrase into critical language—uko wapi?

Resistance. We start. We begin? We are here? There’s no saying.

One cannot be absolute. Only death is. E M Cioran is more hopeful in this regard. Even suicide is not useful at the moment. From Carl Phillips we learn that to be resonant is to resist absolute closure.

It has become difficult to be alive, to have the closure of poetry, even terribly difficult to be dead, to distinguish between the abstraction of the modernist, their romanticism, the abject altruism, and how to situate yourself in this nonsense white poetry that is not aware of Bi-Kidude, Mzee Ngala, of taarab, the centuries of it, of the long lyric swahili poem, longer than Homer’s The Odyssey, of non-lyricism of the sensual, of what music and rhyme really is, but now we are aware of this African intellectual who has decided to be from some small town in England or America: where do they go now? When western philosophy talks about imagism and kindness, of links between romanticism and reality, it has become difficult not to despair, everyone is in an absolute desire for prose, of marigolds where none exist. Prose then. Write ourselves into death, or some kind of non-living place, a non-existing roots-and-culture thing,  moonshine kwa Esther in Kibich? A kind of pychoaniacal- philosophical- ideas of life- meaning the fucking of all ideas, of your missing of Jung. We shouldn’t have read psychoanalysis, Foucult should have not read it. Well, he had every right to—probably could have known we knew all about it; we invented it.

There is no risk. Or, risk has become useless. What does it mean then, when giving up one’s world becomes more irritating than risk, that we cannot out-death death? Run past death, beyond death? Behind death?

Dying then. This is the new definition of being Kenyan. Of drr.

There is no poetry in this

We are with Suheir Hammad wondering what we will become after the rubble and rhetoric is cleared.

We are here. Alive. Returning to Kedolwa. And the body. There is no body. Catatonia. The speechless. Ahh to be complicit in your own trauma. Or not acknowledging it exists. What fate is worse?

What sustains catatonia in trauma is the intentional convolution of the senses and sensation that occurs subconsciously, a coping mechanism. If you cannot describe what is happening to you yet, you are not complicit in making it real. Speechless, you have not decided whether or not you are dreaming, whether or not waking up would be worth its grip on the spirit.
Harmony Holiday, The Black Catatonic Scream.

& what sustains hope?

Is it within the collective schizophrenias in a mental institution? Or a mob of women sick and tired storming Central Police Station unarmed?

From Keeanga-Yamahtta we learn that these are times for complicated thinking. Not that time has ever called for simple contemplation. Arundhati’s portal and the infinite possibilities of with-ness with others and lost opportunities to leave the bauxite in the mountain.

Still:

We are (writing) in difficult times.

Again and again. This is Muraya’s meditation.

From the persecution of queer lives in Ghana, to #ENDSARS, to elections being terribly done all over the continent, in TZ, the internet off when we most need to be seen; and we suspect the internet will be off in 2022, there’s no hope then. Catatonia? Dissociation? Yet, it’s not enough to be jaded, to live in this dream-state, to curve out a space that only accepts a certain kind of aesthetic. & regarding revisiting. Oh we’ve been doing that!

We have tried to stay here, this beguiling place, to sell the two issues of drr we have so far published. Here’s the third.  While we’ve had some complications, we still hope we can run the journal and keep paying our writers and contributors. We are grateful for the donations, the support, the orders, the patience, the emails, the love… We hope, all you our loves, out there in the big world, navigating COVID, can reach out and we figure out how to send you the issue in epub and other readable formats, and that we hope you know: FRANK + CLIF LOVE YOU.

 

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