My report on the Nonsite Bhanu Kapil talk (with my portion on Comapcted),in the Poetics of Disablement Discussion thread.
This thinking aroundthe event was generated with help from Dodie Bellmay's report on the event and comments it inspired from the disability community perspective. read her post here.
Thank you for this Dodie. I believe the talk was an important one to have and was hugely meaningful to me on a personal level because of my connection to Bhanu’s work, but I think there were conflations that I would not want to see become permanent for some of the very reasons people mention in the preceding comments.
As a body worker, Bhanu talks of her work as “a space for healing” and much of in relates to the wounded body in relation to ethnic displacement. Grosz talks about literature as a rarefaction of sensation, either as pleasure or pain. And I was trying to gesture towards ideas of a body (starting with my body I guess) in language, when I spoke of “the compacted”. I was speaking as someone with a disability, but in talking of trauma, I was also in conversation with Bhanu. Throughout the talk, I was aware that what I said could be construed as flattening the one into the other, disability and trauma, but this was not my intention.
Had I been speaking on my own, I probably would have gone the direction of the body, language, sensation and the self in real time (which can sometimes be painful) which for me is a less loaded look at an identity category. Which is not to say my experience at times, has not been linked to trauma, but more truly, it can be categorized as an ambient discomfort.
So yes, in a way, this was a public sharing between me and Bhanu which turned into a talk about trauma, more so than it was a furthering of the discussion on disability. Trauma relates to disability for some people certainly, but I do not think it is the only or even the most clear lens with which to continue looking at formal aspects of the disability experience and the potential for new forms in writing.
Oh and also, I am intrigued by what you say about resisting the urge to empathize. I don’t think it is a goal I can forgo in my writing entirely, but other, more immediate goals certainly would be to fascinate, to make the strange mundane and the mundane weird in terms of the disabled subject in language. I want to think about it more.
Edit: I want to add, using some of your words, that what I think is interesting to discuss further is how disability is a kind of "public trauma". That is to say, it can and does at times fall into that category of phenomena, as viewed by others, nondisabled or even the disabled--that "public trauma" is part of the exterior fractal truth of disability. Meanwhile, it is an everyday, interior not to be elevated and thus diminished) by the grandiose notion of trauma. So, the disconnect there is the most problematic and charged and worth thinking about. Also, I did not necessarily want to "shine a spotlight on every messy thing" but I did want to chart a trajectory in trying to sync up language/writing with a personal kinetics (one that happens to be known as "disabled"). So, what would be the disabled subject's options in this case? If disability is a fiction, a collusion of semblances and dissemblance than autobiographical details may actually be revealing very little while serving as a set of pivot points to new forms--as in Alexander Technique. Just some ideas your post stirred up for me.....thanks again.