Tuesday, September 30, 2008

trauma being only a single pane in a fractal look

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.


Jennifer Bartlett said...

Hi Amber,

I just started reading about the discussion. I see a couple of things that worry me, but may be mistranslating. Are people referring to the disabled body as a wounded body? Are people using the word 'trama' to refer to the disabled body? Why did your piece make people 'uncomfortable?' Why do people have a hard time accepting people with disabilities as an identity i.e. race or gender rather than a weakness?

A DiPietra said...

H Jennifer,

I think people were not really referring to disability as anything in particular. I think this group started with the intention of having speakers on the issue of disability and poetics but in the case of this discussion, as Dodie said, we "were trying to do too much at once" and it ended up being about Bhanu's notions of healing as she is a body worker/a person who has seen a lot of family trauma due to ethnic discplacement and partly about my ideas of a poetics as it relates to the idiosyncracies of personal physiology. I think actually the "trauma" came from the audience's gloss on things and as for why my discussion made people uncomfortable, well I wasn't aware it did and would like to know why as well.

I think while the talk was advertised as part of a disability discussion, it ended up not being that, it took its own form though it touched on some aspects of disability because they relate to my writing.

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