Becoming a metabolic black hole

Updated: 23 October, 2020 07:24 IST | Rosalyn D'mello | Mumbai

In working towards a writing practice that puts me in a boundless, transforming framework, I have discovered how our empowered selves too must accommodate new galaxies and eliminate margins

Representation pic /Rosalyn D'mello
Representation pic /Rosalyn D'mello

picIn imagining a more metabolic writing practice in which one steers clear from the egology of pure autobiography towards a more expansive cosmological re-positioning of one's subjectivity, I have been honing a more radical form of listening. This involves a demanding attentiveness. In order to hear what is not necessarily spoken; what isn't necessarily disseminated from human mouths; what is being vocalised by life forms not characterised by bloodlines — to soil, mud, colour, patina, surfaces, leaves, bees, birds, cloud, water — one must embrace a bodily stillness. One must be careful not to interfere with the transmission and thus disrupt the heft of the message by projecting meaning onto the speaker. We must allow meaning to emerge.

Sometimes you have to sit with the sign to make sense of why and how it made its way to you. To commit to such a line of investigation, you must labour to evolve a trail of incidences and incidents, a series of successive movements that led to what is currently unfolding. Practising this form of enquiry involves an acceptance of one's position within a vast framework of happenings.

I am often humbled by improbabilities when I consider some of the most significant relationships in my life. That I could so easily have 'not' met someone, that I could have not been precarious, not made myself vulnerable in a particular moment, not given of myself, not read, not heard, not listened. I think of my best friend, Mona, and even though I'm unable to trace back to our first encounter with each other, when I think back to how I wept more than a little last night just because I had received precious voice texts from her, I feel certain that a mysterious force helped us align ourselves to each other.

I think of all my important relationships as a set of constellations that are cast against a wider cosmological nebulous. I conceive of my writing practice similarly. I am often overawed by the series of missteps and bold strides that led me to a particular author, or a line of questioning, or a concept. I am conscious of being constantly fed language, but I am aware that I respond more eagerly to some concepts over others, and I imagine that I locate some of the regions of my self within these receptacles.

To write metabolically is to think of oneself as an organism existing within a broader tapestry of environment, possessing agential capacity, but also being influenced by all that broaches one's consciousness as well as all that hangs around it, like clouds; and to dwell in the mystery of indeterminacy — to know that there always exist multiple possibilities, a plurality of potential parallel worlds that can evolve on the basis of a singular decision, and conceive of personal ethics through such a prophetic perspective of time, space, and agency.

As a feminist, I have for a long time wondered what it means to make the personal political, and to generate theory from lived experience. These days I like to gaze upon what constitutes lived experience, and how it can be honed to include a macro-cosmic reality that extends beyond me.
For centuries the subjectivities of women and other marginalised identities [(LGBTQI+), BIPOC, Dalit] had been left to linger outside of mainstream discourses and were excluded from the purview of fundamental governmental policies. Feminists have had to point out that even conversations about the Anthropocene — the understanding of our present geologic time period as significantly human-influenced — are being framed by cis-men. In 2014, for instance, Kate Raworth wrote a piece in The Guardian titled, 'Must the Anthropocene be a Manthropocene?'

It is mostly to escape and subvert the over-dominance of cis-heterosexual, white-male supremacist, upper/oppressor-caste constructions of our world that I safeguard my consciousness from their over-influence. This is an ongoing process that I call de-conditioning or un-learning. This is the self-work that we, who seek to position ourselves as allies to causes like #BlackLivesMatter; #TransLivesMatter; #DalitLivesMatter need, urgently, to undertake.

If you want not to be identified, for instance, as a Savarna Feminist, then you must do the work of constantly examining the parameters of caste in framing your lived experience. How do you discreetly continue to practice caste? How do you unknowingly perpetuate the violence of discrimination? Are you taking up space that could be offered to help empower another?

At the heart of feminism is the dictum that empowered women empower other women. The task at hand is for us to keep broadening the horizons of the margins so that it is no longer marginal but radically inclusive, to keep puncturing the category of women by widening its semantics in an effort to transcend patriarchally imposed binaries. The empowered self must be metabolic, constantly digesting worlds to evolve and accommodate galaxies; ever eschewing the mono-cellular in favour of all-encompassing, febrile, relational ecologies.

I'm still making sense of the series of incidents/incidences that have brought me to the literature I am currently immersed in that I gained access to by accepting work as a proof-reader. It's completely rewiring my ontological pathways in preparation to birth a more sentient 'me', one that is able to dwell in my recently re-affirmed sense of self while continuously expanding its boundaries. These days I feel like a metabolic black hole, a charged void pregnant with inexhaustible potential, dreaming the feminist counter-apocalypse.

Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Rosalyn D'Mello is a reputable art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx
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The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper

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First Published: 23 October, 2020 05:47 IST

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