But even though
they try to forget,
to hide your pain
you are here.
Gukira recently asked about being present; about the demands to be present active and alive. To be aware in the moment and notice that there is now. I’ve been wondering about what we mean by present. How we define now, the moment, the existing? If a tree bears fruit in the forest, is it still sweet? What is the present but occupying the moment that you have, where you are, how you can? What are the demands to be present?
What do the demands to be present in the frames of the present make of us?
If, in my dreams, every night, I am running away from something, am I running? Or is it that my mind, unable to comprehend what is going on, moves away from itself? Am I there? Or am I in my bed? Tossing and turning, waiting for the night to wait itself out into the patience of day. Day, which will then wait itself out to the rush of the night and so forth until the sun decides not to rise again. How do we situate ourselves somewhere here?
“I died from merely existing. As me.”
– Neo Musangi, Lamentations
To address any question of how to exist cannot begin without thinking about who we allow to be present. This space, this “now” that has been created, who is allowed to occupy it? Who is decidedly, later? Where are they to wait? Is there a line where the other nows line up, saving their time for a later that is close enough to hope for but far enough to not be now? Whose presence?
Even when you speak
they will try and keep you
They will try
and keep you
What happens when those that we have decidedly excluded from now begin to occupy spaces in currentness? Is currentness even a word? Is there a shred of phenomenology in a moment that can only be described after the fact? (Or is that the complete essence of phenomenology?) I return to Gukira:
“The present cannot be written, for all writing is always in the past tense. An easy lesson. And one that causes despair. This thing slips away. Or turns away. The present turns its face against us.”
So how do we begin to write about something that is happening? What is it to state that something is happening? What is it to demand to be a part of now? How do we create spaces for ourselves and for those around us that they too can exist in and of themselves? Is it even possible? Creating new forms of love and care are often sidelined to forms of labour and affect that are not worth considering. Or, now considered – then what? The imagination of masculinity refuses to open up to places where it has refused itself to go. How do we crack the code?
In a mall a man refuses to walk into the make up aisle because those things are for women because, somehow, the idea of those things being for women, means that there will be something taken away from him. What does this mean? Just as the demand for presence speaks, what does the demand for absence say? I will *not* be there. I *can’t* do that.
That’s why art continues to be such an allure. There’s a way art persists, art demands. Art stands somewhere and refuses to be unheard, to be unseen. Art navigates it’s way through whispers and shouts, through gaps between what is being said and what is being heard; what’s being seen and what’s unseen; what’s being felt and what has been tucked away. Art finds a way to be heard, because, in being heard, the present is grown. The present is occupied. Even if by the time it is occupied, it is the past. And, because the past becomes the present becomes the past becomes the present it somehow creates space for now. And that’s what the power is, right? The power to create paths, the power to create different forms of imagination.
Have you ever walked
on the shards
of ideas you once had?
If you’re not careful
you might cut yourself
trying not to unbecome
Trust your art.