zaterdag 19 november 2016

variations on the right to remain silent/ clichés

Sinds de verkiezing van Trump denk ik veel na over identiteit, en de laatste dagen in het bijzonder over de invloed van stereotypes/ clichés op identiteit. Vooral het idee dat we een conclusies kunnen trekken over identiteit naar aanleiding van wat we (hebben ge)zien, of niet gezegd kunnen krijgen, steekt me. En het ongeloof en wantrouwen ten opzichte van onbegrijpelijke taal (poëzie/ zie hieronder). Toevallig vind ik in het essay ‘Variations on the right to remain silent’ van Anne Carson (opgenomen in haar nieuwste publicatie Float) iets dat me verder helpt.

Carson schrijft in het essay o.a. over Jeanne D'Arcs proces, over de wens van haar berechters om duidelijkheid te krijgen over de herkomst van de stemmen die ze hoorde, over Jeanne's weigering in clichés te vervallen:

Joan [of Arc] despised the line of inquiry and blocked it as long as she could. It seems that for her, the voices had no story. They were an experienced fact so large and real it had solidified in her as a sort of sensed abstraction—what Virginia Woolf once called "that very jar on the nerves before it has been made anything." Joan wanted to convey the jar on the nerves without translating it into theological cliché. It is her rage against cliché that draws me to her. A genius is in her rage. We all feel this rage at some level, at some time. The genius answer to it is catastrophe.

I say catastrophe is an answer because I believe cliché is a question. We resort to cliché because it's easier than trying to make up something new. Implicit in it is the question, Don't we already know what we think about this? Don't we have a formula we use for this?

Jeanne D'Arc blijft, vooral in het begin van haar proces, dingen zeggen die niet herleid kunnen worden:

And one day when the judges were pressing for her to define the voices as singular or plural, she most wonderfully said (as a sort of summary of the problem): 

The light comes in the name of the voice.

“The light comes in the name of the voice” is a sentence that stops itself. Its components are simple yet it stays foreign, we cannot own it.

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