Posted by: Dan | June 23, 2015

Reflections on Father’s Day

I.

We were holding hands when we walked over the ridge of the dune and saw them. There were three of them. Bigger than newborns but still young enough to be with their mom (at first I wondered if they had been orphaned but a minute later I saw her – she was standing back amongst the trees and scrub and she had seen us long before we spotted her). There was nobody else on the beach and they were playing and jumping on each other. They were dashing towards the water and bouncing back, then dashing, then bouncing, then dashing, then bouncing – as though they had never seen water like this before and it thrilled them and filled them with wonder and joy and the kind of fear that is fun to feel – the kind that is exciting to face into, not the kind that seems bigger than we are.

We held hands and we watched. What did we witness? Three children playing and rejoicing in the world into which they had been thrown. My children were much the same when they went to the beach. Only these children were a little older and they were playing and rejoicing in their own bodies and the strength that was growing within them. And they were all playing together – playing with each other just as much as they were playing with the water and the sand.

Eventually they caught our scent and they turned and bounded over the sand to join their mother, white tails high in the air, wagging back and forth like flags. They made it look effortless.

I wanted to kiss you at that moment.
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Posted by: Dan | June 13, 2015

Spectres of Paul: An Interview with Neil Elliott

[The following is an interview I conducted over a number of weeks with Neil Elliott. Neil is one of the New Testament scholars who most influenced my own trajectory (both within and then away from the Academy) and so it was a real delight for me to be able to have this exchange with him. It was refreshing to find a Pauline scholar who does not idolize or obsess about Paul and who hasn’t simply built a life around saying new or clever things about this or that passage or book or verb or theme. Neil’s concern, I believe, is not to study Paul for the sake of Paul or for the sake of study itself, but to engage Paul as one (amongst many) of the ways in which we can try to disarm the Death-dealers and contribute to that which is Life-giving and Life-affirming. I have a great deal of respect for this approach. Indeed, one could argue that this is one possible way of responding well to Malcolm X’s injunction (which is echoed by Taiaiake Alfred) that well-meaning white folks leave black (and Indigenous) communities alone — there is more than enough wisdom, strength and power within black and indigenous communities for them to care for themselves — and go and deal with the violence and of white people and white supremacy.

Many thanks, Neil, for your willingness to do this and for engaging in such a open manner. I hope what follows will be a source of encouragement to some of those who are haunted by Paul and Malcolm and Toussaint and Martin and Oscar and Dessalines, and who strive to, in turn, inhabit the nightmares of Nero and Obama and Harper and Boeing and Shell and Transcanada.]

(1) The 1994 publication of Liberating Paul: The Justice of God and the Politics of the Apostle seemed to be a definitive moment for (what I will refer to as) counter-imperial readings of Paul.
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Posted by: Dan | May 30, 2015

My People is the Enemy: Afterword

Thirteen hung and burned while hanging.  One for each apostle and a bonus one for the good Lord Jesus.

Thirteen hung and burned while hanging. One for each apostle and a bonus one for the good Lord Jesus.

I continue to think a lot about Haiti these days. In many ways, I think it is a microcosm of the best and worst of the world that came to be with the rise of capitalism. The history of oppression, of profits over people, of rapacious violence brought to bear upon human beings seeking little more than freedom and their own bit of land to cultivate, is absolutely appalling. The history of resistance to that oppression, the refusal to give in to Death — despite the extent and severity of the violence — the constant uprisings of Life, Life that will not be killed, Life that will not remain dead, is astounding.

Every now and then I try to talk about this with some of my sensitive bourgeois white friends, many of whom are Christians (as is Aristide, as were the French slave traders). I say things like, “The only successful slave revolt in history!” and “I wonder how all of this might provide insight into our own context!” What is the universal response I receive from these kind-hearted people? “Yeah, but what happened? Once they got free, didn’t the leaders just turn on their own people? Didn’t they just end up replicating similar power imbalances – isn’t there now a small percentage of elite, wealthy Haitians oppressing a large number of poor Haitians?  It didn’t really work, did it?”

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Posted by: Dan | April 3, 2015

My People is the Enemy

By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst of it
We hung our harps.
For there our captors demanded of us songs,
And our tormentors mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”

How can we sing the Lord’s song
In a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
May my right hand forget her skill,
May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
If I do not remember you,
If I do not exalt you, Jerusalem,
Above my chief joy.

Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, “Raze it, raze it,
To its very foundation.”
O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
How blessed will be the one who repays you
With the recompense with which you have repaid us.
How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
Against the rock.

~ Psalm 137

Slaveholders have no rights more than any other thief or pirate. They have forfeited even the right to live, and if the slave should put every one of them to the sword tomorrow, who dare pronounce the penalty disproportionate to the crime?
~ Frederick Douglass

1. Concerning Goldfish

In 2004, Monza, Italy, made it illegal to keep goldfish in goldfish bowls. Giampietro Mosca, a Council Member there, stated that “A fish kept in a bowl has a distorted view of reality… and suffers because of this.” Rome followed a year later, noting both that the water in goldfish bowls is not properly oxygenated and that bowls can make fish go blind. Commenting on this decision a City Councillor, Monica Cirinna, stated: “The civilization of a city can be measured by this.”

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[What follows is a very personal and painful reflection about my own experience of being sexually assaulted.  Graphic details are included.  For a number of reasons, explored below, this was extremely difficult to write and to share.  If you know me, I expect it will also be extremely difficult to read.  You don’t have to read it.  If you do read it, please don’t feel obligated to comment on it — although you are also welcome to comment.  Please know that I’m okay (for the most part).  I’m a survivor.  Mostly, I have decided to go public with this for two reasons: (1) personally, I don’t like feeling afraid and I think secrecy facilitates fear and other misplaced feelings like shame, so, for me, this is a part of confronting my own fears; and (2) mainly, I hope that sharing the following will also help others who have experienced sexual violence and who don’t know how to feel or think about it and who have remained silent.  I hope that the following will be helpful to these people.  Perhaps it will help folks to negotiate their own confusion or their own sense of isolation.  Because of this, I hope that you will consider sharing or linking to this on your own social media as I think the more people this can reach, the more potential there is for it to help in the ways I hope it to help.]

This is the first part

It is difficult to know how or where to begin this reflection.  I have tried to write it several times already and ended up deleting each previous attempt at some point in the process.  I have taken breaks of days and months and years in between efforts. I did once manage to write a fair bit about all of this in another piece but I don’t feel that I can stand to go and read or rearrange what I wrote there.

They say that survivors sometimes tell and retell their stories as a part of the process of working through everything that happened… a part of “making peace with” or “moving on” or “healing” or “accepting” or whatever other terms people use so easily in order to speak about the unspeakable.

~

Sometimes I am triggered by events that go on around me or things I see or hear as life goes on – although I am never noticeably triggered, at least I don’t think I am, and I am far less frequently triggered than a good many other survivors I have known – and so to try (again) to sit and dwell in the memory of what was and what still is, to try (again) to put it into words, to try (again) to conceptualize it (to literally transform a trauma into a concept) is very difficult.  I tried recently, after I wrote my last post about representations of female sexual desire, because I realized I was walking around for days in a triggered state of increased anxiety while I was writing what I wrote. I got about four pages into my own personal reflection and then I stopped and deleted it and sat on my bed in the dark trying to suppress the feeling of nausea that was rising in my stomach and throat and the feelings of anxiety and panic that were building up in my chest and head.

~

Thinking about where to begin now, I almost wrote that this is a reflection about something that happened to me.  But I feel like that makes me too passive.  I was involved in what happened.  Things were done to me, but things were also done with me.

Is it still rape, if I let myself be raped?

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[The following contains triggers due to its explicit discussion of sexual violence as represented in various texts.]

[Belle de Jour] is possibly the best-known erotic film of modern times, perhaps the best.  That’s because it understands eroticism from the inside-out – understands how it exists not in sweat and skin but in imagination. ~ Roger Ebert

[I was] very exposed physically… I felt they showed more of me than they’d said they were going to… There were moments when I felt totally used.  I was very unhappy. ~ Catherine Deneuve, Séverine in Belle de Jour

This is wrong, but holy hell is it erotic. ~ Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Introduction: Engaging Representations

In the following reflection, I want to try to carefully think about female sexual desire as it is represented in two remarkably similar texts: Luis Buñuel’s award-winning 1967 film, Belle de Jour (BDJ), and E. L. James’ best-selling novel, Fifty Shades of Grey (FSG).  I hope to be clear from the outset that what I am trying to think about are these representations of female sexual desire and not female sexual desire as it is experienced by any specific person. Consequently, the comments that follow are not at all intended to try and police female sexual desire as such – I do not think there is any basis whatsoever for me, a cis-gendered person who has gotten by just fine performing maleness, to say what it is or is not permissible for women (or others) to desire in sexual fantasies.  The topic I am considering here are these representations of female sexual desire, how they were communicated, and how they have been received.

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I know a gal who doesn’t believe in god. She never has. She went through more than any child should ever have to go through, as many children do. I played her a song about a child who died and the singer asks why wasn’t god watching, why wasn’t god there, for this girl, and the singer imagines the girl, young and full of trust and laughter and playfulness, and she died, she was taken, her body was found beside a highway, and the singer asks why and why and why, and this gal I know who doesn’t believe in god, this gal who has never believed in god, broke down and cried while she listened.

God is such a lovely fantasy. And it seems that most of us look back on moments when we lost our innocence, when parts on the outside and inside of us were broken or taken and at least some part of us wishes that we had been protected from that moment that someone, something, anything, god, whatever, had been there because we were young and we were innocent and we were full of trust and laughter and playfulness and part of us died, and was taken, and we were left behind, alone, undone. It would have been lovely to have been saved from all that. Gods and salvation and happy endings, these are such seductive ideas.

~

Last night, I sat with Ruby in my arms and played video games with Charlie. At bedtime they sat in my lap while I read a story. I tucked them in and then sat beside Ruby’s bed and rubbed her back until she fell asleep (I always do this, and people always say something like, “oh, that’s so sweet!”, but if I don’t do it, she won’t go to sleep and is constantly in and out of bed). Ruby fell asleep quickly and I stood up and stroked Charlie’s forehead and cheeks (he’s in the top bunk) and ran my fingers through his hair. He rolled over so that he was closer to me and smiled with his eyes closed and then he fell asleep, too.

I’ve given up on trying to sing to them because Ruby always tells me to be quiet and covers her ears. Instead, I tell them that I love them and that they are beautiful and that they are smart and strong and brave and wonderful and make my heart feel so happy—so happy that sometimes it feels like it is going to burst out of my chest. I spend a lot of time telling them that they are good. It may seem like an odd thing to repeat, “you’re such a good girl, you’re such a good boy,” but it took me more than thirty years to shake the sense of guilt that was planted in me as a child and I don’t want them carrying that. Children need to know that they are good.

~

A couple days ago the CBC was all over a story about how a former high-level manager for the Ministry of Children and Family Development, who was also a director for the British Colombia Youth in Care Network (a foster parent himself) had been arrested for possessing child pornography. I knew this man. During the last year or so of my time working for Covenant House Vancouver (a shelter and residential living program for street-involved youth), he was hired on as an Assistant Program Manager. He was a prick but that’s pretty par for the course when it comes to Senior Managers within the non-profit industrial complex. He was smart and manipulative and was very talented at working people to his side and his advantage. I guess those are skills you want to learn if you’re a Senior Manager or a child pornographer.

I don’t ask why to god about this sort of thing anymore. If there is any god out there, responsible for creating all of this, then all that can be said of us is that we have all been betrayed. We have all been abandoned.

~

Ni dieu ni maître!” is what Blanqui said and earlier anarchists and socialists and labour movement members agreed with him. They also agreed with him that wealth was not going to be redistributed in the absence of violence directed at the hoarders of wealth. But all of that has mostly been pacified now. Now we have protests full of spiritual-not-religious bourgeoisie eager to point the finger at anyone who breaks a window or tips over a garbage dumpster. Not surprisingly, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

~

Not that anyone I know has a problem with the idea of a justice and peace and love kind of god. A god who can heal all wounds, wipe away all tears, and make all things new? A god who can bring about shalom? Sure, I’ll take four, please. Oh, wait, this god doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything tangible for anyone around these parts? Oh, wait, “the family that prays together still probably dies in the fire.” No point in waiting around here then, especially given all that other things god is used for. And if that kind of justice and peace and love and healing god shows up? Well, what did Heine say? “Gott wird mir verzeihen – das ist sein Beruf.”

But, wait, who wants to be forgiven by a god who has abandoned us? That seems a little backwards to me. Any god who shows up proclaiming, “I forgive you!” is no better than a parent who abandons her children in the middle of a war zone and then comes back thirty years later saying, “I forgive you!” Fuck that.

~

Ruby likes me to take her by the hands and spin her around when we dance. I painted her nails for her the other day and she was so excited that she gave me a giant hug – lifting her legs off the floor and kicking them back behind her, like we were in a cheesy movie and I was her long lost father and we finally found each other at a remote airport in Indonesia in the rain. She is most ticklish on her legs just above her knees. Her laughter is pure laughter and when I laugh with her
mine
is
too.
Isn’t that something, eh?

When I walk down the street with her and Charlie in my arms, or with one on either side of me, holding my hands, I may grumble about how much they weigh, or I may complain about my bad knees (am I eighty already?), or the snow in the air and the ice on the sidewalk, but really in my heart I know that I am the luckiest fellow in the world. And I don’t need a god to know that I am blessed and that each one of us is sacred and that the earth we walk upon is holy ground.

Posted by: Dan | January 21, 2015

Last Friday Charlie Turned Six

Last Friday Charlie turned six. I was going to write my son, Charlie, turned six, and add a bunch of other descriptors – “my beautiful, kind-hearted, hilarious, gentle, innocent…” – but I didn’t know how I would be able to end once I started. Plus, all the words – “beautiful, kind-hearted, hilarious, gentle, innocent…” – seemed to fall far short of actually describing him. Plus, he’s not even really “mine.” How can one person possess another? And how can I ever describe him? How can I ever express what I see when I see him, what I hear when I hear him, what I feel when I hold him and what I feel when he holds me back? My heart aches with love.

~

In the mornings, when I bundle him up and wrap him up in a blanket and carry him to school, he leans in close to me and whispers in my ear: “Want to know a secret?” “Yes, I do.” “I love you so much.” “I love you so much, too.” And I spin in circles and pretend that the hedge by the sidewalk is his school and pretend to set him down inside of it and we both laugh and when I press him close to me he sighs his happy little sighs.

~

The night before the birthday party, I put the kids to bed and then stayed up late (10PM is late for me now) blowing up balloons and hanging streamers and sorting treats into gift bags for all the cousins who were coming to celebrate with us. It’ll take me two pay cheques to clear my credit card from this event which, I think, is really what greases the wheels of credit-debt. A lot of us aren’t going into the hole buying things for ourselves. We’re going into the hole buying things for other people because we want them to feel love and joy and excitement and if we just spend enough, we can give these things to them.

~

Ruby wants it to be her birthday, too. Ruby who is smart and strong and creative and a keen observer of others and… but there I am, doing that futile thing with descriptors again. She still crawls into bed with me most nights. I wrap my arm around her and cuddle her while she sleeps. Sometimes she talks about monsters and I tell her there are no monsters at daddy’s house because all the monsters are afraid of her daddy because her daddy is not afraid of them and her daddy has never encountered a monster he has not vanquished or turned into a friend and she believes me and she falls asleep in my arms and she sleeps peacefully… while I toss and turn as she jabs an elbow into my ribs or a toe into my hip. I am grateful for nights when sleep is lost that way.

~

One day Ruby, my baby girl Ruby, who also is not a thing to be possessed by me or by anybody else, will be too big and old for all of this. She will grow up. And the world is waiting and daddy’s house is small in comparison to all the places she will go. God, I pray her path is not lined with monsters. I don’t really believe in “God” but I pray to any God and every God for my children because, hey, why not? I would obey every fucked-up rule in every fucked-up sacred book if I thought the gods would then keep my children safe.

~

Recently, I came across a story told by Jorge Semprún, a Spanish Communist Party member exiled to France and arrested by the Gestapo in 1943. He was sent to Buchenwald were he observed the arrival of a number of Polish Jews. This is Žižek’s paraphrase of Semprún’s story:

[The Polish Jews] had been stacked into the freight trains almost two hundred to a car, travelling for days without food and water in the coldest winter of the war. On arrival, all in the carriage had frozen to death except for fifteen children, kept warm by the others in the center of the bundle of bodies. When the children were emptied from the car the Nazis let their dogs loose on them. Soon only two fleeing children were left.

And here Semprún contines:

The little one began to fall behind, the SS were howling behind them and then the dogs began to howl too, the smell of blood was driving them mad, and then the bigger of the two children slowed his pace to take the hand of the smaller… together they covered a few more yards… til the blows of the clubs felled them and, together they dropped, their faces to the ground, their hands clasped.

I lost my shit when I read this story. I cried, like hard ugly crying, curled up on the bed beside a friend who just held me without saying anything. I see Charlie and Ruby when I think of those children – and that is who those children are – somebody’s Charlie, somebody’s Ruby, somebody’s child, somebody’s love, somebody’s reason for living. And, for the adults who froze on the train, somebody’s reason for dying.

(And what did their dying accomplish? Would it have been better for the children to have frozen to death, instead of watching all their loved ones die and then being torn apart by dogs?)

But for now the monsters Ruby fears are the kind that are under the bed or in the closet, that kind that vanish when her daddy holds her and rubs her back and tells her that he loves her. She doesn’t yet know how monstrous people can be to one another.

And me? What do I know? Well, I sometimes wonder if I’ve ever met a woman who hasn’t experienced some kind of physical or sexual violence at the hands of men so, yeah, there’s that.

~

But last Friday Charlie turned six. He can read bedtime stories to Ruby and I now – he reads them all by himself, turning the pages and holding them up for us to see the pictures. I had tears of joy in my eyes when he first did this – my son can read, he can read books, what a wonderful gift for him to have received. He might not need them, like I needed them to survive my childhood, but they will always be there for him now. How ‘bout that, eh?

His hands and feet are getting so big. He’s got a whole new repertoire of dance moves and he tells surprising jokes.

“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Banana… wait, I mean Orange.” “Orange who?” “ORANGE IN YOUR EYE!” *mad cackling ensues*

He is a sensitive boy who picks up when others are sad. He obeys quickly – unlike Ruby – and sometimes this worries me.

~

And this is another story about another Charlie and Ruby. An elder I know told me about some of his experiences at a residential school. One day, a young girl at the school had been told to clean the bathroom but one of the toilets had overflowed and the girl did not have the cleaning equipment necessary to deal with the mess. When the supervising nun came around and saw the mess she was furious. The girl tried to explain that she wanted to clean it but lacked the supplies needed. In response, the nun grabbed the little girl, flipped her upside down, and mopped up the shit and piss with the girl’s hair.

That’s just one event of a countless multitude this fellow witnessed, not to mention the countless others that took place in residential schools (and then foster care – as foster care has increasingly been the tool the Canadian State uses to take Indigenous children away from their parents, homes, communities, cultures, values, and languages). Many kids tried to flee the physical and sexual abuse (not to mention death from preventable disease and malnutrition). This often ended disastrously. For example, on New Year’s day in 1937, four Charlies were discovered frozen to death on a lake in thirty below weather. They had fled their school and were trying to make their way home. One of the boys was in summer clothes and had one foot bare. Another boy had running shoes on with no rubbers over top of them. Only one boy had a cap on. They died about half a mile from home, after walking for eight miles. The police report described them as “little tots.” Children who chose to go out into the heart of the winter without winter clothes because that was a better option than staying where they were.

~

But last Friday Charlie turned six. He’s six years old and I can see his eyes sparkle when he is extra happy or excited. He’s six years old and he never got shipped off to a death camp or froze to death on a train or in the snow trying to find his way home. He never got torn apart by dogs or beaten to death while holding his sister’s hand in the snow. He’s six years old and he loves to be held or just be close to me while we do things. He’s six years old and he never got torn from his home and culture and language and had his hair cut off. He was never made to sleep alone when he was afraid, he never had his hurts ignored or met with more hurt, and he never had his head used as a mop for shit and piss. My people do that to other people and then we circle our wagons around our wealth and privilege and cake and candles and party balloons and kiss our kids good night and go to bed feeling grateful.

~

Last Friday Charlie turned six. I love you, Charlie. And I love you, Ruby. I love you, I love you, I love you.

Dr. Gerald Horne is a prolific author — he published three(!) books in 2014 alone. He is a professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, an advocate for justice, and the former executive director of the National Conference of Black Lawyers (in the USofA). Last year, I read his book, The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America, and I thought it was one of the best books I read that year. It helped me to make a lot of sense of why the American revolution always felt different to me than a number of the other revolutions I have studied (essentially, the American revolution was a revolution fought by local elites, whose wealth and power was rooted in stealing land from Indigenous peoples and enslaving Africans; when Britain threatened the American Settlers with the emancipation of the slaves, and also blocked the Settlers from expanding westward — not to mention increasing taxes on imports, especially the importation of slaves, in order to pay for a war Britain had fought to ensure that Spain and France did not overrun the American colonies — the Settler elite revolted). This makes the American revolution a “counter-revolution” and explains much about American revolutionary history up until the present day (remember when Time Magazine named George W. Bush the Person of the Year and branded him, on their cover, as an “American Revolutionary”? That makes sense within the American counter-revolutionary context).

Dr. Horne, despite his busy schedule, was kind enough to briefly respond to a few questions that I sent to him. I want to thank him very much for his willingness to do this and for all that he does. Thank you, Dr. Horne!

(1) I have long been fascinated by revolutionary moments and those people and events which precede them and make revolution not simply imaginable but historically possible. However, I have primarily focused upon moments like Russian, French, and Haitian revolutions. However, the American Revolution hasn’t interested me to nearly the same degree. I think your book helped me to understand why. Rather than referring to this as a genuine revolutionary moment in history, you refer to it as a “counter-revolution.” I think that this is a very critical point. However, you don’t much contrast the history you describe to other revolutions in order to draw out this distinction to readers who may be less familiar with the various moments I have mentioned here. Perhaps you could take a moment to do so? Furthermore, to what other historical events would you compare this “counter-revolution” (the Tea Party comes to mind for me, or the so-called Oath Keepers who showed up in Ferguson – making counter-revolutionary action an ongoing American practice – but perhaps you have some other examples in mind)?

The Haitian Revolution led to the abolition of slavery. The revolt against British Rule in 1776 led to the successful rebels ousting their ‘colonial master’ from leadership of the African Slave Trade—while London moved toward abolition. That is a major theme of the book. I also chide historians in the U.S. who have been quite critical of revolutions globally—Russian, Cuban, French, Chinese, etc.—but have been remarkably quiet about the obvious defects of the so-called ‘Revolution’ that took place here.

When protesters march under the banner ‘Black Lives Matter’, they are providing a direct challenge—and affront—to 1776, which is why there is so much pressure for these protesters to drop this slogan in favor of the more anodyne, ‘All Lives Matter.’

As I note in the book, even—particularly—left wing historians have done a poor job of historicizing and theorizing the depth of conservatism among Euro-Americans generally, the working and middle classes particularly. You have ‘theoreticians’ who claim their reason for being is blocking the rise of fascism in the U.S.—yet have little or nothing to say about the 1991 gubernatorial election in La., where a Euro-American majority voted for a fascist.

Assuming [neither]climate change nor world war overcomes us all, historians of the future will be—and should be—unsparing in their critique of contemporary U.S. historians; left-wingers generally; and—especially—those who purport to discuss ‘race.’

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Posted by: Dan | December 4, 2014

Tanya Tagaq

Tagaq

On November 13th, I went to see Tanya Tagaq along with Jean Martin, Jesse Zubot, and Christine Duncan. I was expecting something different than a regular concert or performance. I had no way of anticipating just how different the Event that took place would actually be. It has taken me awhile to be able to try and write about that experience and what was shared and sung and drummed and played and heard and witnessed. Really, the experience was unspeakable… and so some time had to pass before I could pretend to be able to speak or write of it. I have never been hyperbolic about things related to the Arts, in fact I am generally quite skeptical about the transformative power or radical possibilities people like to ascribe to things like music or painting or theatre or literature, but as I have tried to speak of and understand what happened, I would say that it was apolcalyptic in the proper sense of that word. That is to say, it was a rupturous revelation, the in-breaking of a novum into a space that previously could not imagine that newness – and I felt as though I was simultaneously transfixed, transported and transformed. The entire thing felt… holy… prophetic… inspired… (all of which are words I never use, but can’t seem to avoid now) It felt like an encounter with the Unnameable which we often go seeking but which we never find, unless the Unnameable chooses to come and encounter us.

In reflecting on this experience, I hope I am not trying to name the Unnameable. I’m not even convinced that my personal reflections are worth sharing with anybody else – how a Settler reflects upon the activities and voice of an Indigenous woman should be of little importance to anybody and this has been part of the reason why I have been hesitant about writing. So I do want to be clear about that – I am not the voice people should hear – that voice is Tanya’s. Still, I do want to think a little more about these things and I also want to say thank you to Tanya and those who were on stage with her. In what follows, I try to do both. Tanya, Jean, Jesse, and Christine, thank you. I lift my hands to you.
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