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It was during a time of spontaneous painting (see Lipsett, 2001, 2002), collage-making, music-listening, and intense de-schooling, that I was able to get out of my head enough to 'hear' Earth's wisdom moving through my body and come to the knowledge on this page – knowledge that for me, was seldom expressible and often unknowable in the context of my more 'academic' writing, living, and speaking. The 'text' below may be best described as expression through a grammar steeped in place, body, spirit and emotion; that which can more easily be spoken using a "chlorophyll alphabet" (Turner-Hospital, 1995, p. 190) or a "tawny grammar" (Dunlop, 2002, p. 24). The text might also be more directly described as an effect of personal de-colonization, of shedding layers of Western discourses of cognitive imperialism (Battiste, 1998), and in the end, arriving at a previously (in my culture and experience) unacknowledged and mostly unspeakable ontology of spiritual animism.
Instead of relying on extended explanations which risk reinscribing "clichéd and explanatory language" (Davies, 2000b, p. 252) as privileged, I worked to interrupt the privileged place of thought and foreground opportunities to engage a re-animated perception (Bai, 2009) – hopefully in ways that just might enable readers to experience meaning-making through an animist ontology. The words below are part of this process, defying the conventions of what for me, at the time of writing, were paralyzing effects of a linear grammar.
In the almost two-year decolonizing stages of this work, every time I tried to compile sentences across the page, my fingers paused, silent over keyboard....
no wonder this work is so hard.
if I talk of emotion, I am disqualified from the club
if I talk of my body ‘knowing’ I am no longer a
if I talk of me-land, I am no longer appropriately human
if I talk of conversations with the more-than-human world, or the
energy of the universe, I am…
Yet, I need to
‘talk’ of all of these.
I am me. I am land.
meLand. I am me. I am land.
effort to come to linguistic
terms with meLand.)
heron lays a wing…
thus sings my soul
necessity, fragility, and
Inspired by Carolyn McDade (1999)
and Donna Haraway (1991a)
I hesitate to describe this text as poetry, since to do so risks calling up particular sets of quality criteria that do not necessarily apply (see Cahnmann, 2003; Piirto, 2002). Instead, I refer to it as an expression of what emerged as I moved from one side of my office to the other – sometimes painting, sometimes writing, sometimes sitting, or dancing – coming to know in a way that enabled words and thoughts to, as Abram suggests, to "blossom out of my limbs" (2000, p. 168). This page represents both a knowledge and a knowing produced from emeshment of mind, body, spirit, experience and emotion. A knowledge that formed in the only way I could write at the time: In words tumbling down, rather than across the page.