December 26, 2008

"Act so that there is no use in a centre."

—Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons

This is a letter. A letter to you. What I want to say is that if I were able to act without use of a center, I might find positions that revolve. Or better, I would find something that hovers, like a Ouija board from my youth, which told me that I would find someone named Chris. For the record, I don't generally find myself believing in such things.

What does it "mean" to act so that there is no use in a center? It would seem to say that a center exists, but I have no use for it. And I must act like I have no use for it. Does this suggest pretense or not? Perhaps it suggests that I locate myself in the margin? This isn't hard to do, as I find myself there already: poetically, ethnically. I wanted to say pedagogically, but I question that. Yes, decenter authority. But is decentering acting without use in a center? It seems to acknowledge the center.

If I locate myself in the margin, does that soon become my center? Perhaps then, I must keep moving. Stasis leaves me stagnant, a kind of death. This period, for instance. This January, I will move to London for my sabbatical. I will board a plane, and I will return in June, just after my b-day. I will travel to Barcelona and Paris. I will visit cities in Ireland and Italy, not yet determined. Perhaps this move is a train of thought that keeps one from locating in the first place, and maybe that's a lack of center.

I was born on my grandmother's birthday. Her name was Naka, which if written in kanji means center / inside / middle: 中. However, if "naka" is written this way , it means relations / relationships. I find it ironic that I'm trying to "define" the "no use" of a thing that I carry as a moniker. How does one find relation when one is hovering, circling 'round?

Recently, one of my good friends compared herself to "white girl pretty." I took that phrase home with me and tried to contend with it. Why did this beautiful woman of color need to locate (center herself against) the idea of beauty in "white girl"? How does internalized oppression enter the body and take hold so that we act as if there is nothing but center with our skin on the outskirts? But is this what I want to say?

I'd like to arrange each thought against another and give them equal weight.

No use in a center may mean no use in a margin. Perhaps it is the space between binaries. The space between margin and center. A traveling horizon. The gynesis (Jardine). The experimental feminine (Retallack). A way to proceed queerly (Schultz). This cyborg-chimera space that I try to embrace.