Friday, August 28, 2009

"In the dirt of the line": on Bhanu Kapil's intense autobiography

Here is a sneak peak at an essay I have been composing on Bhanu Kapil for ON Contemporary Practice 2--due out in early October:

To mark such a space Kapil “put[s] [her] knib on the page” (Humanimal, 38) to “let motion wreck the line” (38) producing written “arrhythmias” as “record[s] of travel.” (38) Through an arrhythmic writing—a writing paced by quickened heart rates—Kapil’s own body leaves the traces of its lines of flight through writing. The form of the writing—the sentences which stutter with commas, hyphens, and periods; the syllogistic/constellative movements of the sentences and paragraphs—chart intensities rather than represent where Kapil has ‘been’. Here, form becomes an extension of physical travel in space intermittent with writing as a form of travel—the “crossing of thresholds,” a “flight of intensities” —without moving. Making the body in-transit a site of autobiography (a la Thoreau’s “Walking” or Kerouac’s On the Road), Kapil’s body also extends writing as a means of mourning, where mourning is successfully negotiated through itinerancy. “In the quick, black take of a body’s flight, a body’s eviction or sudden loss of place, the memory of descent functions as a subliminal flash.” (Humanimal, 26) Although travel and motion result in perpetual loss, in Kapil’s work they also accomplish an unforeclosed work of healing.

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