A high-low mix tape on the subject of the vernacular

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Clara Balaguer

Lecture Performance
Reading Group
First delivered on 2 November 2021 at XPUB (Piet Zwart Institute)


Title B.O.a.T.S
Artist Mojeed
Album Westernized West African
Link https://youtu.be/Ylg7hSTQA5k
Mix Notes Before playing the song, ad lib with story: found all of these songs while searching on lyrics.com for the word vernacular, wanting to present a snapshot of how this word and concept appears in popular music – which, despite the professionalized industry that creates it, can be said to form an integral part of vernacular culture. Play song, lower volume gradually but quickly after voice intro.

Lyrics [Excerpt]

They called our own languages vernacular

So English was the

Real language we had to speak in school so

Everything was English

With what we were taught in school

Nobody was thinking of

Whether to be African or not

We just accepted that we were English

And everybody that went to England

For studies was a master you know

Everybody wants to go to England

Come back home to be master you know


Title Natural Poetics, Forced Poetics
Artist Édouard Glissant
Album Caribbean Discourse
Link https://www.dropbox.com/s/gh6b5c2esh59dqg/Glissant_Edouard_Caribbean_Discourse.pdf
Mix Notes Read immediately after previous song intro, mentioning track info (title, artist, album).

Lyrics [Excerpt]

I define as a free or natural poetics any collective yearning for expression that is not opposed to itself either at the level of what it wishes to express or at the level of the language that it puts into practice. Forced poetics exist where a need for expression confronts an inability to achieve expression.

[A French Caribbean individual] must cut across one language in order to attain a form of expression that is perhaps not part of the internal logic of this language. A forced poetics is created from the awareness of the opposition between language that one uses and a form of expression that one needs.

Forced poetics therefore does not generally occur in a traditional culture[. …] Where the language, the means of expression, and what I call here the form of expression (the collective attitude toward the language used) coincide and reveal no deep deficiency, there is no need to resort to this ploy, to this counterpoetics.

Forced poetics or counterpoetics is instituted by a community whose self-expression does not emerge spontaneously[. …] This phenomenon is exacerbated because the communities to which I refer are always primarily oral.

Since speech was forbidden, slaves camouflaged the word under the provocative intensity of the scream. No one could translate the meaning of what seemed to be nothing but a shout. It was taken to be nothing but the call of a wild animal. This is how the dispossessed man organized his speech by weaving it into the apparently meaningless texture of extreme noise. There developed from that point a specialized system of significant insignificance. Creole organizes speech as a blast of sound.

A requirement is thus introduced into spoken Creole: speed. […] Perhaps the continuous stream of language that makes speech into one impenetrable block of sound. So the meaning of a sentence is sometimes hidden in the accelerated nonsense created by scrambled sounds. But this nonsense does convey real meaning to which the master’s ear cannot have access.

One could imagine this is, moreover, a movement that is emerging almost everywhere – a kind of revenge by oral languages over written ones, in the context of a global civilization of the non-written. Writing seems linked to the transcendental notion of the individual, which today is threatened by and giving way to a cross-cultural process. In such a context will perhaps appear global systems using imaginative strategies, not conceptual structures, languages that dazzle or shimmer instead of simply “reflecting.”


Title Got Skills?
Artist Jay Sovereign (Feat. King Kogen and Mono Kong)
Link https://youtu.be/QaEFH6iykNA
Mix Notes Play from beginning until excerpt appears (at about 1’59"). After excerpt lyrics have been sung, abruptly mute sound and then repeat excerpt out loud.

Lyrics [Excerpt]

And they say I got vernacular which means

I got skill

TRACK 4 Mash-Up Verses


Image Link https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6mwh7torsy7nd70/AAANFDQ0KGIqe1q3cexTYDmDa
Mix Notes Long ad-lib monologue about the context in which the mash-up tracks were created. Play images in link above as randomized photo carrousel while ad-libbing.

This mash-up is residue from a podcast recorded by design researcher Pamela Cajilig and cultural worker Clara Balaguer as classroom material for the DISKARTE DIY (2016) project by The Office of Culture and Design, Tubigon Loomweavers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Ishinomaki Laboratory, Department of Trade and Industry, Japan Foundation.


++ Capacitated former fishermen to recycle their skills (from fishing to carpentry) in response to long-term destruction of coral reefs and sea life as well as short-term destruction after an earthquake. This program was co-facilitated by Ishinomaki Laboratory, a furniture design and production outfit that emerged after the city of Ishinomaki was destroyed by the 2011 tsunami.

++ Was a furniture design skills exchange and research initiative between members of two communities (Tubigon and Ishinomaki) that had to rebuild their environments after a major natural disaster (earthquake, tsunami). This five-day workshop wanted to reframe the value of precarious design in rural and underserved areas. Its practical goal was to construct a common living and working area for the weavers of the Tubigon Loomweavers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (TLMPC). Many of their workers lived in the loomweaving warehouse in cheek-by-jowl conditions, made more uncomfortable because, aside from their small sleeping quarters, there was no common area for other domestic and work-related activities.

++ Was connected to previous initiatives with the TLMPC in Bohol Island – Dye Trying, a ten-week residency on four harness loom weaving and natural dye by Rhode Island School of Design students Lyza Baum and Emilie Jehng, and The OCD – wherein livelihood skill-building activities were based around the intention for entire family structures to be included in any development-oriented program, for the sake of sustainable longevity. Returning to the same communities to do cultural programming, in a method called repeat tacticality, was how The OCD attempted (but often failed) to enact a strategy of longer-term community impact with underfunded projects that could only have short-term, tactical lifespans.


Title Verse 1
Source Email to Clara Balaguer about DISKARTE DIY project
Artist Pamela Cajilig
Album Email

Lyrics [Excerpt]

Used in a variety of contexts—from courting to fishing to playing mahjong and basketball—the term diskarte (etymology: Spanish: descartar or ‘to eliminate’) implies many concepts acknowledged as fundamental to design theory: intentionality, constraint, materiality, movement; seeking ways to carry on, in spite of the restrictions of the moment, in order to attain some kind of desired future. Diskarte implies arriving at a way forward, after less feasible options have been discarded. Designers of various persuasions strategize, or perform diskarte materially as they do socially. Practices that could be classified as diskarte are on one hand used to negotiate the quirks of materials such as concrete, steel, plastic, cloth, paper, paint, and wood; or of equipment such as paintbrushes, screens, graphic design software, computers, and printers. On the other hand, diskarte can also be used to simultaneously negotiate limited budgets, client whims, as well as organizational or government policy. Notably, diskarte can also have negative connotations, such as strategising in a way that is dishonest or takes advantage of others. Subjectivities in the design field are not homogenous, therefore while many designers might relate to diskarte, not everyone in the local design industry will necessarily find resonance in the term.


Title Verse 2
Source “Export quality extended: an exchange with The Office of Culture & Design” by Michelle James for un Projects Magazine
Artist Clara Balaguer
Album Vernacular Language Toolkit
Link https://unprojects.org.au/issue/10-2/

Lyrics [Excerpt]

I first heard about diskarte, as a design concept, from Pamela Cajilig, who runs a local design thinking collective called Curiosity.ph. She describes it as a strategy taken from the Filipino attitude of making the best of what you have on hand to solve problems efficiently, cheaply, quickly and humorously. DIY is more of a back-to-the-roots movement, a critique of consumerist society wherein self-insufficiency born of luxury is the norm. DIY could be described as a romanticized Westernized return to autonomy, to knowing how to fix and survive outside of planned obsolescence.

Diskarte, in contrast, is a subconscious attitude applied to design or life that stems not from luxury ennui from the want or lack of resources. It is a knowing how to solve and accept insurmountable problems in the face of poverty. We tend to see diskarte attitude as something to be both proud and ashamed of, as these patchwork solutions arise when money (or any other desirable asset) is missing.

Though in the North/West there is a more-or-less strong public infrastructure and consciousness for recycling, it exists alongside this cavalier faith in the renewability, the false abundance of all resources. This is the contradiction of the most pedestrian form of Western eco-sensibility. In the Philippines, on the other hand, recycling starts at home with people saving and using all sorts of scraps and fragments to make diskarte. Then the local garbage men collect waste in wooden carts and sacks, roving the neighbourhood with baskets and carts like the manghahasa (tool sharpener), the sellers of balut (incubated duck fetus eggs) and taho (soybean curd with tapioca and syrup) and other mobile cottage industry microbusinesses. The independent trash men buy or simply collect recyclable paper, bottles and plastic to resell to junk dealers, maybe even back to Coca-Cola factories. Larger scale garbage collectors, with proper trucks and stuff, outsource the sorting service to junk shops or take it upon themselves for maximizing profit or simply bring unsegregated trash to landfills, where hundreds of informal dwellers—who may also live on these mountains of trash—pick doggedly through mountains of waste, mining for monetizable objects, relying on luck and persistence.

Chamba, which is something like luck, also affects diskarte. Your efforts to make diskarte always require some element of luck, fatalistic and somewhat effortless auspiciousness. When you live so close to want and have so much faith in the supernatural, the idea of life becomes a set of bets you may win or lose—so you roll the dice and pray for favour as a natural component of action.

The last particularity of diskarte involves the concept of resilient humour. A not-so-pretty guy can get a hot girl with the power of his diskarte—his humorous and engaging conversation. Same goes for site-specific design solutions. My recent favourite diskarte find is a bench made for a patch of sidewalk that had both an elevated and depressed area. So they built a bench with one set of legs shorter than the other so it could be positioned, presumably, to maximise the hours of shade and not be in the way of passers-by. Though, maybe they just liked the view better sitting in that direction. It’s a funny looking thing and you can’t help but crack a grin when you see it. If you see it, that is. Often, we take for granted these tiny moments of wry ingenuity.

Decolonising local aesthetic does not mean returning to some idealistic, precolonial, tribal imagery, as if every Filipino had the right to appropriate indigenous culture because that’s the only thing they consider ‘pure’ or decolonised. Just because we are brown, doesn’t mean we belong to these groups. Just because some of the Aytas or Mangyan may identify as Filipino, doesn’t mean we have a right to claim their culture as ours and halo-halo (mix-mix) it to our intra-culturally gentrified tastes. This is not to say that appropriation, mestizaje, creolization is never an enriching experience. It can be if it redistributes the locus of power. More than departing entirely from any pre-colonial influence, the way we’ve approached decolonising (and it pains me that this project-word has been run through the mill so consumptively by the Western world, to the point that it’s now demodé, as if emancipation were a biennale fashion trend of inconsequential shelf-life) through print and making public is by encouraging tenderness for the vernacular, everyday aesthetic influences. The stuff you see in lowbrow design at street level. The further away the vernacular designer’s technical knowledge is from Western or Northern processes — hand-made, non-computerised production, for example — the greater the chance of mispronunciation. A step towards decolonisation is not denying that these connections to the occidental aesthetic exist, but rather a shift in the perception of value: what is local, however uncouth, is not of lesser value. It does not merit a white- or west-washing. The local vernacular does merit close study and rigorous critical framing. Decolonising local aesthetic is an exploration of what is happening, what is being uttered now. It is not only a reaching into the past for a root of unsullied, idealized cultural purity that none of us can achieve. It is a commitment to the present for clues as to who we are — a making visible of our current face without shame for its developing nature.

TRACK 5 Mash-Up


Title Linton Kwesi Johnson gave poetry back to the people
Artist Percy Zvomuya
Album Mail and Guardian (Africa’s Best Read)
Link https://mg.co.za/friday/2020-07-12-linton-kwesi-johnson-gave-poetry-back-to-the-people/

Lyrics [Excerpt]

It’s no exaggeration that Linton Kwesi Johnson, who went to Britain from Jamaica at the age of 11 to follow his mother, part of the Windrush generation, did more than most to make black “cool” in Britain and beyond. In his music and poetry, he not only threw orthographical conventions by the wayside – “Inglan” for England, “revalueshanary” for revolutionary but with songs like Sonny’s Letta, LKJ put at the centre of British attention the ignominy and hardship of the black experience in the United Kingdom.

In this hymn, Sonny is writing to his mother from Brixton prison relating his experience of how cops came up upon them as he and his friend Jim were waiting for a bus, “not causing no fuss”. Without provocation, “Out jump tree policeman/All a dem carryin baton/Dem walk straight up to me and Jim.” It is then that Sonny fights back, resulting in the death of the cop.

“It’s winter 1980. I am 13, 14 and there is something in LKJ’s voice. You can’t quite figure out a lot of what he is saying, because of the Caribbean English he is using, but we could figure out it was anti-authoritarian. There is something about the voice, the defiant tone.” The standard fare that he had grown up listening to was pop on the radio and his father’s jazz collection. “You listen to Sonny’s Letta and you say, what the fuck? This is a completely new thing. How is this possible?”


Title Political Songs: Dub journalism, a cultural weapon
Artist Charles Leonard
Album New Frame Magazine
Link https://www.newframe.com/political-songs-dub-journalism-cultural-weapon/

Lyrics [Excerpt]

Linton Kwesi Johnson is famed as the inventor of dub poetry, but his ability to take history and make it relevant — as he does in ‘Reggae Fi Peach’ — makes him more of a journalist.

While based on the toasting (a style of lyrical chanting) of reggae DJs such as I-Roy and U-Roy, riding with vocal braggadocio over riddims, LKJ wrote the poetry first, then it was set to reggae music.

It was serious poetry, using the language of the black British working class to chronicle their lives of racist oppression. That it was combined with languid dub made sense. LKJ’s phonetic poetry sounds like music: you nod your head to it, you tap your foot to it. It makes you sway. It is deeply political poetry that makes you think, sing along to it and take action. It’s not poetry for rarefied elite spaces. It’s generous performance protest poetry made to be heard, not only read.

TRACK 6 Mash-Up

Title Inglan is a Bitch
Artist Linton Kwesi Johnson
Album Bass Culture
Mix Notes Play Sample 1 (a capella version of Inglan is a Bitch) for a few seconds, allowing its cadence to fall. Then play Sample 2 (from 3’30" onwards, instrumental outro of Inglan is a Bitch) under Sample 1, allowing the music to build a rhythmic texture. After a few seconds, mute Sample 2. Repeat process 2 or 3 times, taking care to allow a capella and scored readings space to breathe.


VOICE ONLY https://youtu.be/Zq9OpJYck7Y


MUSIC ONLY https://youtu.be/isMjvRpAckU?t=218 (start at 3’30")


Title Chorus
Artist Clara Balaguer
Album Vernacular Language Toolkit

Lyrics [Excerpt]

To speak of the vernacular is precisely that: to speak, to inhabit the present, what is contemporary. Nathalie Hartjes of Showroom MAMA spoke to me on the sidewalk in front of the gallery she runs. What she perceived to be the fundamental characteristic of the vernacular is contemporaneity. The vernacular is temporally urgent, it is here now, it exists as a snapshot of the present.

Perhaps the vernacular can be described as that which goes ahead of writing/being recognised as knowledge production by on high, and just barely escapes being imprisoned by inscription/legitimisation/the possibility of being studied in hermetic environments. Images of Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady trying to phonetically represent, with symbols that seem incomprehensible to a violet seller such as Eliza Doolittle. Eliza is the speaker of the vernacular tones Higgins studies with a mix of fascination and condescension. Any attempt to represent, in visual terms, languages that escape propriety involves transcription in symbols esoteric to those who actually generate the language. Or it involves the creation of indexes that are incomprehensible to the “masters” the language is meant to evade.

Proper language wants to stand still. It is backed by (presumably) centuries of practice that no longer want to practice. It is a conservative institution. Proper language is a canon protected by royal academies known for their aversion to history being made, being lived before their eyes or, in this case, their ears. History being made means the academy is being toppled, displaced. The academy refuses to recognise the vernacular because it is popular. Does the academy feel unloved in comparison? Or perhaps it sees the loss of its control as impending death. It is gripped by its own morbido.

To be liberated from this subordination and the crushing self-loathing it engenders, the vernacular must assert itself as transcendent. It must continue to utter itself into existence, it must drone and ramble, leave its fragmented body as a whole voice, and occupy. Its audience is the ordinary.


Artist Percy Zvomuya [Ibid]

With the PEN Pinter Prize in the bag and as one of two poets on the Penguin Classics list, how much more mainstream can one get? Yet Linton Kwesi Johnson is getting mainstream attention, not as a sellout but on his own terms. In 2008, he told The Guardian newspaper that mainstream acceptance was “great. But they recognise me, not the other way round. Some black and Caribbean poets seek a kind of validation from these arbiters of British taste. But they really didn’t exist for me. I was coming from a position of cultural autonomy. I did my own thing, built my own audience and established my own base. My audience was ordinary people.”


Title What I Say Goes
Artist Steven Connor
Album Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism
Link https://www.dropbox.com/s/m3jwa6r4iir5u89/Steven%20Connor_Dumbstruck_A%20Cultural%20History%20of%20Ventriloquism.pdf

Lyrics [Excerpt]

Nothing else about me defines me so intimately as my voice, precisely because there is no other feature of my self whose nature it is thus to move from me to the world, and to move me into the world. […] The voice takes up space, in two senses. It inhabits and occupies space; and it also actively procures space for itself. The voice takes place in space, because the voice is space, [which] far from being the neutral or unchanging background for human actions, the mere space in which action takes place, is actively and dynamically produced, under differing historical conditions.

Historians of the passage from orality to literacy have suggested that the most important difference between a culture based upon sound and one based upon sight lies in the relation of language to temporality. For literate or, so to speak, ‘sighted’ cultures, words are thought of as forms of record, signs capable of capturing bits of the world and of experience, and holding them in place. In aural-oral cultures, words are events; in visual-literate cultures, they are mnemonic objects.

Don Ihde suggests that the value of sound, and of an intensified awareness of it, is to restore us to a sense of being in the middle of the world, an intuition confirmed by Walter Ong, who suggests that ‘[s]ound situates man in the middle of actuality and in simultaneity, whereas vision situates man in front of things and in sequentiality’. The ‘acoustic space’ in which the oral-aural individual finds himself, Ong continues, is ‘a vast interior in the center of which the listener finds himself together with his interlocutors’.

[V]entriloquism has an active and a passive form, depending upon whether it is thought of as the power to speak through others or as the experience of being spoken through by others. The history of ventriloquism reveals the complex alternations between these two contrasting possibilities. Making sense of this history entails making sense of the power of unlocated or mobile voices,

In the pre-scientific conception of the body of the late classical and medieval periods, the body is seen as both open to and in complex interchange with manifold external influences, agencies, and energies, natural, divine, and demonic. One might call such a conception of the body’s relationship to its various environments a conception of ‘implicated space’. In such a conception, the insides and the outsides of things are not so powerfully distinguished as they are in later conceptions; insides and outsides change places, and produce each other reciprocally. We will see in later chapters how speech, and especially inspired, ecstatic, or possessed speech, belongs to such an economy of the body[,] which is not located so much as distributed in space.

TRACK 9 Mash-Up


Title Incantations
Artist Hawk Eye
Album [Single]
Link https://youtu.be/mgDVa_Gfq1o
Mix Notes Play until approx 0’55’

Lyrics [Excerpt]

When these lyrics hit your ear, they interfere with what you hear

Cause Hawk Eye’s back attacking queers

These tracks are packed with facts, my dear

My tongue attracts you with its clear

Combat vernacular skill

Cause even Dracula can feel

My fucking Black Magick is still

Much too real for him to kill

Powers I wield Seal the Deal

Before the Incantation’s done

I probably will reveal I’m thrilled

To put the Devil in his place

And Make several different Faiths

Reassess the situation

All Creation hesitates


Title VLTK Bridge
Artist Clara Balaguer
Album Vernacular Language Toolkit
Mix Notes Mute previous track abruptly after excerpt is done

Lyrics [Full]

A word of caution to would-be lovers of the vernacular. Alterity makes no saints. Deep dive into the world of obscure and popular hip-hop, searching for the word vernacular reveals a quagmire of masculinity, much of it toxic. The noble savage is a myth with a shadow side. Patriarchy in communities of colour replicates as we speak. Not all of what is spoken in the vernacular, in languages marginalised, carries necessarily within it the key to liberation. The irony of colonialism is the vehemence with which its boot heel is caressed by the trodden.


Title De Vulgari Eloquentia
Artist Dante Alighieri
Album [Single]
Link https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/modernlanguages/academic/lines/community/kenilworth/term2-wk9-dante-reading_2.pdf

Lyrics [Excerpt]

I shall try to say something useful about the language of people who speak the vulgar tongue, hoping thereby to enlighten somewhat the understanding of those who walk the streets like the blind, ever thinking that what lies ahead is behind them. I call ‘vernacular language’ that which infants acquire from those around them when they first begin to distinguish sounds; or, to put it more succinctly, I declare that vernacular language is that which we learn without any formal instruction, by imitating our nurses. There also exists another kind of language, at one remove from us, which the Romans called gramatica [grammar]. The Greeks and some - but not all - other peoples also have this secondary kind of language. Few, however, achieve complete fluency in it, since knowledge of its rules and theory can only be developed through dedication to a lengthy course of study. Of these two kinds of language, the more noble is the vernacular: first, because it was the language originally used by the human race; second, because the whole world employs it, though with different pronunciations and using different words; and third because it is natural to us, while the other is, in contrast, artificial. And this more noble kind of language is what I intend to discuss.


Title Chorus (What eye have learned from lyrics.com)
Artist Clara Balaguer
Album Vernacular Language Toolkit
Mix Notes Read in spoken word style

Lyrics [Full]

Vernacular rhymes with Dracula

Vernacular rhymes with spectacular

Vernacular rhymes with fuck yeah

Vernacular rhymes with slappin ya or grabbin ya or smackin ya

Vernacular rhymes with lapping up and blackin up and addin up

Vernacular rhymes with tarantula

Vernacular rhymes with Nissan Maxima

Vernacular rhymes with Honda Accura

Vernacular rhymes with scapular

Vernacular rhymes with Africa

Vernacular rhymes with particular

Vernacular rhymes with formula

Vernacular rhymes with immaculate

Vernacular rhymes with amateur

Vernacular rhymes with cracker

Vernacular rhymes with spatula

Vernacular rhymes with stamina

Vernacular rhymes with mathematical

Vernacular rhymes with parabola

Vernacular rhymes with Flux Capacitor

Verna, from the Latin that Dante eschewed, means home-born slave.

Vernacular is the language of those born into slavery.

It is the forced poetic of those who must hide their expression in the veil of scream.

It is that which is produced with the intent to elude detection.

It is that which is produced on the outskirts of the professionalized, the standardised, the rigid and embalmed bodies of knowledge that proclaim themselves the only source of it.

The vernacular is a personal intimacy with oppression and with the ability to find song in it.

The vernacular is the hidden word that bides its time, because it knows its time is nigh.

The vernacular is the sound of history being made through politics that are deeply personal, honest, un-artificed.

It is what is common, which is the closest we will get to the universal.

End (instead of start) with the seed.


Artist [Ibid] Charles Leonard

Lyrics [Excerpt]

Linton Kwesi Johnson’s poetry is […] fundamentally about oppressed people making history. He takes very particular history and makes it relevant to people around the world. “I still begin with the particular, and hope to make it universal.”


Title VLTK Coda
Artist Clara Balaguer
Album Vernacular Language Toolkit
Mix Notes Ad-lib about the template-driven software used to create this video. Templates, often built into software as native features, are built for those who haven’t a high-level understanding of the technology being used. Long dismissed by professional designers because it is at the reach of the layperson and thus not indicative of elite and exclusive products, services, markets, and aesthetics. Using templates and simple, commercial software (humble means) to create critical value. Also, an interesting look at how AI interprets general meaning of a text laden with obfuscatory spellings.
Link https://vimeo.com/641398695/68bfe12894

Lyrics [Full]

Writing From an Eye That Finds Ewe

A prose poem for the Studious Secretary-Scribe

“Eye will always love ewe.”

Dolly Parton

To narrate from the voice of the eye is something the ivory tower cannot quite digest. There is something about the eye that speaks for itself and not on behalf of an imagined audience, or a fabricated constituency, or an imagined neutrality that seems threatening to the canon. Eye can understand this fear. The eye is an inherently unstable position from which to be, to hold thought, or to grasp reality. In order to triangulate a reliable position, the point from which the eye departs must be stable, a fixed coordinate upon which to build a fundament of understanding. However. The eye cannot guarantee a stable sense of itself. The individual subject cannot fully grasp that which most eludes its line of sight: the eye cannot see itself. It must, thus, labor from the point of doubt. An eye that is certain of what it sees thinks too highly of itself.

The eye that works to be seen, and nothing else, is blind to its own position as member of a body, a constituency of other senses, that enrich the map of perception eye am able to draw. The eye that works to see beyond itself is a tribute to the flesh that gives it purpose.

The eye is built to grasp everything “else”, outside of its body, outside of its lens. The eye’s function is to understand itself in relation to a landscape, inhabited by other eyes.

The only eye that sees itself as it looks on the world is one that is ill. Clouded vision results from injuries to the ego as from lesions of the organ. The whole eye sees past itself, does not perceive the boundary between itself and the rest of the world. It is this borderless and self-unconscious eye from which our words must be spoken, which is to say, written.

The eye is triggered.

The eye triggers.

When writing from the eye, when the eye lifts the veil that obscures it from the world, it becomes vulnerable to attack. How to speak veiled, with a curtain to shield. Or to at least have the illusion of a shield. To be lidded from the eyes of others, from the dust of the world. The unlidded eye, the unfiltered voice of one’s trauma is a difficult sound for the writer to bear, for the reader to witness, for the eye to have witnessed.


Ah, but ears have no lids, as Steven Connor writes and as my friend Renan Laru-an has also said. The ears cannot shut ewe out. When eye think of the ewe that is conjured where conflict escalates— – he ewe that an irritated eye beholds – the figure of the ewe departs from the gentle. Non-violent communication calls for the effacement of the ewe, which can be perceived as accusatory. Non-violence calls for speaking from the personal experience of an eye that doesn’t judge, accuse, or assume motives for the actions of a ewe.

Eye will have to remember, next time, to picture the homonymous image of ewe – a soft, fuzzy sheep-mother jumping over fences made of dreams – whenever eye am addressed as a ewe under duress. The ewe is not always rapacious mob, imagined thief, aggressor. How can eye summon a ewe without corralling it in fear? The eye that sees the ewe behind behaviour eye fear cannot but approach this ewe with some degree of tenderness. How can the eye, imprisoned in explication, in assessing and judging, become all ear instead, an implicated listener? How can eye hear ewe?


Title I Will Always Love You
Artist Whitney Houston
Album The Bodyguard OST
Link https://youtu.be/3JWTaaS7LdU
Mix Notes Play full song, sing along. AND EEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEE…

Image gallery

Local market supplier banana trunk and plastic tie diskarte, photo by OCD
Pilay [disabled] bench diskarte, photo by OCD
Saw cover diskarte, photo by OCD