jai arun ravine

New thresholds, new anatomies!

Trans-pacific gender / genre in work by Jai Arun Ravine, Eileen Tabios & j/j hastain

Lava on Hawai`i Island, 2010

j/j hastain begins “crepuscular,” from the relational elations    of ORPHANED ALGEBRA, (with Eileen Tabios, and hereinafter referred to at treooa) with this simple problem: “The dilemma of belonging. What of that has to do with things exterior to us and what of it has to do with our own regard of exteriors and interiors?” (27).  hastain responds to Tabios's sequence of prose poems about orphanhood, in particular those orphans who are older, considered too old to be adopted.  The orphan who becomes part of Tabios's family (provenance Colombia, destination California) is doing word problems in algebra.  But these problems are more complicated than the math would indicate.  Arriving at a reference to walls that “slant at 65-degree angles” the child thinks of “the man you longed to call 'Dad.'”  He is not father, but “potential father.”  What appears outside the “glass-less window” is “a lucid mountain.”  The man has scarred the boy.  Their relation is not lucid.  Hence, the “answer” to the equation is “'indifference > hatred'?”  Equations do not generally end with question marks; this one offers a “resolution” only in ambiguities.  Most of us consider indifference to be a thing better than hatred.  But an orphan, who needs feeling, an emotional relation, longs for it to be strong, not absent or ambiguous.  His regard meets the world's disregard in an equation whose answer is no answer.  As hastain writes in “LUCIDITY DISCERNING”: “The desire for a father is not a father” (30).

But Tabios and hastain are most engaged in what happens when relation between persons occurs, or between genders within persons, namely in the TRANS of their “relational elations.”  They are fascinated by displacements, yes, but also in “active placements,” whether those are relationships within adoptive families or within individuals whose gender-identities are not normative. 

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