Begin again: that was the advice of the Benedictine monk John Main, founder of the Christian silent meditation movement in the West, to those who found themselves floundering in their commitment to the daily task of meditating. It is an idea that is strangely comforting — to begin again — in all the contradictory impulses of that phrase, for a beginning is new in its never-been-here-before quality and resists the idea of repetition nestled at the heart of again. But that is what we must do in the face of the tsunami of the attacks bearing down on all those committed to a fair and equitable society — begin again and again and again
I sit with Solidarity Texts, and I am drawn to its states of motion: Anne Waldman’s metabolizing, M. NourbeSe Philip’s ruminating on what cannibalizes, Levi Bentley’s “Destroy them […] Keep moving,” everyone’s marching; and — yet — all the stall therein. What to make of ritual time, written and henceforth read; of the memorial, the eulogy, the flash obituary kept here.
Think back to the last time you marched — when you moved deliberately through a public space, when you used your body not just to get from one place to another but to be a statement, when you had to be keenly aware of the larger body you moved within and the body you moved against. If you’ve never marched before, go out now and try it. Now think back. Begin again.
Think back to the last time you marched — when you moved deliberately through a public space, when you used your body not just to get from one place to another but to be a statement, when you had to be keenly aware of the larger body you moved within and the body you moved against. If you’ve never marched before, go out now and try it. Now think back. Begin again. Be aware of your body in this public space. Are you cold? Are you hungry? Do you carry a sign? Is it heavy? Does it block the view of the people behind you? Are you walking?
On April 9, 1989, over four hundred thousand women marched on Washington in the March for Women’s Lives. Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Your body is a battleground) (1989) is perhaps the most lasting image from the protest. Kruger divides a photograph of a woman vertically, half in black and white, half in negative, light and dark reversed; an aesthetic of conflict. It is a work made directly for the purpose of protesting for liberation from legislation that prohibited women’s reproductive freedom.
We are drawn together to march but because we are so many, we cannot march. We can only shuffle off balance, lean, wind our way, press or fall against one another, allow ourselves to be moved, give up our bodies to the swarm. And so we find we are not militant but in motion, a motion we can’t master.
Like these texts, the Women’s March seemed instantaneously precipitated out of a loose host. A bolt in response to a call. It gathered and branched and struck. Like lightning answers thunder, which is to say, simultaneously. We were asking and answering in the streets and through our screens, the question
HOW DO WE END THE TRAGEDY OF OUR ATOMIZATION? / HOW DO WE END THE TRAGEDY? — Anne Boyer