A curious relationship that our civilization has with writing in general. Barely out of our mother’s womb, PAF! Birth certificate ! After the majority, rePAF! ID card. Leaving territory? Re-rePAF! Passport. Leaving the rail of legality caught red-handed? PAFPAF! Law and courts! I say PAF but I should write BAF! Like Baffe!
A paper can mean more to your life than whatever lived experience you carry within you. Our “papers”, the shroud of our “identity” within the “nation” which carries us within it, on which is printed what we do not choose from our existence: the name that our parents gave us and our date of birth, and which applies above all to a pass, which for some, like Zita, also serves as a free pass?
Bad in French in high school (thought considered confused, tortuous and awkward expression, spelling and grammar mistakes in shambles…), to the point of having had to be accompanied for years by my teachers, in support and remedial lessons, I I have long had a conflicting relationship with writing and writing in general. I preferred to draw in class because this activity allowed me to “take my ears out” and to extract myself from the superfluous to keep only the essentials in class.
I only found the bridge to the written word when I was able to open up to poetry and later the scriptures. “POETS, YOUR PAPERS! sings Leo Ferré. Since then, I have been printing and archiving feverishly, even compulsively, everything I trace and can recover as paper carrying memory, meaning and emotion.
Am I dead to the wild and free life that was mine before this plunge into ink? Possible because since then I have been running madly after words and like Derrida who insisted on writing down everything he could produce as thought, I have been filling my notebooks every day since then. And to think that a single match can reduce everything to nothing in this life that we create for ourselves in absentia for the sole purpose of leaving a trace.
When I read your note on the relationship that our “papers” can maintain with what makes identity recognition within the “Nation”, I tilted and I said to myself: well, there’s a bone to gnaw on there, something to dig. A grave ? Because writing as wording is more or less an admission of the omnipresence of death in our lives. As if ultimately without paper or writing, we would be nothing worth mentioning or even existing.
No offense, nor even disagreement or suspicion of controversy, I am simply wondering, I am thinking, not aloud but in downed notes, after being slapped by your written words, so strongly that I felt the need to write this. From the slap to the cry for the newborn, from the slap to the writing for me here, same draft, same bone shot! It must be recognized indeed, Nation and Identity maintain a close link with the paper which goes well beyond the simple functional and legal “pass”. I was looking for a thread to unroll to start writing a book, I think you gave me an introduction there, as material to do battle with my own thoughts, which I’m going to unroll. Thanks.
We wish to say thanks to the author of this write-up for this amazing material
Breaking the chains of modern slavery – Quartier Interdit with Zita Cabais-Obra and David Desgranges
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