I am calling this period of writing Essai. These are to be attempts at… something. I’m not sure what, really, only that I mean to write something every day, to post every day, to share every day, for the next three months. I’ve begun with poetry, but it always seems to begin with poetry, with me.
I’m bemused by my choosing a French word for the title of this session. It is appropriate for my aims for the next three months, and also exotic; it’s appropriate perhaps in part because it’s exotic. A foreign language, and not only that, but a colonizer’s language. I am a Khmer American who studied French (however un-studiously). No matter what, I am speaking a colonizer’s language. I think in the colonizer’s language.
The master’s tools will not take down the master’s house, the saying goes, and wisely so, but what about those tools which he stole? The stories, history, told through the master’s eyes, with the master’s voice. Can the master’s language be taken from him? Certainly. It happens in the act of telling our own stories, of mapping our own histories, of speaking from our own truths. Language, with its malleability, has the potential to free us.
So maybe what I’m trying to do in these next three months (in this life) is find a way to feel free.
One thought on “a time of trying”
I think you’re right on, that language can be malicious and impersonal, a weapon of imperialism, but on an individual scale, language is how a baby develops his worldview and frees herself from the prison of the mind.
This piece reminded me of a quote I read today (from a Frenchman no less): “For our heart to yield without revolt to the hard law of creation, is there not a psychological need to find some positive value that can transfigure this painful waste in the process that shapes us and eventually make it worth accepting?…Dark and repulsive though it is, suffering has been revealed to us as a supremely active principle for the humanization and the divination of the universe.”
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