Today I spent all morning reading Audre Lorde and then immediately watched a documentary on Jean-Michel Basquiat. I have been bombed by feelings. They were too big and numerous to be avoided. Now I sit here picking up pieces of myself, holding them up for examination, maybe to figure out how to plug them back in, make use, continue living.
I mean, you can’t just read Audre Lorde and then not examine your own sense of self in your own particular reality. She gives me permission, or demands I give myself permission, to spend more than a moment in self reflection, in consideration for how I have moved through my life up to this moment. What does it mean to be a woman. What does it mean to be feminist. And what about all of the other things you are. And for Lorde, a Black-Queer-Feminist woman, she was writing and speaking about intersectionality before the term was ever coined.
After I finished reading the book, Matt asked me, “Why do you seem so angry?”
I hadn’t even spoken yet, but I think reading Lorde can do that. I could feel some fatigue in my forehead from a long-furrowed brow. The anger she expresses in her essays and speeches had blasted across 40 years to punch me in the guts.
Then I was taken on a colorful journey through Basquiat’s life and art. The documentary was my first real introduction to him as a person and artist. His story of genius and tragedy was another punch to the guts. It feels like too much for one insignificant Sunday.
And when you think about paintings, you think of negative space. You think of how you seem to have always been aware of negative spaces and that it is of utmost importance to maintain balance.
At one point you looked down from the book and observed how your thighs seemed to spread the width of the chair, to fill in the negative spaces, bring balance. And you felt an unfamiliar pride.
Once I read how human beings when entering a space will quickly assess and stand in such a way that balances the entire room. Another human enters and everyone adjusts their position to restore balance.
Something is injected. Assess.
The situation is tense; I inject a soft laugh.
Someone is crying; I inject a gentle smile.
The room is happy, so I inject an insult. “The light in this room is harsh.”
This is not a judgment about the light.
The room sighs in relief.