Friday, May 25, 2007

Weird Slips



In my interviews of war survivors (see video section), I ran into weird slips of language that stayed in my mind. For example, when I asked in Tagalog what sort of tasks one did as a refugee, one of my interviewees answered "gathered firewood" for cooking, except it was worded first as "gathered toys for burning".

I got shivers thinking about this strange slip. A long time ago, unsupervised as a child, I watched a black and white horror movie (Rosemary's Baby?) wherein babies were burned in a furnace and the heroine freaks out upon this discovery. Also, while collaging I unconsciously depicted a toy bear lying face down first. Upon analysis, I had to affirm my individuality by placing the bear right side up.

I really think that people who suffer from trauma pass these on unsuspectingly on to others like their spouse, children, and friends. Without the cathartic, sublime qualities of art making, insufferable people become codependent burdensome souls (read: family).

Alas one of my interviewees is married to a private investigator, and it has been their business to conduct surveillance on their own family. I think it's a measure for propriety since one of their nephews was jailed for domestic violence. One of the children became a meth addict and died from organ failure, leaving a mistress, wife, and orphan.

The toppled toy bear to me is a conditioned reaction, a surrender to something in the past that can't be put away. I once watched a famine victim talk about eating rats, and it took great bravery and honesty for her to admit it. Society it seemed, does not appreciate survival. There was a hurried move for normalcy and not enough time for debriefing.

Great big boulders and rocks have a threadbare carpet thrown over them. It's like a stiff dead horse with its legs up in the air in the middle of the living room. How can one possibly explain that in dire circumstances, people had to eat anything- rats, twigs, anything they could get their hands on during war and famine?

Maybe there's no need for explanation. Just love from a distance.

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