Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric (Penguin, 2015), first selection

Some favourite passages from this brilliant book (some parts of which are easier to excerpt than others, including the excellent section II): 

from section III:

For so long you thought the ambition of racist language was to denigrate and erase you as a person. After considering Butler's remarks, you begin to understand yourself as rendered hypervisible in the face of such language acts. Language that feels hurtful is intended to exploit all the ways that you are present. Your alertness, your openness, and your desire to engage actually demand your presence, your looking up, your talking back, and, as insane as it is, saying please.

from section IV:

The sigh is the pathway to breath; it allows breathing. That's just self-preservation. No one fabricates that. You sit down,  you sigh. You stand up, you sigh. The sighing is a worrying exhale of an ache. You wouldn't call it an illness; still it is not the iteration of a free being. What else to liken yourslef to but an animal, the ruminant kind?

from section V:

Sometimes "I" is supposed to hold what is not there until it is. Then what is comes apart the closer you are to it. 

This makes the first person a symbol for something.

The pronoun barely holding the person together.

Join me here in nowhere.

Don't lean against the wallpaper; sit down and pull together.

Yours is a strange dream, a strange reverie.

You can purchase Citizen: An American Lyric from Foyle's Books here.