by Cynthia Hogue

Page 6

As all the orienting markers by which I knew myself dissolved, moreover, and I no longer had any sense of myself except through a few labels (which had once seemed so internalized but were revealed to me as external labels only--"teacher," "writer"), I found myself changed and humbled. As I had to let go of all hopes of normative action, I also had to release that old and vanished self. The process became for me, in the way of other traumatizing experiences, transformative:

Questions rail along the field
where winter wheat lies hidden in snow.
(We lie to justify
indefensible behavior, to protect
unprotectable innocence, inhaling
and exhaling with an evenness
of spirit to which we aspire.)
Who calls the sky gray?
or the seasons unsurvivable?

I visit doctors because
my body drives me to them,
beyond my dictates. Practical
to a fault, I am healing
before my mind understands
that the phenomenology of pain
harbors words which refuse
syntax and order,
predictability, inevitability.

Until I grasp
that "eventual inevitability" eludes
even the best of us, dissipating
like a wall of fog we can drive through,
frugal of speed, spendthrifts of time.
To feel alone is merely
the mind's last defense-
a physiological white-out-
from the spirit's largesse.

Call it a spiritual or ethical journey--or perhaps, Julia Kristeva's notion of "herethics" is most apt, since in order to write at all, I had to find new ways of writing (for there was no longer a "self" to express). Of the "herethical" function of art, Kristeva writes: "a[n artistic] practice is ethical when it dissolves those narcissistic fixations (ones that are narrowly confined to the subject) to which the signifying process succumbs in its socio-symbolic realization." For Kristeva, this "practice" of "dissolving . . . the unity of the subject" is ethical because it resists an other-denying self-absorption that some would argue is exemplified by the unified and monologic subject which dominates lyric tradition. 10

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