Roots and Routes
by Raju Rage.

Gather your ingredients, a handful of quotes:

If what we need to dream, to move our spirits most deeply and directly toward and through promise, is discounted as a luxury, then we give up the core—the fountain—of our power…we give up the future of our worlds. Audre Lorde, 1984

Just the other day I was reading that resilience is an ecology more than it is an individual trait or possession. If so, dreaming together can weave the context for our healing. That is: a container, an atmosphere, a potentiality. Not transcendence. In fact, I’m not sure how much we’re breaking free of personal/collective trauma as much as we’re brewing adaptogens, recipes for resistance, a kiss and a fist. Almah Lavone, 2015

Capitalism treats our dreams (the dreams of multiply structurally oppressed people) as nightmares to repress. But one thing about the relationship to dreams that we are talking about is that it also challenges the internalized capitalism of our relationship to our aspirations. Are our aspirational dreams just something else that we feel pressure to individually achieve? What if that’s just not how it works? What if the future our dreamworlds require can’t be achieved? What if it just has to be listened to, collectively held, remembered, allowed, loved, accepted, like our night dreams? We really are creating collective energy to dismantle some of the american dreams, (in my case) immigrant dreams, capitalist dreams that are taking up so much energy in our lives to make space for a love and connectedness we could never individually chart up. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, 2015

Method: stir and stew together

I have sat and slept with these quotes. Gotten intimate with them with the power of my erotic and what the art world calls my practice. Marinated and digested them – The irony being that I have gastroenteritis and my doctor tells me I need to take considerable time off work due to stress induced illness aka teaching/working while trans-queer-brown (so I quit my institutional job/s because I know these cis-tems are not (here) for me).

I could regurgitate quotes from icons and those less known, with no question to their worth and/or wisdom. Just the other day I was reading about how celebrity culture and making icons out of ourselves, besides being a neoliberal fixation disguised as salvation, is also part of a punitive system that creates good (people) – we put on pedestals, and (bad) people – we punish and incarcerate or dispose of in some way. One feeds off the other, just like the concept of ‘male’ and ‘female’ needing each other to exist. This system infiltrates and penetrates our very existence, in fact our every existence, our everyday lived experience. Day in/ day out. Production. Status. Career. Fame.

What use is rain on tarmac? It took me to get out of the west, outside of the city, to realise that so much of our resources are put to waste, no, are created to be wasteful. Recycling is all good, but when you are recycling the same slogan, the same concept, the same ideology, the same curriculum even… it’s not always an ecosystem that beneficial to most. Recycling our ancestral knowledges, and collective capacities of care on the other hand is our resistance. Whose knowledges count? What else can we do beyond sorting ourselves into recyclable and non-recyclable plastics? Nothing is binary or really about fitting and measuring – you need to look between the cracks and spot which plants to pull and which to leave, which are the weeds and which are actually good for the soil e.t.c. It’s an energetic ecology and economy precisely, because it’s about knowledge through experience and exchange, in the process of practicing.  

When Audre Lorde spoke of the power of the erotic what hit hard on my chest that I felt I couldn’t breathe, was the fact that we have been taught to suppress our relationship to ourselves, become so detached from our desires  that we would just accept our oppression – the mundane, the mediocre but also those ‘objective’ pills we swallow that slowly kill us without us realizing or knowing that they will but thinking it’s the only way. Our only road.

We can discourse about access, intimacy, resistance, adaptogens, surviving and thriving… until we pass out with battle fatigue. Let’s take another route.

Bake until it smells right but pay attention and don’t let it burn!

What we need are roots that cannot be pulled out and have the depth required to grow. Ones that will hold tight but are flexible to adapt with the elements they face. That can breathe and be nurtured to blossom and bloom. When capitalism is destroying our earth and killing us off, when we are forced into competitiveness and precarity, what we need is to plant trees strategically, not cram into crowded buildings. (Raju Rage 2020)

I hope you can read between the lines, that moment in grease, beyond the sharp fade and into the blurry borders. Territory is not only land but also our bodies. Let’s take care of them and each other.

Sprinkle with seasoning, savour and enjoy.