Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Meditation on My Pet Rats


I like having pets, especially rats, because they don't speak. No, this is not another facet of american anti-intellectualism, championing the simple and dumb. Rather, it's an exercise for me--and for them--in attempting to understand those who can't speak. Because that, in the end, is the duty of the activist. The feminist reclaiming the voices of the women silenced by patriarchal literary practices. The gay man listening for the love song of the queer with no microphone, or no record company that will consent to record such love. Pramoedya Ananta Toer compiling at the end of his memoir a list of all the men who died in his prison camp, with details such as their religion, number of children, source of death.
My two rats, Gianluca Zambrotta and Gianluigi Buffon, suddenly found themselves, last week, in a cage devoid of two other members of their family. They could not ask me any questions, as to why I took Marx and Engels out of the cage, like so many times before, but this time did not return them. They are smart animals and they register the loss. They have changed: Buffon is more loving now; Zambrotta seems more skittish. But I can only guess as to what they think and feel. And to do so I watch them, intently. More intently than we watch or listen to those whose capacity and right to speech we and they take for granted.
And so in my studies I turn to the socialists in Chile, the United States, Italy, Indonesia, and watch, listen closely to the parts of history that did not allow them to speak. That in fact imprisoned, killed, or otherwise silenced them. I look for signs and clues as to how the speechless processed the twentieth century.
At the very least, I will give them what every pet owner's manual insists upon: attention. Even if it is, for now, uncomprehending attention.

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The Sacred Dice - A Revolutionary Salon

The Sacred Dice is a salon of musicians, scholars, poets, sound sculptors, activists and artists of all kinds committed to art that is committed.  That could get us committed (to an asylum).  That disdain's art for art's sake and artists who have no idea why they do what they do.  We know why we do what we do--to create and celebrate community in a country still stuck in capitalist fantasies of individualism.  If you want in, you're in.  If you want out, don't worry--you already are.