Elsewhere participant Renyu: Thaw

Thanks for the feel-ed lab team for composing these notes. Finding words&moments shared and unthought-of, being reminded the importance of darkness that accompanies light are few of those magical feelings I found while reading these notes.

I am an uninvited translator from Taiwan. Since October last year, we start to have a small Bodies of Water reading group here going on every other week. The format is quite disorganised. We talked about everything. From reading text out loud, to discussing how to translate terms to personal and individual projects.

Sometime I like to share with others readings from Littoral listening:

I blush trying to summarize Anzaldúa’s Interface;

feel mind and body losing weight and swirl with Kincaid’s words during a sleepless night while a close friend was giving birth at the hospital;

after reading Pester’s intervention the genre of lullaby, feel the sad reverberation of ni-wa-wa, of an anthropomorphized song about land and soil [by Panai Kusui] that doesn’t have mom or dad and can not see or speak echo in my mind;

with January’s reading theme of “We”, I was moved to tears by another non-fiction novel of related theme about the situation of Filipino and Vietnamese migrant workers in Taiwan called Our Stories: Moving and Laboring, published in 2004.

For one who hardly finds pleasure in reading before 2020, it is quite a transformation, as well as, a privilege to be able to sit down and read, to be continuously curious, and be confronted by self-ignorance. Such as I was slightly puzzled – why no one had translated Audre Lorde’ Uses of Erotic (as well as other queer feminist works) in Taiwan? – until this week I found it has already been translated in 1999 in a thick compendium, something I will probably never pick up two years ago.

The world of gender studies or feminism or philosophy only started to make sense on the journey of attempting to translate Bodies of Water. I would like to vocalize or illustrate these new/old ideas to one who had difficulties to read twenty or two years ago. And let her know – look what an amazing thing I have found, it has always been around you, even in you! It is not necessary to be so tiresome. When in doubt, sit down, breathe, focus on reading or go out for a walk.

I am glad to start to go out for a walk more regularly since remote participating the thaw exercise. I listened to the audio almost immediately after receiving the guide. I invited my mom to go on a hike near town. It was a popular family route with a lot of street vendors next to an elevated park that preserved a fragment of earthquake fracture by a seismic fault line. 7am 5 March, around the same time when Fringe Natures was happening around Munson Pond, we started walking but I am not sure if it counts as an in-place event, because we didn’t listen to the audio file together. She needed to talk and I listened.

We felt much better after three hours of talking and walking together. In the evening, I went on the same walk again with my aunt. Although this time she got bitten by our dog, she still reassured the dog and us that the dog did nothing wrong. It probably took her half an hour to start to thaw, or feel pain and tiredness. 

Contemplating thaw this week, I found it challenging. I hesitate to go on about the same family dramas of living by and as seismic fault lines, which manifested through broken TV remote patched together by clear tape, not talking to each other for years, and maybe inherited teeth grinding habit at night and sore jaw in the morning.

It reminds me of my last visit to the dental clinic a month ago with two pieces of broken enamel in hand. The dentist refused to treat me, because the filling he put last time fell off and I didn’t want to wear a mouthguard at night, or put a false tooth cap on top of the damaged teeth. This patient was probably too opinionated and unprofitable. Yesterday during breakfast, my aunt urged me to see another dentist, because there was a case of her male colleague who didn’t treat toothache well, and ended up having to open a small hole on his brain to have the pus cleaned up several times. But I do feel better now today. It just went away. Was it because of a good sleep? Was it because the wine inside the hot pot last night was particularly strong?

I really like the spirit of my aunty’s other female colleague, refusing to get her front teeth fixed while being mucked around working at the front desk of a bank. After retirement she still smiles with the missing teeth.

In Knotted Water Sizzled Tongue, during a time when things don’t have names or shapes, a four eyed wise person was pressured by the emperor to invent a better system then tie small knots for small events, big knots for big events. They were anxious to an extent that they sat down by a creek and pulled out all their teeth and tongue. They prayed to the river and mud for a solution. Their teeth and tongue grow back, and shapes start to fall out of their mouth. And they become languages. That looks painful. dinosaurs and languages. in us, through us. squeezed up by seismic fault lines or by capitalist-extractivism. as teeth attrition and books read and stored in marrow.

Practising what a yoga teacher taught, by loosening the cheeks, such as lifting the muscles in the shape of a big exaggerated smile, can alleviate pain briefly. But for a couple of days, the toothache deteriorated. Speaking of teeth, Shih-yu organised a film screening “Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival” on 12 March. Maybe I was slightly nervous about being hired as an observer for the once-a-month event. Toothache at that point was that I seemed to taste blood and pus. While watching the film, in the beginning, Haraway says the “right jaw angle or correct bite” in orthodontics is modeled from statues of Greek gods and laughed. Shih-yu’s subtitle translation is beautiful, precise and imaginative, same as her passionate critiques on dinosaur display that followed, that the deep time evolution between dinosaurs species take millions of years, but the evolution of smartphones and species extinction only take a blink, but we are still anxious towards technological advancement or achievements. At the end of the event, a guy formally trained as a dentist argued for the scientific evidence, physics of effectiveness of the “correct bite”, which people who don’t have could be more likely to have diarrhea, or malnutrition. Weathering in the month is not recognised.

Note from the FEELed Lab: Yu Ren’s twitter-self can be found here, on twitter.

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