(In)visible Disabilities and Machine Bodies in NieR: Automata:- Plato 1728′s plight in a posthumanist light

In [Jacques] Derrida’s terms, it is the blind, the disabled, who “see” the truth of vision. It is the blind who most readily understand that the core fantasy of humanism’s trope of vision is to think that perpetual space is organized around and for the looking subject; that the pure point of the eye (as agent of ratio and logos) exhausts the field of the visible; that the “invisible” is only — indeed, merely — that which has not yet been seen by a subject who is, in principle, capable of seeing all.

— Cary Wolfe, What is Posthumanism? (132)

Embedded and embedding narrative frames assume precisely this self-referential form of form by marking the virtual edges of narrative structure.

— Bruce Clarke, Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems, (94)

Upon Playing NieR:Automata’s DLC, which focused on the machine individual, Plato 1728, I felt that the narrative was engaged with the powerful aspect of disability. It allows the player to take control of a robot who is considered “defective” and does things poorly. Plato 1728 believes that he does poorly in everything, he cannot fight well as when he does his body betrays him, nuts and bolts come off and oil spills. He cannot hold a weapon. Yet, he tries his hardest hoping that he will be accepted and appreciated.

This does not happen.

What you experience in the gameplay is a first person perspective of what it feels like to be disabled and ostracised for said-disabilities. The game poignantly attempts to show the player the censor and the frustration, alongside the mental trauma, a person with aa disability can face in a ableist society. It does this brilliantly by showing this efficiency prone behaviour and ableism in the lifeforms that invaded Earth. Though they are aliens they have adopted many human like aspects. The other machines tease and ridicule Plato 1728 to the point that he feels alone all the time. No one desires to be his friend and no one seems to care about him.

Plato 1728 is a horrible dilemma. He was built to be a weapon but he has not of the proclivities and qualities of a weapon. Rather he mentions he abhors violence. Yet, as he is built to fight, he must continue to do so. The machines are all living workaholic existences in which their daily routine is comprised of sparring and maintaining, and building other machines for war alongside taking care of the factory. Some of the machines obviously have consciousness and existential thoughts but this gets stampeded over the nuts and bolts of what they assembly is comprised of.

We, as the players, are put in the position to play as Plato 1728. It is something that overwhelms us. It is designed to show how inhumane and cruel the machine life routine is. Operating Plato 1728 you notice he glitches and seizes up at times and he cannot move at all. There are system errors shown about as you and Plato 1728 desperately attempt to keep himself composed. Then we are presented with the motor function test. We are in the position of Plato 1728 giving this test. Plato 1728 actually does well. You can, even with his body glitching, get 17-10 rings, which are the objectives of the motor examination. However, then multiple rings come on and off and go away easily and we are given a body that wasn’t either designed to move fast or we do not know how.

This a crucial part of the narrative. After basically failing the test three times, with an “exceedingly poor” grade, we as players are made to ruminate why the motor function examination suddenly became what it was. Why did the runs suddenly come and go off in such a manner. Why were these tests designed like this. The players are also made to wonder if we were in control of 2B, 9S or A2 would be able to pass a motor examination like this? We probably could. However, in the base game when you start out with a mission directly with tutorials just being on-screen commands you may falter. The prologue is also designed to be 35-40 minutes gameplay that any newcomer can exceedingly fail in as well.

It is not also a question of machine lifeforms themselves. Before coming to Plato 1728′s narrative, we must finish three coliseums. One coliseum is devoted entirely of machines and you must make 9S choose a machine to battle with. Depending on your level, you get a selection of machines. The thing is you upgrade or you choose a machine based on which level in the coliseum you are, what your skill level is and what the skill level of the machine is — they are all interconnected factors that help you win the tournament in the coliseum.

Plato 1728, though saying he is a “defective” model, was able to get many rings. It is not his fault the test is designed such a frustrating way that failure seems to be the only option. Even with his disability Plato 1728 tried and succeeded a lot. However, due to the assessment requirements not being met, Plato 1728 is branded as a failure.

Subsequently, this branding of failure persist. When we are doing combat training we, the players in control of Plato 1728, are shocked when a punch makes Plato 1728 lose both his arms! We can try to evade and move about and do what we can to keep the clock running but Plato 1728 fails. It is not that he is intending to do nothing. He is intending to fight but his body is having issues and no one seems to care and no one seems to assist him with his bodily issues. He is branded a failure. This is not only a desecration of justice but a desecration of life and the game wants you, the player, to feel it, as a machine with disability.

Plato 1728 then decides, in his loneliness and ostracism, to take care of a doll. The factory is attacked, either by the player as playing one of the protagonists’ androids, and Plato 1728 helplessly watch as the doll he cherished goes up in flames. Feeling traumatised and grief beyond anything, all his pent up sadness came up and he started anyone and anything. When his rage is exhausted, his companions trap him and dispose of him. When we re-enter the factory as another machine, the player sees that some people are shocked that Plato 1728 have had so much power in him that they didn’t realise. Some don’t wish to go into battle, afraid at seeing the destruction that Plato 1728 wrought, some are still thinking he is “useless” and that his model should be stopped while others mourn his downfall and are ashamed at their own behaviours surrounding him.

In fact, the machine the player is operating comments at his terminal as he has to input data on Plato 1728 goes on to say something like oh yeah, the guy who lost it.

Plato 1728′s consciousness and soul are still alive even if his body is gone. Though he wishes he could have a body again. He comments that the coliseum people are all selfish. The ones were machine are fighting to become stronger, the one where machines are trying to live by rules and the ones where machines are enslaved to be gladiators for android amusement. He says that is he really the crazy one?

Due to the doll seemingly being the cause of Plato 1728′s madness, dolls when found, are destroyed in the factory now. The players are then shown a psychedelic, gothic music video of a random machine destroying dolls and in the end Plato 1728′s soul reaches out attempting to stop the machine to destroy the doll that looks like 2B but he fails and the 2B doll is symbolically destroyed.

In my own reading of this DLC and the NieR:Automata game, I found aspects of posthumanism and transhumanism at a clash. My intentions to summarise the events of the DLC is to provide some of my own critical understanding of the game. In the base game, Pascal, 2B and A2 herald empathy and mostly posthumanist aspects in their characteristics. Though Route A follows more of a transhumanist path the characters present show some posthumanist nuances. In the game, the transhumanist agents are 9S and initially, Adam and Eve.

Transhumanism believes in the augmentation of the human body. It believes that human limits can be “corrected” and transcended. The body is to be a workshop and that workshop perfects upon the body into an ideal type of unit or anatomy in execution. Posthumanism is different; in fact, posthumanism believes more in the imperfections of humans and it rejects the humanist model of ideal human saying there can be no ideal. It considers the value of all living life forms and the systems that interconnect them. It also shows that human bodies can inherently and environmentally differ from each other and that is a good thing. Posthumanism also does not advocate anthropomorphism.

Bruce Clarke in his book Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems talks about humans as quasi-subjects and quasi-objects. This means they are neither completely subjective markers nor markers of objectification. Humans interact and they are heavily affected and influence by how, what and why they interact with (Clarke 44-45). Clarke also states that humans are biotic creatures and there can be abiotic organisms (Clarke 17). Biotic organism are organisms who can perform autopoiesis. Autopoiesis is the ability of the body;s various parts to organise itself, to keep its integrity but also to allow certain things to change, an example of human genome which does not change but phenotypical components such as hair and eye colour changing. The organisation of autopoietic structures is recursive; unique in its context. Non Autopoietic structures can exist within autopoietic creatures. Clarke states that non-living, non autopoietic organisms are called abiotic. He also states that there are metabiotic structures as well for example consciousness and social and psychical systems that make up society, an example would be media is an abiotic system that influences metabiotic structures like society and biotic humans.

I talk about autopoiesis and abiotic, biotic and metabiotic structures because these are crucial elements to understand posthumanism. Posthumanism plays a large role in NieR:Automata not only in its embedded narrative style as Clarke would state it, but also as Wolfe would state, it attempts to broaden the self-reflexive criticism of disciplines themselves. Wolfe states that disciplines can keep their integrity, as in autopoiesis, but must understand that there is a multidisciplinary promise to every discipline and that disciplines can evolve. Wolfe follows the second system theory to a bit in that the observer(s) are also scrutinised and called into question or positionality as much as the observation (Wolfe 121). There is a difference to Wolfe between the accurate and the specific (Wolfe 115). Wolfe critiques that disciplines are important that they are specific and not necessarily always accurate as in the universalising way (Wolfe 115-117). Things have context and that context must be taken into consideration. This is important as NieR:Automata also looks a lot on the context of the situation via both its posthumanist narrative style into bioethics and but also through disability studies and trans-species disciplinary actions (Wolfe 141).

Wolfe uses the life of Temple Grandin to talk about the trans-species understanding in that Grandin’s understanding of things in pictures, this hypervisuality within her autistic self which she has to then add language to is both thinking in pictures and allows prosthetics become one with her which are both ahuman or considered nonhuman traits. However her approach has “canonical expression” which includes Renaissance theory of perspective, to Freud’s parsing of the evolutionary sensorium in Civilisation and Its Discontents, through Sartre’s discussion of the Gaze, to Foucault’s panopticon,  and finally to the various modes of electronic surveillance culture.” (Wolfe 130) Wolfe further postulates that there is obviously different ways to thinking that humans have but can be excised (140). He also quotes Derrida’s concept of knowing invisibility as another kind of spatialisation (Wolfe 133).

The reason I have talked about this is that in the gameplay of NieR’s DLC our narrative focus on Plato 1728 shows many ways of understanding content. The language is not always constructed verbally. The players must level up, become fit and then fight battles in coliseums with different storylines and tangents, and rules and regulations. Plato 1728′s story origins begin with the machine spear which decodes some fragments of his story and this is later extrapolated in the DLC. Plato 1728 is sensitive and kind, communal and intelligent. He has almost all of the understanding of family and familial connections as once stated by 21O independently in the Data Freak quests that androids seemingly lack. Plato 1728 intelligence is differently abled but not all inferior to others and it is not to be taken lightly. When Plato 1728 in grief attacks in a berserk way he is only doing something normal in his condition though normative regulations deemed this to be the progression of him as a failure.

Plato 1728 is not a failure as he understands that there is lack of justice, a seduction by rules and power in the coliseums and in life in Earth in general. A feeling and understanding he also shares with Emil. Emil is attacked by 9S is losing his mind. Emil calls 9S his “cherished companion” who still must be “punished” because he has done something wrong, obviously, from stealing from him. The player as 9S can defeat Emil in which, in this first form, states that in the end power dominates so much and he says, with reluctance, that 9S can use his room whichever way he prefers. Though, Emil just accedes only because he doesn’t understand what purpose 9S has to do this to him. In a similar way, Plato 1728 does not understand why his companion easily disposed of him instead of coming to his aid.

NieR: Automata uses a very embedded narrative. It uses a verbal embedding, which is a narrative that is horizontal and epistemic (Clarke 100) meaning it uses people in the same timeline such as Emil and 9S battling out within the same time period and context to say some of its story. Then it also has a modal embedding, which is ontological and vertical. That as Clarke expertly puts:

“here the same or different narrators are transported to and thus reframed within different storyworlds — for instance modal borders are crossed in the transit “through the looking glass” from waking to dream worlds, from the present to the past or future, or from physical space to cyberspace.”

(Clarke 100)

When we play as 9S or 2B or A2 we experience the story differently. Swords and hacking tell the story differently. Then there is Route C and D than changes a lot of the narrative setting and climate. The narratives are something, as Clarke puts it, stretching and meets at different viewpoints and that it what makes narratives embedded and autopoietic. They are framed to form something that has integrity but is also perpetuated amongst different disciplines. The modal embedding also goes to mathematics modular group, with the j variant, the function of complex numbers which satisfies a growth condition in the upper plane of a graph and shows the connection between monster group and modular group. 1728 is a number that is the cube of 12 and also part of the j variant. The monster group, or Friendly Giant, being the largest sporadic group in mathematics. The name is embedded into the narrative of NieR Automata thus disciplines evolving, looking at the observer and the observation, keeping the integrity but also going beyond.

Additionally, many side quests and even the birth of Adam and Eve is a fusion between modal and verbal embedded storytelling. We can see this in both 2B and 9S routes where picture books also tell the story of machines getting consciousness and an identity. Also, we see machines having sex or attempting to in the chasm. It is as if they don’t wish anything to be ex nihilo but to have origin, purpose and an evolution in connectivity. 9S’s trauma is also reflected in quests done for Resistance members when they lose their loved ones. Though 9S’s actions are more severe and a disruption to not only his life but others.

Going back to Temple Grandin, 9S is someone who espouses humanism and transhumanism a lot. Even when he hears machine talk he keeps on repeating to 2B they meant nothing. He even says that after he is traumatised and going insane. In the Forest, Resource Unit he hears the machine begging him for an explanation to the violence and asking him to just kill them but he almost takes sadomasochistic satisfaction in torturing them and being in denial. To him, only androids can have life. As Wolfe also states that the sciences Cartesian duality of consciousness and cognition is pretty ingrained (Wolfe 116) and 9S is a proof of that. He has selective empathy and he cannot see anyone not abdroid-like to be human. Pascal is an exception because 2B and he had visited him and 9S is just in denial as well to consider Pascal completely living even as there is something disturbing is seeing his memory being wiped.

9S in Route A ending is accepting of his data being embedded in machines, in a way Plato 1728 was alright in loving a doll. Yet in Route C/D 9S is disgusted to know that their black box does contain the machines’ cores as well. He is angered to know that within him is embedded, in the flesh so to speak, the narrative of machines. This is why it was ironic when sometime ago he told to Pascal that he didn’t have a heart seeing their autopoietic structures are similar in detail.

Similarly, Adam and Eve killed the aliens feeling they were too “plant-like.” This alone becomes at first their justification. They so are obsessed in bettering themselves in some mythical ideal way that they wish to even dissect humans to achieve this goal. It is noteworthy, that 9S is selectively horrified by this yet he too decides to dissect machines or remnants of YoRHa later on. N2, the machine in the tower, programmed to fight the enemy, felt they must keep the androids alive and manipulated the coding of machine s which help make machines like Adam and Eve and Pascal. Though, they didn’t really know if such machinations would bring forth what it did thus they are killed by their own transhumanist consciousness in a way.

Empathy is not relinquished by A2 or 2B. Like Plato 1728 who signifies that invisibility, as in his own thoughts and emotions and different abledness, is a form of spatialisation, we can see that in these individuals as well. A2 opens up to Pascal and shows him kindness and empathy. She starts treating him as an equal and is heartbroken to erase his memories. When she fights Emils and tries to help Emil she actually calls him “kid” and wishes to protect him. 2B hearing machines feels terrible about injuring and killing them. That is why Route A ending was also a trans-species ending where 2B understands and accepts the machines’ souls and consciousness. It takes almost death for 9S to do this in Route C/D and he also falls like an angel from heaven. A hero who becomes a brutal villain due to trauma, idealism and grief. A2 already accepts this as in a way her ending shows her need to reunite with her old comrades, Pascal and the village’s lost children.

The True Ending, reaches out and embeds both the old beginnings and a prospect of evolution. This is semiotically and semantically shown with the Pods but also the different endings that were possible showing that the future, open but still with some integrity and organisation, is not set in stone but growing and evolving. Plato 1728 also sends the player a mail thanking them for reading about his life and looking at it. This brings back the posthumanist term of the observer being observed and visa versa.

In conclusion, The transhumanist and posthumanist conjugate with trans-species elements and disability studies in NieR:Automata. This is done expertly through various intermeshed narratives. The game attempts to make players embed both storytelling and the codex for change within them. Thus it generates new knowledges and a sense of hope even when the story and game ends. It is interesting to play a game as such that takes into context and spatialization/specialisation that individuals do not need to look human and androids can very well be more than standard AI and machines can evolve into their own beings.

Sources:

Clarke, Bruce, Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008).

Wolfe, Cary What is Posthumanism? (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001)

reinvention of a flower

what I feel is an aperture of sunlight
sliding in from my curtains
blue then silver then flashes of green; slants of gold

in the morning light, my mind half-awake, feeling
half-dreams and half-premonitions; tucked between
loose blankets of my dream and reality
not bothered by the critical analyses of politeness

my heart desires to be voracious, selfish and rude
like a gladiator in an arena or a highlanding bandit
robin hood tongue; stealing from the egos of the higher ups
and giving to me and others like me — what I feel is a rigid happiness
in isolation.

it comes up my flanks like water on the banks
like reeds and flowers on the bay
tying my short hair with flowers and flowing skin
with thorns and petals

a rose to be desired and has desires
has the weapons and fortifications of an emperor.—

erasing pain

my heart has swallowed a large pitcher of sadness
pre-summer days quote in heat
and sigh in zephyrs like commas
in a run on sentence —

building up my bones like a house
or a locomotive; both nano and steam
evaporates through the lines
of osmotic transcendence

quiet was the night
adjusting the windows
as the rains come hot and sleek
like predators hunting for water
and my eyes thirst dryness
like a line smoothed by clay
my mouth antagonises me in silence
but I don’t turn the page —

what is a lost cause? I think trust
or trust blindly? a thrusting motion
reminds you of juvenile dreams and
naive conceptions — love sings over the hills
canopied by clouds and conceived heaven
love sings over the earth
only the desert welcomes the monsoon

if my heart was paper, would it be easier to write the codes?
to relearn myself in small accents like apostrophes and periods?

would it have been easier to write down some commandments
that never altered; set ink as stone and made it roll so it
gathered no heresy of moss? — shanties of sand come climb
and crumble but never swayed the reign of those staunch routines

automaton of apathy; pincushioned by wavy joints of empathy
never fully light or fully darkness: just a fruit with many seeds
like a rose with many thorns. Beauty is a trait that can defy kindness.
Why should I javelin throw my self when others watch the macabre
in a seated box in the opera of their own lives?

hearing something like rain fall down like it has pockets to fill
feeling partly tired and partly smarting from a wound
there is no chime that elopes with the blow to the heart

knowing the quiet I trace it like a scar,
a skin that should be immaculate
I sigh, whimper and whisper

the wall is broken; pain can’t keep me down.—

lamenting friendships

I think for the past few days I have been feeling a certain alienation from people. People are not logical. This is something I have learned both the easy way and the hard way. But, this is not a treatise glorifying emotions either. Emotions can be pretty messy and difficult to express so we use shorthands of violence, anger even lust and betrayal to compensate our lack of syntax and our lack of right verbs and nouns to talk about these things. It does not have to be English. It happens in every language. It happens pretty much in mainstream cultures. We are not really taught to cultivate language. We are taught to cultivate solutions and information. The latter is not a bad skill. It is also needed. However, emotion and logic going hand to hand makes more sense.

People can be brutally honest and hurt someone and that is a valid reason to critique emotions. You know why? Because unless someone is being a douchebag I don’t think we have enough of their life picture to be over exceedingly mean to them. Especially, if they are our friends and we posit some value onto them. Friends can demand things — it’s normal and it shouldn’t exceed a limit either. There are basics, we have our own etiquettes. I think what we don’t understand is that even when we are coldly logical it is a painful surgical procedure without anesthesia. We can logically tell people their shortcomings, or why we don’t like them but have no clue what their positionality is. Most of the time when we dislike people we are also subconsciously, but logically, trying to overcompensate for some lack in ourselves. We feel jealousy that they get it, or, anger that they not getting it reflects our own propensity for not getting it. Our lacking.

Going back to language and skills of deduction, the reason I skirted on emotions and logic is that people aren’t 2+2=4 nor are they (a+b)²= a²+2ab+b² nor are they (a+b)³=a³+3a²b+3ab²+b³ they can all of this and none of this on the same line. It is hard to accept that but it’s true. You can give your level best to people to have them turn on you at any given moment. I noticed why. People are either ungrateful, scared, jealous or insecure. And, when I say people I am not pushing me away from that. I am not putting myself on a pedestal because I am a person as well. I am sure that I also come across as brash, small minded and stupid at times. However, I think over the years, I have tried to be patient with people. The sad thing is, people are not necessarily patient with me. When there is a one sided dialogue on patience: meaning you are being patient and the other person is being mean or you are showing them they behaved badly and instead of being responsible they tell you what you said meant nothing and sums up nothing, it becomes pretty frustrating.

A good way of showing these sides of frustration is social media. People nowadays also abuse social media to make a point that they are disappointed or angry with you. When they unfriend or block you, it does become problematic. There is no way to contact them or tell them you are sorry. Usually, it also makes you feel like a creepy stranger when you were not. Even at times it makes you feel as though they are treating you as they would an abuser. It becomes really sad because when you haven’t been toxic with them or vitriolic with them it becomes an issue. I come also from times when stuff like this was hard to do because basically when you before had fights with friends you could be absent from each others’ lives for a while and then make it or break it with perspective. Nowadays, I think that also goes out the window. People get mad at you and make a statement about it which is hard to overlook and may add fuel to fire and make a hot mess.

The thing is we are not math problems or fragments of syntax or pixels on a screen or even a sum of hormones alone — we are people. We need to work on ourselves and others constantly and consistently. Yes, there can be fluxes but we are meant to fill them with other things. It is imperative we can be a bit more compassionate, open, loving and empathetic with people who deserve it. We gotten down our boundaries, how to be alert for creepy people, how to zone out in places we don’t need to be and we also got down how to be aggressive when required. However, we haven’t gotten down the other end. We need to master or even try to balance out both.

There is a reason I speak of balance in particular. We cannot always unleash our rage and jealousies on our friends who are not intending to hurt us or trying to make us feel low. This is one thing I tried to do. Stress and helplessly in today’s societies comes through work but also through social interactions. We are sometimes forced to be with people we don’t wanna be. We can’t always make a situation feel good even if we try. I get that, personally, I get that so much and I gotten angry and sometimes tell my Mom in a bit of a loud voice how tired I was of it all. Work can be brutal, horrible and also ungrateful. You can give your soul to a career, hours of excruciating brain and brawn power and not get a promotion or even have your pay reduced or even discourteously fired. But, I don’t think putting that on your real friends will actually help you in the long run. Rather, I think it would hurt you.

I talk today about personal experiences. I think I have faced a lot in the last two years that has made me pretty cynical about friendships. I realised the more older you grow up people look at friendship like a hierarchy or something that is just there. People have tried to use me and take me for granted. I don’t think I have ever made  a person feel so low that they questioned their self-worth. However, people do this all the time. After a while, it becomes like as though they are just angry at who I am and how I behave. Maybe, they hadn’t expected me to be successful or even able to write these things coherently in a blog. The fact that I surpassed their assumptions of me may make them feel pretty angry and unhappy. Perhaps, they liked me being in the gutter, or being miserable or even being hapless because that gave their lives “more meaning”? When you think about it people can think like that. They usually are taught life is a competition of living good, making successes and playing hard some game of attraction. When people fail in those areas it makes others overwhelmingly happy because then when they look at the mirror they can Other you. They can tell themselves they are not you.

I just don’t really ascribe to this way of thinking. Maybe, that’s why people don’t always value me and do not want to be my friend to begin with—

Peripheral I

walking down the path
exploring the stoned pavement
clinking of my boots underneath
tingled with my breath

the night is vast and the sky vaster
as I move along; trying to know the streets
near my temporary home
as if I am sewed on them as buttons

passing a bus stop a blonde beauty with
her phone on and a man suddenly says
“five minutes” to me and I just move along
not letting him ruin my sense of liberation
that straddles my lungs and makes me feel
one with omnipresent strings and stabilities

reaching a lane that only goes down to
liquor stores and convenience shops
where cars slope down hills and adjacent
is a island like a park with few people trodding
it is not past midnight; hardly evening,
but this part of the world knows winter
as a solace of the hearth; warm meals and
lustful covers and perhaps the odd shift
looking onwards — with its half hilly and
urban scape everything — Leeds is breathtaking.

when I walk back home I know I will receive a call
from Mom past so many miles and seas
asking me if I have eaten and asking me
why my usual routine was overturned
and I can tell her of my boots clicking on stone
and me nibbling a quiet dinner by myself
thinking of her and others; heater on
and forgetting if a moon had been out
walking with me as well.—

*feels like a companion piece to Mari’s You Within

palm of a blue giant

a blue giant branched out in my palm
feeling me the force of love
pulsating in the corners of my smile
universalising my cure to frailty

each page then resounded a letter
that was me in the finest form
filled with peccadilloes but also purities
and the horse did not come to bring apocalypse
of a degeneration but a prince who was I
fighting with my sword and scimitar

an oasis branched out in my iris
a solar system of planets and stars
in the constellations of my all my deeds done
and all deeds to come
finding that I was bracketed as the moon
with the definition of suns

I glow because my luminosity
is the only one who I can proudly state was me.—

a female’s tale

I suppose I will be understood — when I die?
that death be my proof seems such a simple thing
a cliche, a blinding light which has no priority: no proprioception.
I am not going to die, soon, if I am going to die at all
it is a stupid thing to make immortal the person who has no mortality
denying them their temporality is denying them the identity to live

so, I will not die today or tomorrow, or the day after, if I am able to hope so
— I will torture you with life, with my life, the life that you wish to deny me
I will live with, with my sins, blessings, regrets and asking my God for forgiveness
I will live it when I exhale and inhale, when I wear a burqa or a miniskirt to chide you
for trying to shame me for my veil and legs — for in each I brought the beauty of living
which you wanted to deny me — by a choker of silence, no fetish I gave consent to
no sexualisation I gave consent you. I am sexual in my billowy robes; modest as I bare my legs: my lips and eyes will insinuate life which you tried to martyr me for with the helm of the shirt, with the housework I will do and you will never give me credit for and the children I will raise but will respect you more and the precipice of my tongue wanting release — a smarting, shattering, constructing orgasm which you feel you will deny me and I am a slut to want for more.

You are the slut for being scared of me — scared of all that I can achieve and all that I am more — when I wore the apron to shine the bannisters or cook the food I am still a soldier battling as an architect, close to godliness, close to the apex of a trinity: soldier, sage and stable revolutionary with all the vices and virtues you needed and more. I am the same when I wear my shoes; those minimum pumps required by corporate to stand in toe in height with men; or, many a times look taller and deadlier than them anyway.  What they think is the erection of the tower of their own bones, so amazing right, just is an ivory tower of height not the tusk of the mammoth, or elephant, not the planetary audience — when I wear the proper shoes to school but fail because I am nice — because you wanted me to be but wanted a coquette too which I could not be and shamed me the once in a blue moon grades I got because you were afraid to admit you underestimated me. That I was out of your league.

My lips be nude or doused with rogue — or doused with the flames of gasoline fuel I will not die today, by immolation, by spears, stones, guillotine or bullets, or you choose to efface me day in and day out like acid rain on the face of what you think are statues. I will not die today of ennui, of boredom, of lack of recognition — I have my cognition, my gears, my sword, my stones, my glass shoe that I sharpened to my spear and I have the hijab, the nude hair, the scarf, the nun’s habit, the shaved head, the colour blue and the habit to be relentless in my bones and marrow. My flesh may have been born from a rib that means I can be you and more. That was the lesson you should have learned when you swallowed the fruit with me. I am poison. I am potion. I am elixir. I can be edenic in the core. I am a rampaging beast but I also show the compassion of brotherhood and sisterhood. I am XX. I am what some call woman. I am mostly female. I write the laws of the feminine. Not you. Queer or straight. Religious or secular. I am irreplaceable. I am the rib you need and the fruit you will want to swallow. I can kill the serpent, the trickstar. Both the sinner and the saint. I will not die today. I live in everything in the ether.