Possession, Landscape, the Unheimlich and Lionel Fogarty’s ‘Weather Comes’

1 August 2017

We are picking our way carefully over language, slipping, not having (re-)found our feet, and we are, ironically – but perhaps very intentionally – in the position of, say, a people subjected by language. The way it has been, say, for indigenous Australians, or at least for a great many of them, for the duration of white settlement. And it continues. Something turns inward now. ‘Our’ – but this is not, for most of us, our? – feelings, that are part of – essential to – ‘our’ relation to this place, to place, have been distorted, dislocated, dis/membered somehow: ‘our respects’ (for seasons, for hunting and gathering) are ‘untogether’ (hard to read that word without ‘altogether’ coming to mind), ‘mixed up’, although held together (see? ‘altogether’ was there!), paradoxically (but only an outsider would think paradox?), by a stubborn singular form of the verb to be:

Our respects for seasons for
hunting and gathering is
untogether mixed up.

Although of course there is another reading possible here too. Perhaps even, when one thinks about it, an ostensible reading to these ulteriors. That because we are untogether – because our families, our tribal groups, our clans, have been literally decimated by invader policies of deliberate dislocation, Our respects for seasons for / hunting and gathering is /… mixed up, confused: with the disruption of community there has been disruption of lore, of focus. A disruption which – as if to show how deep it is, how radical – becomes grammatical in the lines that follow:

     Feelings of
heat rushes sweat all over bodies
Feelings of cold shivers blood
veins frozen.

Just so: the weather is internalised: fever, illness, but more than that; nouns that may also be verbs have become them (‘rushes’, ‘shivers’); verbs in numerical disagreement with their objects (the plural is singular, the poem seems to tell us, over and over):

The weather is changed.

Something like a world view emerges here. Or rather can be glimpsed, intuited, twisting beneath or within the world. Who am I to say whether or how much the language, distorted, broken open as it has been, has been adequate to it, or even to the indication of it? Who is anyone to say? How can we expect that ‘weather’ – or what we think of as weather – is only weather, now?

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