What What

1 February 2013

Three Artist’s Notes for ‘What What Nigger’

“The verbal image which most fully realizes its verbal capacities is that which is not merely a bright picture (in the ususual modern meaning of the term image) but also an interpretation of reality in its metaphoric and symbolic dimensions. Thus: The Verbal Icon.” W. K. Wimsatt, Jr. The Verbal Icon: Studies in the Meaning of Poetry

“If you determine the process starting from its structure, you obtain at least the structural materialism. You avoid the constitution of the real by the subject; you short-circuit the phenomenology of the data of consciousness.” Alain Badiou, Theory of the Subject

“Matter was that which both threatened and offered salvation. It threatened salvation because it was that which changed. But it was also the place of salvation, and it manifested this exactly through the capacity for change implanted in it.” Caroline Walker Bynum, Christian Materiality: An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe


What’s happened to me? Look at me?
What, what nigger.

She did not say anything derogatory to him at any point:
she did not say “fucking niggers,” he did not say
“fuck you, bitch.”
Under her breath, she muttered,
“fucking niggers.”
He said, “bitch, I know you didn’t call me no fucking nigger.”
She lunged at him with the knife; he backpedaled
and swung back. He hit her three times.

She remembered being in first grade with him,
walking hand in hand, and being called gay, wetbacks, and niggers.

 


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