|Bhanu Kapil [Les Figues Press]|
from Bhanu Kapil's Incubation: A Space for Monsters:
Monsters who want something else. They want the pre and fix it. This is pre-synthesis: a human form constructed from a dermoid cyst but with memory. The body hangs its memory on itself, which is cystic, apparent, lolling. What is? Protuberance? An excess site or something, more accurately, that does not stay inside the central cavity with the other soft, breaded parts rich with blood vessels. This is blood text and I wrote it, tried to, in the alcove like a balcony next to the kitchen, asking my guests to help themselves to food and drink like family members. "Make yourself at home." Once, I spilled my tea on my computer but nothing happened to me or it at that time and so I did not stop.
A Dream of Laloo
What a girl or boy becomes by accident in the deep of the body, someone else's body, emerging to gasps: impossible service and far-off ends. Here I am speaking in fiscal terms of the hospital where the future of the girl is immediately obvious to the nurse, who reaches out with the needle to stop it, the hysterical reaction to the birth of a defective figure, but the mother says no, I want to see her. Put her on me. I want to hold her in the warm pool.
The Many Colors of Laloo
A cyborg is an iridescent pleat. No. I want to write opposites — saturations of opposite colors (silver and Coca-Cola) that make a person, like a fingerprint, obsessed with the liquor of patterning. This is more intense than painting in the best light in France or New Mexico. You could do it at night in your bedroom in Illinois. Un-illuminated. Like in India, when the electricity goes, two or three times a day, all monsoon. Your grandmother lights candles and pours the water over your bent head in the dark, glittery courtyard where you live, together.
Definitions of a Cyborg
I wrote about cyborgs on a balcony in fake Portugal (my kitchen, painted gold, orange, and red) in a pink dress unzipped at the back, ignoring the doorbell. After lunch, I commonly drank a tablespoon of whisky killed with mint leaves from the garden and sugar. Kill is the wrong word. An alcove, a sort of balcony. Analyzing cyborgs took imagination, loneliness, and liquid nourishment, which was the opposite of everyday life in a township with its outfits and specials: Baked Meatloaf Sandwich with Fries and Salad, $5.99. Three-quarter length jeans and a crisp white shirt and a multicolored belt from Guatemala.
Here in the U.S., cyborgs reverse the basilar process, the occipital process, the process of change, which is pleating. A pleat is a fold. Unsticking her, my silver girl with her Pepsi eyelids, Laloo, I blessed her. I couldn't help it. Her skin was harsh and dry and so I took her to the doctor. There in the hospital, I let her check in individually, like a portion, while I went looking for something to eat, being a person from a town and thus reliant upon the almost daily intake of mountains of food. What follows is a beautiful story of the kind I'd relate to out-of-town guests on nights when the electricity failed and we had to eat dinner by candlelight and pee in the backyard. "Do you have health insuance? What is your social security number?" I'd been eating sauerkraut in the basement cafeteria and when I returned, she'd gone. "She left before we could sew her back up. She won't get far. Does she have health insurance, do you know? Do you know her social by any chance? Are you a blood relative? Do you need a clipboard? Here's a pen." I am writing this in a fluorescent kitchen, I mean foyer. There are magazines, elevators, and ladies with healthy-looking teeth. It must be something inside them that's the problem. Pans beneath each chair to collect the grease.
In a hospital write a suture. This is medical not special. Take notes about the body for two to six hours as if it were your employment, which it is, in the hospital. Soaping, SOAP chart: what you did, what you saw, what changed, what comes next for the structure at hand. Or operating: make slits, notice thickenings, and die. No. This is not a text to bring down the light. This is not the journey of a soul after death. This is the story of a bad girl who, concealing her interesting, blood-filled body beneath her coat, though it was summer, limped off, refusing medicine. What is a girl? It is an ancient office. Drops of blood on the asphalt of a parking lot. Dark-skinned, dressed for winter, a bulky parcel-like mass extending from her midsection, Laloo must avoid public transportation, which is scrutiny.
Something hurts. It's 7 p.m. when she heads for the highway. These are things I feel about cyborgs from a distance as if they are happening to me. I feel, for example, Laloo's scarlatina, the dark red color flooding her attachment sites. Something very natural is apreading through her body like a mechanism of rapid healing, the blood clotting on cue, the hair growing back thicker and darker than before but abnormally fast.
Hours not days. The day is monstrous for the cyborg as I imagine iet — that feeling of being on the verge of a gastro-intestinal sickness but having to travel across three time zones before you are home. If not monstrous, then such a day is an experience of speed, as seen from above. From a plane: a car, glinting. The girl gets into the car. This is going, tracked from a separate source. Then it stops and I want that, what happens when the red girl gets out of the car, her teeth jammed together in a determined fashion. Laloo means red. Her arms are decorated with henna tattoos. Butterflies, etc. Paisley swirls. "Hey Red, where do you think you're going?" I like to think of her as ambient. Look. She's walking to the corner to buy a green chile pork burrito. "Can I please have it with beans? Or whatever you think would taste good." Healed, she's ravenous. It's as if in spite of a major injury a patient has recovered her intellect, undisturbed by the extraction of a foreign body from the body. Her actual body. Locomotion and digestion, as functions, are intact. She could leave the hospital by nightfall if someone came to get her, because she's fragile, despite her miraculous re-formed state. No. The hospital is behind her like an edifice.