How To Stare At Walls (Pete Kalu)

by | Jan 22, 2015 | Uncategorised | 0 comments


I’ve had another day of staring at walls. And doors. And ceilings. I’ve been reading around the critical thinker, Homi Bhabha (buzz words: liminality, mimicry, post colonial discourse, hybridity, culture). ‘Culture’ is one of the two or three most difficult words in the English language, according to some. ‘Nature’ is given as one of the other ones. My staring-at-walls mind kicks in to ask, what is the third candidate? ‘Love’? ‘Taxes’?

Blank walls are my screen allowing the ideas of the people Bhabha references to play out and wash around. Lacan. Sausarre. Derrida. Barthes. Fanon. Bhabha is heavy going! I used to study languages so the semiotics is not impossible to follow (synecdoche as a subset of metronymy; metaphor etc). To use metaphor, Bhabha puts his foot in doors that he believes others close too quickly. The idea of a static culture. The idea of white and black. Of fixed entities such as coloniser and the colonised. Fanon did something similar in Black Skins, White Masks and Bhabha references Fanon a lot.

Three months into the PhD there’s still a huge amount of gazing to be done. I can’t do this while others are around. They think I’m ill, or troubled or annoyed at them. I don’t like libraries for staring-type thinking. Too much congestion. So today I’ve met no-one and gone nowhere, eaten whatever is in the fridge, ignored my phone.

Last week I was thinking about the neurologist, Oliver Sacks and his book, Hallucinations. Last night I read three acts of Macbeth (‘Is this a dagger I see before me?’ etc) My writer’s instinct (nature?) is to write write write. As if thinking were a displacement activity, a cop-out. It is also true that in the very act of creative writing, we explore, clarify and bring into being ideas in a way perhaps not possible through purely theoretical thinking. Homi Bhabha wanted to be a poet at one time. Sometimes he writes like one. These things intertwine.
The link with my blog post* on Hallucinations? If I ever got Charles Bonnet syndrome, would I hallucinate primarily ceiling patterns and door designs? I’ve stared at so many surely they must be burned into my memory somewhere, just waiting to pop back up!

*to come!