“…would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light. But since you must kill to eat, and rob the newly born of its mother’s milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship.” – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
“The quality of mercy is not strain’d, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice [blessed]: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” – William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, sc. 1.
“Falling is simple, if you don’t think about it. Landing, Diddy has scraped some skin off his knees and palms; like a kid, Diddy himself when a kid, sliding into first base. Pain flickers, subsides” – Susan Sontag, Death Kit
Hauntology and Nostalgia for Lost Futures
Lately, I’ve been receiving some challenging assignments – writing assignments and reading lists that stretch the bounds of my reality which uncomfortability, awkwardly and blissfully force me to expand not only my knowledge of the world around me, existentially, but, also, my connection of everything that is floating in the atmosphere around me, things that I have never consciously noticed.
The challenge has been essentially good for me. Writers want to become better writers. To become a better writer, you’ve got to be able to look at the reality in different ways. I’m glad that my editors give me these opportunities. I’m glad they trust me to go on the fringes of linguistics and thought that can be extremely complex, if not, not yet defined.
I was asked by me editor here at TERSE. to ponder the topic, hauntology and nostalgia for lost futures.
First of all, I had to walk across my victorian style flat to talk to my older brother who is visiting to as him, “What the hell does hauntology mean? We looked it up together. When my family visits, I like to get their thoughts on my writing. I am the baby, so they are all older and smarter than I am, maybe they would contest this, maybe not. We all respect each other very much for one another’s intelligence and philosophical offerings.
Before I get a bit deeper into the topic and offer my reading list, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to really express that even though some may see me as a regarded writer, I have no problem with asking what words mean in conversation, or looking up a definition, using thesauruses, etc.
It’s never my goal to look like I know it all. I assume some may be shame in stopping someone in the middle of a conversation to ask, “what does that mean?” But I cannot confidently or fluidly have a conversation without understanding what every words being expressed to me means. I
know some just go, “Yeah, mm-hmm,” to allow the conversation to flow. I consider myself to be a student of life. And I’ve learned many important lessons from human beings from 14 year olds to 80 year old from many different backgrounds and have vast and diverse language usages. My brother in particular has always been a wordsmith. Since I was a little girl, I watched him study the dictionary to write rap songs and poems.
Anyway, in my research about, hauntology which was adapted by a colleague of mine, Mark Fisher, another author at Zero Books, described the terms as “the closest thing we have to a movement, a zeitgeist,” to the Guardian.
A more structured take:
“Hauntology (a portmanteau of haunting and ontology) refers to a state of temporal, historical, and ontological disjunction in which presence is replaced by a deferred non-origin, represented by “the figure of the ghost as that which is neither present, nor absent, neither dead nor alive.” The term was coined by philosopher Jacques Derrida in his 1993 book Spectres of Marx. The concept of hauntology is closely related to Derrida’s deconstruction of Western philosophy’s logocentrism, which results in the claim that being does not entail presence, and thus that “haunting [is] the state proper to being as such.”
…and nostalgia for lost futures…
well, that’s where the challenge of this reading list comes in. Those combination of words, if you think too much about it, look completely out of place, discombobulated.
Nonetheless, I looked over this writing request early in the morning and went to one of my bookshelves. The books for this list just seemed to fall into my hands. They jumped out as I piled them against my chest, arms and forearms quickly, like they knew where they wanted to be.
That morning, since I had a guest visiting, I walked a few feet from my bed to the bookshelf in my bedroom, which I consider to be my “overflow shelf.” The word, “overflow” doesn’t demean the importance of that particular collection of books, that shelf just doesn’t reside in my designated office/library.
____I digress___I am proud of the books that flowed into my hands. They were perfect for this theme, hauntology and nostalgia for lost futures. Along with this combination of words, I was also given some subtopics to choose from – from the subtopics and words, I sewed together my own fusion of words:
The Embodiment of Hyper-reality and Healing
(which is the title of my reading list)
By Robin Morgan
By Saskia Sassen
By William Shakespeare
By Victor Kiernan
By Richard Murphy
By Rob Tanner
By Harold Bloom
Writer’s Note: Lately, I have been inspired by Shakespeare. I started reading his plays when I was about nine years old, but there is something about his writing that has moved me to return to his work, wisdom and emotional intelligence that makes me want to dig deeper and also write some inspired stories, maybe even new conceptualized versions of his writing. I already had a few of Shakespeare books set aside to begin to research. The other books I did not add to this list in the name of conciseness are: Henry IV and Shakespeare: A Book of Quotations.
In regards to healing and hyper-reality, these books, some funny, some plays, some nonfiction, some fiction create collection of an ethereal approach to our realities, hyper awareness and how it connects to one’s healing. These books are here for you to connect the dots, make your own vision of your future and find the wisdom to heal through diverse literary contributions.
Until next time, enjoy and keep reading.