Publication “Jelly and ice cre… — ,
You always seem to speak of the same digits. 1 9 6 8 . Again and again they re-occur in your speech, you repeat yourself in your old age Stepmother. You tell me I was born naturally to a digits mother after everything had been achieved. There was a woman at the top. There was warm power. In this cosy equality hole the mother no longer needed to speak from her tongue. She spoke instead from her scripted ideals. Her motherly embrace was enacted from an idea of what it should be rather than what it had always been.
As the daughter of this daughter I had to learn to eat from an idea, learn to sleep from an idea, learn to write, drink, dress. This apparently was an easy life of home theatre, which sustained itself until the end event: domestic divorce.
Raised on a given, I left to join my brother and I met with the reality of you Stepmother. As a grown up daughter’s daughter I had to enter this new setting and re-adjust to a place without ideals. I know you know the script but you improvise because you are a great pragmatist, evil in a clichéd sense, estranged in an actual sense.
Your home is a place that requires skills unlearnt, but fortunately flexibility is one of those skills.
Entering your terrain as a stepdaughter, one must learn to re-identify with the female. You have taught me to carry plates for celebrations, fold napkins for marriage, wear skirts for authenticity, and dance for the privilege of serving drinks, polish glass clear for gifts. I smile in your face. Professionally. I organise. Professionally. I administrate. Professionally. I charm. – A performing subject setting the table for your Liberal Salon.
Your efficient love has revived the things my true mother denied, but your teaching style is without the empathy of my grandmother.
And I cannot please you. You ask me constantly to prove and improve my worth; what are your personal qualities? What are your strengths and weaknesses? And I repeat myself to say I have experience of pouring wine, I can communicate, I am able to polish glass, I’m a team player, I’ve been trained in folding napkins, I can iron, I can chop, I have the necessary transferable skills you desire.
Yet I never hate you Stepmother, I welcome your presence, you have made me after all. You have let me survive, even when I show you indifference. You occupy my time and provide a reason for being post-religion, post-politics, post-society, post-history.
But what you have given me is a false liberation. Survival alongside my pale brother is not enough and now our group performance of jerky bodies is over. I want to move beyond your binary mantras, which you dress up with relative grace. I have seen you naked, accidentally and now I must go beyond the abstract and the conceptual, beyond the economic and the social, beyond the left and the right, beyond the male and the female.
I need to move without going backwards or forwards. Through Google image plans, the future has been seen in soft focus history. The event has no longer been possible. I’ve forgotten my mother’s script and my skills are performed for you automatically. I used to need drugs to make me collective but this new feeling, it’s not depression.
What I am trying to explain to you is the reason for my theft. I have continued to steal from you the things that did not need to exist, that you have not even noticed. These details have become ammunition for saline weapons, deployed with impregnating tactics for knowing you and what you represent. From your surplus I have laboured on an image of your personality and from your time I have unmasked a character that can now be made accountable. A collective character. A capital accretion.
Someday soon you will realise you can’t ignore it anymore, so I need to confess before you take back what’s yours and my contact with you as a person is lost.
I have made an archaeological portrait of you; a plaque will explain my resignation and your home will become a museum containing the objects that you used to soften your inhumane blows. For now I am going back to my mother. This reunion will not be scripted or improvised. It will be silent. Together we will walk following each other’s movements, each having a turn to lead, until we find a luxury interior in which to squat and shatter.
This letter is to let you know I’m leaving. Although I appreciate my time with you has not been intolerable, and better than the alternative, there is a new opening. I’m taking a risk that that chink of value on the other side of the dead-end betrays a home of unspoiled and unperformed warmth.