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Just Look


Is it possible to look any further? To see any deeper? If it is, and if you could, what would you see? And would it be enough?


Represented in the image above might be a naked human? [my assertion and completely still up for negotiation – we didn’t talk about it]. Not a man, as I am sure you are persuaded by the presence of a penis, to think. Nope, what you have in front of you, right here might be just a plain and simple human. This might be a human woman, or a human man, or a gender non-conforming human. Or they might not be a human at all, and perhaps it’s a werewolf. Have you ever met a werewolf? How would you know for sure that this is not one? I can assure you, as far as I'd like to push my agenda, that this is a were-wolf. Their pronouns are they/them and in actuality – contrary to popular belief, they have the form and shape of humans.


It’s wild, I know. I met this sad were-wolf in a bar one evening. They had just come from a hunt, I assume. [I can't say for sure]. They were all bloodied and roughed up and crying and drowning their sorrows by the bar, drinking a cocktail, and I simply couldn’t help myself. I went over to ask them what’s wrong and they simply just looked at me with their sorrowful eyes. Their eyelids were so heavy, they reminded me of a toddlers cry, and I just fell in love with them - I wanted to know their story. Why were they here, in a bar? It was late and there were men outside. Who hurt them? I needed to know more. But I couldn’t and I never did. I asked them so many questions and they were just mouthing the answers to me - not letting out a sound. Did they lose their vocal cords? Was it in a dual? Were we in the 1800’s? Why was there a dual? Why is it so quiet? And why were we in a bar?


I have so many questions. I took their picture to show all my friends on our whatsapp group. They didn’t believe me. They think that the wolf was a human and a man. But they're wrong. They are wrong about everything.



Theory:


When the verb repraesentare and its derivative noun representatio are applied to certain social and political acts of "representing" in Rome of the late republic and early empire - most prominently, acts by Cicero or Augustus - they have a surprising dual structure that is not evident in the corresponding English term. Two distinct senses are variously at work, one denoting the presentation from the past of something that in one way or another lends authority to action, the other the presentation of something owed or obliged that was otherwise being deferred to the future, underlining the action's efficacy. These two senses of repraesentare can be translated as recall or depict “vividly.” (342)


The English “representation” from latin “repraesentatio” is easily captured by the second “sense”; a “vivid depiction” as presented by Ker in the above illustration of “representation" (342). A more singular idea of “repraesentatio” is produced in representation of the contemporary. The derivative, “representation”, in likeness of (from middle English), presents representation as an image of, an imitation, and at best mimetic. Representation, in the contemporary, is semantically captured as a vivid depiction, an idea. Character cannot resound in representation, neither can it in perception.


Representation, as of appearance, is in the exhibition of the watch “in the sense of visual surveillance… in relation to the optical genre” (11). Charlotte Mandell in translation of Jean Luc Nancy’s Listening constructs that “There is, at least potentially, more isomorphism between the visual and conceptual, even if only by virtue of the fact that the morph, implied in the idea of isomorphism, is immediately thought or grasped on the visual plane. The sonorous on the other hand outweighs the form. The visual [of the form] persists until its disappearance.” (12). The visual is thus less manifest than the sonorous, which has more of a resounding presence. The sonorous is mobile, “vibrating from the-come-and-go between the source of the ear, through the open space, the presence of the presence rather than the outer presence”, it has depth, it has base, it is (12).



What we see is not enough. It is important, but it is not enough. We have to ask more questions and listen to more answers and then and only then do we have a chance at knowing the fullness of someone and something, in order to create an inclusive society with them.


Author: Sibongile Khumalo


References:

Ker, James. Roman Representatio. The American Journal of Philology. The John Hopkins

University Press, Vol. 128, No. 3 2007, pp. 341-365.

Nancy, Jean-Luc, and Charlotte Mandell. Listening. Fordham University,  2007.



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