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The harm will come : it never doesn’t. It will open up our chests and enter here. Some days it will come by fortune, some days by no agent in particular, and sometimes others will bring it to us, either willfully or on accident. Those others might trip, the harm spilling out of their arms onto us. We might all look at each other startled. We might all have the harm then and eyes full of tears.

The others might take one look at us or many looks at us and decide we deserve the harm. We will look back at them with our faces in the forms of questions or curses. We will say : Were my words or how they were arranged what causes you to bring this to me ? Are you upset with my body ? Do you seek vengeance against the way my eyes light up or how my body grows tense at the sunlight in particular angles ? And How dare you ! and What where you thinking ?!

Sometimes the ones who bring the harm will answer, but both their answers and their not answering can be methods by which they bring more of the harm.

The harm will take away the hours of the day of lenghten them. It will drain from us six hundred and fourteen thousand tears. It will force our perceptions to it so that we do not see the moon in the sky or the reddish-yellow apple we would otherwise eat, so that even our dreams, if we are lucky enough to have them, go to the harm as if the harm has built tracks on which a train can only go toward the location of itself but never actually arrive.

When our loved ones speak to us, we will not hear them because we will hear instead the sound the harm put in us, which at first is the sound like an alarm set by accident that softy complains of itself, and then it becomes the sound of our own ears crashing against the harm, or vice versa, until no other sound is left, and then we can’t remember there were ever other sounds at all.

The harm is always compounding, attracting to itself more of itself, and with this proliferating nature it begins to occlude what is true, right, necessary, and urgent. The purposes for which one lives, and therefore for which one exposes oneself to the harm begin to disappear from sight. One is left only with the harm and more of it, and more of it, and more of it, until there is nothing but harm and the harm spawned from that. No longer being able to see what is true, right urgent, and necessary, a person can no longer act on the true and right’s behalf, or even if some sliver of it remains uneclipsed, the harm’s proliferation can paralyze any potentiel act.

It is perhaps better to allow oneself to feel the harm than to not feel it, for the harm may also be like an entry in the encyclopedia of what has not yet been written but what is important to know. One might find in this entry the genus of the harm and its relation to other harms, might grow secure in a knowledge of harm’s taxonomy. One might find there an account of the harm’s complex relation to what is true, right, etc. that reveals crucial but elusive information about what is just and unjust in the common world. One might find information on how to act in this feeling : what alliances to make or decline, what objects to lift with one’s dominant hand, what to do with the objects one’s dominant hand has lifted, how to operate in the bitter system of the world as it is, whether to turn left or sit down or touch hands lightly with a friend and follow contradictions to their ends.

The harm can be studied like anything, every wept tear a text-book, every minute of shallow breathing a monograph, seven hours and fourteen minutes of a sleepless night a tedious-to-read but potentially useful dissertation on having existed.

It is not as if what is true, right, urgent, and necessary is a light, and what is harm is the darkness. They are both darknesses : they are both lights.

[traduction française]

« The harm »
A handbook of disappointed fate
Ugly Duckling Press 2019
p. 165–168
american anglais boyer douleur english états-unis mal nuisance