Consider the category of desire that is the desire to make a stony expression break. Think of those humans who are attractive for the primary reason of how the presentation of their face and body is impenetrable or brooding or fierce or impassive with brooding fierceness. This category of desire is simple, slightly mechanistic : to penetrate the brooding, fierce, impassive, impenetrable presentation.

There are several ways to make a stony expression break. These include to enrage, to surprise, to humiliate, to sadden, and to give pleasure. The experts at impassive expression, however, are not so vulnerable to sadness, rage, or humiliation : it is precisely these expressions that they have practiced steel looks against over many years, testing their own faces always against their own afflictions. For every affliction they endure they might think « And how may I use this affliction to sharpen my appearance of impassivity ? » For what, they conclude, is a humiliation if the humiliator does not succeed in casting down the eyes downward ? And what is sadness with no tears ? Or rage with no flashing eyes ? Those humans who are attractive for the primary reason of the impenetrable presentation of their face are attractive for the rigor with which they self-cultivate their impenetrability. The experts at facial impassivity are the hard scientists of themselves.

Surprise, while effective at making the unbroken expression break, is difficult to achieve in this population. It takes practiced unpredictability to surprise the expert of the unrelentingly unmoved face. The surprised look, however, is a moment of intense satisfaction for those who have the occasion to witness it. In a stony face surprise is something like a rock slide––or if an exceptional example, as if a cliff face falls––and revealed by this fall is an entirely new landscape of unimaginable charm and elasticity, one that practically bounds with itself : meadows, flowers, small animals, clear lakes ruffled by soft breezes.

Of all the reasons to test against a hard face, to watch it express its own pleasure is the most compelling. Emily Dickinson described it : « It is a Vesuvian face. Had let its pleasure through. » It is no mistake that Dickinson imagined the « pleasure through » to be of the kind that could eviscerate cities. This expression of pleasure, when let through this kind of face, has no small effect : it is exactly, too, like Dickinson suggests in the same poem, the firing of a gun : whatever is a not-nothing is the not-nothing of this event, which is really undeniably something, like any form of explosion. To achieve a look of pleasure in a face which has practiced itself against expressing open delight is always an historic accomplishment in the history of desires and faces.

This desire––to delight the undelighted face––can compel an ambitious person to attempt to cause another pleasure for years. « Might I break open their face with pleasure ? » the ambitious appreciator of undoing impassive face asks, and failing, tries again, and failing, tries again, employing every weapon in the arsenal of interpersonal pleasures, until one day, if they are lucky, the pleasure in the unpleased face is revealed.

When the pleasure arrives (as if a gun shot, volcano, dynamited urban structure, star which has imploded) it is unsurprising if an entire city must be devastated into a monument of that very moment, all things frozen under ash, lovers curled together, infants in mothers’ arms, bathers eternally in baths––all necessarily sacrificed to memorialize a moment when she or he or they who often appears beyond pleasure displays, in his or her or their face, a look of it.

to effect a number of rapid changes on an already rapidly changing face

The impassive face has its rival : the face that can never hold still. The face is kinetic, elastic, morphologically indistinct, blooming like fractals, the curse of digital photographers and bio-informationists who must try to fix, in data, what is in its very form unfixable. This face provides an onrush of information which comes so quickly it almost evades processing : this face is prolific, a human comedy of feeling––any one hour of reading this face means one can read a Balzac’s worth of novels, also witness a projected record of the generic legacy of the human race (and beyond that, the pre-human ones), also witness an ardent record of feeling in a bathetic leaping from the grotesque to the precious to the sublime and whatever chimerical expression of feeling results from quick leaps from one feeling to the next : the grotesque-delicate, the thoughtful-enraged, the distracted-amused.

These are the faces, which, like the avant-garde literature, must at once create their own texts and their own theories of reading them. For what are these faces without a unique critical infrastructure newly invented to interpret them ? These are the faces easily mistaken for noise, like the sounds of traffic outside the window, so relentless it soon becomes what you can’t hear.

The highly sensitive flashing of these eyes might appear, without sufficiently developed methods of reading, random, aleatory, chaotic. At their extreme, and like any complex thing, such rapidly flashing and elastic and rapidly expressing faces might be mistaken for disorganized.

When they arrive without theory, these faces are a delight to those enthralled with enlightenment methods, who need a lot of things to categorize, who like to impose order, who are besot, like Fourier’s children, with the passion to sort small things into useful piles1. Not accidently, these faces are also of delight to sadists, those sub-sub-enlightenmentarians, who also never forget to bring with them a scalpel. For what could be of more delight to a sadist than a face that in a few minutes can write a dozen very clear books about exquisite and surprising varieties of pain ?

to resolve a face’s contradictions

Do not forget the face that looks like its opposite : the face of a cherubic CEO, or a villainous and sometimes demonic face on a person who it virtuous, or a languid face on a firebrand, or an angry face on a person who is mostly indifferent, or a stupid face on a very bright person, or an ugly face on en attractive person, or some combination of the above––a villainous stupid face on a bright and virtuous person, an ugly cherubic face on a sexy CEO. These faces present those who look upon them with a challenge of interpretation : should you believe the face, or should you believe the condition of personality under the face ? Or, if there is a third option, is any manner of belief about the face only in fact belief about a condition in which the face is opposite to itself ?

These faces are of particular desirability to the suspicious, like Platonists, or fans of the idea of false consciousness, or admirers of Freu. Such a desire-er of faces might want to wash off the accumulation of misleading fleshy evidence that is a person’s face, so as to reveal whatever kind of truer, demystified thing exists under it.

Similarly, these faces attract the humans who like to be righters of wrongs, fighters against injustices, exposers of truths, and seekers of remedies. If I am a mirror enough, the exposer of truth thinks to herself (making her habitual error of thought), the face itself will transform in response to the veracity of my reflection : what is virtuous, if I reflect it, will soon appear with virtue, what is evil will be revealed !

But among the reformers who like these faces, there is another sort of person who might gaze upon these faces with a different interest. These are the rough dialecticians, always looking for the contradiction. How interesting, they think, and what could it mean for history, that a face is wrong for itself in a time in which all is also so wrong. The animals sit forlorn or ride subways in city centers. The water has become poison. The old behave like the young, and the young are too worried to move. Pilotless weapons have the name of birds, so why shouldn’t faces, also, lead away from the facts ? To the lovers of the contradiction, these faces are a perfect account of our time : the poetry of the wrong.

I have often thought that the faces do not reveal the person but rather the conditions in which all things are the opposite of what they appear to be would become most interesting in a death mask. With the personality gone, would the face that was always untrue finally be made the truth ? And what do we do with a contradiction when its only resolution is that half the facts are removed ?

  1. Fourier believed that the perfect work for very young children was sorting peas : « The thing to be done is to separate the smallest peas for the sweetened ragout, the medium ones for the bacon ragout, and the largest for the soup. The child of thirty-five months first selects the little ones which are the most difficult to pick out ; she sends all the large and medium ones to the next hollow, where the child of thirty months shoves those that seem large to the third hollow, returns the little ones to the first, and drops the medium grains into the basket. The infant of twenty-five months, placed at the third hollow, has an easy task ; he returns some medium grains to the second, and gathers the large ones into his basket. »
Anne Boyer« Erotology III : Categories of Desires for Faces »A handbook of disappointed fate Ugly Duckling2019p. 90–97

Think of the way one person can make you feel, also the way that one person is only one. Why want that one person who is only, after all, one person, and why wake up longing for a person and fall asleep longing for the same person and who knows if anyone else in this is longing ? You don’t know if that one person is longing, too.

the over-determination of each thing unheld

That person who is only one person is just as over-determined as anything else unheld, over-determined like an angelic realm or the commune or whatever else you never get but really want. You hold their face in your face. You see how their face goes from one expression to the other. You imagine how you could make their face move between expressions. You imagine how if you held their face in your eyes how that face would look when held. You think about their face a lot and ask some questions of it : What would it look like if I touched it ? What would it look like if I did that thing to that person ? What would it look like if the person were doing that thing or another ?

the elasticity of surprise on the longed-for’s face

Remember what it looked like when that person was surprised by you ? You said something they didn’t expect. That it was unexpected delighted them from surprise, then you saw their face in immediacy and elasticity of surprise. They said, “You just did that surprising thing!” and their face was spread open by surprise. You were surprised by their surprise, and your face spread up open. Every one was immediate and elastic then. And remember the grimaces, the person’s face in anger ? Remember the dereliction and affection ? Remember the look on the face in pure vulnerable recipient of pleasure ? Remember the face with its crevices of intellectual effort ? Remember how you wanted to trace any crevice ? Remember the look of doggish desire ? Remember when you were in your pleasure, and you opened your eyes and looked at the person’s, too, and added it to your own ? Remember the look of that face in minor pain ? You remember that person’s frustration, to, and when you caused it, how the frustration slowly took the face and ossified it, how that person’s frustration when you caused it could be the opposite of that face’s surprise. This is one person, but these were so many different faces, then.

the thousand fictions

These one persons are so many different ones, and even if the one person has never been your lover you can still remember all of your love in its precise iteration and all of it in different measures combined, and if that person hasn’t been your lover yet or for whatever reason never will be, you can make a thousand fictions of when they were. You can think of the time you haven’t but did deny the person pleasure. You can think of that time you haven’t given but did give pleasure freely as if you were just a radiator or the sun. You can think of that person’s face when you made that person weep from your own cruelty or sadness. You can think of the time with that one person a thousand times or ten thousand even if none of it has been yet or will, for whatever reason, be.

the precise method

How do you long ? Like you do. There’s the person’s face in the morning, and then again at night. The person is there in dreams sometimes : you can think in your dreams “we will walk through this city” and the city is endless and like every other city until you wake up. You can imagine saying “let’s be as innocent as animals or children” and in this meaning “let’s hold each other’s faces in our faces and eyes and pretend to suffer none of the destruction inherent in this”. The day is made of alternating terror of having that person with you in some way or not having that person with you in some way, the terror of their interest or non-interest, the terror of asymmetrical or symmetrical desire. Pulling out of the terror, you make some plans to pull out of the terror, to fracture idealization or make the person more precise but increased exposure never actually results in decreased idealization like you plan.

longing as cosmopolitanism

So you can swear you think the one-ness of this one person feels really special right now, and in most hours you would swear to their specialness, but in fact it isn’t even that person and never limited like that. Sometimes it is one, sometimes it is another, sometimes it is a future-oriented longing, sometimes a nostalgic one, sometimes it is a generalized they-ness, sometimes a him-ness or her-ness, the way all the people of past longing combine with those of the present longing. This is like sometimes how you are in a city you used to live in or one you have visited a lot. Then sometimes you feel like you are in all cities at once, or that all cities are basically just one, or that you are driving or walking in a city that makes each city the same like the dream city you have the one-person in. So, too, your longing has both an enlarging and flattening effect : now that you have been alive for some time, it’s clear all this longing is a kind of cosmopolitanism. This is the longing that is not in actual relationship but outside of it. That is when it is longing in the state of the general but not in the specifics of one-on-one bodily negotiation. You hold a face in your eyes a lot and say “I am a citizen of longing for that one person”, but what you really mean is that you are a citizen of longing for the world.

Anne Boyer« Erotology »A handbook of disappointed fate Ugly Duckling Press2019p. 81–85 amour exclusivité

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]

Anne Boyer« The harm »A handbook of disappointed fate Ugly Duckling Press2019p. 165–168 american anglais boyer douleur english états-unis mal nuisance

Doing the dishes is not like freedom. Freedom is whatever we notice because it isn’t like doing the dishes. The ordinary is ordinary because it ordinarily repeats : taking care lacks freedom’s entertainments and its exceptions.
For any author of doing the dishes, the best part of the story would be the story of missing out on everything else while the dishes are being done. Or a person could be a modernist of the dishes and make a stream of consciousness account of an attempt to flee dish-sink reality. But it would be easy for any of those accounts of doing the dishes to miss what is important about doing the dishes, which is that it is not interesting or remarkable work in itself, but that it is the work on which everything else depends.
An ongoing necessity like dirty dishes needing to be done doesn’t produce narrative. It produces quantities, like how many dishes were washed. It produces temporal measurements, like how much time was spent washing them and when. Narratives end. Quantities, hours, and dishes don’t. Maybe dishes produce categories and distinctions.
Maybe one kind of dish is washed but not the other, one kind of technique used and not another. To study the dishes could result in an account of spaces, of technologies, of tools and instruments, or infrastructures, economics. A work like that could demonstrate the crisis that occurs in its absence : the dishes have piled up, the smells and cockroaches have come. Or it could result in an account of class, race, and gender—who, in the current arrangement of the world, does the dishes and who does not.
Doing the dishes falls inside a larger set of relations made up of necessity. We have physical bodies. These exist inside and among the larger bodies of the world. All of these bodies—ours and everything else’s—are adhered to decay, are always ruining or on the verge of it, never evade entropy or collapse. The ordinary ongoingness of our existence, like every time we do the dishes, is every time we try to block ruin’s path.
There is the work of making the world, which is the world that’s good to look at, and there is the quieter work of keeping the world okay once it is here. Making the world is a concrete pleasure, but the nature of the rest of it has yet to be determined. It’s hard to make a judgment of the senses regarding the sometimes invisible and necessary efforts we exchange between us. It is hard to read, for beauty, the everywhere space we are always making around the always manifesting world of the world.

Anne BoyerThe Undying Penguin2019p. 107–109 production vaisselle

There is no superiority in making things or in re-making things. It’s like everything else, old men who go fishing, hair extensions, nail art, individual false eyelashes glued on with semi-permanent glue, sewing clothes and re-sewing clothes, sketching, sketching animals, sketching human faces, sketching flowers, growing flowers, flowers, flowers that might even be marigolds and petunias, perfume that smells like party girls, perfume that smells like dowagers, perfume that does not smell like flowers or more like flowers mixed with the urine of jungle animals and some tobacco smoke, perfume that does not smell like men, one faux-Chanel earring, sunglasses resembling those of RAF leader Ulrike Meinhof, hair pinned up on one side, purses that are not real, pockets on dresses and skirts, dresses and skirts, blouses without buttons, limiting each type of possession to one old suitcase full of that type of possession, track suits with rhinestones, zip up onesie track suits, plump women, fat children, fat dogs, slender men, photos of Angelica Houston, the cracked dirty swimming pools of low-rent apartment complexes, bleach-haired boys smoking dope against the chain-link fence, the workers walking to their strip mall jobs, the strip malls, the dumpsters behind the strip malls, the karaoke nights in the bars in the strip malls, physique training, hypertrophy, very heavy weights, Juicy Stacey, Toy Selectah, every apartment complex having its own ducks, waking each spring morning to those ducks, the stateless state of contract labor, the invisible iv also the invisible catheter, everyone hugging the duct tape replica like starving little rhesus monkeys, everything in the everything like “there is no world but the world!”

Anne Boyer« No world but the world »Garments against women Ahsahta Press2015p. 20 énumération états-unis liste meinhof parfum poésie poésie américaine

The tears are automatic. They drip down the cheeks, dampen books, keyboards, dinner plates, postcards, steering wheels. I don’t weep from sorrow. I weep as a symptom. I don’t want to cry, but I do because of a medicine. It is as if my body weeps on its own behalf.

My body has reason to weep – more reason than I do – but there are times I join my tears in their crying, adding to the tears of side effet the tears of cause. Disease has bullied me into Cartesianism, but the mixed tears undo division through liquification.

Can the tears of sadness, once shed, be extracted from the general waters ? I said, something else, « it is a mechanical problem and not a metabolic one. » I said to one friend, about the loss of another : I miss this person more than I will miss [the important body parts I will miss]. I intended this to be dramatic but of course it was matter of fact : of course the loss of a friend is worse than losing organs, limbs, or skin.

Can any particular loss be extracted from the general sorrow ? All of the losing (of body parts, capacities, people or relations between them) compounds now into one elixir of loss, fumy and irrevocable. It’s as if in all its crying my body know something about sorrow that I refuse.

The only thing sadder than existing is not existing, anyway, and everyone should have known already how impossibly sad existing is. I’d say « all that can go wrong » but the sadness of existing isn’t anything gone wrong about it, only what is definitional : first we exist, then we don’t.

Anne Boyer« The season of Cartesian weeping »A handbook of disappointed fate Ugly Duckling Press2019p. 169–170 american anglais boyer english états-unis lames pleurer pleurs poetry sanglots

1. Notes Toward a Theory of the Crush, Crush’s Discourse, Ma Vie en Crush.

2. Tableau vivant of extant crushes with possibility of sexual consummation determining centrality.

3. Tableau vivant of former crushes, all asleep on the floor.

4. Hidden track of embarassing crushes on an otherwise unlistenable album.

5. Regarding the crush of never-to-be-lovers, these subcategories : the never-to-be-lovers of who is already spoken for ; the never-to-be-lovers of geographical impossibility ; the never-to-be-lovers of sexual incompatibility ; the never-to-be-lovers of the narcissism of small differences ; the never-to-be-lovers of asymmetrical desire.

6. Some species of crushes : the crush of intersecting research interests, the crush of good politics, the crush of great poems, the crush of proximity, the crush of lack of proximity, the crush on who you’ve never met, the crush on whoever sits next to you and begins to talk, the crush on the highly informed gossip, the crush on who leads with cruelty and ends with affection, the crush on who leads with affection and ends with cruelty, the crush on whoever you are content to observe, the crush on who you think could use a little more education, the crush on a fighting spirit.

7. And what are the territories beyond the territory of the crush ? Romantic love ? Sex ? Friendship ? Apathy ? Literary journals ? Unsent emails ? Armed cells ?

Anne Boyer« Crush Index »A handbook of disappointed fate Ugly Duckling Press2019p. 98–99 american american poetry amour anglais crush english poésie poetry sentimental typologie

History is full of people who just didn’t. They said no thank you, turned away, ran away to the desert, stood on the streets in rags, lived in barrels, burned down their own houses, walked barefoot through town, killed their rapists, pushed away dinner, meditated into the light. Even babies refuse, and the elderly, too. All types of animals refuse : at the zoo they gaze dead-eyed through plexiglass, fling feces at the human faces, stop having babies. Classes refuse. The poor throw their lives onto barricades. Workers slow the line. Enslaved people have always refused, poisoning the feasts, aborting the embryos. And the diligent, flamboyant jaywalkers assert themselves against traffic as the first and foremost visible, daily lesson in just not.

Saying nothing is a preliminary method of no. To practice unspeaking is to practice to being unbending : more so in a crowd. Cicero wrote “cum tacent, clament”—“in silence they clamor”—and he was right : only a loudmouth would mistake silence for agreement. Silence is as often conspiracy as it is consent. A room of otherwise lively people saying nothing, staring at a figure of authority, is silence as the inchoate of a now-initiated we won’t.

Sometimes our refusal is in our staying put. We perfect the loiter before we perfect the hustle. Like every other toddler, each of us once let all adult commotion move around our small bodies as we inspected clover or floor tile. As teens we loitered, too, required “security” to dislodge us, like how once in a country full of freely roaming dogs, I saw the primary occupation of the police was to try to keep the dogs out of the public fountains, and as the cops had moved the dogs from the fountains, a new group of dogs had moved in. This was just like being a teenager at the mall.

Anne Boyer« No »A handbook of disappointed fate Ugly Duckling Press2019p. 9–10 american anglais apophatique contradiction english négatif négation non opposition poésie poetry récusation refus rejet

Some people believe to know the fin is to know a shark, but this is an incorrect belief. The fin is not a fin of a shark at all though it is a reproduction shark fin strapped on a boy’s back, and the boy with the reproduction fin does very much want to be a shark, wishes it a great deal, dreams some nights of being a shark in a great fleet of sharks in some unexplored sea where sharks are in fleets and somewhat even more powerful that the sharks of the daytime world have shark banks full of money and minnows. One could be, also, a person with a fabulous malformation of a shark fin on her back, who says often “please excuse the fin” but others look at it and say, “look at that grand shark with that awesome fin” when she is, underneath the fin, a person who is fond of peeling carrots for soup and a person who could otherwise just not help the fin that fortune dealt her. Some could be real sharks, the fin an adequate representation of sharkly reality : that’s just the deal.

Anne Boyer« The innocent question »Garments against women Ahsahta Press2015p. 7 aileron états-unis jugement malformation poésie poésie américaine requin singularité

the stupid logic of dinner

We were not innocent. Our education was authored by our senses. Our lambness was written into our bodies with the violence of the world as it is, yet our interest in understanding the lamb’s education, in the lamb’s way of knowing, began to take the form of the bird of prey’s pursuit. We were at once formed by grudge and narrowed by desire. In everything we wanted, all we acquired, and in how we could not want, how we could acquire nothing, we were simultaneously lamb and bird of prey.

Our mixed nature was not innocent. No matter how much predator-like acquisition of the predator’s way learning acts upon a lamb-interior, a lamb still appears to all who see it like a lamb. The lamb might be a doubly conscious lamb, but the bird of prey’s stupid logic of dinner remains, for the time being, the logic of the world.

Anne Boyer« When the lambs rise up »A handbook of disappointed fate Ugly Duckling Press2019p. 21 agneau american anglais dîner éducation english logique oiseau poetry prédation proie savoir stupide stupidité

Other things that cause discomfort : people picking through the trash for their food. There are those who want “only the best” and those who believe only-the-best is immoral. I would talk about these two impulses, one for comfort, the other for justice, and how one appears animal, the other not that animal at all, for what dog says of her litter, “It is not only my own that should have my milk, but I will suckle the world”? I would like to meet that dog. I am the dog who can never be happy because I am imagining the unhappiness of other dogs.

Anne Boyer« The innocent question »Garments against women Ahsahta Press2015p. 13 états-unis immoralité inconfort poésie poésie américaine

At the fullest expression of its treatment, breast cancer is near total strike : striking hair, striking eyelashes, striking eyebrows, striking skin, striking thought, striking language, striking feeling, striking vigor, striking appetite, striking eros, striking maternity, striking productivity, striking immune system, negated fertility, negated breasts.
Self-manage, the boss that is everyone says : work harder, stay positive, draw on eyebrows, cover your head with a wig or colorful scarf, insert teardrop- or half-a-globe-shaped silicone under your scarred skin and graft on prosthetic nipples or tattoo trompe‑l’œil ones in pubescent pink or have flaps of fat removed from your back or belly and joined to your chest, exercise when tired, eat when repulsed by food, go to yoga, do not mention death, take an Ativan, behave normally, think of the future, cooperate with the doctors, attend “look good feel better” for your free high-quality makeup kit, 8 run a 5K, whether-or-not-to-wear-a-wig-during-sex is a question the book says to ask your husband, “one family member at a time” says the sign on the way to the infusion room, the pink ribbon on the for-sale sign of the mansion.

Anne BoyerThe Undying Penguin2019p. 73 cancer grève management

Every movie I watch now is a movie about an entire cast of people who seem to not have cancer, or at least this is, to me, its plot. Any crowd not in the clinic is a crowd that feels curated by alienation, all the people everywhere looking robust and eyelashed and as if they have appetites for dinner and solid plans for retirement. I am marked by cancer, and I can’t quite remember what the markers are that mark us as who we are when we are not being marked by something else.

Anne BoyerThe Undying Penguin2019p. 93 cancer normal/pathologique normativité norme