In Dani Shapiro’s Devotion she describes the yogic idea of samskara, which describes “the knots of energy that are locked in the hips, the heart, the jaw, the lungs. Each knot tells a story—a narrative rich with emotional detail. Release a samskara and you release a story.” It makes for a potent, poetic image, as I pondered it while hiking yesterday morning. It brought to mind climbing ropes, which can turn into a wretched, knotted mess if not handled properly. A rope in that state is useless and must be untangled if you’re going to do anything with it. But even if you untangle the knot, you still have rope. The rope remains and you can now do something else with it—coil it, flake it into a protective bag, or toss it back down to become a jumble again. So I think unknotting a samskara, a story embedded and tangled in the body, is less about making it disappear and more about working through it in order to do something else with that story.
Things to read and think about:
- “Weather,” a powerful poem by Claudia Rankine.
- Sasha Bonét writes about collage as a way to reimagine Black futures.
- Last week I read Nothing to See Here, Kevin Wilson’s big, buzzy 2019 novel about a flailing young woman, Lillian, whose wealthy best friends asks her for a favor: would she mind terribly much tending to two step-children who spontaneously combust? The book was a delight, laugh-out-loud funny—Truly. Reading alone, I laughed out loud—but also so fascinating in its characterizations that I’m still working out how Wilson accomplished it.
- I only just learned about the Twitter account of the Duchess Goldblatt but I can’t wait to learn more from her. To whit:
- Last, watch this video of descendants of Frederick Douglass reading his speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”