Towards Israel’s east, India’s newly re-elected Hindu nationalist leader, under the guise of an intoxicating patriotism, nullifies the rights of Kashmiris and clamps down on dissent, reformulating what was once a beautiful country of great diversity and orientations into a single state given to fascist gestures. In Brazil, an indigenous population fights back the advances of the nation’s president, whose regime is hellbent on converting the Amazon forest into a resource to fuel corporatization. In the US, ICE tracks down fathers and mothers, deporting people who have lived here for so long, locking others in cages that are reminiscent of the most brutal times in recent memory. In Hong Kong, almost 2 million people thread the streets in pro-democracy demonstrations and songs (the political left celebrates this as an exercise of civil power, but why do we even have systems that require millions of bodies to rise in opposition – putting themselves in harm’s way – if representational governments were functioning well in the first place?) And on social media, algorithms scour the internet-scape, tracking keywords, spying on ‘private activity’, selling discontent to the highest bidders.
It seems that just to speak and to write today is a great privilege, a precious and fading resource that may no longer be freely available in the near future – even in the places where it sprouts in its uneven distribution. As the air grows thick, breathing becomes bleeding. We are without refuge. Where will we go when no place is free? What will we do if just to speak up means incarceration or worse? Where will we live if our skin colours – hues of brown and beige – and their ‘reputations’ precede us? There is nowhere to escape to. There is nowhere to run when running itself is a property of the ones you flee from.
But as the surface congeals into fascist arrangements, and as hate and fear get codified into law, there is yet one place to go: beneath the surface. A catabasis into the under-realms. Into the folds of thick time. Into the creases of our long bodies, populated by a strange multitude. Into the fellowship of trees and the nonhuman world. Into the deep biospheres of life-death. Into dreams upon which the hieroglyphics of other worlds are faintly inscribed. Into the embrace of new questions, the asking of which is not possible when we stand on the surface of things. Into sanctuary.
We may be without refuge, but we have sanctuary.
Perhaps this is the Rumian field I have heard rumours about.