“While unequivocally locating the event within discourses of singularity, Derrida poses the possibility of future repetition inhabiting the event from the moment of its constitution.” (Derrida 1996, 17, emphasis in original)6
In March of 2020 I, like many, developed the feeling that one's daily experiences were and are becoming intertwined with one's imaginations of disaster. Thinking back to several months of isolation in NYC, referred to as the epicentre, I can describe a lapse, i’m most certain of it—
Thieves blend was accidentally developed by grave robbers in the 15th century during the bubonic plague, the thieves would wear black death masks to emulate doctors, and in the long black beak they would stuff oregano, rosemary, clove and cinnamon, to mask the scent of death, the herbs were later discovered to have strong antibacterial qualities, granting the grave robbers immunity. Some years later I found myself mixing the same blend in 70% alcohol to slip under doors and send by post to friends when hand sanitiser was an extorted commodity.
I recall slowing down, long days but no understanding of how they were spent, biking to the emergency care in Bed-Stuy each week for a two minute stick up the nose, waiting four hours in the cold thanksgiving weekend. Whole weeks were spent in negotiation and anticipation of a single picnic or walk. Life became a montage of broken habits. I recall the first flight wearing a dust mask while the rest of the plane drank wine. For the first time in my life I truly understood the concept of borders, as I witnessed their calcification. Notions of distance became abstraction while measurements of that same distance were rendered sharply, the body was no longer just the body, but the space 6 feet around the body. I don’t recall when the anxious wait became feverish forgetfulness or when patterns settled into the routine of the now, I barely recall my move to England. I am fairly certain of a lapse, or several, and I can only now confidently name them.
“Will we then, like the mystics, undergo “timeless” stretches of fana’7, and then, if provided prosthetically/ artificially with the opportunity to do so, spend years thinking about what we do not remember but that is now part of our expanded intuition? Will we then come to the realisation that our thought has become afterthought, a thought across, to the other side of a lapse?”8 It is from the afterthought that one recalls a lapse, reflection is a privilege, like the witnessing of the calcification of borders from the perspective of an American passport reaching for a British passport. Yet, for the growing population of people living through a climate or other catastrophe, whose everyday life is very much a depiction of disaster, there Is a haunting presence. By its very nature the event can only be recalled from the aftermath, but if your catastrophe is the sea rising 3.4 millimetres per year9, how do you recall that? Can we instead think about threshold and threshold subjects, passing through this condition of disaster, the haunting sort of disaster, a series of lapses and non hyperbolic events. It is thoughts on this threshold condition that moves me to make a case for an alternative or expanded depiction of disaster representation.
40 Drops of Eugenia caryophyllus* (Clove) bud oil
35 Drops of Citrus limon*
(Lemon) peel oil
20 Drops of Cinnamomum zeylanicum* (Cinnamon) bark oil
15 Drops of Eucalyptus radiata* (Eucalyptus) leaf oil
10 Drops of Rosmarinus officinalis* (Rosemary) leaf oil