OK. During the 2013 presidential election, #KenyaDecides was the hashtag used on twitter to describe the choice on the ballot between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, the two major candidates. The lines were long but people voted, and a winner was crowned. Journalists hoping for violent spectacle were disappointed; international observers praying for order and peace were rewarded. Uhuru Kenyatta became president and William Ruto became his deputy president. Everyone went back to what they had been doing before. Three and a half months later, the final vote counts, by each race, have not been released. And there are discrepancies, almost a million of them.
knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Former anticorruption czar John Githongo quoted a commissioner of the electoral board saying “We are having sleepless nights reconciling the presidential results and those of the other positions. Over a million votes must be ‘reconciled.’” Reconciled is a nice gloss for “we can’t tell where the votes came from.” As Wycliffe Muga, the weekend editor for the Nairobi Star put it, “Nobody can seriously expect Kenyans to believe that about a million citizens walked into the voting booth; tossed aside all the ballots for county representative, MP, governor and senator; and then voted only for the president of their choice.” Kenyans are being called on to unsee what they saw, to ignore what they know, both before the election and at the National Tallying Center. But as Shailja puts it, in her blistering essay, “The Politics Of Contempt”, contempt is when it doesn’t matter what Kenyans know, but only that they won’t say anything about it, won’t do anything about it. Chagua amani, they’re told; choose peace. “Wait. Sing. Dance. Pray. Be patient. Stay calm. Pray. Wait.” Context becomes the E.R. Like a race of giants, we are made up of pieces of one another in other names. If I’ve waded out above my welcome, which was special, if I’m in some experimental state of forgery, or if this was the night or another night after the super moon — “I’m a poet,” Kenneth Goldsmith’s Printing Out the Internet project states, “and I feel that the internet — comprised completely of text-based alphanumeric language — is the afterlife.” In the afterlife you relive all your experiences, but this time with the events reshuffled into a new order: all the moments that share a quality are grouped together. You spend two months driving the street in front of your house, seven months having sex. You sleep for thirty years without opening your eyes. For five months straight you flip through magazines while sitting on a toilet. And a thousand years in a voting booth, knowing your vote doesn’t mean a thing. OK. “This is the kind of thing I think I [do not] want. / Impersonality in person, sent / in free parabolas, / the pale or faint / glitter of phosphor is a lonely tint / delighting lovelessly in all that can’t / conﬁne or even know it. / Goodbye from now to being in the right, / farewell to lofty projects. Literature / became repulsive to me long before / I died / Can it be you don’t hear this? It’s not the return but how to go on, less the appeal but the fear which is hard: ‘Can it be you don’t hear this?’ Anyway, here in 1917 / here at Kronstadt / we’re having a right laugh / love’s solar boat is slashed / we have 4 years left. For some reason, it was 1649 again. Maybe it was 2003, or something, / I don’t remember, my favourite laws / were just a system of false brains / I recognise that / - cough - / as / anyway, here in the multiplex / in our plastercasts / in in / in our membranes, like, inside / the police computer, that thing / ok …” last time something like this went down the bark beetles ate the piñon trees leaving brown carcasses everywhere and all the clubs closed down and the suburbanites moved in from wherever, that's when I left for L.A. No one counts the years spent in L.A. I don’t know how long I was there. But Kiki Smith sent me color Xeroxes of a completed sequence, forty-three drawings, which she’d titled, Women Being Eaten by Animals. As in a dream of similar actions or a dream of a single, timeless action, the girl flecked with blood while being unaltered by the animal’s touch, there is no representation of motion except stillness of the figures floating in space of page. Is this not precisely clanged?
[Note: Sources: JBR; Shailja Patel and Aaron Bady, “Introduction” to #Kenyarefuses, at The New Inquiry, June 013; Jack Kimball, “To save a life …”, “When It Comes to Half-dog Leitmotifs”, at Pantaloons, 24 & 25 Jun 013; JBR; Garrett Caples, “Poetry and Accountability”, at Abandon All Despair Ye Who Enter Here, 25 Jun 013; JBR; David Eagleman, Sum, as quoted in Sean Lovelace, “28 points: Sum by David Eagleman”, at HTMLGIANT, 25 Jun 013; JBR; The Commons, Set 3”, in Simon Jarvis / Sean Bonney / 18th June 2010 / Cambridge Reading Series / Judith E. Wilson Drama Studio / Faculty of English / University of Cambridge, at Plantarchy; JBR; Bett, “last time something like this …”, at Bett’s Blog, 25 Jun 013; JBR; Leslie Scalapino, as quoted in “Compline Reissues Leslie Scalapino/Kiki Smith Collaborative Animal”, at Harriet, 25 Jun 013; Timothy Thornton, “Playing Boreads”, in Sara Crangle / Timothy Thornton / The Cambridge Reading Series / Friday 22 October 2010 / Judith E. Wilson Drama Studio / Faculty of English / University of Cambridge, at Plantarchy]