Monday, November 11, 2013

Trauma and experience


I dreamed that my headache was gone, but then I woke up. For 15 years, I didn’t get up before 1 pm. This was neither bad nor good, it was just the way it was. Whenever the time changed in the fall, I was grateful, because I was usually slipping into 2 or 3, which made it harder to get outside before dark. Of course, the other thing that happened when the clocks changed was that it got dark earlier. But now that I get up in the morning, I can’t tell if I’m more confused or less. Maybe this is true in general. I guess I should say that I’m generally against daylight savings, across the board, why mess with our schedules like that? But the funny thing about traveling cross-country this time is that it hasn’t really messed with my schedule, and I wonder what that means too.
            I’m thinking about all the detailed footage of US wars circulating endlessly in left media – soldiers talking about their own violence and what they’ve witnessed, survivors of drone strikes telling their stories, etc. While it does seem extremely important to cover every detail of this trauma that the US is enacting, I wonder what exactly it accomplishes when broadcast for an antiwar audience. If we are already against these wars, if we already understand the trauma, and if many of us are also survivors of trauma, does this do much more than traumatize us? I’m thinking about when I went to see Boys Don’t Cry in the theater so many years ago, the dramatic reenactment of the story and murder of Brandon Teena, and aside from the over-the-top Hollywoodization of the movie was quite effective at portraying the trauma. So I ended up at a bar afterwards getting smashed, and then doing way too much coke because I needed to get away, and then I thought about the question my friend Kara Davis asked right after the movie: how do we talk about trauma without making survivors reexperience it? How do we challenge the violence without traumatizing ourselves?

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