Reviewing Hardly War by Don Mee Choi

Proof of something

“The daughter of the Operator living inside the Camera with Spectrum, with History.”

Because the record the record shows
cannot be shown without interpretation,

because the Spectator can only
be punctured by his own desire,

or loosely, the unconscious learnings
of a semi-automatic process that fires

at will in the back of his mind, or,
speaking loosely, the record

does not remember if the dead
do not exist to explain, and so

what punctures, since we’re speaking as such,
is the oppressive gaze of those who wish

for others to forget, who wish to obscure,
and this book, with all of its resistances,

is a refutation of this willful forgetting,
for it punctures in a targeted way,

it resists and does not allow itself to be
resisted, the way in which only

a juxtaposition of this and that
might puncture, the space opened

between two images, two words,
two phrases, the collapsibility of history

when adjacent foci are subsumed
by one another; the Camera knows

only light, it rejects madness, it does not see
this, and so always it remains accurate

in this way, acute, unknowing, and so
of course the daughter inside

the camera becomes mad;
and so of course everything and everyone

is mad, in this space before signifying,
the before-photo, living as-world,

post-sight but pre-gaze, pre-
word, this madness of a wish that

cannot be fulfilled, not inside the suspended
space here, where language becomes

a smattering of stars before its pierces
any lens, this before and after,

located yet dislocated, in many times,
in many places, and so what is hardly

is what is unknowable, what seeks
to remain, what we resist in our effort

not to know, to survive without knowing,
on both sides, but especially on our own,

where we cannot know because they say
it is so; so it is said then, then let us revel

in this unknowing, despite how maddening,
despite our wishing to return to knowing,

let us create a space, we, the fugitive recluse,
the feral wanderer, sprung from static

into the lens of the camera of the father,
let’s steal away and enact the return,

perform this madness to enact a wholeness,
this approximation, then, constrained,

an explosive madness, a permeating madness,
as this madness historical, as is history.


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