Beautiful Transgressions | A Revolutionary Love Letter

In her latest column, as she leaves the UK for pastures new, Sara Motta calls for "revolutionising revolution" by founding it in a "politics of love, monologue of and for the voiceless, sacred sexuality and embodied transformations of self and other".

Beautiful Transgressions, New in Ceasefire - Posted on Thursday, March 28, 2013 19:00 - 6 Comments

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Beautiful TransgressionsThe stories we tell breathe life into the world and ourselves. They are at once both testimony for others and a witnessing to the self. As Minh-ha Trihn writes ‘(our) stories are not just stories. Once the forces have been aroused and set into motion, they can’t simply be stopped'[1]. They create the world anew.

Dear Nottingham,

A revolutionary love letter, something that brings in its flow and its performance love as recognition, sharing, reciprocity, that connects my (our) heart and head, that comes alive from the page in body to body connections. A revolutionary love letter that as Tami Spry[2] describes ‘through emotion and poetics constitutes scholarly (and political) treason. It is heresy put to good use’. And like her I continue to attempt to commit heresy by being here in flesh and emotion.

Nottingham as a living, breathing land. Nottingham, its people and our relationships. Nottingham as a metaphor for these last five years of my life which I want to, need to, honour. They have been bridging years; years in the borderlands between fear and love, between walls of protection and boundaries of possibility, between enforced silence and embodied voice, between forgetting and remembering, between disassociation and intimacies with self and other.

A deafening enforced silence, victimhood, betrayal, loss, abandonment weighed down my steps and haunted my head when I arrived in Nottingham. On the outside you couldn’t really tell, I spoke, I taught, I organised, I wrote, I mothered. But inside I was in a constant state of fear- like a deer’s frozen body when faced with the oncoming lights of a car. I was disassociated from my heart that was broken and from my emotions that had been trampled on.

So began my journey to breathe, to sing, to feel- a journey that came to be through the body, the embodied in land, laughter, trees, friends, sisters, daughters, lovers, myself, my body. A passage through the wisdom of the dark emotions as Miriam Greenspan counsels,’from fear to courage, from anger to tenderness, from pain to love'[3].

Our bodies carry the marks of trauma, of violence, loss, like iron brandings on our skin as Norma my dear compañera often reminds us. Our emotional palettes fade as we adapt to living a life cut off from the erotic, our deep knowing of authentic desire embedded in the womb space which as Audre Lorde speaks, once felt, touched, tasted can never be forgotten.

To reconnect to my deep knowing and heal the wounds that marked my body and penetrated my heart, I had to learn to produce myself differently[4]. This wasn’t a conscious journey it came out of desperation, when the patterns of self-denial, of violence, of victimhood pushed me to an edge of my being.

I remember sitting in my office, in that world of disembodied ghosts, crying and crying, not out of emotional knowing but out of emotional exhaustion. My dear friend Laiz walked in for a meeting. She said ‘Sara stop, you need to stop and look after yourself’. She held open a door and handed me a key which I accepted by giving myself permission to feel.

She showed me a place of peace and serenity in the heart of the University space. A tree circle- the body of the land, the wisdom of the trees. There I fell under the spell of the sensuous world, as David Abrams so beautifully writes being rooted in the earth, learning to breath, beginning to stop from the constant demands to perform as mother, worker, organiser.

In that space I would sit every morning, breathing, stretching, grounding. In the worst moments I would look to the bud coming up from the muddy ground, listen to the squirrels rustling through the branches, hold the trunk of the tree and remember that I was here and alive in the web of life, in its beauty.

Here is where I found goddess, Gaia, interconnection, another way of inhabiting my life and of being immersed in the world. I would breath with mindfulness, slow down time, notice the small beauties and refuse to be colonized by disembodied temporalities and anti-ethical demands.

A practice of the feet, of being grounded in the places we inhabit, their rhythms, their changes, their energies and histories roots us in a politics of tenderness. Through mindfulness with the earth beneath our feet we return to the body and find our sacred breath. As David Abrams describes ‘…uniting our breathing bodies not only with under the ground…not only with beyond the horizon…but also with the interior life of all that we perceive in the open field of the living present’[5]. Connecting through the land to our sacred breath brings to us a knowing of another kind, a knowing often beyond words, a knowing of liberation and love.

And then I found the women of this place, in circle, multiple circles, moon circles, anarcha-feminist circles, reading circles. I needed to find the women first. I couldn’t trust. I was too closed and in fear to find men right then. This was a slow awakening, a slow finding of voice, a slow removal of the walls to intimacy I had built to protect me that had enabled me to survive but were now keeping me locked in patterns, in isolation, in pain.

In these spaces, with these women I began to emerge out of the enforced silence. I could speak what it meant to be in fear for your child’s safety. I could speak what it meant to be spoken over and silenced by violent men, judges, police, social workers, solicitors. I could speak what it was to be alone with two children in a strange place, to feel cold, to feel desperate. I could begin to speak in different ways with different intensities, sometimes whispers, sometimes shouts, sometimes cries, sometimes sighs.

We always talk about the importance of dialogue to create respect, reciprocity, care and democracy. But sometimes we need monologue, not the monologue of speaking over others, of exerting ones voice by silencing others. No, the monologue that enables speech, in whatever form that takes comprehensible, incomprehensible, vomited from the body, screams from the throat, whispers to the ground, moans of exhaustion.

In this way we appear as people. We appear from the enforced silence. We can chose when to speak, when to be silent, how to speak, who to speak with. Monologues of healing prove that others will listen, that you are not alone. They build a bridge to trust. From here we can begin to breathe our stories and selves into life and create loving community.

Then came the wider circles of men and women, in everyday life, as neighbours, as fellow organisers, as story tellers and craftspeople, crafting words and practices of another kind, to produce ourselves differently. From bringing us vegetables when we ran out of food, letting me sleep when I was exhausted, singing songs with us to sooth the loneliness, cooking a good meal so we didn’t get sick, filling in legal forms or helping me finish a lecture late at night for an early morning start, sending loving energies when I had to go to court, organising projects, getting drunk, dancing, holding hands.

Here is where were weaved together the strands of trust, opening, vulnerability and solidarity. This, as Venezuelan feminist theorist, Alba Carosio[6] explains, is a politics of collectivising care in our everyday lives which politicises and transgresses the caring maternal role through which women are interpolated into individualized and sacrificial roles.

This is a politics of creating other rhythms and relationships which break the isolation and separation between people and bring together in the micro practices of fulfilling our most concrete needs ways of reproducing ourselves, our families and communities differently.

This is a revolution of love. It enables difference and multiplicity. Through these acts of kindness, care and holding we plant seeds of possibility and nurture the conditions for worlds beyond the painful separations of free market society.

Then came the lovers. This was hard. To believe in my head and my body that there would be no harm, no power, no threats. To open up to my sacred sexuality and release my body and desire once more. To remember but also to re-learn. To become lover differently. To worship my yoni and breath into the fire snake of kundilini. To let my yoni be worshipped-how delicious, playful, release- and let myself be seen. To unlearn my performance as lover in which I had kept my heart observing from above. To learn to interlace my fingers with another’s, to breath in unity with another, to hold and be held in tenderness. To allow the walls to come down.

So many of our wounds from trauma are held in our wombs, our yonies. When we release these, when we work with these in sacred sexuality then we return to the erotic. As Katinka Soetens, Priestess of Avalon describes ‘Sacred Sexuality is one of the great keys in the unlocking of our potential…This shining light that wishes to illuminate the long forgotten or forbidden truth of our sacred body and holds the sweet medicine both in the surrender of letting go, and the actual physical releasing of those blocked up spaces in our emotional and physical body”

Through our sacred sexuality we return to another knowing of the body. We reconnect heart, mind, and body. We are at once both deeper in ourselves and deeper in connection with the other. As Miranda Gray describes, ‘With the awakening and flow of sexual energies come inspiration, ideas, realization and the capacity to create….Allow yourself the freedom from inhibitions to express your energies through your body and its interaction with another body…Feel yourself weaving your enchantment in a web which…may be the enclosing and containing web of your love, the enchantment which takes and transforms, the darkness of the inner world in the outer world or the garment of light and renewal'[7]

Then, and this is not in order, came my sisters, sisters of Rhiannon, priestesses who walk the way with the lantern not the knife. In sacred circles of intimacy with many others, with women who otherwise might never have crossed paths. Here our work was multiple- stories, sharing, dancing, drawing, writing, making, body work, rituals of the senses -, to feel and heal through the traumas that lie in our bodies, hearts and minds. This revolutionary path of love as Katinka Sostens continues ‘is a learning to dance with this delicious gift of life, in which we become more authentically alive in our body, more intimate with Life itself.’

Here we learnt to love ourselves, embrace our histories and sing our songs. Here we learnt to become women differently. Here I discovered the loving eye, tender hand, sensitive ear, erotic lips, deep yoni and sacred feet. Here I came to know, as Aymara feminine wisdom says, that “we understand the size and strength of our own ability and that we should not surrender that ability to anyone”[8].

Here I discovered the multiplicities of form, tongue, becoming self and other, of becoming woman. As feminist writer Patricia Vergara Sánchez writes,

Yo entiendo ser mujer de otra forma.
Yo quiero de otro modo hacer las cosas.

No voy a disculparme,
No puedo condolerme.

Porque tengo esta voz.
Es voz libre y autónoma.
Es voz nueva, revolucionaria.

Here I came home.

On the importance of home for a revolutionary politics of love. Home can be rooted in a place, places, through our feet and our breath. Yet home is also rooted in the flesh, blood and bone of our bodies. When we connect to our ancient wisdom and erotic selves and pass from the dark emotions of denial and shame to acceptance and loving of ourselves then, and only then, can we truly love others. Here we create the possibilities of unbounded intimacies with earth, cosmos, self and other. Home becomes multiple and shifting, home becomes our deep knowing as we walk a path of love and light wherever that might take us.

So I honour you Nottingham as place, people, relationships, as metaphor. I honour the earth that soothed my feet, the trees that listened, the women that held me, the people that weaved the world with me, the lovers that brought me tenderness, the wounds and pain that bought me here, the sisters who are eternal, sacred who welcomed me back after years of wandering. I honour the love, light, tears, knowing that has come to be in this borderlands place. I honour my daughters for accompanying me on this journey. I honour my body and my self.

Thank you.

In love

Sara

Notes
1 Trinh T Minh-ha 1989 Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism. Indiana University Press.
2. Tami Spry 2001 ‘Performing Autoethnography: An embodied Methodological Praxis’ Qualitative Enquiry 7, p. 709.
3. Greenspan, Miriam 2003. Healing through the dark emotions: The wisom of grief, fear, and despair. Shambala: Boston and London.
4. J. K. Gibson-Graham 2006 Post-Capitalist Politics.
5. David Abram 2006 The Spell of the Sensuous. Vintage Books: New York, p.226.
6. Carosio, Alba 2007 “La ética feminista: Más allá de la justicia” Revista Venezolana de Estudios de la Mujer 12:28: 159-184.
7. Miranda Gray 2009 Red Moon: Understanding and using the creative, sexual and spiritual gifts of the menstrual cycle. Dancing Eve.
8. To understand in this sentence, is more than the conceptual understanding it is an embodied knowing non-representable in only words.
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Sara Motta

Sara Motta, Ceasefire's Beautiful Transgressions columnist, is a mother, radical educator and writer.

6 Comments

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Alfredo
Mar 29, 2013 1:21

Sara, como siempre es un gusto leerte y leer esas historias que llenan de esperanza haciendo resonancia, eco. La voz se va recuperando del miedo de la cotidianidad en la medida en que encontramos a otras, otros, que vivimos ese miedo; nuestra voz se hace fuerte y hace fuerte nuestro corazón, nuestros corazones. Ahí el mundo cambia y el dolor comienza a ceder.

Abrazo desde México.

Sara
Mar 29, 2013 22:14

Alfredo, que bueno recibir tus comentarios- mil gracias. Claro salir del miedo con coraje y dignidad. Eso es lo que siento con esta carta. Tantos anos de silencia, de sentir sin voz. Y en Nottingham empeze a sanar, encontrarme con el dolar con la ternura y de recuperar la voz con otras/os, de empezar de nuevo, de cambiar nuestro mundo.
Abrazos a todos alla

Andy
Mar 30, 2013 22:04

This letter is beautiful, Sara 🙂 And you have made just as much of an impact on Nottingham as it has made on you, there are so many of us whose lives are brighter for your presence.

On a theoretical level, one thing which stands out for me here is the importance of place, and of a *different relationship* to space. In capitalism space is just a container, we move through it on determined trajectories. It’s important to stop or slow down, and relate differently to places, what they mean for us, how they’re interconnected. We’re all dependent on and interconnected with the spaces we live in and use, and yet we miss so much in the places where we live, just because we don’t relate to them deeply enough. Like the famous violinist who performed as a busker on the underground, and nobody stopped to listen. Like the rare bird I once saw, hopping among the feet of students at the Portland Building, hardly anyone noticing how unusual it was. Place isn’t just a container, it’s a lifeworld, and we need to reconnect to it again… a renewed psychogeography of lived spaces.

The other thing which stands out for me, is the importance of monologue. You’re right, monologue is usually used as a negative term, as a monologue which silences. But there is a problem with dialogues which are incomplete. What does one do when one starts a dialogue, and everyone says the same thing? What about people who cannot speak their own story – because of fear, pain, a false self, a lack of words, identification with the oppressor? This is why I think we need autonomism or insurrectionism so to speak, *as well as* a politics of dialogue and care… the goal is an inclusive world where dialogue is possible, but to have an authentic dialogue, people first need to find their own voice. When everyone speaks with their own voice, there is dialogue. When there is “dialogue” but most people speak with simulated voices, false voices, there is not a true dialogue but a monologue, a duplication of the trunk. To form one’s own voice, one has to emerge from submersion as Freire calls it, to break with the dominant transcript, to speak autonomously – to speak from somewhere which is not the role or status assigned by the system, or the subjectivity the system produces. The emergence from submersion is always an interruption, a scission, a rupture. And when people criticise this moment for rupturing dialogue, for disrupting the false peace of conformity, for being out-of-place, too extreme or “insane”, that’s really an enforcement of monologue, under the pretext of maintaining dialogue. There can’t be authentic dialogue when some positions remain as “bare life”, or have to hide in the unconscious.

Sujey
Mar 31, 2013 20:52

My mum is bloody amazing

Ana Margarida Esteves
Apr 3, 2013 20:31

Sara,

What a beautiful letter! Thanks for offering it to all of us. It very much reflects my own journey is the past few years.

Lots of Love,

A

Emily
Apr 17, 2013 21:21

Sara,
My name is Emily and I’m an Msci student at Nottingham and you lectured me in IPE last year. I am currently abroad but have followed your work and am heartbroken you are leaving Nottingham, as I return there for my final year in September.
This letter is so moving and raw, and I really appreciate you sharing your experiences with others. Your journey in Nottingham echoes that of my Mum’s, I sent her the link and we spent about an hour just crying together after she read it.
It’s remarkable how the sharing of an experience can encourage reflection and consideration of our histories and how our paths can be changed if we are able to rediscover who we are.
The part of the letter when you were talking about the trees and the strength that they offered you was really fascinating and reminded me of a quote by Huntertwasser ‘If we do not honour our past, we lose our future, if we destroy our roots, we cannot grow’.. I identify with the idea that nature and the natural can offer a sense of serenity, away from the linear reality we exist in day-to-day. It’s wonderful to hear how inner strength and a reconnection with the soul was able to help you through a very difficult time and help you find a sense of contentment.
I am filled with gratitude to you, because of your work, your strength and your passion. I feel honoured to have been taught by you. I know I speak on behalf of a lot of students when I say thank you so much for your contribution to the education at Nottingham.
I wish you the very best for the future ahead of you, please keep writing and know that it really is making a difference.
Emily Hopkinson

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