When I was growing up I was bad with context. Super bad. My young logic-oriented self just did not understand humans and their social “nuance.”
I’m still trying. Perhaps I’m practical-intelligence deficient. But, luckily, I’ve had a fleet of friends and colleagues who’ve helped me and I am grateful.
They’ve held my hand tight, so tight, and they’ve explained stuff to me. They’ve written me emails. They’ve called me on the phone, taken me to conferences, sent me books, and stayed up late with me. So much labour. And.
They have given me the look.
It’s a signature mix of expressions. I haven’t always recognized it. Now that I do, I can close my eyes and see friends and lovers in little floating vignettes across time, all giving me this potent look. There’s disdain, friendship, anger, compassion, and horror. Yeah okay; it’s mostly exhaustion.
I believe Vicky Mochama once described the look as a response to white fuckery™. But it’s more than that. There’s masculinity fuckery, colonizer fuckery, cis fuckery, Conservative fuckery, and on and on.
We live across epistemic divides. The look signals when this divide appears between us. And we can’t think ourselves across it. Humans are social animals and we rely on each other to know things.
Sometimes, if I’m not paying attention, the look can persist for quite a while. In some instances, which for the record I regret, the look has held right through entire conversations.
But I’m trying to notice sooner. That’s what I’m working on. And I’m trying to anticipate it more. That’s also what I’m working on.