Thought Scores / 4

René Magritte's The False Mirror"(1928)

I have to be conscious that I am getting an American education, and this wasn’t an inevitable choice.

I ask my sister to ask my Dad to send the winter coat he had used in the early ‘90s.

I am writing longer essays now like it takes all that time to make an object into a subject – writing is also making – and all that time to make finer and finer distinctions between what I think a work of art is saying and what it is actually saying.

About her boyfriend in a foreign country a girlfriend writes, “we are outpacing distance.”

It is not “culture shock,” but a long gaze at unfamiliarity.

I now accept to write with an audience in mind, but I will have to fix the right scaffolding so I don’t lose grip on my vision.

It is writing and knowing you can’t cover all the possible grounds yet remaining in motion.

My friend is going to attend the burial of our friend and he has been having nightmares lately.

I think about the distance we cover in our nightmares as I recall another friend who dreamt that hair from his nose grew until it reached his feet.

When I sat beside a fatter man in the train, too close for comfort, I waited until a man on my left alighted at the next station, then I moved farther from the fatter man.

Let’s pull the viewer into a space and something will unfold over time, a continuous and active engagement with the work, or so an artist says.

Sending an email is an exercise in hesitation, yet I cannot prove this.

What did you do about your rent except borrow money from your home country?

I read too much opinion that I fear I wouldn’t have any myself.

It is like reading the schedule for a conference of writers held in 1840, and recognizing only three names.

What is the tenuous ground that makes binaries lose their steam, and how do I get there?

All I’m asking from every writer is, let’s see you in motion.

It was the strangest thing, having to exchange emails with my father.

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Emmanuel Iduma, born and raised in Nigeria, works as a writer of fiction and art criticism, and a cultural operator. He is the author of the novel Farad and co-editor of Gambit: Newer African Writing. He is director of Saraba Magazine, which he co-founded, and has worked with Invisible Borders, a trans-African arts organization. A lawyer by training, he is currently studying for an MFA in Art Criticism and Writing at the School of Visual Arts, New York. More: mriduma.com.