Thought Scores / 8

Untitled (2014) by Julie Maroh; acrylic on paper"Untitled" (2014) by Julie Maroh; acrylic on paper

This one is for my friends, who understand this madness.

The starting point was when, on my phone, I followed an e-flux trail and looked at a painting by Julie Maroh—a human shape is being ferried across… ; a traversal, an outdistancing, a collapse, a surrender.

Surrender is the beginning of freedom.

Think of it this way, I told a friend: the nature of conviction is to appreciate the opposing argument, and despite that remain committed to what you have become convinced about.

It was Novalis who wrote, “All doubt, all need for truth.”

It was Novalis who wrote, “The power of faith is therefore the will.”

Last week, I told a colleague our obsession with sex must have something to do with thrusts of freedom.

“I love dancing, and I especially love being in a club at 2 a.m., when one or three drinks, good company, and a gifted D.J. collectively liberate me into my body,” writes Teju Cole.

And, “I stop my habitual over-thinking and become, quite simply, a body in the half-dark.”

Two paragraphs in Ingrid Winterbach’s The Elusive Moth made me stop for a smile, in order to recognize myself:

“She danced on her own into the early hours of the morning and drove back through a landscape shrouded in primordial mist… After a night’s dancing she would usually return tired but content, her mind a blank, her calves numb. Occasionally something more would happen. While dancing she would unexpectedly enter a different plane of awareness. Whenever this happened she felt that all the years of dancing as if on hot coals had not been wasted.”

Reading novels at this point in my life is a revolt—I speak often about critical demons, their blessings and curses given as one token, and how they push me to revel in the redemptive power of novels. In one stretch I read Abani’s The Secret History of Las Vegas, and I thought, “Oh, he has named freedom, grace, and all the ambiguities in between.”

Freedom is a form of hallucination.

What I love about this year’s Oscars is how our Lupitain celebration was founded on an existing, primordial prejudice—how is it possible that even today, racial binaries still exist, small victories are still celebrated, and dreams still require validation?

I love Lupita Nyong’o because thinking about her success has made me find words for the strange dynamics of visibility—this strange object that dangles within my sight.

“We live in a colossal novel,” writes Novalis, to complete my revolt against over-thinking.

Emmanuel Iduma​ was born and raised in Nigeria. Emmanuel is the author of The Sound of Things to Come. He received an MFA in art criticism and writing from the School of Visual Arts, New York.