And so I was trying to ask the question again, ask it anew,
as if it had not been asked before, because the language
of the historian was not telling me what I needed to know.
Which is, what is it like in the interstitial spaces where
you fall between everyone who has a name, a category,
a sponsor, an agenda, spokespersons, people looking out
for them—but you don’t have anybody.
This writing started to spill out one day when I was listening
to Hortense Spillers speak at the Feminist Theory workshop at
Duke University. I had been reading and writing about Spillers
for years, but something became clear that day about my re-
lationship to her work. What kept me coming back to her essays
over and over again was not only what she said (though what
she says about race, gender, capitalism, and literature is enough
to come back for forever); it was also how she said it. Again and
again, there were phrases in her work that did far more than
make her point. They made worlds. They invited affect. They
brought to mind nameless women in unknown places who were
laughing and looking sideways at each other and a world that
couldn’t understand them.