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Staged Discoveries

There is only one God, and it is the god called Secret, who lies in wait at every corner of time and world, pointing us to the next corner where the truth of our existence lies buried in silence. Sometimes, this God speaks from within the deep gloom of our inner world, administering the mining process through which we seek the truth of our reason and unreason. Other times, it simply transforms us into confessing automatons.

It’s really all monkey business when we go about the world with creases of expectations on our faces, looking for things that we placed in hiding ourselves. Frantically gutting our bodies. Pulling out entrails, dissecting heart tissues, examining bones, inspecting fluids, and, the most excruciating of all, waiting for them to speak to us, to tell us the truth we already know because we whispered it to them in the first place. If we chose to take Foucault seriously, then the body is the greatest casualty of our endless craving for staged discoveries, for it is the one thing that we have succeeded in making silent just so that when we get it to speak, we can pretend to hear the cackle of a liberated voice.

We are at a point where we have long since forgotten whether the things we discover and confess in our search for whatever we are searching for are genuinely there waiting for us or whether they were planted there just so we could find them. Daily rituals of life in which we mask things so that we can unmask them. Silence things so that we can make them speak. Bury things in the earth so that it can inexhaustibly give us the pleasures of finding treasures. Evade the truth, so that we can turn around, re-encounter it and act surprised like we did not know it was there all along.

How can we escape this entangling web of the world, self, and secret? The point is that we can’t. But if somehow we can see that the secret is not in the secret itself, waiting there, stolid as a virgin, destined to be found and taken, we can come to terms with the knowledge that in this gnomish obsession for finding things, the quest, the seeker, and the discovery all create each other as they go.

Photo Credit: Brian Talbolt


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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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