Hell is other people – Part I

From an untitled event held in Belfast on 4th November, 2012. By Chris Fry. Read through distortion by an unseen face.

Hell is other people.  Other people are mind-bendingly frustrating.  They twist and turn our words and gestures into their own.  They colonise our desires and push them into slavery.  They take pleasure from our pain and pain from our pleasure.  They don’t know when to say yes or no or stop or start or touch or refrain or speak or hush.  They arrive unasked and too early or too late.  They touch something deep in us with no permission and draw our deepest longings up from our insides like moths to a flame.  They leave us gasping for more and aching for less.  They are puzzles that we did not ask for and can never solve.  And on the day that we come across the answer – finally a way to understand, to make better contact, to know, to hold to possess – it is not enough.  We stand helpless as the answer turns to dust in the face of the ‘thing’ that is THEM.  The labels wash out.   Categories won’t extend.  Classifications buckle.

Nothing works.  The other is other is other is other is other.  They will not submit.

And then a voice.  Listen to it.  It rises from somewhere you do not understand.  But you do not have to struggle.  You do not have to strain.  You do not have to understand, to translate, to transpose, to negotiate, to contextualise, to apply logic, to display serious interdisciplinary concern, to squeeze between dialectical tension, to synthesise, to apologise, to undertake hermeneutical analysis or to smile through gritted teeth.

The voice speaks a word and the word is…..

Sssshhhh…..don’t say it.  Watch it work….watch it bind your neighbour with the skin of the Jews; watch it cut eye-slits in your white, white bedroom sheets; watch it walk a catwalk in the Somali plains; watch it feed a bible to a starving child…..

The word is…the word is many words…exterminate, cleanse, obliterate, subjugate, alienate, ignore, humiliate, desecrate, undo, neutralise…..silence.

And when they have submitted, when they have given up their secrets, their claims, their voices….then it will be quiet.

This is how not to be here.  When you no longer hear you will no longer be here.

Don’t look around…they are among you….the others

Do not let them get away.


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