Disability was not my birthright but it became my blueprint. Jefferson said “all men are created equal” and the phrase haunts America. Jefferson loved Joseph Priestley. the scientist who discovered the properties of oxygen. “We hold these truths to be self evident” means they are “in the air”. Equality is in the air. We are equal with our first breaths. Your difference isn’t you, only your equal place, your hydrogen. And then you must become an architect. That is what Jefferson meant by “the pursuit of happiness”. Thomas Jefferson who built and rebuilt his house at Monticello for over forty years.
Building is harder then deconstruction. It is easy to theorize the deleterious effects of neoliberal biopolitics on the fates of outsiders, by which I mean, that while this work must be done, such work seldom proposes (at least to my mind) what is best about the humanities—that proposition about what a man or woman might build. What will be your blueprint? What is the house you will build and tear down and build again? I submit the blueprints of equality are not polemical or ideological at all. They are mystic. By which I mean subject to delicate attention, that delicacy which unites architects and poets. Here is D.H. Lawrence’s famous poem on the matter:
They call all experience of the senses mystic, when the
experience is considered.
So an apple becomes mystic when I taste in it
the summer and the snows, the wild welter of earth
and the insistence of the sun.
All of which things I can surely taste in a good apple.
Though some apples taste preponderantly of water, wet and sour
and some of too much sun, brackish sweet
like lagoon-water, that has been too much sunned.
If I say I taste these things in an apple, I am called mystic, which
means a liar.
The only way to eat an apple is to hog it down like a pig
and taste nothing
that is real.
But if I eat an apple, I like to eat it with all my senses awake.
Hogging it down like a pig I call the feeding of corpses.
To paraphrase the old joke about Freud: sometimes an apple is just an apple. But our senses, they are the lines of our blueprints.
The encomiums of justice are dependent on a severity of intellect, the ongoing critique of the past. Jefferson did not eat apples on his mountain and say, “this is better than liberty”. The effects of neoliberalism on the poor stand straight before us. The migrant crisis is a visible and glaring effect of post-modern capitalism and represents its injustices. But I submit political awareness will not save a single man or woman without all the senses awake. This is the blueprint. What if the apple is more than an apple?