by Maniza Naqvi

I. Mass and Matter

II. Drywall

ZucottiI. Mass and Matter

There is never, nothing. Nothingness is everything. What does it matter? Matter and meaning? Hurtling through life and hoping that it will amount to something—that it will take on mass.

This Higgs boson question of what gives matter mass? In this moment—two points in the collective ether: the Higgs boson and debt. The world is concerned about how matter—particles, become mass—how particles travel through the treacle of energy called Higgs boson. And the world is concerned about debt the one thing that has become the “be all” of human meaning—amassing—meaningless matter.

To travel, at a velocity, so great, and so often, as to stop mattering and to stop, having any meaning. To, keep on, leaving before accumulating enough meaning, enough evidence of existing. But if you can travel so far, and still keep going isn’t that evidence of something? Or does it mean that the further you go and keep on going, this can only happen without gaining substance or without gaining enough of it to stop the velocity—and then does that mean you don’t matter—you are incapable of gathering mass—becoming something? And then do those, who stay those who find it hard to leave, to part, those who remain to resist, those that accumulate, do they—matter? But to depart, to part is an article of inevitability isn’t it for a particle -it is the way a particle accumulates mass—As it travels through space that treacle offering resistance to the particle’s velocity sticking to it and assisting it in gaining mass. That treacle is existence—it is society offering resistance, termed responsibilities, saying stop. It is mass that stops velocity. Mass is when something offers resistance.

Is the Higgs field made up of something akin to kindness-something that gives? Kindness may be the treacle through which particles move—amassing matter. And how can we ever accumulate meaning if we have not received kindness or given it? Giving and receiving—is yeast, it is bread it is community: it is society. Giving and receiving is kindness and generosity. Real authentic pure kindness is without condition without any other intent than doing well unto someone else. Such kindness is done. It is bestowed upon one by another. And once done it is a debt to the one it is done unto—for it must be further done or at the very least returned. And even if it is not returned, it does not matter to its mattering and amassing as a debt. Kindness, in its meaning has such velocity that it matters and gathers meaning regardless of whether it is returned or renewed—it is a debt. It cannot be undone. And when this debt is amassed and perpetuated, travels, it is true wealth.

There are parts of the world where wealth of a person is measured by the number of people who come to the funeral—- based on how well that person was loved for their kindness–the number of people who truly mourn the passing of a person measures their wealth. It cannot be bought, it cannot be paid for. It is not about money. It is the currency of kindness. The greater the kindnesses, the more one matters: the greater the mass. And a city is that ether, that space, that treacle, that place of chance kindness of strangers in every single second and moment, for an instance, for a moment. A city is critical mass. I meander through the side streets of still strange cities—heavy with the thoughts of being and not being.–Thinking about being in Karachi, being in New York and being in this place and yet not really being anywhere long enough to matter at all. The only thing, that matters, is what goes forward, what is created and gives. Not what is left but rather what goes forward. The only thing that lives on is knowledge and thought. Does it matter?

And now it’s a question of Matter.

II. Drywall

There is a hint of something, in this disquieting silence, as we contemplate our restorations: our next cut.

See in this town here we’ve always produced paper. The usual shades of paper: bleeding, red, redacted black paper. Some might call it death warrants. But then there will always be those prone to histrionics. But really what is paper, all paper, if not but a death warrant? Isn’t all progress and development a negation of something before it? The ones, who write die in the process of being read, reviewed interpreted. That is the fate of paper and the written word. And are we not if nothing in the business of progress and development in this town? An idea, any idea at all, good, murderous always dies after papered. And it is sooner or later plastered over eventually.

See this paper here says that the park has been closed for “Restoration”. The encampment of tents is gone from McPherson Square. Gone are the signs for change and revolution. See we run a quiet and clean town here—no scraps or heaps of ideas laying around—at least none worth the paper they are written on. No, all those are neatly filed away or shredded or are on their way to being recycled for drywall. Paper sanctioning everything, from drone attacks to apologies, to what gets made and who gets paid and who goes free and who does not. All shredded, stored away, in some defunct coal mines somewhere. So pleasant this town yet most who walk to work here or sit in rush hour on the inner loop to the belt way waiting to get in probably say to themselves every day: I’ll do this another day, another year—and then tomorrow, or the next year I’m getting out. Going to get me a houseboat to live on, going to start an all organic food restaurant. But we stay because of our insatiable needs for paper and plastering: for drywall. We are paid for it.

See, this substance made of gypsum and cardboard turns to fine dust particles the moment it is cut into. It is used liberally here in the houses we build. It provides instant gratification of instant structure and instant walls. Our previous actions erased at whim. In an attempt to reconfigure and take interest in our lives in this town we demolish drywalls for whose acquisition we have gone into debt with ballooning mortgages. It is our grand archeological gesture of putting facts on the ground, of declaring our success, of taking ownership and authorship of design and creation. So we have dry wall removed—cutting through the powdery paste of artificial walls to the brick wall a few feet further in-creating more space— showing our amazement at the brick walls that lie inside or the lead pipes and perhaps asbestos that requires our moral indignation in self interest and instant action or our quiet resignation: let the next buyer beware, and do something. This sense of punching and cutting through walls demonstrates first and foremost our commitment to stay the course and oddly enough provides us that temporary feeling of signing on saying yes I am indeed interested in the progressive process of destruction and in this space.

In this town we’ve sawed and hacked our way through the previous mortgage payer’s idea of a home having cut through dry walls then to push further back or further in to make room for a book shelf or an entertainment center—now this decade gone we cut through it again—the last one was paid for by the job we signed up for then—now we cut through it again with the payment on the assignments we’ve done since. No thought to limbs shattered, amputated, lives ripped apart and turned to dust, homes destroyed, lands turned barren, people destroyed for our need for drywall and cutting through it? The mortgages to which we have chained ourselves leave us no choice but to keep unquestioning of our motivations. There is a silence as we contemplate the drywall that stands before us, behind us, to our left and to the right, above us—surrounds us—as if we’ve wrapped ourselves up in our own delivery packages made of particles of gypsum, spit, melted bones, dead forests. Yet we must keep the momentum going, cut, further in, further back, further on.

Other Writings by Maniza Naqvi (here):