In 2004, the BlueForms Theatre Group (specifically John Dranschak, Geoff Martin, Acacia Duncan, and myself) created a play called InVulnerable. It was about the aftermath of September 11, 2001. It was about the Iraq War. And it was about mourning. Like many of our shows, we were moved to write after reading a book, in this case Judith Butler’s Precarious Life.
I had very recently lost my beloved grandmother, and the book struck chords in me on many levels. I was politically moved, yes. But there were parts of this book, Butler’s most personal by a long shot, that spoke directly to the part of me that was trying to mourn. Grandma was sick for a long time before she passed away. It was one of those passings that is somehow more difficult because it’s gradual. She was gone before she was really gone, and certainly before I realized it.
Here’s one of the paragraphs that has stuck with me since then.
When we lose certain people we may simply feel that we are undergoing something temporary, that mourning will be over and some restoration of prior order will be achieved. But maybe when we undergo what we do, something about who we are is revealed, something that points out the ties we have to others, that shows us that these ties constitute what we are. It is not as if an “I” exists independently over here and then simply loses a “you” over there, especially if the attachment to “you” is part of what composes who “I” am. If I lose you, under these conditions, then I not only mourn the loss, but I become inscrutable to myself. Who “am” I, without you? When we lose some of these ties, we do not know who we are or what to do. On one level, I think I have lost you” only to discover that “I” have gone missing as well. Perhaps what I have lost “in” you, that for which I have no ready vocabulary, is the tie by which we are related.”
The emphasis is mine, and that’s the sentence that has kept me thinking for almost ten years. It begs the question… What are those ties? How do they work? How do we know when we have them? What do they feel like? Why am I more tied up with some people than with others? And so on and so forth.
And that’s what Glue is about.