Touch to Affliction

We are walking backwards into our lives. Our cities are incensed. They fester on our thighs. And we lick at them in garish immoderate delight.

When colour comes we run. We have no idea why.

From the ruins of poetry, fiction and philosophy comes Touch To Affliction, a meditation on the notion of homeland, on patrie and the inhumanity that arises from it.

This is a text obsessed with ruins: the ruins of genre, of language, of the city, of the body. The history of the twentieth century is a history of barbarism, and Stephens walks, like a flâneur, through its midst, experiencing through her own body the crumbled buildings, the dessicated cities, the eviscerated language and humanity of our time, calling out in passing to those before her who have contemplated atrocity: Martin Buber, Henryk Gorecki, Simone Weil. In the end, it considers what we are left with – indeed, what is left of us – as both participants in and heirs to the twentieth century.

Insistently political but never polemical, Touch To Affliction, at the interstices of thought and the unnameable, is at once lament, accusation and elegy.