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The harm will come : it never doesn’t. It will open up our chests and enter here. Some days it will come by for­tune, some days by no agent in par­ti­cu­lar, and some­times others will bring it to us, either will­ful­ly or on acci­dent. Those others might trip, the harm spilling out of their arms onto us. We might all look at each other start­led. We might all have the harm then andeyes full of tears.

The others might take one look at us or many looks at us and decide we deserve the harm. We will look back at them with our faces in the forms of ques­tions or curses. We will say : Where my words or how they were arran­ged what causes you to bring this to me ? Are you upset with my body ? Do you seek ven­geance against the­way my eyes light up or how my body grows tense at the sun­light in par­ti­cu­lar angles ? And How dare you ! and What where you thin­king ?!

Some­times the ones who bring the harm will ans­wer, but both their ans­wers and their not ans­we­ring can be methods by which they bring more of the harm.

The harm will take away the hours of the day of lengh­ten them. It will drain from us six hun­dred and four­teen thou­sand tears. It will drain from us six hun­dred and four­teen thou­sand tears. It will force our per­cep­tions to it so that we do not see the moon in the sky or the red­dish-yel­low apple we would other­wise eat, so that even our dreams, if we are lucky enough to have them, go to the harm as if the harm has built tracks on which a train can only go toward the loca­tion of itself but never actual­ly arrive.

When our loved ones speak to us, we will not hear them because we will hear ins­tead the sound the harm put in us, which at first is the sound like an alarm set by acci­dent that sof­ty com­plains of itself, and then it becomes the sound of our own ears cra­shing against the harm, or vice ver­sa, until no other sound is left, and then we cannt remem­ber the­re­were ever other sounds at all.

The harm is always com­poun­ding, attrac­ting to itself more of itself, and with this pro­li­fe­ra­ting nature it begins to occlude what is true, right, neces­sa­ry, and urgent. The pur­poses for which one lives, and the­re­fore for which one exposes one­self to the harl begin to disap­pear from sight. One is left only with the harm and more of it, and more of it, and more of it, until there is nothing but harm and the harm spaw­ned from that. No lon­ger being able to see what is true, right urgent, and neces­sa­ry, a per­son can no lon­ger act on the true and right’s behalf, or even if some sli­ver of it remains une­clip­sed, the harm’s pro­li­fe­ra­tion can para­lyze any poten­tiel act.

It is per­haps bet­ter to allow one­self to feel the harm than to not feel it, for the harm may also be like an entry in the ency­clo­pe­dia of what has not yet been writ­ten but what is impor­tant to know. One­might find in this entry the genus of the harm and its rela­tion to other harms, might grow secure in a know­ledge of harm’s taxo­no­my. One might find there an account of the harm’s com­plex rela­tion to what is true, right, etc. that reveals cru­cial but elu­sive infor­ma­tion about what is just and unjust in the com­mon world. One might find infor­ma­tion on how to act in this fee­ling : what alliances to make or decline, what objects to lift with one’s domi­nant hand, what to do with the objects one’s domi­nant hand has lif­ted, how to ope­rate in the bit­ter sys­tem of the world as it is, whe­ther to turn left or sit down or touch hands light­ly with a friend and fol­low contra­dic­tions to their ends.

The harm can be stu­died like any­thing, eve­ry wept tear a text-book, eve­ry minute of shal­low brea­thing a mono­graph, seven hours and four­teen minutes of a slee­pless night a tedious-to-read but poten­tial­ly use­ful dis­ser­ta­tion on having exis­ted.

It is not as if what is true, right, urgent, and neces­sa­ry is a light, and what is harm is the dark­ness. They are both dark­nesses : they are both lights.

Anne Boyer, « The harm », dans A hand­book of disap­poin­ted fate, New York : Ugly Duck­ling Press, 2019, p. 165–168