Posts Tagged ‘desire’

Prelude to crossings

August 21st, 2012 | Alina Müller

 

 

‘As soon as I desire […] I am not merely for here-and-now, sealed into thingness. I am for somewhere else and for something else’ (Frantz Fanon)

What turns desire into obsession?

I remember my decision to leave Sweden as a moment of total certainty, perhaps the only one quite like it to date. It was a  decision that came to colour all my interactions and thoughts until that day when I finally boarded the flight to Italy with a big smile on my face. At the bottom of the escalator at International Departures at Landvetter Aiport, my father, who minutes earlier had handed me a one-dollar bill for luck, held a comforting arm around my mother’s shoulders as they waved  goodbye to their 19 year old daughter. In my mind, it was just like Frantz Fanon described it. I was for somewhere else and staying wasn’t even a contemplated possibility.

My father decided to leave his home country at an even earlier age. Looking back, he once described the feeling to me not so much as a desire but as a form of obsession. His country, unlike Sweden, was not quite as easy to leave. He spoke about spending countless evenings filled with coffee and cigarettes imagining the future ‘over there’ and eventually planning in great detail a route across the border. Before he eventually managed to leave, he would graduate from high school, get a university degree, complete military service, be arrested by the border police for attempting to cross the border, loose his job teaching philosophy as a result and work in a furniture factory for long enough to make his daughter a baby chair.

People today continue to arrive in border towns with the same desire. As controls are tightened and fences built, they spend their days trying to find a way to make it to the ‘better’ side, often repeatedly failing and repeatedly reattempting to get across. Consumed by being in a constant state of fear and longing and often struggling to survive, they eventually get to a point where they can imagine only one release, reaching their destination. I suspect that it is this condition, that finds its extreme expression in these ‘giant waiting rooms for migrants’, where the urgency to leave meets the violence of repeatedly coming up against borders, that ultimately turns a perfectly reasonable desire into an all-consuming obsession.