As this weekend’s Marathon draws to an end, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz brings us back to the question of labour, asking: “Do you believe in the work of the spell?”
The real work of the spell, says Muñoz, is done by the mouth. The mind delivers words, but it is the mouth that operates as vehicle, carrying intention forth. The hymn. The utterance. The chant. The cry. The wish. An anaphoric vernacular, rhythmic and round — lips, tongue, teeth, sentencing words to hard work. Muñoz references palilalia, a habit of speech characterised by compulsory repetition. Compulsory or not, there is labour in relentless repetition, fantastic incantation that builds toward will. Words alone cannot execute repetition; as with Whirling Dervishes, movement is the muscle that brings us closer to celestial secrets. Movement of the mouth mobilises hopes and dreams, those two Weird Sisters of faith.
Later Bhanu Kapil carries on in this vein, concluding her Six Notes for The Miracle: bodies, oranges, voices, water, love and bloodwith a request that bleeds: “I love you. Please don’t die.” So much of daily repetition within the secular aims to secure some sense of safety, the declaration of abstract affection as an assignment of worth, yet this desire somehow still made distinct from prayer.
With love as the spell, and an undeniable mortality looming ahead for us all, how these uneasy words do labour.