Panopticon series

“To see and be seen
is to be taken prisoner.” ~ D. Bonta

The mother hands her child a sandwich and some change before putting him on the bus. Don’t talk to strangers. But if you must, be unfailingly polite. Look them in the eye but not for very long.

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Marble and gold, pillar or stone. In the circular building, cells arranged around an outer wall, around the single tower. Network of tubes for extending the work of inspection.

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We will raise our placards, light candles, and walk in a solemn circle around the square. We have our permit to peacefully organize and protest. Of course we know we will be watched.

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Along one side of the street, lamp-posts festooned with the faces of missing children and animals. Every help number begins with 1-800. Infinity and many zeros.

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One summer, I ached to see the row of grandfathers who’d tethered themselves to the White House fence. Veteran does not only mean one who has served in the war, but also a person with long experience: old hand, past master, doyen.

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In fall after Rodney King was beaten, mother sewed a winter coat for me. She sighed and wished I did not have to go to America, this land of violence and burning storefronts.

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Third person point of view: I do not understand how people you don’t even know can talk about you as if you weren’t right there, as if they think you must be deaf or do not understand English.

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From the bridge we can see the spill of neighborhoods. We don’t talk about the blueness of the water and the stillness of wading birds. You tell me how everywhere you walk now, your nape prickles: the aura of the constantly surveilled.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Proverbial (10).

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