Poems and Texts


from Fantasy in the Hold


Never being on the right side of the Atlantic is an unsettled feeling, the feeling of
a thing that unsettles with others. It’s a feeling, if you ride with it, that produces a
certain distance from the settled, from those who determine themselves in space
and time, who locate themselves in a determined history. To have been shipped
is to have been moved by others, with others. It is to feel at home with the
homeless, at ease with the fugitive, at peace with the pursued, at rest with the
ones who consent not to be one. Outlawed, interdicted, intimate things of the
hold, containerized contagion, logistics externalises logic itself to reach you, but
this is not enough to get at the social logics, the social poesis, running through

Because while certain abilities – to connect, to translate, to adapt, to travel –
were forged in the experiment of hold, they were not the point. As David Rudder
sings, “how we vote is not how we party.” The hold’s terrible gift was to gather
dispossessed feelings in common, to create a new feel in the undercommons.
Previously, this kind of feel was only an exception, an aberration, a shaman, a
witch, a seer, a poet amongst others, who felt through others, through other
things. Previously, except in these instances, feeling was mine or it was ours. But
in the hold, in the undercommons of a new feel, another kind of feeling became
common. This form of feeling was not collective, not given to decision, not
adhering or reattaching to settlement, nation, state, territory or historical story;
nor was it repossessed by the group, which could not now feel as one, reunified
in time and space. No, when Black Shadow sings “are you feelin’ the feelin?’’ he
is asking about something else. He is asking about a way of feeling through
others, a feel for feeling others feeling you. This is modernity’s insurgent feel, its
inherited caress, its skin talk, tongue touch, breath speech, hand laugh. This is
the feel that no individual can stand, and no state abide. This is the feel we might
call hapticality.

Hapticality, the touch of the undercommons, the interiority of sentiment, the feel
that what is to come is here. Hapticality, the capacity to feel though others, for
others to feel through you, for you to feel them feeling you, this feel of the
shipped is not regulated, at least not successfully, by a state, a religion, a people,
an empire, a piece of land, a totem. Or perhaps we could say these are now
recomposed in the wake of the shipped. To feel others is unmediated,
immediately social, amongst us, our thing, and even when we recompose
religion, it comes from us, and even when we recompose race, we do it as race
women and men. Refused these things, we first refuse them, in the contained,
amongst the contained, lying together in the ship, the boxcar, the prison, the
hostel. Skin, against epidermalisation, senses touching. Thrown together
touching each other we were denied all sentiment, denied all the things that were
supposed to produce sentiment, family, nation, language, religion, place, home.
Though forced to touch and be touched, to sense and be sensed in that space of
no space, though refused sentiment, history and home, we feel (for) each other.

Fred Moten

Fred Moten lives in New York and teaches in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. His latest work is consent not to be a single being (Duke University Press, 2017, 2018).

Stefano Harney

Stefano Harney teaches in Singapore at Singapore Management University. He is one of the artistic directors for the upcoming Bergen Assembly Triennale in Norway in 2016. He is founder with Tonika Sealy of the art and education collective Ground Provisions, and with Emma Dowling of the organisational anti-consultancy Immeasure.