Notes on the Speculative by Fargo Nissim Tbakhi



Worlds in Which: Speculative Mix is edited by Fargo Nissim Tbakhi, a queer Palestinian-American performance artist and writer. Read on for his editor's note introducing the anthology, his thoughts on speculative worlds and art, and more about him and his work. Plus: Look out on our social media pages in the coming weeks for more notes on the speculative by several of the mix's contributors.


Don't forget: On Wednesday, July 14, Fargo is hosting ten of the mix's contributors at a virtual launch reading to help us welcome Worlds in Which into the world. Register for the event; preorder the anthology.


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NOTES ON THE SPECULATIVE


THE SPECULATIVE WORLDS ARE REAL WORLDS! WITH OUR BREATH AND OUR WORDS THEY MAKE THEMSELVES KNOWN TO US.


INSIDE THE SPECULATIVE GESTURE—THE GESTURE OF WORDS TO A WORLD WHICH EXISTS ALONGSIDEBEYONDAPARTFROMWITHIN THE WORLD WE HAVE BEEN TOLD IS “REAL.” LANGUAGE IS A SPELL.


LANGUAGE IS NOT ONLY THE WORDS BUT THE WAYS THE WORDS DANCE. LANGUAGE IS ALSO THE STORIES WE TELL ABOUTBETWEENBENEATHAROUND THE WORDS.


THE SPECULATIVE IS MOST OF ALL A WAY OF READING: WHAT WORLDS DOES THIS LANGUAGE REVEAL TO ME WHICH I DID NOT ALREADY DANCE TOWARD? THIS READING EXISTS ALONGSIDE OR OCCASIONALLY IN SPITE OF AN AUTHOR’S INTENT. THUS IT REQUIRES GREAT CARE AND GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.


BRADBURY SAID THAT SCI-FI IS LIKE THE SHIELD PERSEUS USED TO SEE MEDUSA: A WAY OF GLANCING INDIRECTLY AT OUR LIVES.


LE GUIN SAID IT IS THE MYTHOLOGY OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY. COLONIALISM, CISHETEROPATRIARCHY, CAPITALISM, WHITE SUPREMACY, ABLEISM, EMPIRE—THESE HAVE CREATED THEIR OWN TECHNOLOGIES WHICH ORGANIZE OUR LIVES AND THE STORIES WE TELL ABOUT THOSE LIVES.


THE SPECULATIVE GESTURE MAY BE LARGE OR SMALL, EXPLICIT OR IMPLICIT. YOU MAY SEE IT LIKE A MOUNTAIN OR SEEK IT OUT LIKE WATER UNDERGROUND.


WHEN WE THINK OF THE SPECULATIVE WE OFTEN DESCRIBE A WORK WHICH “IMAGINES A WORLD IN WHICH ____ .” IN POETRY, THEN, WE HAVE THE SPECULATIVE GESTURE OF “IN WHICH ____” THAT RENDERS THE WORLD SUBJECT TO CHANGE, SUBJECT TO THE IMAGINATION OF THE POET.


I HAVE FOUND MYSELF LUSTING FOR THE LIMINAL PLACES OF THE WORLD. THINGS CROSS OVER ONE ANOTHER, PUNCTURE ONE ANOTHER, THINGS ARE NOT AS THEY SEEM. I PUNCTURE MY UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORLD WITH COLLAGE, THAT FORM WHICH ASKS US TO CONNECT IMAGES WE HAD NOT KNOWN TO BE CONNECTED. WE SPECULATE THAT PERHAPS THESE IMAGES CAN BE TOGETHER AFTER ALL AND THAT THEY MIGHT BE CLOSE.


THE SPECULATIVE IS ALSO IN MEDUSA. IT IS THE GAZE OF THE WRONGED WHICH REFIGURES THE WORLD.


THE SPECULATIVE EXISTS BEYOND THE MARKETING TOOL OF “GENRE.” WHEN THE WRONGED WRITE INTO THE TRUTH OF THEIR WORLD AND IT DOES NOT FIT THE COLONIAL BOUNDARIES OF LANGUAGE AND STORY, PUBLISHERS CALL IT “SPECULATIVE,” THOUGH IT IS REAL AS DIRT. WE MUST BE CAREFUL AND READ WITH WIDE AND TENDER GAZE.


THE SPECULATIVE IS BUGS BUNNY DRAWING A DOOR ON A WALL AND WALKING THROUGH. IT IS THE DOOR, THE WALL, AND THE PASSING THROUGH.


THE SPECULATIVE EXISTS AS AN INCANTATION OF THE PAST, THE PRESENT, THE FUTURE—OF ALTERNATIVE PASTS, PRESENTS, FUTURES, OR MODES OF EXISTENCE BEYOND LINEAR TIME. A STORY MAY EXIST FIL MISHMISH.


I BELIEVE IN THE SPECULATIVE GESTURE AS A WAY TO MAKE A PLACE TO STAND, TO LOOK AROUND, TO DIG UP OR BURY THE THINGS WE KNOW.


SOMEWHERE A SPIDER IS WEAVING A KIND OF TEXT THAT REMEMBERS THE WORLD FOR US. IT IS OFFERING US A WORLD TO FIND.


THE PIECES IN THIS MIX ARE WEBS WHICH OFFER ME WORLDS. THEY DANCE AND BREATHE LIKE SEA MONSTERS. THEY ARE MONSTROUS AND WONDERFUL, TENDER AND REVELATORY. THEY ARE DOORS ON WALLS.


YALLA! TOWARD A BETTER WORLD!


–Fargo Nissim Tbakhi Washington, DC Spring 2021


Fargo Nissim Tbakhi is a queer Palestinian-American performance artist and writer. He is the winner of the Ghassan Kanafani Resistance Arts Prize, a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, and a Taurus. He has received fellowships from Rhizome DC, VisArts, Desert Nights Rising Stars, Halcyon Arts Lab, Mosaic Theater, and RAWI. His writing appears in Foglifter, Mizna, Peach Mag, Apex Magazine, Strange Horizons, The Shallow Ends, Prolit, and select bags of Nomadic Grounds Coffee. His performance work has been programmed at OUTsider Fest, INTER-SECTION Solo Fest, the Rachel Corrie Foundation’s Shuruq Festival, the Alwun House Monster’s Ball, Mosaic Theater, and has been supported by the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Find more at fargotbakhi.com.



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