Radical. The word itself evokes reaction – extreme ambiguity, positive negativity, negative positivity – already in itself a kind of destructive force against any comprehensive teleology. “Radical. Adjective. Of or relating to the root of something. In particular: Mathematics of the root of a number or quantity. Denoting or relating to the roots of a word. Denoting the semantic or functional class of a Chinese character. Music belonging to the root of a chord. Botany of, or spring direct from, the root of stem base of a plant…. Noun. Chemistry a group of atoms behaving as a unit in a number of compounds. See also FREE RADICAL.”
But what is radical? What does the term “mean” for politics, for agency, ideology, tactics/methods, futures? Is it inherently based on narratives? History? Origins? The imaginary in which everything has a definite moment where it all began? And if only we could get to the beginning – where it started. We would know. We would know for sure. But in the question itself, we predetermine what may not be/have been. It becomes. Where it all took root. But is there such a moment – a birth? Perhaps a discovery? If there was no origin, where do we aim our struggle?
And death? Destruction? Botany in finding that moment, that spot, that geography, the exact locale at which something begins; this means to dig deep into its sustenance. It means to destroy the very thing that it lives on, breathes on, feeds on. Uproot. Language it means to take what has become its own process – what has allowed to develop a kind of life/meaning in its own, possibly forgetting its own origins, and bringing (forcing) it back. Bringing it back to the place where it began, separating where it began and what it has become. Two points: beginning and somewhere in the middle – collapsing the two as if every other point never occurred. radix to Rad! without radicalis, without radical. As if the two are different. As if the two are the same. As if each is only one? It must be quite clear by now that my radical is not your radical is not her radical and on and on and on.
So there is the problem of origins. For the thing itself is not born, birthed on its own. It takes root in the work of everything around. It itself as a root always has its own roots. Separating me from my home, from the ground I stand on, from those who give me life, from those who have birthed me and from those who have birthed them. Taking apart: me from why I live, from how I live. Taking me away from what makes me possible. It, then, which is never just it, is not. I is not. Individual – to the point of no more separation, fragmentation, complete in its smallest part. No longer divisible. The fantastical imagination of self.
Because the origin of this may not be the origin of that. We are using the same word, the same sound, the same language. But we mean something disparate. Often oppositional. Sometimes incommensurable. Parole/langue. Taking into consideration the movement of this system. Radical, radikaal.
Although there is/it is beginning, there is no predetermined end, no predetermined direction. Roots, radicals, stems, prefixes, suffixes, they go in all directions. Or, there is the possibility of all directions. However, structured, predetermined – they remain in one place going up – straight up. From the ground (mother)(under) to supposed potentiality (visible). “Arboreal.”
Choosing, structuring, determining, defining – a piece of wood so the vine will not stray, flower pots with bottoms ending the possibility of roots digging further – defining, limiting the beginning and the end. Hailed into being – I am because I was called. I am because I was told. I am because I am counted, I am named, I am. I am. I am. We are constructed like language, like plants in ceramic. We are barred from the rhizome – discontinued. We are units. And we believe in ourselves this way. We are separate. We are whole. We are constructed, built, made, determined. And yet we continue to base our struggles on their creation. We construct. We do not destroy.
But we are. What are the possibilities of radicals? What are the possibilities of the dig, the genealogy? What are the possibilities of forcing out from under, removing from sustenance? Uprooted. But not rerooted. Death. Violence. Violent. I want to destroy the self they have created.
This death would be the death of me as well. The death of I. It is my sustenance that I am removing. I am removing myself from that which sustains me. It merges with all that grows from under. We. Roots and radicals. Radical.