Harp & Altar
Oisin Curran

Farrah Field

Gregory Howard

Jenny Nichols
Overcoming Your Lack of Personal Freedom

Overcoming Your Lack of Personal Freedom
Jenny Nichols

Now, what I'd like you to do is untie your hands. If you can't get the knot undone then you may have to saw through it. Rubbing the rope back and forth across any sharp object should do. There. Isn't that better? You will immediately notice how much more effective you feel. In just one simple step, you've created a world of difference for yourself. Besides just feeling better, you'll find you're now able to do all of the things you never dreamed you could do while your hands were still tied behind your back. So go ahead, take the next step. Remove your gag and take off your blindfold. Once you've achieved these three simple goals, as if by magic, you'll be able to see, breathe freely, and speak, as well as use your hands for any number of important and useful tasks. Look how easy it is now to untie your legs from the chair beneath you.

Now that you've overcome the limitations of being bound, blindfolded, and gagged, your new feelings of empowerment and self assuredness may give way to a sense of frustration and futility. You may find that your hard earned, newly acquired range of movement has won you nothing more than an even keener sense of the four foot by three foot by three foot cage that you're in. Don't surrender to this defeatist attitude. A free man with the full rights of a citizen is someone who thinks like a free man with the full rights of a citizen. If you project a positive self image that says, I am someone who can both stand and lie down at full length, I am someone who is able to sleep at regular intervals, I am someone who has access to both food and hygienic facilities, then you will become that person. However, if you project a negative self image, if you are subtly telling the world around you, I am a person who has been locked in a cage made for animals, I am a person whose family does not know if I am alive or dead, I am a person who is kept awake by a randomly occurring, deafening noise and beaten by men I cannot see or hear, I am a person who, given the slightest chance, would beat my head against any solid object until I was dead because I cannot endure this for even one second longer, then that is how the world will treat you.

So let's try. Repeat after me: I am a person who still has the full use of his hands, despite loss of circulation for an indeterminate period of time. I am a person whose arms and ribs and will have not yet been broken. I am a person who has retained an accurate sense of space and time. I am a person in full control of both my motor skills and my reason.

Congratulations. You're well on your way.


This work originally appeared in the 2006 edition of Listen Up, a publication of the Cranbrook Academy of Art, guest edited by Brian Evenson.