Je Me Touche is Fernando tuning into the tradition of thinking – if one may use the word tradition for it, which ever since humans emerged as bipeds with bigger brains, enabled us to deal with the abstract: with imaginative creativity that can go beyond physical limitations and it made humans who they are.
The problem, however, is ego; authority has the tendency to seize people with, what might be called, cerebral atrophy
Fernando tunes in with the suffering ones, with those whose brains are secretly and silently spasming. He can feel them, the existences of the sites of the walled-in reflexivity of I touch myself – je me touche; of the jes who do not want to be exposed and prefer to be kept as the nothing (7) but are exposed by those who do not want to spoil them. The French title brings and/or adds the tension by the language’s built-in feature of the subject-object relations that lie between je and me as a reflexive verb, and that pose the question of who/what are je and me refer to as a pronominal verb.
Fernando’s fingers whimsically tap. Each of his “I love you” is proffered with “I do.” The “I do” that carries “a nod to madness” in its essence because, as Fernando makes it clear, it has no grund; it is a vow made to a “futurial, imagined possibility (42):” a relationality that opens the possibility without any possibility of knowing what this possibility is.” (43) Fernando’s proffering is doubly fortified with the imaginative creativity that refuses to be grounded. Fernando, being a thinker with love of wisdom, hacks and tunes gently and deftly into the stories of “John Duffy’s Brother” (Flann O’Brien, 1940) and “Bartleby the Scrivener: a story of Wall Street” (Herman Melville, 1856).
Fernando is touching – sensing the spasming je of John Duffy’s Brother. The compassionate narrator informs that that John Duffy’s Brother “kept his secret and sealed it up completely in his memory” was “the whole point of the story,” (3) and that “to write it or to tell it is to spoil it;” (12) thus, we know and Fernando knows that this is the secret site of je me touche. He points out the significance of John Duffy’s Brother’s experience of being a train is that “it was magical,” that John Duffy’s Brother’s experience is the imaginative-creative work of the thinking brain portion surviving the atrophic seizure. John Duffy’s Brother, he must be, in his carefully guarded secrecy, self-reflexively inscribing his experience – the transformation into train onto his body, and himself, possibly making it more intense as he repeats the experience “to this day.”
Through Fernando we have access to another orgasmic, yet anticlimactic, site in the story of Mr B and Bartleby. It isat the office of Mr B (Mr B was a potential site for je) that Bartleby makes his transformation; he becomes a scrivener who refuses to scrive and who literally refuses to leave the building — walled space, with his subversive phrase, “I would prefer not to,” which is a phrase that inherently “challenges authority to reveal itself.” (23)
Mr B fails to understand Bartleby’s urge for the full retreat into the nothing, in the magical “zone, where reason has long left” (27) – where Bartleby’s version of mysterium tremendum takes place.
We next find Fernando “left with an overarching sense of futility” over the Occupy Movement that happened “a little over six years ago.” (31) Fernando emerges with a strategy, “demand what we have been owed: the impossible.” (54) Walking the readers through his thinking on the Movement, he crosses out the jes coming out from the nothing as it will only result in mutilation. For the confronting parties are functioning on the same logic (41) that both parties involved are “operating under the same rules, form, customs, reason.” (22) It is pre-set as cerebral atrophy. – Do not buy into the pre-set thinking of “industrial harmony” (46) that is set to serve the power of capitalism to seek productivity, maximum performativity, and surplus from them for the authority. (45)
Fernando’s mannerism tears itself away from his fear of being “fitted into and bogged down by some thesis.” (75) His fingers proffer powerfully to the to be mutilated existence, and echoing Barthes objection to science and waiting for what Jean Genet awaits “the poetical expression[s].” (75) They warn against the atrophy, which displays itself as the arrogance of modern science hand in hand with modern capitalist industrialization, which has been working around the world, encroaching, dismembering, and mutilating thinking in the name of “science.”
We are at the end of this humble essay on Jeremy Fernando’s Je Me Touche and it is my pleasure to ascertain that you have an access to his ideas:
being privy to the date of my birth is only significant if one also knew that it is the password I use. (6)
As your fingers touch the date of my birth and hit enter making yourselves available to the interior of the dossiers, you find yourself relaxed in the birth of Jeremy Fernando, nodding to madness, hacking reflexivity – you are invited to experience the beauty of freeing yourself in thinking with (or without) him.
Jeremy Fernando. je me touche. Delere: Singapore, 2017.
Setsuko Adachi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Information Studies at Kogakuin University, Tokyo. Her main research interests are identity formation and cultural systems analysis.