ELAINE (MEI LIN) TAM



is an itinerant writer and researcher from Hong Kong currently living and working in London. She collaborates with artists and thinkers to create new forms and forums for critical engagement. Research interests include psychoanalytic theory, performance writing and feminist new materialisms.

︎


FORTHCOMING AUTUMN 2022
Urbanomic K-Pulp Switch





MORE INFO
︎ CV
︎ Writing
︎ Contact
︎ Instagram

The navel gazes back: Poetics of the Hole
Goldsmiths University of London, UK
Tuesday 11 June 2019


Excerpt:

[] And if I sat still enough, I could sense the water receding slowly. It may have just been a performance of a ceremonial solemnity about the end of bath-time. But the cooling wait, somewhat anguishing, brings to the situation a distinct alertness, feelings of anticipation. I may have at that time learnt that the words gulp and croak are onomatopoeic, but onomatopoeia was back then a word with too many letters. The tiles bounced these sounds between them, uncannily corporeal but emphatically hollow all at once. So this small child, stricken with panic, [] scoots away from the drain by squeaking heels on slippery buttcheeks – [] fantasising in the way only the overactive imagination of a child can. [] – What if – A malevolent ghostly consciousness is making its way from a sewage-strewn underworld through the piping linked to the underside of the bathtub by this unassuming hole: in fact a portal. [] – What if – some unidentifiable thing is attached to the drain’s other end, using the pipe like a straw to slurp the water down [], hoping a small toe will come through the drain with it, a first sustenance since eons. The anxiety of all these nightmare-ish possibilities too much to bear, the tiny tight-lipped mouth opens wide to emit a scream [] – surely a call for help – [] but also laden with hopes to teleport elsewhere, for the scream is the [] “operation through which the entire body escapes through the mouth.” (Deleuze, 1981:16) No response. Only the closed door. [] Moments pass, the child "gets a grip", sobers up, begins to feel the cold, wishes for mom and a pat down by coarse towel, looks for her in a mirror clouded with condensation. Mom, out there doing something, and the child, momentarily forgotten, while all the worlds beneath the drain swirl, never quite congealing into anything real.

The full transcript with images from this performance-lecture is available here.