Student Karole Langset reacts to Bhanu Kapil’s recent visit to EMU:
If you arrived early to Sponberg Theater to listen to Bhanu Kapil reading from her book Humananimal, you would have noticed crowds of people flooding into the theater by human packs. It was an impressive turn out that placed strangers squeezed sitting together, anxiously awaiting Kapil’s reading.
Kapil took the stage and her first action told me a little about her. Kapil introduced herself by throwing her jacket onto the floor. It may appear at first she was trying to throw the jacket onto the stool, but it fell to the ground, and she didn’t seem to care and made no effort to pick it up. It seemed as if she was saying, “I am not going be what culture thinks is civilized.” Laughs in the crowd reflected an amusement by her odd action and by this silent rebellion. She seems to be ‘in the moment’ kind of person. This seize the day attitude is reflected in her delivering her own narration. She says, “I will drink water now.” She also tells the audience to always say yes, because if she didn’t say yes she wouldn’t be in Michigan.
She quickly began reading segments from her book. She read with only little pauses of throwing bookmarks onto the stage. This seems to say, “I am done with this, I have finished reading and I am letting the words leave my system.”
It is hard to blame her for this action. The words are intense; they are too hard to understand in terms of morality. Kapil read the words, “One of the boys pushed the girl off the roof and then there were six.” Many people in the audience are shocked by this statement and nervously laugh. I remember having the same reaction as I read the book. It is shocking. It is also shocking that wolves would raise little girls, only for humans to end up killing them. This topic is uncomfortable because what is moral is blurred.
When Kapil is done reading she throws the book into the crowd. Even this action seems to imply a message. It seems to say, “I have given my words, it is time for you to take them with you and do what you will.”
The audience doesn’t have to be comfortable in seats crammed together in the dark area of Sponberg Theater. If anything, perhaps, the filled theater raising anxiety heightened Kapil’s performance. It hard not to be annoyed though when leaving being chaotically pushed out of theater by
wolves fellow humans.
When I left the theater, I heard someone say, “It is always sad to leave, because you feel like you know them, but you don’t.” I can’t help to agree in a way. I wanted to know Kapil more. I felt almost violated by her experience, a study, and left without being able to really reply or to really understand. I wanted to know her. I wanted to live in her world for a little while longer, but it was time to leave and time for the words to absorb.