If I had the words to tell you we wouldn’t be here now – text

If I had the words to tell you we wouldn’t be here now

Victoria Sin

If I had the words to tell you we wouldn’t be here now
Documentary Film of Live Performance, 16 January 2019 at Chi-Wen Gallery, Colour, Sound, 22’15”
Courtesy of the artist and Chi-Wen Gallery 

Is it that we’re just the history of everything that has happened to us
Everything that we have done
crawling around
trying to communicate what we have
with what we have our muscles and vibrations
and eyes and limbs,
having our own experiences through our limited vision
trying and failing to communicate it exactly with each other and never exactly getting it right

An alien species would be able to communicate everything instantly
And people would know each other immediately because there was nothing left to communicate
They’d say the unsayable and then satisfied dissolve into free atoms
content to have communicated everything they could ever have needed to say

Is that why we’re still all bundles of flesh waddling around on the earth

Grunting at each other

Laughing and crying and sobbing and screaming
Saying so much but communicating almost nothing.

I want to use words to tell you that I am more than you could say because
you have not been given the words to describe how multiple your selves are

We can be one thing and another thing and also small parts of a larger thing at the same time but in a way so layered so that we cannot begin to hope to communicate that to each other with the words we are given

A human need to understand

A human need to differentiate

A human need to categorize

A human need for mastery

Distilled into language and very much at odds with

The multiplicity of being alive

Naming is an act of mastery

And I would hope to never do that to you

I am

I am

I am also

But really I am

And there is no way I could express that in words

You and I, we have been sculpted by every experience in our life
Which gives us specific perspectives
That we embody
And then speak as objective knowledge and really
What good could come of that

But we know we have been sculpted by experience so
We know we can be sculpted and
We know we can sculpt ourselves
We know that we can name our experience
We know that we can name ourselves

How can you describe the feeling of displacement of searching for a home within 



Of me and you.

Of the difference between us but also all the millions of ways in which we are the same, and if you only focus on difference then how will we ever be able to relate to each other enough to have a necessary amount of empathy.

It’s just that you and I,
I and me,
You and I and
I and me and
we and you and
she and they and
he and you and
me and I and
THEY and them and
And they
And they
Are not what you are
And they
Are made up of the same stuff that you are
And they are not sure who you are speaking about when you say
You and I?
Because you and I and
Could be you and I, and we
Could be you and them
And we and
We are and
We are no longer sure
What are we
What are we speaking about again?

Oh yes, the difference between you and I.

I want to tell you something but you see there’s this thing that happens whenever I try to say anything I have emotions about it’s as if I no longer have words or as if suddenly words could never express to you how I really feel and I don’t want you to misunderstand me and my motives or why I am here, but I also want you to know that that is also why you are here because I really believe that there are things that you could express that I would never be able to

I could tell you that I feel upset that you will never be able to tell me about yourself in a way that I could understand and then you express something to me and it feels like you’re waves washing ashore and I am the shore and I’ve never understood anything more or felt less of a sense of myself as distinct from you or the universe

I want to tell you something but I don’t have the words to explain because words are names and naming is an act of mastery

And I would hope to never do that to you.

I don’t have the tools that would lend fluency to existing in the world as an individual with so many experiences that happened at the same time as yours but which are so different from yours

I wish I had the words to explain

I wish the words existed to explain
I wish I had the words

I wish I had been given the words
I wish words could explain

Words could explain

Words could explain

Words could explain

Words could explain

Words could explain

Words could explain
What words can’t explain

The tools to express

What it’s like to anticipate living and dying alone but existing together now.

The right kind of language

To say the unknowable

I wish I had the language

The words to explain

A bodily language

An embodied language

A fluency

A language to explain

With words which would say

Naming is an act of Mastery

And I would hope to never do that to you.

If I tell you I am this or that, will you assume that you know certain things about me and treat me accordingly, would all our interactions from then be coded based on the fact that I am 


Would you still see and treat me in the same way?

Or another thing if when I was born I was told that I was

then how can I ever conceive of myself as anything outside of that thing and doesn’t that limit the way I have moved through the world tremendously?

Naming is an act of mastery but is it that you name and then you feel you know or is it that you are named and then because names carry meaning that you then without realizing it become the thing after which you are named

Let me tell you a story:

My father changed his name when he left
His sister changed her name when she left
My grandparents kept their names when they left
Though they had already changed their names long ago when they fled our family’s ancestral village.

Should I change my name when I arrive where I am going
Or will where I am going understand my name?

You look and then you name and then you think you have done the work

And you are doing the work

Your mouth like the waves of an entire beach crashing ashore on my

Your tongue like the waves of an entire coast breaking on my

Creating the right words but not saying much in the grand scheme of things

And I wish I could remember your name

What came first the name or the body?

What came first the words or the idea?

When you had that thought, did you consider

How your thoughts were shaped by the tools you were given to express them

How the words to explain

The words to explain

Did your explaining for you

Let me tell you a story:

When my mother came to that shore she stopped being
and started being 

When my father came to that shore he became
When he left that shore he was called
and when came to that shore he called himself something else entirely because so much is in a name and the name he chose was one that suited the social codes of
much better.

When I was born I was called
but my father chose another name for me so that even though I was born and raised in
my names would always remind me that I was
as well as
and that our family had crossed many names for us to get to where I am.

When I crossed
and went back to my mother’s land I became

Crossing back over the borders we have crossed which gave us place which gave us names

All the names our families have crossed cannot be expressed in a name
A name cannot contain a multiplicity of invisible ties and borders.

All the interior frontiers my family have crossed, creating anew what has been created many times before but lost in the act of naming in our need for inclusion and differentiation.

At the heart of this tension between inclusion and differentiation is a search for essences

And in your search for essences you will use every word in your arsenal to justify why you are
and someone else is not, only to find that the words you have been given are the same words which will justify why someone else is
and you are not, because language predetermines meaning which was assigned by somebody else

Because naming is an act of mastery

And I would hope to never do that to you.

Names like the waves of an entire beach crashing ashore on my

Your words like the waves of an entire beach crashing ashore on my

Your words like the waves of an entire song washing over me, attempting to express what you could never with words.

They have chosen to name themselves where previously they had been named
They have chosen to shape themselves when previously they had been shaped

Because they know that they have been shaped
They know that they can shape themselves