Where to begin. Maybe in my cunt. I masturbated to learn about unlocking the paradise within me, with my own powers, with my own love. I’m learning that one of the most rebellious acts that I could do for myself, is to be happy. It makes sense when you consider that a world breeding oppression-induced suffering also breeds burden-carrying babies.
My conscious life starts with my grandmother. And my Asian intuition tells me that life is a web of simple chaos, which becomes rather complex when forced into a linear, individualistic narrative. Consequently, starting with my grandmother helps me heal on levels beyond my subjective consciousness. It allows me to tap into a consciousness more holistic. The consciousness of the human species, the consciousness of trees drawing wisdom from underneath; the consciousness of the universe dancing in chaos, forever teaching us the wonders of the unexpected. It may also teach us another elementary truth: living means moving in this web of interconnectedness.
Globally speaking, we still live in a historic age, in which the ideas, approaches and perspectives of white men hold space to echo the broadest. Inevitably, most of my adored geniuses while growing up were white men – the groundbreaking thinkers and achievers. They have influenced me greatly, because partly, they were supposed to. Nonetheless, I owe their thinking and doing a great deal of my own analytical ways in viewing life and the world. They’ve also introduced me to understanding how certain systems are created and upheld. What’s clear is that the insights I adore are some of the insights that changed my life.
However, I also felt that I wasn’t looking at the entire cluster of wisdom and achievements. The urge to find the missing pieces of approaches and perspectives is what subsequently opened doors to spaces of consciousness fought for by women and people of color. At least within my education, these were the spaces one had to actively go after because they wouldn’t be brought to you by default, if not undermined. Exploring such spaces continually led me to shift the focus onto ‘feeling’ rather than ‘understanding’ the truths to grasp my own space. After all, to be guided by a rationality that excludes feelings and intuition, the gateway to our shared consciousness, will inevitably lead us into a state that is only half human. To feel the strength in vulnerability means feeling the strength in sharing. To feel the power in healing means feeling the power in accepting responsibility within this interconnected web of chaos. This is how I’ve been finding more and more pieces of the entire picture.
The easiest way, for me, has more often than not been to downplay any suffering – to look for flaws within myself for the hate and pain of others; for the comfort and harmony of others. Self-love, then, allowed me the realisation of how I didn’t have to stand still as others were moving. I didn’t have to be the static point around which the interconnected web would move; I could be the influencing point of a different type of movement to express my own vibrant energy. Just imagine a web in which all particles are expressing their most vibrant energy, a world in which we are all living our fullest potential in love for life – I imagine that to be something like a cosmic orgasm. Anyway, I am craving more answers, better solutions. I feel like I know too little and I get stuck in my thoughts, even my feelings.
So I keep returning to my grandmother, an illiterate woman. I should add: an illiterate woman who has survived colonisation, dictatorships, extreme poverty, misogyny, wars, and who, still, is the singular most smiley person I know. She’s the type of person who bursts into laughter, sticking an entire sweet potato in my mouth.
There’s power to her wisdom that manifests itself not in words, but in joyous moments of life that infect others. I want some of her light.
In search of myself, when I was about to finish high school, I thought my best chance in life was to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University. As the grandchild of a woman who always wanted to study – who, after finishing all the field and household labor, chose to go to school in the evening to be dragged out again for being a girl; who didn’t even get a say in choosing her husband or when to marry – it felt like a healing path for me to study at a prestigious university, out of choice. As the daughter of a Korean woman who wouldn’t give up making up her own rules, though it meant constantly fighting the extra weight slowing her down in a race defined by men, it felt like a healing endeavour to have a say in a field of power, hence the field of study.
That’s when the universe started whispering to me through its chaos and I allowed myself a conscious moment in it. Tuning into my life’s chaos ultimately steered me into a movement that wouldn’t center the burden I started carrying in the womb, or, working myself to the top of a system that had created the suffering of my grandmother and the difficulties for my mother in the first place. It steered me into a movement that would center joy in life. So I chose filmmaking instead, a path of story shaping; to focus on exchanging ideas and insights through feelings, persistently exploring life and what it is that connects us all. Necessarily, I embarked on a flight that would allow healing through ridding myself of the restrictions in thinking and acting imposed by a system that only values economic productivity. I call it a flight, but sometimes, prioritising the love for life in the current shape of society actually feels like falling. Most of the time though, it feels like floating and I hope that sometime, it may become a controlled act of lifting up higher.
Now here I am. Somehow, through my grandmother and my mother, I’m exploring my own truths through my cunt. In essence, I love life intensely. I especially love the moments that create an exploding sensation in my entire body because I find myself piercing deeper into the presence. I have a thirst for the orgasmic manifestations of life, the shapes we create together as we all move in this interconnected web. An element I find important in that is honouring existence through what we may understand as honest and respectful freedom, in care for each other and ourselves, and in empathy. Still, I’m not sure I’ve managed to break free of the ownership of some invisible power over me, yet. In the expression of love, why can I love a partner enough to wish them as much love as possible, but not allow myself to receive as much love as possible, too? Why do I only feel free in giving but not receiving?
As an attempt, I am opening myself up to the different forms of inter-human connections that break the binary of friendship/romance. I want out of some behavioural normativity regarding love or relationships. Particularly, since my entire socialisation lingers as a thick cloud of darkness over my perhaps different, natural inclinations. I have been hypersexualised and taught to fulfil a function for others more than for myself – to give without boundaries. Therefore, I’m reclaiming my cunt as the holy paradise that allows the continuation of life, the space that holds the power of eternal life circles. After all, I own my powers including my sexuality. I want to thrive in all of life’s expressions, defining my own paradise.
As I am moving, I am far from perfect. I have a lot to learn, but I love myself, because I love life. So I continue to move as a forever adapting entity. I am carrying on the lineage of Asian women and humans who break the chains imposed on them, claiming free movement in this web of chaos. In only that freedom, a mutual kind, respectful and caring in the love for life, can we evolve.
Words and images by Sarang Nes
Sarang Nes was born in Seoul, South Korea, though starting from kindergarten, she has frequently moved across places of Austria, Germany, Singapore, South Korea and the UK. By the age of 15, she became a member of a K-pop group and has since been active in varying fields of the creative industries. Upon completion of her university studies in communications and psychology, she worked in advertising for a few years to finally commit to filmmaking. She is currently based in Berlin, Germany, studying directing at the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF.