Hands – Pointing to a way Out

As fundamental as the range of capabilities of the brain, the performance of human hands have shaped thinking, language and culture throughout history. Their purpose is to serve our desires, disclosing known and unknown aspects of the self. Considered as a representation of human agency at first, they constantly exceed in communicating what they were not supposed to. “Hands offer a first way out” (1) in ways that have been acknowledge by several disciplines. This work attempts to gather various perspectives on the topic of hands, as well as their symbolic employment, in different fields of study as well as in religious practices.

The presented work is composed by an artistic research regarding the hands as a symbol of humanness, constantly present throughout history and among many cultural traditions. The research method stands as an intuitive investigation triggered by a personal curiosity that follows an extensive collection of material on the subject. This collection of information found in the research process shape the final artistic work, which resulted on an exhibition and a live performance.

to attend the always slightly different
choreography of light
that endorses the day
or to immerse oneself
in all variations of brightness
and the depth that comes forthwith

as it turns out to be
a quality of all existing things,
most rivers, most trees, most birds,
just happened to be
mature enough for clarity
after a season secluded in the darkness.

the course of water
through dark aisles beneath the ground,
does not hesitate to decide
that it should at some point reveal itself
only for the fun of sparkly refractions
or the fortuity of rainbows

in the darkness,
the introspective seed recognizes
that it wants indeed to become a tree
and warms up a calculated explosion
directed towards a part of the ground
not taken already by the color green.

in similarly obscure circumstances
inside the delicate walls of the egg
the doubtful bird convinces itself
to break its world through
only for the sake of finding out
the proper wing operations for taking off.

everything there is
finds in the dark its conception.
therefore thousands of years I spent
in the darkness
seeing nothing but my mirrored impression
left on to the ground.

thousands of years have passed
to upgrade a role
and not just give in
as a victim of gravity
ungracefully holding up
the shoulders.

I have since proposed that
once in a while instead
your shoulders should hold me up
for I predicted the act of fearlessly raising the arm
when you desire to report
the urge to answer a question.

while I carried the weight of the body
grabbing every next branch
anticipating your footsteps
or safely escorting fruits
on the path to your teeth
I took the liberty to take over

as long as you still have no apparatus for taking off
I suggested to leave
exclusively to your feet
the task to evaluate
which unevenness on the floor
is a potential hole in which you can fall in

nauseated by the taste of sand
and committed to the kind of delirium
that affects those who breath the hottest airflows
I conducted evolution through an upheaval
still being permanently denied to feel the cold breeze
for I myself was deprived the chance to become a wing

the first demand was never to be again
in any height possibly lower than
three-eights of your elongate body.
as long as balance does not require four points
there should be other strategies for being upright
than to mimic the experience of a table

to be alive one must follow
follow the currents, follow the light, follow the mother
life is nothing more than a vector
and my place in yours
was to become the arrow
that points to a way outside of you

a conscious use of power
a redistribution of purposes on the body
an unfolded being.
the true novelty of bipedalism:
is bringing the hand over the mouth when sneezing
and finding each other’s belly buttons.

although I cannot hear and I cannot look
an old desire of mine was to show you
the right way to listen to music
by anchoring the fingers on the record player
and the right way to penetrate the eyes of the other
by allowing the encounter of two different veneers of skin

some say my new self-interpretation
came from your urge for talking.
that being said, I could not be in stronger accordance that certain words
have a better taste when I bounce
in synchrony with every syllable

this ascension only took place because
my blindness and my deafness
searched for a different route for tropism
leading to a part of me stretching longer
as a projection of my unfulfilled desires
and a thumb grew out

a residue of thousand of years of accumulated suppression
a reverse castration took place opposable as it can be
the thumb points exactly perpendicular
to all directions I aim for
for one needs to find its own ways
to reach the space bar

and I have, with the help of the thumb
created the intervals in history
due to the not so good and then very good
pursue to master the stone
as the flourishing period of this artistry
stone age was called

my forthcoming insurgency
was the invention of two different sides
as a not so efficient distribution of energy:
two eyes form one picture, two ears form one sound
and although the hands are given in pairs I stumbled upon
the privilege of defining preferences

I split the world in two
for a pair has to provide
the illusion of completeness.
I formulated, however, a more efficient partition
delegating my traits
in two different departments

good and bad
male and female
divine and profane
quick and slow
skillful and clumsy
one and zero

the world divided between right and left
a complementary binary dance
which I have boldly copyrighted
a lesson on detachment
sometimes overshadowed by the fear
to get in touch with the other side

nine out of ten virgin marys
hold baby jesus with the left arm
a warmer resting spot
for her heart favors that side
and in this arrangement she releases the right one
to better serve the father of her child

nine out of ten scalps
are groomed with the right hand
until a moment in which
building alliances with the touch
finds through the voice
a cheaper way to caress

in this totalitarian reallocation
the vocal chords were commissioned
to discharge words and therefore
initiate an incredibly lazy
but more aggregating
variation of touch

nevertheless I have never ceased to be an inflection
I am an accent
an ungoverned mannerism
raw data on its purest manifestation
a database of unintended discourses

I am an accent that splits the world
in two different vocabularies
perfecting my most practiced gesture
of bridging man with nature
an inside-outside economy
the invisible hand of perception

five parts each and ten combined
a decimal elaboration
the five fingers on god’s right hand
awake the five fingers on adam’s left hand
indexing the gift of being
to the chunk of clay that was previously sleeping

a forecast not contemplated by prometheus
the gesture of making requests filthiness
practice and acknowledgement of failure
the titan’s first batch of man
shaped by his amateurish craftsmanship
made us imperfect and at the same time adored

the creator creates his own image
and in the process of intertwining matter
the gesture of rehearsing perfection
models the feeling of love
towards the byproduct of its own explorations:
the miraculous creation

regardless of the mind’s commands
I leave my traces
in the stencils of the caves
or in the pressure of handwriting
I reveal the dormant violence
carved in my embodied life line

whatever directions are charged
the tips of the fingers stand as supreme judges
arbitrating what goes public
usually a balanced mixture of
illusions of the self
and their unconscious shameful remains

if it hits the hand is extension
but if it cuddles it is a channel
within a slightly variation of intensity
an infinite constellation of interactive purposes
for the touch is only proved to have occurred
if at the same time I feel mutually hit and cuddled

once in a bar
the vociferous act of peeling the label of the beer bottle
gave you the necessary amount of time
for you to to pretend you cared
about the fire at the national museum
but it did not help

the fate of the ones who speak too loud
is to be shut up
but you seem to have forgotten
that I am the one who opens doors.
thus you invented tools for me to operate
reducing my language to only pre-programmed tones

although Immanuel Kant said
in a book that nobody can determine
the hand is the window to the mind
you can find me in the front door
of a few houses in Portugal
attending also as the hand of Fatima
the keeper of the passage between two worlds

I split the world in two in order to invent transcendency
endless variations of motions
disregarded in a system of defined values
for nobody is curious about how hard I press
or the flow with which I type
the letters of your full name

the temptation to soften my utterances
find within the use of tools
its greatest paradox
in a precise surgical cut
or clicking on a hyperlink
things I did but at the same time I did not

in this newly discovered darkness
an aftermath of boredom
I demonstrate the impossibility
of a surpassed body
the limitations of the world
within the frame of narcissus

a journey of mutual adaptation
threatened by the jealousy of the eyes
whose closer position to the brain
provides the false belief
of apprehending the always slightly different
choreography of light

we are after all  intrinsically bond together
for the further your thoughts go
the closer I get to your body
the pleasure of the self-touch
that comforts and suggests
the certainty of your presence in the world

in the simple act of opening a door
or scratching the skin
lies a mystery.
the premise for the execution of any task
is to have only a vague fever
a slight intuition of a gesture of doing

bring the face palm of the right hand
to the right side of the face the correct way to show despair requires that the ring finger lies exactly over the inner corner of the eye
mind the extreme importance
of the thumb fitting the contour of the jaw

a fact of relevance:
before forms I used to draw rhythms
frequencies of disappearance.
now before a wedding ceremony
a pattern is drawn around me
to awake the inner sun and all its variations of brightness

the hand is the translator of obscure thoughts
therefore cannot offer more than
a deceiving idea of agency or choice.
man is condemned to be free
and constrained in this fictitious sense of autonomy
attempts to silence the imperative forces inside himself

a medium for pleasure
knowledge embodied
a dichotomy that fits infinite possibilities
a ligature.
there is no escape or refuge without a passage
unless I point to the way out.

(1) Leader, Darian. (2017) Hands: What We Do With Them – and Why. UK: Penguin Books.