But there are other phrases that are performative: I do and I bet you come to mind, but so does another–Guilty.
My stint, which started today and will end I don’t know when, as a duteous Brooklyn potential juror has got me thinking about all kinds of words: objectivity, (don’t believe in it) judgment, (don’t like it) guilty, (gross–do you know anything about the prison system? did you watch the OJ trial?) innocent (we’re all guilty, did you read the Brother’s K?)–words I have problems with, but it’s not the words, it’s what they represent. These are judicial words. Words meant to mean something concrete, serious and true. Words that weigh. Words that enable judgment. But, you know, that’s just not how I feel about things.
“Are you capable, Miss [I scream not married] Hollingsworth, of paying attention to the facts?”
“Sure,” I respond.
“Have you prejudged this case Miss Hollingsworth?”
“No, but, I have, you know, opinions…”
“Oh, yes of course and I’d urge you to hold out on sharing those… but of course you have opinions as you say..”
“But you haven’t judged“
“No, I don’t know how I’d rule at this point” (laughs)
and I’m wondering if I have a shot in hell of getting on this jury (I find out tomorrow). What’s weird is that I’m kinda into it. It’s such a specific experience. They didn’t say we couldn’t talk about it. They probably should have? Anyway, it’s a small case and the defendant is that city of New York. God damn it all to hell. I love New York–the city of taxes, taxes that pay me to do jury duty, taxes that pay the plaintiff for whatever the fuck happened to her and is New York’s fault (or is it?!) Taxes! Love them. Suck it Sara Palin. I made $40 today serving my country! (though I guess you have to be tortured as a POW to get the full, authentic serving your country experience).
Well, anyway, whatever happens, probably won’t end with me Law & Ordering someone into a guilty verdict (I’d hang that jury so fast if prison were involved). I don’t make a lot of performative statements. Guess I prefer to take it in, observe stuff, then write stuff. I hate cilantro: it’s easy to say, to write because it’s specific, it’s true (if we agree hate is a strongly negative feeling toward a thing) and I don’t have those kinds of dogmatic, strong, true feelings about things like, oh, whether someone is guilty or not, but believe me it’s very hard to explain to an ambulance-chasing attorney and his apathetic defense counterpart that all these feelings of ambivalence somehow tie into my hate of cilantro. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue.