Identity

Years ago my father established a search alert for my name. When my name shows up on the internet he sees it. I know because he forwards me the links via email.

He has search alerts out for my two sisters as well. When Emory wrote about her conversion to Catholicism—a lengthy and carefully crafted love letter to her church—she included the passing noun clause “anemia of my childhood Christian education.” My father emailed her the link with the subject line, “Your Disrespectful and Very Hurtful Essay.” Several months later Ada uploaded a video of herself strumming her guitar and singing a song she had written—a folk ballad detailing the life of Saint Augustine. My father phoned me, angry: “You want me to feel proud of her for posting videos of herself on the internet?”

I want to post stories of myself on the internet without activating my father’s anger, which is to say: without activating his shame.

. . . And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 

And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 

And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. 

And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant . . . 

What does it mean to see the nakedness of one’s father? What does it mean to tell one’s brethren without? And what does it mean to enter one’s father’s tent backward, to lay a garment over him with one’s face turned away?

It’s a fine line. Curses abound.

Catlin Lowe is a proxy. So is Emory, so is Ada. If you’d like to correspond you can reach me here.

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