“But I didn’t know about thousands of acres of big old trees. Nor did I know about animals, like the northern spotted owl, that live in old growth forests. No one told us, and the logging industry had quite a stake in the silence.” (23, exile & pride)
The first thing that struck me about the language here was the use of repetition throughout the passage, the phrase “I didn’t know” is used multiple times and the paragraph opens and ends with “no one told us”. I believe this is intentional to retell the evolution of emotion Clare feels, from curiosity to anger about his miseducation, which he learns is due to lobbying from the logging industry. The paragraph ends with the powerful word “silence”, which is then followed by a line break (or a dinkus, which I just learned is the technical term), where I paused and had a few seconds of silence in my head before continuing to read. This linguistic effect creates emphasis on the last sentence and gives it an ominous tone.
I believe the implications of this passage extend beyond the literal example of the owl and the forrest which are under threat. Clare writes from an intersectional perspective, and he is able to empathize with vulnerable species such as the owl because his own body has been threatened as a genderqueer and disabled person. The intimate relationship he describes with nature exemplifies his sensitivity, which is a great strength to his writing and allows for him to be careful and deliberate with words and description.
We need more authors like Clare who are able to speak about queerness from an intersectional perspective, who can identify the common oppressor. Clare can empathize with trans folks, disabled folks, and queer folks separately and together, who occupy different spaces and protest in different ways. He can see the weakness in the splintering off of marginalized identities and even the ways that each movement works against others. Clare focuses on how normative culture is harmful and creates different expectations through the paradox of cure, assumption of straightness, and even the harm of metronormativity for the queer community. These cultural norms he suggests are not separate, and work together under common oppressors – capitalism, white supremacy, and a society focused solely on production.