born runner and digger and now we know we’re born stuck


I’ve been thinking of late about different ‘cultural selves’ and the varying moral-weight given or placed on the value of ‘independence’ (as per individual autonomy), in contrast to the value of ‘interdependence.’

I find it a useful exercise to consider these questions in relation to known or hypothetical outcomes of equality. It’s actually really fun to draw up a comparative template – four separate ‘outcome’ columns corresponding to the four general ‘types’ of equality that feature in Western discourse (according to Bryan Turner as cited in Robbins 1994).

1. Ontological Equality: the fundamental equality of persons.

2. Equality of Opportunity: to achieve desired or desirable ends.

3. Equality of condition: the conditions of life equal or relevant social persons or groups.

4. Equality of Outcome: self explanatory.

More interesting than reading the cereal box okay! My intention is not to write about this at any length but, rather, to mention only that I suspect that it was this recent train of thought that endeared me to the following poem with a surprising sense of great (and strangely intimate) conviction. It is an exceptional poem, by illi.


wisest thing I ever heard said was


the wisest thing I ever heard said was:


‘We know we’re stuck but that’s just

the end of the story. we know we’re

stuck because we’re stuck striving,

we’re born, runner and digger, and

now we know we’re born stuck, runner

and digger born, born stuck striving.

We’re all the more stuck or stuck all

more obvious because for our know-

ing, we keep on in striving, stuck

striving, born runner and digger, the

day won’t come, neither we rest nor

we forget, and eiven against that nor-

neither, we can neither resign nor



Born stuck, born stuck striving, now

born stuck knowing born stuck striv-

ing.’ and then she fucked off out of

town and nobody could stand to go

out to the bridge no-more, it was five

youths fighting off nostalgia



You can find out more about illi – his self and his writing – dhuwala.




1 Comment

Filed under Poetry turnstile

One response to “born runner and digger and now we know we’re born stuck

  1. I should also have included the reference to Robbins’ brilliant paper on equality as a value.

    Joel Robbins 1994, Equality as a Value: Ideology in Dumont, Melanesia and the West (in) Social Analysis, No. 36, pp. 21-70

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