Unjacketed Hardcover

Life Beside Itself

Imagining Care in the Canadian Arctic

Lisa Stevenson (Author)

Available worldwide

Unjacketed Hardcover, 272 pages
ISBN: 9780520282605
August 2014
$85.00, £62.95
Other Formats Available:
In Life Beside Itself, Lisa Stevenson takes us on a haunting ethnographic journey through two historical moments when life for the Canadian Inuit has hung in the balance: the tuberculosis epidemic (1940s to the early 1960s) and the subsequent suicide epidemic (1980s to the present). Along the way, Stevenson troubles our commonsense understanding of what life is and what it means to care for the life of another. Through close attention to the images in which we think and dream and through which we understand the world, Stevenson describes a world in which life is beside itself: the name-soul of a teenager who dies in a crash lives again in his friend’s newborn baby, a young girl shares a last smoke with a dead friend in a dream, and the possessed hands of a clock spin uncontrollably over its face. In these contexts, humanitarian policies make little sense because they attempt to save lives by merely keeping a body alive. For the Inuit, and perhaps for all of us, life is “somewhere else,” and the task is to articulate forms of care for others that are adequate to that truth.
Prologue: Between Two Women
1. Facts and Images
2. Cooperating
3. Anonymous Care
4. Life-of-the-Name
5. Why Two Clocks?
6. Song
Epilogue: Writing on Styrofoam
List of Illustrations
Lisa Stevenson is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at McGill University and the editor of Critical Inuit Studies: An Anthology of Contemporary Arctic Ethnography (2006).
"Stevenson explores how care in Inuit communities is like a raven, a spiritual force that binds the living and the dead in ways that are not always straightforward or obvious."—G. Bruyere CHOICE
"This courageous humanistic work is well worth a close and critical read, for the simple reason that its author, Lisa Stevenson, addresses one of the most important contemporary healthcare issues in the Canadian North—that of suicide— and along the way challenges the reader through been termed welfare colonialism and continues to struggle with a bureaucratic legacy determined by historical state structure and policy."—American Anthropologist
"Life Beside Itself is a profound reflection on the psychic life of biopolitics and how the biopolitical state, committed to enhancing the life of the population, renders lifeless a people’s particular form of life. Lisa Stevenson writes with attentiveness to the care that binds the living and the dead in Inuit communities. That is itself a form of ethical living. Her writing is surely touched by grace. Her book illuminates the problem of suicide as the light of the moon illuminates a darkened sky. She helps us not to turn away from this suffering but to hold it. This book is truly a treasure."—Veena Das, author of Affliction: Health, Disease, Poverty

2015 Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing, Society for Humanistic Anthropology

Chapter 1

Facts and Images


On August 10, 1956, an Inuit woman named Kaujak left the Inuit community of Arctic Bay on the ship the C. D. Howe to begin her journey to the Mountain Sanatorium in Hamilton, Ontario.1 For months Kaujak had been getting weaker and weaker. She was increasingly unable to hunt and fish, and the medical personnel on the patrol ship had diagnosed her with tuberculosis. Her grandson Sakiassie, standing on the shore, followed the ship with his eyes until it passed out of sight beyond Uluksan Point. He never saw her again.

In June 2008 I received an email from Anna, Sakiassie's daughter, who for several years had been trying to figure out what happened to Kaujak.2 "My name is Anna," she wrote. "A few years ago I was in search of my dad's grandmother that passed away on the train to Hamilton[;] they unloaded her body before reaching Hamilton." The only trace of Kaujak Anna had been able to find was an index card from the municipal offices with Kaujak's name and disc number typewritten on it. Handwritten in ink was the word "Dead" and the year "1956."

A month later I arrived in Ikpiarjuk, a hamlet of approximately eight hundred people at the north end of Baffin Island, to speak to Sakiassie and other survivors of the tuberculosis epidemic that ravaged Canadian Inuit communities during the 1950s and {apos}60s. Surrounded by high hills and rocky cliffs, the houses in Ikpiarjuk (literally, "the pocket") cluster around an almost landlocked bay. Children play unattended on the gravel roads and at the shore, skipping rocks and jumping from one piece of ice to the other. ATVs and pickup trucks careen through the streets, spewing rocks and dust, but inside Sakiassie's house it is neat, orderly, and quiet. His house looks out at the bay toward Uluksan Point. Anna serves as my interpreter as we begin to talk.

Kaujak raised Anna's father, Sakiassie, as her son after his own father drowned in a hunting accident when Sakiassie was only a year old. Anna tells me that Sakiassie was very attached to Kaujak and that she "was able to do things a man could do. She was a very good fisher. She would go fishing, dry fish." Each spring when Sakiassie goes fishing, "a lot of the techniques [he uses] he learned from her." Anna continues, "She was very able woman . . . She was able of doing things that men were capable of doing. She was able to build qarmat [sod houses]. The year before she left she couldn't build the qarmaq and she developed an infection on her stomach and on her back . . . When the ship came in to screen people for TB they screened her, and that's when they sent her away."

Sakiassie was fourteen years old when Kaujak was sent away on the C. D. Howe. I ask him whether he remembered the day of his grandmother's departure. "Yes, I remember very clearly," he tells me. Her illness had been getting worse and she began to pay visits to family members, even distant relatives, saying she might not live long enough to see them again. Sakiassie was very worried. "It was very painful when the helicopter came from the ship to pick her up to move her," he tells me. Kaujak was taken from her camp outside town to the ship where the medical team was waiting. Kaujak tested positive for tuberculosis.

When the x-ray technician discovered a shadow on the lung, Inuit generally weren't allowed to return to shore for fear they would never return to the ship. But for some reason they made an exception for Kaujak. She made a last trip to shore in a small skiff. Sakiassie didn't get to speak to her. He was unloading the ship's supplies at the time, and he saw his grandmother smiling and posing for a photograph-all from a distance.3

That fall-it was in October, though Sakiassie doesn't remember the exact date-the Hudson's Bay Company manager called him on the radio to let him know that Kaujak was dead. Nothing else was said.

For years after that, when the ship returned on its yearly patrol, Sakiassie would go to the beach where people were loading and unloading its cargo, and patients were disembarking after being at the sanatorium, to listen. He listened for his grandmother's name in the hope that someone would mention her, her death, or anything about her. As Anna described it:

Each year, whenever the ship came in to do a screening, he would rush over to where the patient's area was near the ship to see if he could overhear anyone talking about his grandmother. He was afraid to ask about her so he wouldn't ask. He would just hang around to listen to see if anyone would mention her-to see if they've seen her or there's any news of her-and he would check to see if she was on the boat . . . He did this for many years.

I was confused and tried to clarify. "Each year when the ship came . . . he still didn't know if she was alive or not?"

She left in August and in October they heard she had died and that's all that was said. No mention of where her body was, how she died, nothing. They were just informed that she had passed away. That's all the news that they got.

Identifying Inuit

Kaujak's story, although unusual in that she died on the train and not in the southern sanatorium, is not an unfamiliar one. In the 1950s and {apos}60s tuberculosis was known as the "Scourge of the North," (Albrecht 1965: 153) and "that ubiquitous disease of the Northland" (Ward 1952: 292).4 Between 1954 and 1964 approximately 8,600 Inuit patients were looked after in southern hospitals, and $12.5 million was spent on their hospitalization (Moore 1964: 1193). In 1956, the year Kaujak left Arctic Bay for the sanatorium, the tuberculosis mortality rate among Inuit was calculated to be 232 per 100,000 (Grygier 1994: 84) and it was estimated that one out of every seven Inuit was in a southern hospital being treated for tuberculosis (Phillips 1967: 219-20). Dealing with the epidemic was a priority for Canada's Northern Administration and especially the Indian Health Services Department,5 and segregation of tubercular Inuit in southern sanatoria was considered the most expedient way to curb the rate of infection (Ward 1952; Phillips 1957; Grzybowski, Styblo, and Dorken 1976: S8).6

In the Eastern Arctic where Kaujak lived, most of the tuberculosis evacuations occurred via the C. D. Howe, the ship the RCMP used for their annual patrol of the region. The ship was equipped with "a complete sick-bay, operating room, x-ray room, dental office and laboratory, and a complete medical party and dentist to staff it" (Moore 1956: 232). In fact, the C. D. Howe, which appears in many of the photographs and stories I collected, becomes something of a minor character in the history of the period. Leah Idlout d'Argencourt, an Inuit woman from Pond Inlet who published an account of her evacuation in the magazine Inuit Today, captured the momentousness of the C. D. Howe's annual arrival: "The first glimpse we had of the C. D. Howe was always amazing to me. Rounding the side of a steep cliff, she would suddenly appear in view. I found it hard to believe that a thing so enormous could move so fast. Her white bow seemed to cut through the water like a knife, sending huge waves that hissed and rolled all the way to where we would be waiting at the water's edge" (1977: 33). After the ship dropped anchor, Inuit would be brought onboard and screened for tuberculosis, and those suspected of harboring the disease would be kept on the ship to begin their journey south.

Being transported from a life in Canada's North-either from a small settlement or an ancestral hunting camp out on land-to a hospital where none of the doctors or nurses spoke Inuktitut and Inuit patients were largely confined to their beds, was an experience of radical disjuncture.7 D'Argencourt said of her trip to the South that it "changed my life so completely it made it difficult for me [afterward] to remain a full Inuk living in the North" (1977: 31). In 1951, at twelve years of age, she was sent by ship to a southern sanatorium all by herself.

It all happened so fast I scarcely had time to think. By the time we arrived back on the ship, I knew for sure it was true, that I was really going, although I was totally unprepared and didn't even have any baggage to take along. . . . I hardly remember anything that was happening or being said to me at the time of departure except that my dear oldest sister Rebecca (Qitsualik) was crying. Was I going away for good? I didn't feel sick. Was I going to die in the white man's hospital? It terrified me to think of these things. (1977: 35)

By 1959, Otto Schaefer, the doctor onboard the 1955 and 1957 Eastern Arctic Patrol, would write, "Many old Indians and Eskimos are still more afraid of evacuation to the white man's land than of death" (Schaefer 1959: 249).

In addition to uncertainty about how long Inuit would be separated from their families, the inability of the doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators to communicate with their Inuit patients often led to confusion about the identity of their Inuit charges, especially the children. In 1950, the governmental list of Inuit in southern hospitals had 119 names. Patient identification details for 42 of those listed were "either omitted or incomplete, or wrong" (Grygier 1994: 27). Children quite literally went missing, some of them eventually adopted into white families in the South (Grygier 1994: 126).

Donald Marsh, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Arctic from 1950 to 1973, dramatized this confusion in a collection of short stories he wrote about the Inuit entitled Cry the Beloved Eskimo. In one of the stories collected there an Ottawa bureaucrat wonders what to do with fifteen Inuit children cured of tuberculosis and ready to return home from the hospital. "'They can't speak a word of English,' says the bureaucrat helplessly, 'we don't know who they are or where they came from'" (Marsh 1991: 187).

In addition to the confusion about identities, Inuit patients who died in southern hospitals were generally buried in unmarked graves in southern cemeteries. Families were not always informed of these deaths or the whereabouts of the burial sites.8 Even when the news did arrive, it was only a bald statement that so-and-so had died. There were no details about the cause of death, no information about the burial, no letter of explanation or condolence-just a radio call or cable or, later, a telephone call through an official (Grygier 1994: 128). Reflecting on the situation years later, an Anglican missionary to the Inuit concluded, "They did not think the Eskimo people were worthy of being informed of where they precisely were, and didn't think it important that relatives should be informed, that parents should be told where their children were. There was none of that. The authorities didn't think it important that they should get their names right" (cited in Grygier 1994: 123).

In some sense Sakiassie was lucky that he heard so quickly about his grandmother's death. Other Inuit would spend years wondering whether their child or mother or father was dead or alive, and some would never know for sure (Grygier 1994). Sulaa Kublu didn't hear anything for two years.

When the C. D. Howe medical ship came to Arctic Bay for the first time in 1951, [my husband] Kublu was x-rayed and told he would have to go to hospital in the South.

It was two years later, in May 1953, when the RCMP told me that my husband was coming back in the summer. They told me he had gained a lot of weight and looked healthy again. But only his belongings arrived with the boat that summer.

I looked for him at the place where they kept the patients on the boat, but he wasn't there. When I finally realized what happened, I went numb with shock. People had to hold onto me. For several days I couldn't cry, sleep or react in any way. I was only a breathing, existing thing with no life in me. (Kublu 1978: 63-64)

The striking thing is that although the authorities were uncertain who had died, and who was buried where, they were very clear about how many Inuit they had in their care. We know, for instance, that in 1956, the year that Kaujak left Arctic Bay, "1,578 Eskimos with active tuberculosis were in sanatoria. That was one-seventh of the Eskimo population, and it did not include Eskimos fallen prey to other diseases or accidents." In fact, as officials liked to point out, "the largest Eskimo communities were the tuberculosis wards of hospitals in the cities of southern Canada" (Phillips 1967: 219-20). The statistics are precise: 1,578 Eskimos, no more, no less.

Inuit as Statistics

Keeping track of Inuit became a central concern for the Northern Administration, which found it difficult to accept and work with the Inuit lack of surnames. Administrators argued for the necessity of a system that "would enable the government administrators to distinguish each Eskimo from every other and facilitate the taking of censuses, the keeping of records and the registration of vital statistics" (Roberts 1975: 2). Dr. A. J. MacKinnon, a medical officer in Pangnirtung, wrote in 1935 to the Department of the Interior with a suggestion-that at birth each Inuit child "be given an identity disc on the same lines as the army identity disc and the same insistence that it be worn at all times. The novelty of it would appeal to the natives" (Roberts 1975: 6). MacKinnon wrote again in 1936, restating his case and emphasizing, "As far as the Eskimo is concerned, it does seem to me that this names business is of no great concern to them. They have got on nicely for a long time without cluttering up their minds with such details" (Roberts 1975: 8).

Despite some resistance to the idea of identification discs, including the concern that "misunderstanding might easily arise if Eskimos wore chains" (Roberts 1975: 8), in 1941 the Northwest Territories Council passed a motion to institute a "system of identification discs for Eskimos," which meant that each Inuit would be given a serial number (much like a social insurance number today) that he or she would be required to wear on a pressed fiber tag around the neck. By August of that year, officials on the Eastern Arctic Patrol were distributing the discs. The response, according to the arctic administrators, was enthusiastic. "Everywhere the idea of native identification has been welcomed by all concerned," was how the superintendent of the Arctic described their reception (Roberts 1975: 15).

Although each disc number was unique and designated a specific individual, the individuals identified were also, in an important sense, equivalent. Derek Smith has suggested that the disc list system reduced "the Eskimo population to identical constituent atoms of the same type for the purposes of state operations" (Smith 1993: 67). Thus, as MacKinnon made very clear, it didn't actually matter what the names of the Inuit were; it simply mattered that a system be developed that would allow administrators to enumerate them. Such equivalence-the ability to replace one item in a series with another-is at the heart of the colonial and bureaucratic reason through which the Canadian Arctic was governed. As the anthropologist Robert Williamson reports, the RCMP depended heavily on the disc numbers and would even use them in their reports without any corresponding names (Williamson 1988: 255).

This "turn toward seriality and uniformity" (Duttlinger 2008: 82) is something to which Walter Benjamin, writing in Europe in the 1930s, was also attuned. Calling our attention to the way a work of art's "aura" withdraws in the age of mechanical reproduction, when every original begets a duplicate, he describes this as a symptomatic shift in our mode of perception, our way of seeing the world. "What withers in the age of the technological reproducibility of the work of art," writes Benjamin, "is the latter's aura." More importantly, "the process is symptomatic; its significance extends far beyond the realm of art" (Benjamin 2008: 22). The destruction of the aura is a signature of a new mode of perception, one "whose 'sense for all that is the same in the world' has so increased that, by means of reproduction, it extracts sameness even from what is unique. Thus is manifested in the field of perception what in the theoretical sphere is noticeable in the increasing significance of statistics" (2008: 23-24).

Borrowing Benjamin's words, the disc numbers given to the Inuit, like the withering of the aura of the artwork, are the signature of a perception whose sense for all that is the same in the world makes it irrelevant who actually dies. The analogy MacKinnon makes between disc numbers and dog tags is telling. Military dog tags designate bodies whose very lives are interchangeable (Does it really matter which soldier dies? Is there such a thing as a unique soldier?), as well as bodies that are in some sense the property of the state. The pressed fiber tags Inuit were supposed to wear seem to work in a similar fashion. They designate interchangeable lives (and deaths) that somehow belong to the Canadian state.

In any event, the disc list system, like their model the military "dog" tag, brings to light a lingering relationship between seriality, substitutability, and animality. Abe Okpik, the Inuit man who in 1969 would be appointed to lead the government's effort to replace disc numbers with surnames, described the introduction of disc numbers in an interview:

How it started was . . . when they were setting up the United Nations in 1945. I was sixteen years old then, but I listened to it on the radio. Lester B. Pearson made a presentation . . . he was representing Canada at that time. He said they should do something about the North-they were dying like muskrats, or something to that effect . . . There was only two hospitals in the whole of the Northwest Territories run by Anglican mission, and maybe three by Roman Catholic. There was no administration. So in 1945, when Parliament opened the Family Allowance and Old Age Pension, they started the numbers. (Alia 1994: 30)

Okpik's account links the implementation of disc numbers to both the emergence of a kind of "humanitarian reason" (see Fassin 2012) and the establishment of the United Nations, as well as to the incorporation of the Inuit into the social welfare state.9 But he also remembers Lester B. Pearson, who would later become prime minister of Canada, saying that something had to be done because the people of the North were dying like muskrats. I haven't been able to find any reference to Lester B. Pearson using those words, although I have little doubt he or someone else did say something to that effect. But what did Pearson mean? That their deaths, or the rates of their deaths, were somehow not quite dignified? That they were dying as animals do, without distinction, en masse? Obviously Okpik is outraged. What might it mean to die like a muskrat, without even a name to identify you? What might it mean to a sixteen-year-old to hear his people described in that way? This is a question that relates intimately to what I will call the psychic life of biopolitics. That is, Pearson was trying to promote a lifesaving initiative in the Canadian Arctic, but the Inuit were left feeling like that very impulse to save lives actually effaced who they were, their histories, their cultures, their desires. They became so many animals to be saved from death.

The association of Inuit with animality, and animality with seriality, is ubiquitous in the archival record of the postwar era. Alex Stevenson, a senior administrator in Canada's Department of Northern Affairs, suggested to a CBC reporter that it was the lack of surnames and the "migratory habits" of Inuit families that "cause each Eskimo to be given a special identity disc at birth. This greatly facilitates location and identification" (Barry 1961).10 In the same CBC program the chief doctor and executive officer onboard the C. D. Howe, Dr. J. D. Harmon, applauded the RCMP for their efforts with the medical survey, crediting their "master list of statistics" with permitting the Eskimo to be located so efficiently. "I doubt whether they [the RCMP] will ever receive the credit that's really due to them. Without the census, without the tabulating . . . without the actual locating of these Eskimo, this Patrol could not be possible." The doctor's words carry echoes of the biologist, the lab technician, but also the police officer. Inuit need to be located and identified-and doing so presents challenges that are at once bureaucratic and linked to techniques of animal husbandry.

Dr. Harmon describes realizing that someone from the RCMP's list had failed to arrive at the ship to be tested:

I took the helicopter, went ashore, found his tent, and on examination found that this man was obviously a pulmonary or chest case. He was brought to the ship by helicopter and examination confirmed the diagnosis of a virulent, far advanced, pulmonary tuberculosis. Now the interesting thing about this man [was that] he was the village storyteller, and being the storyteller, his contacts, obviously, were generous to say the least. We feel that this is a particularly interesting case and confirms our opinion that it is absolutely essential that we cover every possible Eskimo available.

What the doctor says makes good epidemiological sense. His language, however, reminds us of the ways statistics are a technique of surveillance, a way of tracking and "covering" the "migratory" Inuit that reimagines them as "cases" and "vectors" of a devastating disease-so many muskrats dying in the North.

The serialization of human bodies, which is at once central to many public health efforts and also always potentially dehumanizing, becomes quite literal in the Inuit case (see Tester 1993).11 As Inuit arrived at the C. D. Howe for examination, the nurse made a record of each person by name and by identity disc number. Then a new serial number was recorded on the patient's chart, and that serial number was written with "ball point pen on the back of the left hand of the Eskimo concerned." On one level, the dog tags and the writing of the number onto the Inuit's skin are both innocuous gestures intended to keep track of potentially sick Inuit.12 On another level, the inscriptions mark the degree to which Inuit bodies actually became statistics in the eyes of the Canadian state and its agents.13

At the very least, what Kaujak's story makes clear is that the Northern Administration at times seemed to lose sight of the fact that Inuit were anything other than bodies needing care. Who an individual Inuit was-her life story and familial connectedness-no longer mattered.14 In fact, "The only legitimate way for a person designated as an Eskimo to interact with the state was as a solitary individual identified by a unique Disc List number" (Smith 1993: 43).

In 1967, R. A. J. Phillips, a senior officer in Canada's Department of Northern Affairs, would write that "Eskimos, in their short recorded history, have been all things to all men" (1967: 219). He illustrated this claim by citing an explorer who thought they were "very strange and beastly," a missionary who experienced them as "sullen, wild, dirty pagans," and a trader who saw them as part of the Hudson's Bay Company's "large happy family." He added (somewhat enigmatically), "Indians and Eskimos are also statistics." To illustrate this he provided a series of statistics about First Nations and Inuit, including the information I provided above about the number of Inuit in sanatoria in 1956. What does it mean to be a statistic?

Shock and Inevitability

This new statistical awareness of the Inuit in the North brought Canadians "face-to-face with a system of population dynamics that was shocking to them. That the government would intervene in order to 'correct' that system was a moral inevitability from the first" (Paine 1977: 12). This led P. E. Moore, acting superintendent of Indian Health Services, to declare in 1946, "Although neither law nor treaty imposes such a duty, the Federal Government has, for humanitarian reasons, for self-protection, and to prevent the spread of disease to the white population, accepted responsibility for health services to the native population, and Parliament each year votes funds to supply medical services to Indians and Eskimos" (Moore 1946: 140).

Over the next two decades this language of humanitarianism and self-protection would shift to the rhetoric of citizenship (Barry 1961; Phillips 1967).15 Inuit were citizens of Canada after all, and they deserved the same protection as its other citizens-or so the argument went, after the multiple ways the Inuit fell short in measures of health, education, and economy were described. Officials made it clear that to become Canadian was to become healthy. By 1966, discussing the efforts to provide better health care to the North, P. E. Moore would write, "Only then [once something is done about the high mortality rates] will our northern regions and their people be truly part of Canada" (Moore 1966: 136).In a curious formulation,becoming Canadian meant, in part, to die at Canadian rates.16

How, precisely, to go about lowering the Inuit death rate and bringing Inuit into the fold of the Canadian state was a vexing question for Northern administrators. In the moment of optimism about the future of Canada that followed World War II, the North began to be imagined as a laboratoryin which new social worlds might be established, as long as the "filthy"living conditions of Inuit could be improved. Phillipsat one point suggested it would be useful to"think of the 9,000 Eskimos [in Canada] as a laboratory experiment and to give the imagination full rein on what might be done to improve their culture" (quoted in Marcus 1995: 33).17 This language of experiment and improvement marked a whole generation of Arctic bureaucrats for whom Inuit death loomed (at least on the surface) as a kind of defeat. Assimilating the Inuit meant controlling their deaths. Although Inuit were generally grateful for the medical attention they would receive, they were perhaps not prepared for what it would mean to become a statistic.

Facts and Presences

In her moving essay "The Difficulty of Reality and the Difficulty of Philosophy," Cora Diamond suggests that philosophy may not "know how to treat a wounded body as anything but a fact" (Diamond 2008: 59). For the Canadian state, the fact that Inuit were dying of tuberculosis at elevated rates was relevant-even morally significant-but the suffering caused by certain forms of indifference (to Inuit forms of life, including life after death) was not. Thus Cora Diamond's statement regarding philosophy-that it knows how to treat a wounded body only as a fact-seems to be all the more true of dead bodies; it also seems to be as true of the forms of thought proper to bureaucrats and philanthropists as it is of philosophers.

To treat a wounded body as a fact is to ignore its hold on you and to know in advance what is at stake in any wounding. Diamond wonders what it would be like to treat wounded bodies instead as "presences that may unseat our reason" (Diamond 2008: 74). To do otherwise seems to Diamond a form of deflection from what she calls the "difficulty of reality."18 Of course, anthropologists also traffic in facts. Of Kaujak's death we know certain things. For instance, she was picked up by helicopter in 1956. She was taken to the C. D. Howe by helicopter for an x-ray. Contrary to protocol, she returned to shore after the x-ray. A photograph was taken (by whom?). The C. D. Howe travelled to Resolute. A plane took Kaujak and her fellow passengers from Resolute to Churchill. They boarded a train. Somewhere before reaching Hamilton, while still on the train, Kaujak died. A call was made to Arctic Bay to confirm her death. Those are the facts as I know them.

How does a wounded or sick or even dead body become a fact? Or, perhaps better, what explains our thirst for facts that anchor our sense of the due process that carries sickness into death? Alex Betancourt-Serrano links the fetishization of facts to the calmness of the historical project. "The 'fact,' as the historicist object of desire . . . made history a calm enterprise," he writes, continuing, "The fact is out there, lying calmly, uncontested, and frivolous, waiting to be discovered" (Betancourt-Serrano 2006: 37).Joan Didion, in The Year of Magical Thinking, describes wanting desperately to piece together the medical facts of her husband's death, as if then she could somehow do something to prevent it from having happened. If facts are calming, they are also magical, functioning as a kind of epistemological anxiolytic.

The best image we have of/for the facts pertaining to Kaujak's disappearance is the index card that her great-granddaughter Anna found when the municipal offices were moved to a new building in Arctic Bay. The typewritten index card bears Kaujak's name and her disc number and the names and disc numbers of her husband and three of her children. In ballpoint pen, beside Kaujak's name, is written "(Dead) 1956." One fact of the matter is thus made very clear.

Why is it that with regard to the Inuit the "facts" often seemed to revolve around life and death? That is, why does what we "know" about the Inuit so often have to do with their forms of death? In 1964, for example, the Canadian government's Subcommittee on Eskimo Housing Programs prepared a report on the state of Inuit housing in the Arctic. The report was supposed to contribute to the debate about what to do with the Inuit shacks clustered around the Hudson's Bay Company and RCMP posts around the region as well as about the merits of settlement life versus life in "traditional" hunting camps. Would providing better housing for the Inuit population create relations of dependence on the state? The authors of the report argued, "As far as subsidized housing damaging Eskimo character is concerned, this is an extremely questionable assumption. Surely, in any case, it is more desirable to have a live and slightly disturbed Eskimo than a dead one" (Subcommittee on Eskimo Housing Programs 1964: 8).

The bureaucrats' musing assumes the form of a thought experiment in which the physical survival of the "Eskimo,"19 curiouslybereft of kith and kin, is at stake.20 Northern administrators had to make many difficult decisions regarding how to govern their territory. And, indeed, this thought experiment has the form of a double bind, in which death and disturbance are weighed against each other. The bureaucrats argue, "Tuberculosis rates, infant mortality rates, and the incidence of environmental diseases can be cut by improving housing. Cutting these rates means that lives are saved: failure to cut them means those lives are lost" (Subcommittee on Eskimo Housing Programs 1964: 5).In this equation, Inuit shacks are seen as vectors of disease such as tuberculosis; the construction of colonial settlements is seen as the only way to reduce disease and provide adequate access to medical care.

The housing report pleads for political correctness-surely we will do the right thing in this situation, and surely the right thing can be made obvious to all. To convince readers of the correctness of their recommendations regarding the provision of public housing, its authors appeal to the sanctity of life itself. Do you want to have a dead or live Eskimo on your hands? Emphasizing the high infant mortality rate, they write, "It is difficult to place a 'value' on the 'life' of a child-most would agree that the 'gift of life' is as priceless as our old Masterpieces"(Subcommittee on Eskimo Housing Programs 1964: 6).21 In a certain sense, by that point in the history of biopolitics it had simply become a matter of good etiquette for agents of the state to invoke the sanctity of the life under their care. But I am also interested in the way the bureaucrats' use of the verb to have invokes the other sense of propriety-as the "right of possession or use."22Of what use is an Eskimo to the colonial bureaucracy-dead or alive? Understanding what it might mean, in the bureaucrats' terms, to "have" a dead Eskimo-"surely, in any case, it is more desirable to have a live and slightly disturbed Eskimo than a dead one"-and how it becomes possible to imagine "having" someone dead without ever knowing who that someone was seems essential to understanding why Kaujak's body disappeared. I have come to think that "having" a dead Eskimo amounts to treating the dead as stately statistics rather than as presences that might unseat our bureaucratic reason.

Let me elaborate. Although the conundrum of a dead versus disturbed Inuit is a thought experiment whose ostensible purpose is to move Inuit out of makeshift shack housing, the bureaucrats imagine (just for an instant) the situation in which instead they have a dead Inuk on their hands. And given that the biological life or survival of the Inuit had become the primary object of Canada's northern policy in the postwar era, "having" a dead Eskimo would be tantamount to bureaucratic failure.23

Kaujak's body is treated as an unfortunate but inevitable, unsurprising, and ultimately insignificant loss-collateral damage in the war on tuberculosis. The fact is that one more Eskimo lives or dies, and that fact is what is carefully recorded on the index card. The whereabouts of her dead body, transformed into a fact, become irrelevant. But to treat Kaujak as just one more fact to be "had" by the Canadian state was to ignore her presence as a mother, grandmother, and friend, a presence that continued to have a hold even after her death. It was to ignore the grievability of her life (Allison 2013).

During my interview with Sakiassie I became confused about Kaujak's story, confused about what might be called the facts of the matter. At first it sounded as if there were years when Sakiassie didn't know whether Kaujak was dead or alive, years when he would patiently hang around the ship when it came to unload its passengers and cargo, hoping to hear news of the woman who raised him as a mother and who had sailed out of his sight forever when he was only fourteen. But then Anna, who was translating for me, told me that Sakiassie received the news of her death in October 1956, just three months after she died. So what was he hoping to hear when he would go to the beach and listen? Who was he looking for? I couldn't reconcile these two pieces of information. I assumed there must be a mistake, or that I had misunderstood something, so I asked again. When did Sakiassie hear of his grandmother's death?

But what is it that I have misunderstood: the facts or what it means to know something? What does it mean to know that Kaujak died? I just listed the facts I thought I knew. Some of these facts I have tried to verify in the archives. But, discomfitingly, once I was in the archive, the facts begin to falter. It seems that in 1956 the boat didn't go to Resolute, as Sakiassie reported. It did go in 1957. Could it have been 1957 that she left? The questions mounted in my mind as I searched for any trace of her, of what happened to her after she died. And yet one thing I noticed is that whether the facts are incontestable or not, factual they still are. The destiny of each detail in the anthropologist's narrative is to become a fact. Or perhaps better, each detail strives to be a fact and gains recognition through its status as a fact. But can facts exhaust the question? Do facts exhaust what we know?

I am drawn back to the index card, where it is written in ink "Dead" and "1956." And I realize that the handwriting (understood to reveal so much about the uniqueness of the writer) gestures to the doleful absence of the one who wrote those words, an efficient bureaucrat surely, but someone who might have known something more, who might have received the news of Kaujak's death, who might have somehow been connected to her death, the way the pen was connected to the writer's body, and the ink to the pen from which it flowed. Those two handwritten words seem to turn the attempt to make Kaujak's death into a fact on its head. The facts-"(Dead) 1956"-although they promise so much, in the end seem to disappear, or at least to disappoint. What remains is the physical trace of a writer who might have known something else, or at least have known it in a different way.

And then there is what Sakiassie knows. During the interview, in my attempt to understand better what was going on, I ask for a clarification about when they realized that Kaujak was dead, when the news of her death reached their ears or eyes. In trying to explain the misunderstanding about when, exactly, the news of Kaujak's death arrived and why Sakiassie would go to the boat and listen, my translator and friend Anna reiterated the story she had just told me: "She [Kaujak] left in August and in October they heard she had died and that's all that was said. No mention of where her body was, how she died, nothing. They were just informed that she had passed away. That's all the news that they got."

Her explanation, I have come to believe, points to the insufficiency of facts. For Sakiassie, Kaujak is not a fact to protect against madness but a "presence" in Cora Diamond's sense. For years after he had received the news of Kaujak's death, Sakiassie would go to meet the C. D. Howe-to listen for news of his grandmother and to see if she was on the boat. The facts weren't enough. He wanted-hoped for-something more.

Voyaging Past the Emotions

In E. M. Forster's novel Howards End, there is a scene in which a man whose wife (Mrs. Wilcox) has just died must come to terms with a note that arrived in the morning's mail. The brief note, written in the dead woman's handwriting and forwarded by the matron of the nursing home where she died, instructs her family that she should like her friend-and not her son, as was expected-to inherit her house. After some deliberation Mr. Wilcox and his son tear up the note and throw it into the fire. Forster comments, "To them Howards End was a house: they could not know that to her it had been a spirit, for which she sought a spiritual heir" (2000: 84).

What interests me about this scene is the way the grieving men attend to the note that brings the voice, or the spirit, of a dead woman into the present. Forster writes, "Had they considered the note as a whole it would have driven them miserable or mad. Considered item by item, the emotional content was minimised, and all went forward smoothly" (2000: 84).

The magic of focusing on the facts. Instead of receiving the note as the last wishes of a beloved mother and wife, father and son methodically take the note apart, assuming, according to Forster, "the manner of the committee-room." That is, they concluded that "the note was not signed, it was therefore not legal, it was written in illness," "under the spell of a sudden friendship," and contrary to her past intentions. Forster closes the scene by observing, "Charles and his father sometimes disagreed. But they always parted with an increased regard for one another, and each desired no doughtier comrade when it was necessary to voyage for a little past the emotions. So the sailors of Ulysses voyaged past the Sirens, having first stopped one another's ears with wool" (2000: 86).

To "voyage for a little past the emotions," to "stop one another's ears with wool," is to turn a dead body (in this case, a note written by a dying mother and wife) into a fact or a series of facts. The violence of the committee room is its inability to recognize the presence or aliveness of the dead woman in her handwritten note.

To allow Mrs. Wilcox to remain a presence would be to allow her handwritten note the status of an image, an image being that which has a hold on us even after its informational and symbolic meaning has been decoded. Barthes, as I mention in the introduction, calls this the "third meaning" of the image-that which makes an image imagistic. In the case of Forster's novel, the handwritten note is an image that connects the son and father to the dead mother; the handwriting on the page (like the handwritten note recording Kaujak's death) is a physical trace of a dead woman, a trace that calls into question how dead she really is.

Sakiassie, unlike the father and son in Forster's novel, is unwilling or unable to voyage past the emotions, to stop his ears with wool. Several images of his grandmother's departure stay with him for years-decades, even-long after the C. D. Howe ceased picking up its northern passengers and the sanatorium in Hamilton was dismantled. Two of those images emerged in the course of our conversation in Sakiassie's living room in Ikpiarjuk, a room with a window that gives onto a stony beach and the slate blue bay that gives the town its name.

The first image: As he is unloading cargo from the ship, he is aware that his grandmother, seated in the skiff that will take her to the ship, is having her photo taken. He doesn't speak to her or acknowledge her presence in any way. Years later he is at a meeting at the high school in a neighboring community, Pond Inlet, and he comes across that photograph on the wall.24 He asks for a copy. I film him holding the photograph. The second image: Sakiassie watches Kaujak's boat as it leaves the harbor en route to the sanatorium, and he doesn't lift his eyes from the boat until it disappears beyond Inukshuk Point. An elderly woman told me later that just before the C. D. Howe left the harbor, it would blow its horn three times. As it sailed out of sight you could hear the sound of "all these people crying from the ship."

In a certain way, these images are both images of Kaujak's death. In the second image, as Sakiassie's eyes trace the lines of the boat as it disappears on the horizon, we get a sense of what Michael Taussig (following Gertrude Koch) describes as "the eye grasping . . . at what the hand cannot reach" (1991: 150). The eye that follows the boat out of sight defies our usual sense of the passivity of the visual: Sakiassie cannot seem to let go of the boat that carries his grandmother away, cannot let go of his grandmother in that boat. His eyes could be understood as a kind of arm that reaches and cannot grasp the object of desire, his grandmother, the boat, as it slips out of touch-or out of sight. How can we understand the force that keeps his eyes trained on the boat? Or the force of the image that draws our inner eye to his and to the boat it clutches?

A kind of sympathetic magic, perhaps: by touching, with his eyes (now our eyes), the vessel that carries his grandmother away, he holds her back, holds onto her, and by imprinting that image on his memory he has continued to hold her all these years. Frazer, in the Golden Bough, describes a "law of contact or contagion" that holds that "things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed" (Frazer 2009: 11). If the visual is as tactile as some theorists suggest, is it not possible that our visual images, our memory, work by a kind of sympathetic magic? Is it possible that the contact Frazer is describing is not always physical in the everyday sense but is sometimes visual? If so, what more is there to say about the need to stay magically connected through the grasping eye to one's grandmother than to recount Sakiassie's image and its retelling?

So when Sakiassie would go to the beach to listen, perhaps he was not really looking for facts-he may have "known" in some sense that his grandmother was dead-but that didn't stop him from wanting her, and wanting to feel her presence, to be in touch.

The Hold Images Have

In 1967, in an attempt to keep Inuit in better touch with their family members, audio recordings were made of Inuit in Arctic Canada sending messages to their relatives in tuberculosis sanatoria in southern Canada. One of the recordings has been preserved in the Hamilton. Many of the Inuit had a hard time finding words to speak into the recorder. But one of the speakers on the tape, Ittuq, a man from Arctic Bay, is less reticent than the others. A nurse's measured voice provides the frame: "Message Number Three: This is Ittuq E5{hy}213 of Arctic Bay speaking to his wife Akikiakjuq E5{hy}214 in Mountain Sanatorium Hamilton."

We then hear Ittuq begin to speak. "This is Ittuq E5-213," he says into the microphone before he clears his throat. His voice is humble, thick with age. As he speaks he picks up speed: "Speaking to my wife: I think of you a lot. There are times when I don't think of you as much as I used to when you were first away. Last year just after you went away I nearly went out of my mind, but I'm now able to cope better. I get lonely for you very much." Then firmly, almost with a hint of defiance, he says, "I miss you very much." He pauses and adds, "I love you very much." At this point there is a long silence interrupted only by the faint sounds of weeping. When he begins to speak again, he struggles with the words, his voice rising in pitch, as if it might split. "I worry a lot though. I don't know what else to say at the moment so I'm just going to say bye for now."

As I listened I decided I would try to find his family, to hear more of the story that his voicesuggested. It wasn't hard. My sister-in-law in Iqaluit called someone from Pond Inlet, who called someone from Arctic Bay, and within twenty-four hours I had a phone number for Ittuq's daughter, a thirty-five-year-old woman named Sandy. Ten months later I was staying in a tent with Ittuq's children in a summer camp a fifteen-minute drive from town. At that time of year it was all rock and sun and snow. We drank tea with pilot biscuits in the yellow light of canvas tents and ate barbecued seal on the rocks by the shore. The teenagers played golf over the hills with makeshift holes in patches of artificial grass and the kids skipped stones on the bay that the ice hadn't yet left. I learned then that one of Ittuq and Akikiakjuq's sons was in prison. Later that summer I asked the prison administration for permission to interview Peutagok Ittuq.

Peutagok Ittuq, the son of Ittuq and Akikiaqjuq, was seven years old when his mother was taken down South to be treated for tuberculosis. He didn't see her again, or hear from her, when she returned from the hospital. I met with Peutagok in the Baffin Correctional Center, in Iqaluit, where he was an inmate. I never asked him why he was there, and he didn't tell me. The prison, located in the industrial outskirts of Iqaluit, near the airport, mechanic shops, and old military buildings, is a gray pod-like building made of corrugated metal. After giving up my ID and passing by the television monitors flickering in a darkened office and through the usual clanking doors, we were escorted to a windowless meeting room stuffed with two rectangular tables and a dry erase board. An Inuit social worker joined us. She was reassuringly round and smiling, with permed hair. Peutagok looked apprehensive, his compact frame leaning forward as he sat down at the table.

I played him the recording from my computer, giving him headphones to listen. Listening to his father's voice does something strange to time: "I go back to when I was a kid," he tells me. When I ask him what he remembers, he tells me about the time, a year before his mother went away, when he and his parents rowed the fifteen miles from their outpost camp to meet the patrol ship the C. D. Howe in Arctic Bay. It took them two or three days.

"Yeah, it was a very nice time," he says. "Blue sky. No wind. And ice, and birds . . . That was very special, that day. I remember. And in the morning my dad was making fire, making tea, coal stove, only fire, early in the morning. Yeah . . . I remember that. That was beautiful."

He tells us that just before his mother boarded the boat, she gave him three packets of gum. He struggles to remember the brand of the gum but remembers the yellow package. Then he gets it: "Juicy Fruit!"

Peutagok remembers that he wanted to keep that gum forever. "Yeah. {apos}Cause my mom was special to me. So much." He was the youngest child, and as he remembers it, he was still being breast-fed when she left. So at night, when he went to bed, he would put the gum under his pillow. That way no one could take it from him.

To make sense of Sakiassie's (and Peutagok's) memory images, and what it means to desire an image rather than a fact, I want to think Cora Diamond's notion of the "difficulty of reality" alongside Walter Benjamin's work on the image. Diamond begins the essay I referred to earlier with a reflection on the Ted Hughes poem "Six Young Men," in which Hughes describes a photograph of six young men out for a "Sunday jaunt" in the English countryside posing in front of a country wall. These men-young, muscular, and very much alive-would all be dead six months later, casualties of the First World War. Yet their aliveness, their youth, "sears" the photograph. It is as though when we finger such a photograph, we can touch or even partake in the aliveness of its subjects. Indeed, the sun that warmed their skin also touched the lens of the camera and burned their image into the negative that turned into the positive that we now hold in our hands. The indexicality of their aliveness-the fact that the photograph directly connected in some way (physically or causally) to their bodies with their thudding hearts-disrupts our straightforward knowledge of their deaths. It is a presence that unseats our reason rather than a fact that can be filed away.(This, for Diamond, is a difficulty of reality, a moment when the facts falter and what we know is not enough.) The men are in some sense (a sense that will remain forever foreign to a logic of census takers and statisticians) both dead and alive.

We know that those live bodies in the photograph are already dead, and in a flash we intuit, and are disturbed by, the way we too are already dead. In reminding us that our own bodies are made for death-and die despite the persistence of the trees and streams in front of which such photographs are taken-the image in Ted Hughes's poem "shoulder[s] out one's own body from its instant and heat" (Diamond 2008: 44). The six men, now dead for forty years and "rotting into soil," are an example of a difficulty of reality for Diamond-a reality that shoulders us from the everyday, and from our own "instant and heat."

Curiously, in Cora Diamond's essay we never actually see the photograph of the six men. Neither do we in Hughes's poem. The materiality of the photograph is, in both cases, denied us-its indexicality only gestured to-and yet we still "see" the image; we can both picture it and feel its force. This makes me think more about the relationship of photographs to the images we hold in our mind's eye (like the images Sakiassie and Peutagok relate) and the hold they both have over us. Both share a kind of afterlife, something like the image of the light bulb you can see imprinted on your eyelids when you close your eyes at night.

There is a certain kinship between the dead woman's handwritten note in Forster's novel, Sakiassie's image of the disappearing ship, the Juicy Fruit gum under a six-year-old's pillow, and the six men in Ted Hughes's poem.All record the vital presence of an absence in such a way that it becomes unclear in what sense the absent mother-or the deceased men-are actually present or absent, alive or dead.All four images (the handwritten note, the disappearing ship, the gum, the men before the wall) could be seen as presences that threaten to unseat our reason rather than as facts that shore it up.

The force of such images-the hold images such as the disappearing ship and the Juicy Fruit gum have over us-is what I am trying to describe.25 Walter Benjamin has tried to account for the strange force that our images of childhood have over us. As I mentioned in the introduction, upon realizing (as an adult) that he may have to say his final goodbye to Berlin, the city of his birth, Benjamin calls up image after image of his childhood there, as if by experiencing the singular pain they produce he could inoculate himself against his homesickness and longing for his native city.

Benjamin's method in the writing of Berlin Childhood bears an uncanny resemblance to Freud's description in "Mourning and Melancholia" of the way a mourner begins to disinvest from a loved object:

So what is the work that mourning performs? I do not think I am stretching the point if I present it in the following manner: reality testing has revealed that the beloved object no longer exists, and demands that the libido as a whole sever its bonds with that object. . . . Each individual memory and expectation in which the libido was connected to the object is adjusted and hyper-invested, leading to its detachment from the libido. (Freud 2005: 204-5)

The result of Benjamin's effort to inoculate himself against the pain of separation from Berlin is Berlin Childhood, which he warns us is neither a biography-in the sense of a linear narrative of significant events-nor a reliable account of a childhood in Berlin. Instead, these fragmentary and disorienting images-with titles such as "Tardy Arrival," "Butterfly Hunt," "The Fever," and "Winter Morning"-contain, according to Benjamin, "the whole distorted world of childhood" (2006: 98). He explains that

this has meant that certain biographical features, which stand out more readily in the continuity of experience than in its depths, altogether recede in the present undertaking. And with them go the physiognomies, those of my family and comrades alike. On the other hand, I have made an effort to get hold of the images in which the experience of the big city is precipitated in a child of the middle class. (2006: 37-38)

An image for Benjamin is a precipitate of an experience rather than a factual accounting of events and physiognomies. The summoning of these images, intended to inoculate him against the pain of never seeing his beloved city again, seems instead to demonstrate the ongoing force of those images in his life. For Benjamin there can be no final detachment from Berlin, no moment, as there is for Freud, when the ego is once again left "free and uninhibited" (Freud 2005: 205).

Instead, to read Benjamin's account of his childhood in Berlin is to fall under the spell of that childhood, a spell in which the "I" of the reminiscence is always in danger of becoming something else, or of being transported elsewhere. For Benjamin, childhood is that admirable state of being in which to know something is to become that thing-the way a child playing with a toy airplane becomes that airplane as he floats around the room with arms extended and lips purring, a child chasing a butterfly becomes butterfly-like in his "heart and soul" (2006: 50).26 To lose oneself in the color of a chocolate wrapper, in the light from a stained-glass window, in a watercolor cloud, or in the twisting streets of a picture postcard-these are the signatures of childhood for Benjamin.

Such disorienting images of childhood-what Benjamin calls "precipitates" of experience-are the images that continue to resonate, to animate us, for a lifetime, without necessarily having any narrative or biographical value. Like Peutagok's memory of the gum beneath his pillow-green, white, and yellow-or Sakiassie's image of the boat carrying his grandmother away past the last outcrop of land, they add little to the facts of the matter. They don't tell us what day their mothers left or where they ended up, or even how they fared while they were gone. But bound up in each of those images is a childhood disappearing, a mother vanishing.

Benjamin acknowledges the undeniable hold the images of his childhood continue to have on him. He tells us, for instance, that the smell of the air in the dark loggias where he was born-shaded by blinds in the summer-was also present when he held his lover in his arms on the distant island of Capri and now "sustains the images and allegories which preside over my thinking" (2006: 39; emphasis added). So the "images" Benjamin provides in Berlin Childhood around 1900 are not merely iridescent tokens of a dissolving past, but they actually shape and condition a form of thought, and perhaps even a form of life.

Benjamin's assertion that those images of childhood (images for Benjamin include smell and sounds) still preside over his thinking brings me closer to understanding the hold such images seem to have. Because, as Peutagok tells me after recounting the story of the chewing gum, "That's why I sometimes get criminal, {apos}cause it was hurt too . . . too hard for me." Having chosen to speak in English but finding words difficult, Peutagok refers to himself in the first person-"that's why I sometimes get criminal"-but also in the third person, as an "it"-"it was hurt too." It seems that Peutagok is linking his early childhood experience, in which the terror of a disappearing mother was condensed in packets of gum he couldn't bear to chew, to an adulthood marked by petty crimes. Something was hurt too much.

Our interview, ended by a bell signaling the lunch hour for the inmates, didn't allow time to explore this idea of the connection between crime and the "it" that was hurt. I'm not sure I would have known what to ask either. Nonetheless, Peutagok gestures to just how powerful the precipitates of our childhood experience-the images that we hold and hold us-can be.

In a particularly terrifying vignette Benjamin describes his tardy arrival to school one day. While in the halls of the school he noticed a kind of secret collusion in the voices of the teachers and students behind the doors of the classrooms as he approached, a conversation that has somehow displaced even his absence. And when he entered, "No one seemed to know me, or even to see me. Just as the devil takes the shadow of Peter Schlemihl, the teacher had taken my name at the beginning of the hour" (2006: 57-58). The "I" that becomes butterfly or becomes colored light is metonymic with the "I" of reminiscence that cannot avoid becoming child again in recounting these images of childhood. The danger, then, is not in becoming other. The danger lies in having one's very absence taken away.

This reminds me of Sakiassie's story. I wonder if, in fact, his knowing and not knowing that Kaujak had died has something to do with the way that even Kaujak's absence has been taken from him. He is left without her body, and without even an image of her death to hold onto. So he goes to the beach, where the patients are brought from the ship after their long trip from Montreal, and he listens for his mother. What does Sakiassie, a young boy of fourteen, have to do to allow her absence, her death, to become an image?

A few days after my interview with Sakiassie, I went with his daughter, Anna, to interview a man named Laisha who was on the train with Kaujak when she started her journey to the sanatorium. Laisha was also headed to the Mountain Sanatorium in Hamilton, but he was just a boy. Sakiassie did not come with us to the interview, and he had never spoken directly to Laisha about what happened to his grandmother. In those days, Anna explains to me, people didn't ask questions. In those days, Laisha tells me, "They [the Inuit] didn't know what anger was." His trip to the hospital was a "sad experience." He was put in a hospital room by himself. He did not speak any English and didn't know where the toilets were, or even how to ask. When he fell asleep he soiled his pants and the nurses treated him badly when they found him in the morning, covered in feces.

Laisha tells Anna what she already knows-that Kaujak died on the way to the hospital. He says also that as she was dying she began to speak in the voices of animals, and that the nurses were offended, telling her to stop. "But she is dying!" an Inuit woman on the train tried to explain to the nurses. "She is not trying to be disrespectful!"

Once Kaujak was gone they laid her body on a stretcher in the corridor. Laisha remembers having to pass her body on the way to the bathroom. Later he watched from the window as her body was unloaded from the train.

What is the psychic form that biopolitics takes?27 In asking this question I am interested in the way biopolitical policies, commandments, foreclosures have their own psychic life. This is in keeping with our everyday sense that it is possible for words, ideas, or even political forms to "take on a life of their own." In this way, the psychic life of biopolitics is also a kind of "life beside itself"-that is, a life that cannot be reduced to what biopolitics "is" or "enacts" in any mechanistic/intentional sense. Psychically, biopolitics is never just itself-just as, in this book, I am arguing that life is never itself. Thus in the psychic lives of both the colonizer and the colonized the biopolitical commandment to stay alive at all costs is haunted by the desire on the part of the colonist to murder the colonized, and also by the recurring sense the colonized have that what appear to be the most benign public health programs are, in fact, genocidal.

Why images? Why turn to images in an attempt to grasp the psychic life of biopolitics? For Freud, dreams think themselves in images. In any event, in this book I take Freud's idea that it is possible, even in the waking world, to "think in pictures" quite literally.28 For Freud, "thinking in pictures" actually "stands nearer to unconscious processes than does thinking in words." And although he calls thinking in pictures "an incomplete form of becoming conscious," he still suggests that for "many people," returning to such visual residues of perceptions "seems to be the favoured method" of thinking (Freud 1961 [1923]: 21).29 For Freud, becoming more "completely" conscious would entail bringing forth the image's latent meanings through analysis.

But again, why the image? Why must dreams be imagistic? As I mentioned in the introduction, Foucault suggests that for Freud, repressed desires take refuge in the image rather than in linguistic utterance "because the image is a language which expresses without formulating, an utterance less transparent for meaning than the word itself" (1993: 36). Thus for Freud, the relationship between an image and the repressed desire is contingent-the latent content of the dream simply finds a convenient hiding place. But it could also manifest itself in a slip of the tongue or a bout of amnesia.

If, however, we propose that desires/feelings/experiences express themselves in images, not to hide themselves, but because those desires/feelings/experiences are, in important ways,imagistic, then we are closer to the thought of the psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger, whose text Foucault is introducing in "Dream, Imagination and Existence."

For Binswanger, writing in 1930, this sense that dreams were hiding something was precisely where Freud went wrong. For Binswanger, dreams themselves actually described a style of existence, or a "mode of attunement" to the world. For Binswanger, then, the trick was to avoid the decoding of dreams and to remain, as it were, in the image, and thus to discover not the hidden meaning of a dream, but instead an individual's particular style of existence: "By steeping oneself in the manifest content of the dream-which, since Freud's epoch-making postulate concerning the reconstruction of latent dream thoughts, has in modern times receded all too far into the background-one learns the proper evaluation of the primal and strict interdependence of feeling and image, of being-attuned and pictorial realization" (1993: 88).

If we take Binswanger's "strict interdependence of feeling and image, of being-attuned and pictorial realization," literally, then a feeling is imagistic, and being attuned to the world is pictorial. I would argue, then, that psychic life can only be captured on the page imagistically, in word or visual images. When images are translated into more "complete" forms of consciousness (unraveled or unwrapped into a series of facts, say, or decoded into a list of meanings), they lose their affective hold, which is, as both Binswanger and Barthes understood, essential to what an image, or a dream, or a mode of thinking, is-not optional or supplementary and definitely not an obfuscation of their true meaning. At the risk of sounding tautological, I would even venture that this is what the psyche is-the realm of thought-images, where it becomes, in a certain sense, crucial to dissolve the difference between dreaming and what it is to be held captive by an image.30

If the Inuit disc numbers (just one instance of the Canadian state's mode of "extract[ing] sameness even from what is unique") trapped Inuit in what Lewis R. Gordon calls a "perverse anonymity" (2006: 16)-a situation where the necessary schism between their identity as an Inuit wards of the state and their mode of "being" or "being-attuned" was destroyed-the images that their sons and daughters describe above stubbornly register the uniqueness and irreducibility of that being. Still, the images in this chapter are not images that carry some kind of redemptive force. Peutogak "gets criminal," Kaujak dies, and the state disappears her body. Sakiassie suffers. I haven't been able to find any trace of Kaujak in the archive, although I'll continue to look. Allowing our thought to remain embedded in the images that produce it rather than letting ourselves get deflected onto a series of facts (or statistics) that help us "voyage a little past the emotions," means to stay with Kaujak's death as Sakiassie does, to feel the ways we too remain connected to her, through the images her grandson gives us. Thus it is that Kaujak's image takes hold of me, registering the knowledge that we are the kinds of beings that die, and that sometimes even at the moment of death we can be misrecognized, dismissed as an animal, or-perhaps even worse-dismissed as a fact.31

Join UC Press

Members receive 20-40% discounts on book purchases. Find out more