H is for Teleology

In Percival Everett’s re: f (gesture), the abecedarian poem Zulus contains a multitude of allusions to a variety of people, places, stories, and more. In sifting through these many references, one in particular stood out to me among the rest. The speaker states, “H is for horrors, / so full of them we dine, / for humanity, / on bent Kantian trees” (Everett 22). I had never heard of a Kantian tree before, so using the logic of my last blog post (Archive and Intertextuality), I took to my favorite archive–Google–to see what I could find.

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Questions of Origin and Identity in English 203

“Thank you,” I said. “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something lost, to reunite if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it. What I’ve discovered is that this thing is not here. In fact, it is nowhere. I have learned that my name is not my name. It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth and yet you know me better than I know myself, perhaps better than I can know myself. My mother is buried not far from this auditorium, and there are no words on her headstone. As I glance out now, as I feel the weight of this trophy in my hands, as I stand like a specimen before these strangely unstrange faces, I know finally what should be written on that stone. It should say what mine will say:


–Percival Everett 

The first time I read this epigraph in the English 203 syllabus, I had little knowledge of what this class would entail, except for what I could extrapolate from the course description. In all honesty, I didn’t even know what the word “epigraph” meant. That being said, the quote still struck me; the exact thought that popped into my head was something along the lines of “huh, that’s relatable.” Everett, in this quote, captures the image of a person lost and searching to find themselves again. I think on some level, many people have been that person trying to “connect with something lost;” I know I have.

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