i don’t know what to say except that the only thing which has given me even a lick of comfort in this devastating week of fascist convulsion is the knowledge that we get to be alive at the same time as cardi b.
two hundred and thirty-eight.
truly, i live in dark times! an artless word is foolish. a smooth forehead points to insensitivity. he who laughs has not yet received the terrible news. what times are these, in which a conversation about trees is almost a crime, for in doing so we maintain our silence about so much wrongdoing! and he who walks quietly across the street, passes out of the reach of his friends who are in danger? it is true: i work for a living but, believe me, that is a coincidence. nothing that i do gives me the right to eat my fill. by chance i have been spared. (if my luck does not hold, i am lost.) they tell me: eat and drink! be glad to be among the haves! but how can i eat and drink when i take what i eat from the starving and those who thirst do not have my glass of water? and yet i eat and drink.
-- bertolt brecht, an die nachgeborenen, 1939
i feel now like i felt in the fall of 2016, which is to say: not good. like i don’t know how we got here and i don’t know how we’re going to get out. i was talking to my best friend on saturday and she said, “i don’t know what i can do now that will make someone three generations from now forgive me for living in this country, in this time.” i don’t know, either. when i find myself feeling sad about something normal, something that isn’t fascism or murder, i’m almost grateful.
two hundred and thirty-nine.
a capitalist society requires a culture based on images. it needs to furnish vast amounts of entertainment in order to stimulate buying and anesthetize the injuries of class, race, and sex. and it needs to gather unlimited amounts of information, the better to exploit natural resources, increase productivity, keep order, make war, give jobs to bureaucrats. the camera’s twin capacities, to subjectivize reality and to objectify it, ideally serve these needs and strengthen them. cameras define reality in the two ways essential to the workings of an advanced industrial society: as a spectacle (for masses) and as an object of surveillance (for rulers). the production of images also furnishes a ruling ideology. social change is replaced by a change in images. the freedom to consume a plurality of images and goods is equated with freedom itself. the narrowing of free political choice to free economic consumption requires the unlimited production and consumption of images.
-- susan sontag, on photography, 1977
realizing years too late that #RepresentationMatters was kind of a scam. like, make no mistake, i’m still writing about trans people and queer relationships, but my priorities are different now. when, in may, i sat across from my literary agent and pitched a sweet romcom starring a teenage trans boy, i didn’t know the trump administration was about to eradicate my protagonist’s civil rights. i was always writing fiction, but now i find myself writing fantasy.
two hundred and forty.
there is a popular but wholly mistaken assumption that to be exiled is to be totally cut off, isolated, hopelessly separated from your place of origin. if only that surgically clean separation were possible, because then at least you could have the consolation of knowing that what you have left behind is, in a sense, unthinkable and completely irrecoverable. the fact is that for most exiles the difficulty consists not simply in being forced to live away from home, but rather, given today’s world, in living with the many reminders that you are in exile, that your home is not in fact so far away, and that the normal traffic of everyday contemporary life keeps you in constant but tantalizing and unfulfilled touch with the old place. the exile therefore exists in the median state, neither completely at one with the new setting nor fully disencumbered of the old, beset with half involvements and half detachments, nostalgic and sentimental on one level, an adept mimic or a secret outcast on another. being skilled at survival becomes the main imperative, with the danger of becoming too comfortable and secure constituting a threat that is constantly to be guarded against.
-- edward said, intellectual exile: expatriates and marginals, 1993
me: damn… true… it’s like i’m trying to move on with my life but every other word reminds me of what we had and i relive those moments in my dreams and i read the letters and i watch the videos and i flip through the pictures over and over and i listen to “some things last a long time” by daniel johnston and i —
edward said: oh my god i’m literally talking about geopolitics and the subaltern i’m not talking about your train wreck of a love life
me: okay but like… it’s a valid interpretation like… ever heard of intertextuality
edward said: that’s not what intertextuality means
two hundred and forty-one.
body, remember not just how much you were loved, not simply those beds on which you have lain, but also the desire for you that shone plainly in the eyes that gazed at you, and quavered in the voice for you, though by some chance obstacle was finally forestalled. now that everything is finally in the past, it seems as though you did yield to those desires -- how they shone, remember, in the eyes that gazed at you, how they quavered in the voice for you -- body, remember.
body, remember not only how much you were loved, not only the beds you lay on, but also those desires that glowed openly in eyes that looked at you, trembled for you in the voices -- only some chance obstacle frustrated them. now that it’s all finally in the past, it seems almost as if you gave yourself to those desires too -- how they glowed, remember, in eyes that looked at you, remember, body, how they trembled for you in those voices.
body, remember not only how much you were loved, not only the beds on which you lay, but also those desires for you that glowed plainly in the eyes, and trembled in the voice -- and some chance obstacle made futile. now that all of them belong to the past, it almost seems as if you had yielded to those desires -- how they glowed, remember, in the eyes gazing at you; how they trembled in the voice, for you, remember, body.
-- c.p. cavafy, body remember, 1918 (three different translations)
daniel johnston was RIGHT. thits shits lasting FOREVER.
two hundred and forty-two.
what if i don’t want the monster to stop being a monster? what if that’s the only anchor i have left? what if my sanity depends on being able to point at the bad thing and say, that is the bad thing. haven’t i already lost enough time losing track of who the enemy is? i’ve spent half my life not knowing the difference between killing myself and fighting back.
-- andrea gibson, upon discovering my therapist willingly shares an office space with a male therapist who is an accused sex offender supposedly recovered from his urge to rape 13-year-old girls, 2015
the extremely particular hell of your close friend being trapped in an abusive relationship and so desperately wanting better for them that you begin to feel as though you, too, are trapped. knowing you’ve done all you can, knowing that you’ve reduced the harm substantially, knowing it’s still not enough. trying to live with yourself. trying to get used to the presence of a bona fide villain in your periphery.
two hundred and forty-three.
the energy of attempt is greater than the surety of stasis.
-- mary oliver, long life: essays and other writings, 2005
if you say so, mary.
as always, feel free to reply! i always love hearing from you!