Wednesday, April 23, 2014

“Say NO to paying for something that happened 100s of years ago,” screamed one meme that was doing the rounds on social media around the time tabloids began to claim that Caribbean nations were “suing” for reparations. They aren’t, strictly speaking, and nor can something which ended only in 1838 be compared, as it often is, with the Viking invasions or Roman conquest. The CARICOM group of nations, led by Barbados , is really calling for a wider dialogue about historical justice. Why should Britain – or any other former slave-trading nation – shy away from it?

After all, in almost any other sphere, historical continuities are acknowledged, even venerated – aren’t we told ad nauseum that the monarchy is important because it represents continuity? Even something like the “Commonwealth” – whose Games will be held in Glasgow this summer – celebrates the international “links” forged by Britain’s Empire and its apparent historical achievements. Britons are constantly reminded by politicians and some historians to take pride in having “given” former colonies those two old chestnuts, the railways and the English language. Seems a bit odd, if not thoroughly hypocritical, to then swiftly put distance between our “proud” present and the Empire’s rather less flattering legacies, which include gargantuan impoverishment and dislocation across swathes of the globe. How is it possible to keep up the endless national self-congratulation for the abolition of the slave trade while insisting that no one today has any connection to slavery itself?

Priyamvada Gopal for the New Statesman | brilliant piece on reparations  (via derica)

To all the Tumblr users who tend to use tags very liberally:

tarae:

accaern:

thejadedkiwano:

Let’s play a game.

Type the following words into your tags box, then post the first automatic tag that comes up.

you, also, what, when, why, how, look, because, never

oh my god

i cheated a little

i don’t use tags very liberally and most of these words don’t lead to anything for me, but i’m playing anyway because the result feels like the shell of a frank o’hara poem

Sunday, April 20, 2014
boring story: sometime around the summer of 1998, when i was around twelve, i was with my older brother and a pair of brothers from another school, the sons of our mom’s friend. years later the younger of them would come out as gay. at that time the four of us would hang out occasionally and use their new video camera to make short movies which i now sincerely hope have been lost forever. this one was about vincent van gogh and paul gauguin, and if i wanted to be generous i’d say it was an art biopic that embraced anachronism in a manner reminiscent of derek jarman’s caravaggio, even though none of us had seen it, but that would be really, really generous. i played van gogh and the one line of dialogue i remember speaking is “i’m sorry for my tardiness,” because i thought that would be a sophisticated way for a painter to apologize for being late. anyway the reason i’m talking about this is that i put something on my face to create a beard for the movie—was it actually a soft brown eye pencil i had picked up somewhere? and i remember starting to wash my beard off alone in the bathroom later that evening, and realizing that i could use the same tool higher up on my face to accentuate its contours, and i spent the rest of the evening staring into the mirror at my new face. sometimes when i put on makeup i think of that evening and get the feeling that the method hasn’t changed much. i put some color on the skin and smudge it around. there’s a part of me that looks forward to a future when i pick up techniques that aren’t so amateurish but there’s another part of me that thinks i might get along fine with the smudges for a while.
second boring story: it’s around the winter of 2000 and i’m around fourteen and i find my large eyebrows so unbearable that i take an electric razor and completely shave them off. my mom tells me i look like an alien and is visibly upset about the prospect of my going to school. the goth girl who sits in front of me in tenth-grade math turns around before class and says, a little sardonically but also i think with genuine compassion and interest, “so are you going to keep your eyebrows that way and grow out your hair really long and look like marilyn manson?” and i’m touched by the question because it has the feel of an invitation to a club, but i don’t know how to respond to it so i mumble, “i don’t know” and never talk to her about it again. i’m a slow learner and years will pass before i fully understand that i can deliberately shape my eyebrows without removing them, that i don’t have to choose between having no eyebrows and having eyebrows that make me want to die for reasons i haven’t even articulated to myself, but when the understanding comes it will feel for a while like the best thing that ever happened to me.

boring story: sometime around the summer of 1998, when i was around twelve, i was with my older brother and a pair of brothers from another school, the sons of our mom’s friend. years later the younger of them would come out as gay. at that time the four of us would hang out occasionally and use their new video camera to make short movies which i now sincerely hope have been lost forever. this one was about vincent van gogh and paul gauguin, and if i wanted to be generous i’d say it was an art biopic that embraced anachronism in a manner reminiscent of derek jarman’s caravaggio, even though none of us had seen it, but that would be really, really generous. i played van gogh and the one line of dialogue i remember speaking is “i’m sorry for my tardiness,” because i thought that would be a sophisticated way for a painter to apologize for being late. anyway the reason i’m talking about this is that i put something on my face to create a beard for the movie—was it actually a soft brown eye pencil i had picked up somewhere? and i remember starting to wash my beard off alone in the bathroom later that evening, and realizing that i could use the same tool higher up on my face to accentuate its contours, and i spent the rest of the evening staring into the mirror at my new face. sometimes when i put on makeup i think of that evening and get the feeling that the method hasn’t changed much. i put some color on the skin and smudge it around. there’s a part of me that looks forward to a future when i pick up techniques that aren’t so amateurish but there’s another part of me that thinks i might get along fine with the smudges for a while.

second boring story: it’s around the winter of 2000 and i’m around fourteen and i find my large eyebrows so unbearable that i take an electric razor and completely shave them off. my mom tells me i look like an alien and is visibly upset about the prospect of my going to school. the goth girl who sits in front of me in tenth-grade math turns around before class and says, a little sardonically but also i think with genuine compassion and interest, “so are you going to keep your eyebrows that way and grow out your hair really long and look like marilyn manson?” and i’m touched by the question because it has the feel of an invitation to a club, but i don’t know how to respond to it so i mumble, “i don’t know” and never talk to her about it again. i’m a slow learner and years will pass before i fully understand that i can deliberately shape my eyebrows without removing them, that i don’t have to choose between having no eyebrows and having eyebrows that make me want to die for reasons i haven’t even articulated to myself, but when the understanding comes it will feel for a while like the best thing that ever happened to me.

rgr-pop:

Ask people to theorize/problematize the “trigger” without mocking, harassing and objectifying victims of sexual violence and you will see that what they are actually interested in is not theorizing/problematizing the “trigger” but, in fact, mocking, harassing and objectifying victims of sexual violence

one thing that continues to amaze me, although i guess it shouldn’t, about the ongoing parade of leftists publicly mischaracterizing and denouncing the practice of providing trigger warnings (and please see rgr-pop’s blog for relevant details and analysis) is just how reliably you can find their fans, their online friends or supportive followers, pitching in to offer endless variations on the same fuck-you pose of cheerful dismissal. i’m triggered by trigger warnings. i thought trigger was just a horse. i liked trigger more when he was a horse. let’s start a band and call it “the trigger warnings.” let’s write a poem using nothing but these people’s trigger words. almost always with the approval, tacit or otherwise, of those who are theorizing and problematizing. contempt really is the only content. and one strange experience i had yesterday was to be reminded—reminded by this contempt, by the pleasure people derive from mocking trigger warnings and those who ask for them—of a chapter from ties that bind, by sarah schulman. this is the sarah schulman whose work i deeply valued, a perceptive chronicler of queer struggles and queer cultures whose facebook account i followed a long time ago, not the sarah schulman i unfollowed yesterday after i saw her comparing trigger warnings to HIV criminalization and joking about being triggered by drones. (again, see rgr-pop.) anyway, here’s sarah schulman on “homophobia as a pleasure system” in 2009:

What is most difficult to face, but increasingly obvious as gay visibility provokes containment, but not equality, is that homophobes enjoy feeling superior, rely on the pleasure of enacting their superiority, and go out of their way to resist change that would deflate their sense of supremacy. Homophobia makes heterosexuals feel better about themselves. It’s not fear—it’s fun. […] In short, homophobia is not a phobia at all. It is a pleasure system. [p. 47-48]

i don’t mean to suggest an easy one-to-one analogy between “homophobes” as they figure in schulman’s paragraph here and “those who mock victims of sexual violence” as they appear on her facebook page. (and, actually, schulman bolsters this passage in ties that bind with what strike me as at best highly questionable analogies between, e.g., structural homophobia and white supremacy: “We know from photographs of happy picnicking white families laughing underneath the swinging bodies of a tortured, lynched black man […] that human beings enjoy being cruel.” etc. which is one example of how i suspect i might not find ties that bind as persuasive if i reread it now anyway.) but i do find it fascinating that someone who has been so attentive to the pleasure of cruelty masking itself as concern should be so carefree about following up her theoretical critique of trigger warnings by saying she’s “triggered by chain stores,” or having her friends say “new band name: The Trigger Warnings.” and i’m having trouble understanding it.

Friday, April 18, 2014
I am writing with my burnt hand about the nature of fire. Ingeborg Bachmann (via mythologyofblue)
Thursday, April 17, 2014
i read and reread this book at work today and i would suggest that it’s worth your time.

i read and reread this book at work today and i would suggest that it’s worth your time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
ghoulnextdoor:

Long time followers know that a year or two ago I started up Skeletor is Love and although I no longer spam you all with it over on this account, it exists as both a tumblr and a facebook page which I maintain regularly and whose fanbase -somehow!- continues to grow.
I’ve probably also told you about my sister - an amazing mental health guidance counselor - who was the inspiration for Skeletor Is Love. Unbeknownst to her at the time!
Well, this year my sister and I are participating as a team (The Twisted Sisters!) for the National Alliance on Mental Illness annual NAMIWalk.  She does it every year, though this will be my first time.  Raising awareness for mental illness is a cause that is very near and dear to both of us, to our family, and, as you can imagine - to Skeletor Is Love.
People reach out to me constantly wanting to donate in some way to Skeletor Is Love; telling me they’ve printed up the images to give as gifts and they want to pay me for it, asking if we were ever going to sell tee shirts because they’d throw money at us if that were the case, all kinds of offers for support.  We are never going to put a donate button on the sites and we are not here to take your money, but if you are serious about wanting to contribute, please consider donating to our team and lending your support to the mental health community.

ghoulnextdoor:

Long time followers know that a year or two ago I started up Skeletor is Love and although I no longer spam you all with it over on this account, it exists as both a tumblr and a facebook page which I maintain regularly and whose fanbase -somehow!- continues to grow.

I’ve probably also told you about my sister - an amazing mental health guidance counselor - who was the inspiration for Skeletor Is Love. Unbeknownst to her at the time!

Well, this year my sister and I are participating as a team (The Twisted Sisters!) for the National Alliance on Mental Illness annual NAMIWalk.  She does it every year, though this will be my first time.  Raising awareness for mental illness is a cause that is very near and dear to both of us, to our family, and, as you can imagine - to Skeletor Is Love.

People reach out to me constantly wanting to donate in some way to Skeletor Is Love; telling me they’ve printed up the images to give as gifts and they want to pay me for it, asking if we were ever going to sell tee shirts because they’d throw money at us if that were the case, all kinds of offers for support.  We are never going to put a donate button on the sites and we are not here to take your money, but if you are serious about wanting to contribute, please consider donating to our team and lending your support to the mental health community.

Monday, April 14, 2014

venusbone:

doskapozora:

Shively makes me think of Plato’s reaction to poets. In “Ion” Plato says poets should be exiled from the city limits. He says it’s because poets cannot be trusted with knowledge, too busy with the occult and fairytales. I’m not convinced though that that’s the only reason, or even the main reason. I think this is an excuse because the real danger poets have posed in every century has been to challenge the power structures of their time.

Plato didn’t just say we poets should be told to shut our mouths, he was saying we should actually be removed from the city entirely. That censorship is severe, making poets a threat to the hypocritical template of democracy right from its very inception over 2,000 years ago. Poets have a history and a birthright to disturb.

Omg stop it! You are not Anna Akhmatova, you’re not Fateme Ekhtesari, you’re not Mahmoud Darwish!! LIKE this is not to say that you have to be at risk of arrest to be writing important poetry, but who are these weirdos, pretending like they are literally going to get sent into exile over their poetry?????

I KNOWWWW. Everything about CA Conrad’s response pissed me off. And like, for someone who has built a career over somatic poetry exercises that attempt to connect environmental context to words and writing, he is being deliberately obtuse. Like, the fucking round table is called “Trigger Warnings in the CREATIVE WRITING CLASSROOM.” That is a substantially different context from say, reading a poem to your friend or, you know, actually writing poetry. And again, for someone who bills himself as a radical fuck-shit-up kind of poet, how can you just miss the OBVIOUS fucking power dynamic between an educator (esp. university professors who are at the center of this debate) and students?

The poetry worlds I’ve seen are so full of this kind of “the poem before all else” horseshit. Not to mention a lot of delusions of grandeur around who the poet “is” and the history of *POOOOOOETRRRYYYY* (whatever the fuck THAT is). Vommmmit