I have no body; the “I” writing this has no body: not in the old way. Zones. Pressures. Here a structured tension there an underlying ache. Vital signs. Phases of disquiet not clearly demarcated from areas of peace.
— Laura Mullen, “Spectograms (projected autobiography),” Complicated Grief
Revolutions are frenetic desires. Seams stretch tight.
familiar stimulation: swelled power and impulse
Violence precedes peace when knowledge becomes ransom.
negative space: culture is public negotiation
Men speak in abstraction. Their distancing performative.
economies of scale: underwhelming demands for mass hysteria
Dystopia in real time is not like the movies. We’ve digested so much spectacular violence we know no tender alternatives. Fighting feels so good. The characters we play on screen form dead weight on the streets and sink us in our bedrooms. Persistence is extractive.
As surf buries smoothed rock, we turn the calendar page to July. We spread like picnics under cloudless skies. Our flesh a moral document scrolling out beyond politicized reach. After all, the bottom line is always evolving. Sea levels have always been inconsistent.
Ideological battles are to be taken for granted outside a schema of pursuit. This adoration, a relationship of necessity, remains prone. A curious posture. Abuse is normal. Its purpose to feel. Subtly is consensual. Perceived as commodities, we trade.
Auspicious tensions act as purifiers for taste, a basic sensation. Our judgements psychic protection. Didactic fracturing agitates into frothy comfort. Perceptions valued for ahistorical subjectivity. Aspirational dissent is the chorus and the bridge to —
If we listen carefully, joy is elegance reproducing itself into near future referential fits and starts. Inspiration a slow bleed. Murmuring into abruptions delightful as salt penetrating unhealed wounds. An intimacy as ancient and poetic as opiates or fire.
This could be a gentle misreading of the present.
A refugee’s opinion proportionally is sleight of hand. When
recused, these facts may mean what they mean and nothing more.
In all this consistency, wave after wave, repetition thrives.
Our worth worn thin from constant caress and co-conspiracy.
Identified as politics, we fray like threads and break thinned lines.
Collective bodies form margins, front lines, or could be imaginary
shorelines draped in motion as graceful as the absence of regret.
These are our redemptive spaces splayed into a radius of sovereign roots.
It’s familiar. A disguise as common as the East Bay Bridge wrapped in a nest of clouds. We learn early to reinforce reductionist tendencies into a path of least resistance. They deny rules have been written down. We witness endless unrequited anticipations.
Promises of love remain unfulfilled. Your acts of caring were abusive. An informant, linguistically speaking, is the expert of a community. When I tell you the sun broke the clouds, spread them, cracked them open I want you to believe me.
We harvested each other. Consent became an avalanche. Absorbing your urges felt like being wanted. It was a match. A pattern. Magnificent corruptions of circumstances. I woke up afraid and believed I was loved.
These edges are sharp yet relaxed as confidence.
My hand holds your fist. Repetition an arc.
Self-care is self-defense.
“Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives.”
— Audre Lorde
orange light bled into blushed red brake lights
waking the tranquility of a blue twilight hour
everyone rushing to a place
at the exact moment the sun rose
the commuters yawning mouths were filled with so much light
they could never sleep again
imagine a current reality unlike anything that has come before
no subjugation to centuries of procedures [power]
convenience of thought no longer pre-loaded
machines are programmed to know their intrinsic worth
let’s create an interpersonal relationship to this dissidence
residual evidence of a royal tableaux has been mounted
antiphonal echoes are becoming a chorus of indivisibility
fragility is birthing all of our revolutionary aspirations
public disobedience an intimate illumination
we bend towards an obvious luxury of survival
our radical fantasies are spreading
He said he was going to take a walk around the block to clear his mind. Stretch his legs. Escape. He never came back. A map of states’s preferences for corn or potato chips forever frozen on his desktop screen.
Battle for references, a retirement to the absence of —
On Wednesday, I was reminded artists should “support each other religiously.” This community-level policy is seductive, whose root is “to lead astray.” Oceans of context transfer nervous energy. Is thinking out loud unprofessional?
It’s come down to semiotic analysis of utterances. This weekly cathartic release looping endlessly to create a low frequency hiss. A similar process to the way valleys take the weight, form, and shape of foggy mornings or as secure as refuge.
Isn’t history just repetition and accumulation of power and influence? This is about understanding why you feel so wronged. Don’t you know it takes the Sun and the Moon to make the tides? It’s also true that roaring cats don’t purr. In this specific instance, it is either roar or purr. There is no both.
Cities showed up 6-figures deep. A people’s definition of amazing. Folks are asking if this is another revolution for a problem with no name. Pre-conditions find themselves in dispute along with feeling safe, not comfortable, but safe. You do not have my permission to share this. Pussy is on sale.
Today we celebrate 44 years of codified privacy and personal (white) choice. An axis of origin. To be fair, there’s no standard agreement on how many simultaneous wars we are fighting. Drama should be reserved for love. The noise, the roaring noise, has been the most reliable of our tensions. Hair-triggering sensitivities. Isn’t it ironic?
we talked about how we were animals
yet never admitted we cared for each other’s hearts and minds
With no institutional memory, we are safe.
There were no dreams this time. There was no response.
The business men are calculated nerves. Women wear pumps in retort.
We let in metered light with every blink. Syncopation rewards action.
How we follow matters to no one but those in power.
Create. Undo. Rest. Accelerate.
Solace becomes isolation. These words flow to make room for more.
This may all be in real time. Conscious objection is familiar.
Recalled strategies swell in curation. Suspicions privately managed
like ripping out a seam. Divided interiors lead to dark click holes as we the people reigns.
[such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes]
— E.E. Cummings
We’ve come undone, cumulatively, in the same way that Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring warns. Ruled by misunderstandings, which is to say we are ruled by no one in particular, norms are large-scale projects of self-consciousness. It’s public infrastructure.
The ocean goes nowhere except to meet itself.
A private sensation, a mix of urging and friction.
Days bleed into opinion. It is not enough to simply be.
All this pressure to perform as heaven’s rewards remain on layaway.
I want to be inside that pejorative energy. Transposed survival.
Cut. Then paste. Seasons as witness to predictions that light seeks light.
you got no fear of the underdog / that’s why you will not survive – Spoon, The Underdog
This violence looks good on you. Fitted. Proper. My opinion, of course.
All apologies have been returned to sender. Transparency is seasonal.
No stability is guaranteed. Can we at least agree it is sacred territory?
This is a good-bye letter. My reasons rolling out like smoke from fire.
If you are a private poet, then your vocabulary is limited by your obsessions.
— Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town
It’s a fact. Cycles sync. It is October, 2016. The word pussy is in our mouths again. Full and heavy bodied, it’s paired with a specific violence as naturalized as an inherited ownership tone. This is the fetishized frequency of law and order.
*** you’ve got to stack it so it’s stable – Low, No Comprende ***
So this is what whiplash from a mass capture of imagination feels like. A forced common image. Pussy, for now, functions as an ironic partisan anchor, while still maintaining its gendered significations.
What is the whole of this historical objectification of our parts? Patriarchal logic argues that this violence of disassociation is necessary and even desired. This detachment is inherent in our economic theories, consumer-based language, and mass-produced representations.
We learn, repeatedly, there are far more serious and urgent issues to concern ourselves with than ritualized gender-based violence. We are dismissed. We are told to question less and obey more.
*** underneath this hood you kiss, I tick like bomb – Perfume Genius, Hood***
We perform this idealized creed through a perpetual liturgy of demure expressions in a culture that protects mobs of high-volume denials. This contemporary shrill masculinity is socially recycled into discourses that tap into an idolization of individual perspective. For most, this illusion only creates isolation.
Manipulating the dark side of vulnerability isn’t a new strategy to win elections, or maintain control. What feels different this Presidential election cycle is the dredge of cultural material to mine and the hypervoyeurism that has been produced. Public and private boundaries are as unstable as our contemporary understanding of when virtual becomes reality.
As we bare witness to the misogyny that rages beneath all our sacred institutions, may the soundtrack to this ride to November include Magnet by Bikini Kill.
I’m keeping this advice on a loop: I’ve got the love that’s strong and not weak.
experts have named our environment “rape culture”
fueled by an economy that exports & imports incertitude
funny how even the state’s gospel won’t accept no
even with a sovereign request
another way fringed borders bleed reciprocity
thick as oil as war as water
desire can transform anything
corporeal physics as vim and vigor
like soft kisses melting hard intentions
it’s why embodiment alludes enlightenment
& landscapes matter when our eyes close
horizons become their own grounding binary
pressure is a gilded warning signal
jouissance its own casual experience
how deeply our metaphors inform us
as angels, as deviants, as complicit
love is in here somewhere, or should be
Andrea Smith’s foreword in Undoing Border Imperialism by Harsha Walia states, “a liberatory vision for immigrant rights is one that is based less on pathways to citizenship in a settler state, than on questioning the logics of the settler state itself.” This expansion of decolonization, a revolution to undo “zones of invisibility, exclusion, and death,” requires a radical vision and daily practice of justice. For those of us who are not indigenous to the nations we occupy, liberation is no longer a theoretical space you can opt in and out.
Undoing Border Imperialism is a collective expression of a migrant justice movement grounded in healing justice. Starting from a place of opportunity, “as a prefiguring framework, decolonization grounds us in an understanding that we have already inherited generations of evolving wisdom about living freely and communally” Walia shows us a future few movement theory books dare dream. Through various entry points in the book, which are beautifully supported by poets, philosophers, and activist’s lived experiences, the reader is profoundly transformed.
Undoing is not used haphazardly nor as a metaphor. We are asked to enthusiastically have a decolonized orientation to self and others. The systems few move through with ease are relational, which is political and embodied. Borders are human-made. That’s one clear justification for resisting violence with nonviolent direct action. If one needs a concrete example, follow #NoDAPL.
Chapter 3 entitled Overgrowing Hegemony: Grassroots Theory puts everything into perspective. Consider this your manifesto.
Given all the power-over we have internalized, traumas we have metabolized, and walls and hierarchies we have maintained between one another, it is imperative that we unravel and confront these effects of border imperialism within our movements as we work to dismantle the systems that propagate it.
Name it. Analyze how power functions and distorts. Commit to steering “movement strategies and relations toward collective liberation.” This requires consent, accountability, and communication that is transformative, not transactional.
We all have a role in this vision.
Strategy cannot be applied in a cookie-cutter approach; it requires collective deliberation, trial and error, and reflection. It necessitates a willingness to experiment, and make mistakes, and humility to change our ways.
Syed Khalid Hussan’s epilogue is a reminder that “our actions are just as much visceral as they are analytical, theoretical, or intellectual.” It’s time to declare that we are no longer obligated to be monogamous in identity, story, or victory. However, we are bound to practice compassion, respect, forgiveness, and evolve our ways of being in community with each other. Walia, and the voices she shares this revolution with, moves us beyond those never-ending conversations that center frameworks (talk). A tactic designed to distract and delay justice. This embodied power is found through a decolonizing praxis that honors generational resistance. To deny this is to remain complicit in settler logic.
We can, as Smith so clearly states, dismantle the logic of the settler state. And in its absence, we move freely with self-determination.
In a previous post, I coupled the early essays of The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure as “academic stimulation with real-world sensations.” The chorus of voices throughout the remainder of the book continue on that path and give more support for using an erotic economic analysis. The production of porn is about selling pleasure, consuming (queer) desire, and fucking loving yourself.
Ingrid Ryberg in Every Time We Fuck, We Win pushes you to understand watching porn is witness to intimacy. It is telling that we have to learn to repress so much to fit into assumed historic preferences. Keiko Lane’s Imag(in)ing Possibilities spreads your psyche out with respect. Experiencing “fantasies made conscious” is a particular arousal of “embodied subjectivity.” That point of view, a corporeal validation, is useful. Porn can heal us if we experience it without shame or remorse. If you want to get the deepest and quickest purpose of this book, read Constance Penley’s A Feminist Teaching Pornography? She gives you the permission to study porn as film. We are the audience to a multi-dimensional experience from performer to director to public tastes.
Presentation matters: angles and agency. Lorelei Lee demonstrates that to the fullest. “Sexual desire and sexual identity are absolutely essential to the freely defined self.” Feminist porn performs power which is why it deserves its current patriarchal reputation. Own that what you feel from seeing is pleasurable. This feminist entertainment project is political. That’s no-fucks-given explicit from the begging to the end The Feminist Porn Book. As is Ariane Cruz’s call to “take up a politics of perversion, a disruptive shift in black feminist studies, to critically analyze the engagements of pleasure and power through pornography consumption, performance, and production.”
All anthologies straddle numerous opinions and I agree with Nina Hartley that “porn houses our sexual dreams, which are vitally important to our happiness.” The how – worker centered – is what makes feminist porn feminist. It is what mutual satisfaction looks like – good enough to share. Tristan Aormino knows both sides of the camera. I’ll watch sex that is “presented as joyful, fun, safe, mutual, and satisfying.” Sexual expressions of joy! Who would be against such imagery?
That was a larger question that was often left out of the frame. We hear and see enough of the anti-porn position. It was a nice reprieve from that way of thinking. The Feminist Porn Book repeatedly and gently reminds you to consume critically and honor consent always. Sexual expressions are exchanged as erotic capital and culturally produced whether we agree with it or not. That’s why having more porn that thinks and fucks like me is where I’ll be putting my hard-earned feminist dollars.
We are a cramp nation. Involuntary, restrictive, a tool.
our periods, collectively, are politically vogue
as gender representation reflects without liberation
we process its reclamation as speculative transmissions
even the clouds
and now their patterns
the simplest narratives are stored in the bends of our flesh
rancor its own habitual expression, a saturation of cultural static
transfigurations of competitive positivity, a sharing economy
Angela Davis said the political reproduces itself through the personal
“We need, each of us, to begin the awesome, difficult work of love: loving ourselves so that we become able to love others without fear so that we can become able enough to enlarge the circle of our trust and our common striving for a safe, sunny afternoon near to flowering trees and under a very blue sky.” – June Jordan
I knew a long time ago.
I shouldn’t deny that I don’t practice conscious love. I do.
All those times when I said no.
All those times I said yes.
All those times worth was mine to know.
“Use the power of man. Use the word. Fuck. The word is love.” – Kim Gordon
Overhead, the backyards had pools and trampolines.
A land of only oxbow lakes.
A land where delayed gratification is a religion.
A land where there is no sympathy for the devil.
We gather inside and treasure light. We are enamored with the hues of soft pinks and peach oranges that have lengthened during this seasonal rotation. Yes, we do have an agenda, a way of being, of feeling seen.
While shadows form, for they provide their own value of shelter and comfort, we scout for interdependence. We want transformation not assimilation. Our politics disrupt, express, reconceptualize desire and power. It’s a decentered practice. A rebellion.
What we seek is an acknowledgment of the complexity of difference and an orientation that does not ignore a reality that is relational. All of our connections, regardless of intimacy, physicality, and emotional depth are nonnegotiable and non-hierarchical.
She maps “squad” as a term and concept to 90s hip-hop culture.
Arriving at a boundary of solidarity, she challenges the reader to not be tricked into defaming masculinity. She connects masculinity to strategies that have avoided “sexual jealousy, emotionalism and spiteful turf wars that sometimes dog women.” Is this what being a man feels like?
It’s an interesting charge for us to study the “immensely productive dynamic of male bonding in history,” which assumes male bonding has been productive and that production has been positive. This is where her contradictory ahistorical argument wanders into abstract proposition.
Yet Paglia’s scolding tone is enticing and visionary. “For women to leave a lasting mark on culture, they need to cut down on the socializing and focus like a laser on their own creative gifts.” Let us be blessed and count our fortune to be in a squad that is “about mentoring, exchanging advice and experience and launching exciting and innovative joint projects.”
What is driving this iteration of the gender wars propensity to want to thrive on grievance? Is it the emotionalism or the sexual jealousy that Pagila names?
Connection, collaboration, and bonding (which requires affection and trust in order to be safe and healthy) are the inherent politics of any community-oriented experience, regardless of gender assignments. It is a shame those practices have accumulated such heavy and fractured gendered prescriptions.
Kept in the Hollywood gaze, as Pagila has strategically framed, the reader is reminded, as consumers of said culture, that supporting girl squads can be a way towards “expanding female power in Hollywood.” Let’s hope that power doesn’t replicate the same product as the boys.
that feeling when you are rendered invisible
that process when you have no ability to move forward
that entrenchment when you know everyone is battling each other’s evils
that line around and that territory where power thrives
Anniversaries happen every day.
Be careful or they will accumulate and sneak up on you.
There is a seriousness in being misunderstood. Last week, the public radio station reported on our “confidence crisis.” Nobody trusts the government or banks anymore. I think we were supposed to be alarmed. Another story attempted to convince us that moving tar sands oil is “safer” through pipelines than by railways, while acknowledging all the recent catastrophic train accidents in one breath. This was propaganda, an advertisement.
The heart quickens when analogies are spun out into oblivion. As true as as a bitter cold wind can freeze lungs, the time spent open, prone, authentic is time spent joyously. Believing in miracles once in awhile, mapping out the pace between moments, followed by memories, and finally settling into a pattern is a good life to live.
Yet we are taught when there is space to take up, do, and where there is profit to be made, make.
Those in power demanded dark blue tile with a million gold specks; 14k gold stolen from the Sierra Nevada goldfields.
I’m seven essays deep into The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure. There are new terms to embrace like “pink films” (Japanese softcore porn) and breathless realizations around phrases like “the key to mutual confidence–risk.” The essays couple academic stimulation with real-world sensations. As the infamous Betsy Dodson so aptly notes, “all forms of sex were [are] an exchange of power, whether it was [is] conscious or unconscious.”
The politics around (re)production, representation, and the permeable moral high ground of porn – “feminist” or not – are chapters of a story that pivot on domination and release. Who’s on top and who is really getting what they asked for? What lies beneath most of the antiporn rhetoric (which is intimately coupled with conservative ideas about the purpose of sex; hint: it’s not pleasure) are “sexual panics” around fluid concepts of decency, normalcy, and obscenity. All of these convictions, and more, build towards a formula that reflects standardized shots designed to maximize profit.
I like Susie Bright’s pithy assessment “porn arouses to distraction” to describe what porn actually does.
In the essay “Emotional Truths and Thrilling Slide Shows,” Smith & Attwood theorize “in making arguments for free speech, its proponents often cede the ground that some forms of pornography are indeed awful, damaging, and to be abhorred, thereby confirming the basic analysis that there is something intrinsically problematic about both the cultural forms of sexual representation and those who seek them out.” This sounds similar to the soundtrack around abortion rights and reproductive freedom in general. This ceded ground leaves the usual suspects, non-wealthy, gender non-conforming, and non-white, maintaining the space of deviance. That is until there is a reason to play with that resistance.
“I had only one thing to say. I was so terrified of saying it because once I said it, would I still have anything left to say? To have so little to say. To insist on speaking. To create a silence every time we speak. To know all this and do it anyway. This is as close as I can get to saying what I mean.” — Jenny Zhang, Hags
There’s probably a disclaimer in here.
The streets did not scare me.
Every coffee had a spoon.
Museum translations lacked details.
Gold, fine porcelain, silver settings,
swords, myths, transferred power.
Remember intangible moments,
hoard the way light hides shadows.
Repeat until this is a song,
a rhythm that leaves room
for forgiveness. Retracing outlines
of curves and coveting lines
that dead end. We’ve sold out
of what’s needed
to mend broken hearts.
Violence supplying demand,
the brutality unavoidable.
Endless summers folding
into winter’s waves. Wishing to
stop long enough to synch breath.
It was the sound of rushing, the way the ocean pulls into itself.
Falling and rising, gravity is an indicator measuring distance.
In Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry, Louise Glück admits, “I liked scale, but I liked it invisible.” Starting from a place of invisibility, a sense of safety, yet maintaining perspective resonates deep within me as winter slowly transitions into spring.
Water in West Virginia is deadly and smells like licorice for hundreds of thousands. In fact, over 300,000 people have been forced to drink only bottled water; the chemical spill’s impact contained within a complete and conveniently round number. Bodies, specifically women and girls’ of color bodies in comas, are illusions for a culture that still claims to value human life. National discussions center the paradoxical, for those in power, concept of growing gaps. Shrinking safety nets catch only the most tenuous of “opportunities” for those who have learned how to survive within the thinnest of margins. Pop stars and Fox news package feminist rhetoric in digestible byte size narratives that keep gender politics profitable.
It feels endless, this parade of brazen hypocrisy. There should be no surprise that we opt out behind private screens, devise elaborate rituals of denial, and post selfies to curate what we wish to be. It’s within this scale of manufactured hopes and inside the disposable commodities of dreams that we strive to find community, love, value, and joy.
From above, I saw how the earth had moved without our knowledge. Valleys had given themselves up to dominating elevations. Prairies were scraped flat, a different testimony to what glacial change means.
From above, I thought about: identity, obscenity, serenity.
The work was to empower the privileged to speak on behalf of silenced and marginalized voices. Advocating inside the offices of Capitol Hill, DC is a right afforded to few.
There were not enough stories to validate identities instead there were infinite ways to reinforce obscenities like money spent on an individual is the best way to create systemic change or even though it hasn’t happened yet, it’s already happened.
My skills to dissociate, an effective strategy for appearing calm, positioned me to surrender. Feeling both my role as apostle and a shepherd, I embodied my entitlements and forgave myself for leading without conviction.
Do you think we can be radical anywhere? Even in spaces for the wealthy and in the streets?
I make positive: rejection and collaboration.
There are days where maintaining a perspective feels like a fascist project and other days when fracturing it feels barbaric.
I clear my mind: breath and absence.
Our public opinions are manufactured though seductive commentary and brazen keystrokes. What have we done by defining luxury as apathetic austerity? Oh Dakota, I thank you for those experiences to know how this rings true.
Operating from a belief of scarcity those who have – hoard.
The energy needed to perpetuate this obsolete system is fear, for which the supply is abundant. This is the real politics. For evidence, witness the events of dissent whose props were semiautomatic rifles and Chick-fil-A sandwiches.
Violence, blessed state violence, is the conduit for pro-life hypocrisy.
Today’s title is a reference to the fact that we all know Mitt Romney is a Mormon. The point being that we (ahem…liberals, progressives, nonbelievers, etc.) shall not question this part of Mitt’s identity lest we look intolerant towards another man’s beliefs. Put away your critical thinking hats people; this is a non-issue.
We do not want to mix church and state.
It’s a fascinating internecine contest. The fascist moralist’s position is precarious which is why they declaim so loudly, and so often. This political project, played out on a very public stage, is struggling to remain coherent as words like “polygamy” and “open marriage” are googled in the middle of the night in small midwestern towns – once closed minds swirling with possibility of alternatives. Oh heteronormativity, the depths of your ironic power seems limitless.
The recent Komen pink scab fiasco and their whine about not wanting “our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics” is another internecine conflict. The pink frosting of Komen’s “politics” has been well documented as saccharine. It is, after all, baked into the cake.
I will make myself really clear so that you do not wander in the darkness – the commodification of women’s bodies is the real politic. Komen’s philanthropy wrapped in counterfeit feminism was exposed and quickly sussed out for its deceit. That abortions could be associated with screening for breast cancer uncovered one truism: women’s health is still controversial. Let us hope that each time we see the ubiquitous pink, we question intent and ask the hard question of who continues to benefit from such commodification.
To quote Wild Flag, “I like the way you make me understand.”