July 29, 2016

Ego Sum

On a beach there is a grain of sand.
On this grain of sand, whole civilizations rose
and fell. Each one had an idea that all the 
other grains of sand were made for them.
They had never been there - didn't know there 
were other beaches too. You could live
happily in that civilization, not knowing other
grains had the same fights and came to the
same conclusions.

July 26, 2016

A Billion Somethings

A feeling
Excitement and elation. Standing there
By the sink. The birds - pecking at the feeder.
And that welling up came to me, where you pop to
My mind. A smile comes to my lips.
Maybe some tears
To the corner of my eyes because I’m so happy.
Say, either in my mind or softly but to myself,
“God, I Love her.”

Other times with other people
That I thought I was in love and might have said
The same thing in the same way staring at
A picture or off in the distance.

But! The depth and endurance
Of this emotion towards you makes those
Other times as the child being told just how many
Somethings it takes to make a billion of something.
The child nods but there is no true understanding
Because of the incomparable vastness
Of so many somethings

And that is my love for you.
I want to celebrate you, and to celebrate us.
And to find, with each word, a new and exciting
Surprising way to tell you for the millionth time
I love you.

July 24, 2016

a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork: Valenti's "Sex Object"

We’ve been lucky this year to see the release of some very strong feminist texts, from Dawn Foster’s “Lean Out” to the collection of Solnit essays in “Men Explain Things to Me”. To that, and others that of course I am missing, we should add Jessica Valenti’s “Sex Object”.

What makes this compelling is not the use of memoir to explore feminist themes - that has been done before. What makes this compelling is Valenti’s voice. I had not read anything by her previous to someone linking an essay in the Observer on twitter that was basically a teaser for this book. That, for me, was publicity that worked, since I immediately put the book on my list and am talking about it now. I got it and it was literally one of those books that I couldn’t put down, staying up two hours later than I normally would on a weeknight, and then finishing it the next day as I sat in my backyard with my feet in the grass as the birds ate at the feeder.

I don’t want to try to give anything away here, since the plot is her life and she tells it so much better than I would be able to in a truncated fashion here. What I want to relate is what reading this made me realize. There are a lot of hurdles to being a woman that just don’t exist when you’re a man. There’s so many things that you can blithely ignore because you are not at danger, and society isn’t structured so that you are automatically perceived as both weak and automatically subservient to any person (this goes double for being a white man). So what Valenti’s book really made me internalize, perhaps for the first time, is the reality of male privilege. Because what male privilege to me is now not what I get automatically for m=being a man, but it is more defined by absence. It is what I don’t have to deal with and what I don’t have to think about. It is the privilege to have that extra mental space to think about whatever I want. I think this is the key thing that critics of the idea of privilege miss. And is the memoir format that really drives the point home since it is one thing to intellectualize it, but it is another thing entirely to live in its absence.

July 16, 2016

On "Please Kill Me"

This is Punk as it happened by the people who were there.

In New York, and some in Detroit and London. Bit of California. Mostly Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and the Ramones and the Dead Boys and Blondie.

And the club kids and the hangers-on, the club owners and the drug dealers.

Everyone who doesn’t die gets old.

It is sad.

It is beautiful.

It ends, like everything, too soon.

Review of Marbles by Ellen Forney

This book is a great thing to hand to someone who tells someone with mental illness to just feel better. It is also good for people with mental illness(ess) to show that the journey to getting better is not easy and will have pitfalls even for the people who are the most self-actualized in getting to the right place, even if it takes ten years to do so.

It is also interesting as s policy document, since it shines a light in how expensive it is to suffer from mental illness, and should show that we need a safety net somewhere to help people who suffer - but sadly, we still trivialize the suffering of the ill to the point that their pathologies are applied to those we disagree with. “Crazy” should fade from the discourse as other words have.