Love in the time of security state – “The Green Glass Sea” by Ellen Klages

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[CN: Anti-Japanese racism, jingoism, the atrocious bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki]

Dewey Kerrigan is waiting on the front steps of her nana’s house for her pop, expected to return from Chicago. But he does not show up. An army vehicle comes instead, and they announce that Dewey will be taking a train southwest to New Mexico. Because Dewey must spend the next four years of her life isolated in a public housing/working complex that is on no map and is top secret. Because her pop is a physicist working on the Manhattan Project.

I can’t discuss this novel the way I want to without spoiling it. I had some objections, but all in all this is a tender and redeeming narrative charged with details in all the right ways. It fits in a pattern I’ve experienced since grade school — that of historical novels for young people being a rare and valuable chance for young USians to engage with history presented without the agenda of turning children into soldiers.

Spoilers below!

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Cooperate, be exceptional – “Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography”

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[CN: Anti-black/anti-latin@/anti-asian racism, transmisogyny, misogynoir, homophobia, classism, gender policing]

Christine Jorgensen’s grandparents immigrated from Denmark, settled in the Bronx, and involved themselves in the Danish-American community. Her father started a family-owned construction company and joined the coast guard. The Jorgensens in short were upstanding immigrants who chased and caught the American Dream™. And soon Christine is chasing her own individual dream, with the aid of science, and in the process legitimates transgender issues in US scientific and mainstream discourse, opens up Eisenhower’s America to reshaping gender, and briefly becomes the most famous person in the world.

But for being a “personal” autobiography, Christine’s narrative feels sanitized and alienating. In writing her narrative in 1967, she had to make countless choices in navigating her self-represenation — difficult work since her image was already being appropriated and digested by popular media (and later by historians, more on that below). The result is a calculated text that reveals a great deal about how racial privilege and positionality play into the games of tokenizing and respectability politics, all in the time of postwar technology and the lavender menace.

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Aint that like a nice guy – 12 impressions from Flann O’Brien’s Dalkey Archive

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[CN: male privilege, nice guy misogyny, male entitlement, patriarchal discourse, spoilers to Vertigo]

1. This novel was something like an anti-Ulysses. Whoa, an Irish avant garde text that’s approachable and short? In Ulysses a single day in Edwardian Dublin is fictionalized in what is seen as a totalizing representation, capturing everything, even the nonsense, and enveloping the grandiose and epic through the banalities of Mr. Bloom’s ordinary and unassuming life. The Dalkey Archive centers on a seaside Dublin suburb that seems so old-fashioned it’s like WWII never happened, and we follow one man who seems to be doing nothing but make one appointment after another in one pub after another (and across several days). But his ultimate goal in these quotidian movements involves saving the wooooooorrrrld!

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My campus newspaper hit rock bottom, or: you think it’s ‘cool’ to abuse your readers?

[CN: Anti-Arab racism, misogyny, Zionism, anti-Semitism, incendiary rhetoric, mansplaining, male rage]

Actually, they hit rock bottom last November. They have since blasted through the crust, plowed through the mantle, and are fast approaching the iron core, and the extreme temperatures and pressures will not stop this phallic penetration by Menz logic  because male entitlement is stronger than any element in the known universe.

My campus newspaper has ran some seriously awful garbage in the past. There have been plenty of MRA talking points that the editors deemed fit to print. (Because any byline that dares to argue that women are human beings must be met with a counter-piece, y’know, for neutrality!) There have been white women writers who actively silenced women of color and queers, sabotaging their spaces and events with willfully bad press, charging them with “divisiveness” for merely asserting that they exist and that their experiences are real, and then purport to educate us all on how to be a good ally.

But now, September 10 2014, volume cxxv issue 3 Opinions section, all I can say is: holy shit. When I read the words that appeared on this issue, I could feel my gorge drop. I felt my respiration spike. I felt stinging tears behind my eyes and I went to go throw up even though I hadn’t eaten.

This is the first time my campus newspaper triggered me.

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