Returning to the QDSF issue of LIGHTSPEED to tackle five reprint stories. (i looked at the original printings here.) We have three shorts and two longer stories from the 80s, and once again, an asterisk * indicates extra enjoyment.
[CN: Racism, slavery]
Essays. Fuck ’em, right?
Those insipid puff pieces on banal middle class+ experience, with their naturalist language which reinforce family values and conformity while sapping true imagination. Their cozy and apolitical maundering express the unsolicited thoughts of complacent lily white suburban yups with their delusions of safety and national community. The consensus of the Post WWI culture, when Europe was in shambles yet still spread its toxic old world influence on the US like influenza, seems to be that the essay was so humdrum that it hardly deserved any serious attention, let alone a truly Modernist intervention like what was happening with painting, music, poetry, and the novel (Virginia Woolf’s nonfiction is an exception).
But the CNF essay canon is a ‘murican canon by god, and the selection for the 1920’s is appropriately an avant-garde trip by the USen Modern champion WCW, promising to liberate the essay from its bourgeois prison, re-theorize it, and present in its endless refractions and surfaces some sense of Amerikkka, where it is, where it came from, where it is going. For some reason i had a hard time finding “Essay on Virginia,” which was collected in an album of short prose published through Ezra Pound. And then, almost by accident, i stumbled on a collection called IMAGINATIONS in the library, which was like an album of albums from the 20’s. It holds some wild stuff in case, like me, you thought all WCW did were minimalist poems about red wheelbarrows and stories about a doctor.
[CN: terrorism, erasure, white supremacy, orientalism, colonialism]
ill admit it — im a lot more occupied and concerned with the burning of synagogues in Paris (plus general rising tide of anti-semitism in france that the white establishment gives fuck all about) than the attack on political cartoonists (truly the most heroic of people on this planet lol).
and even more than those two, im very scared by the attempted bombing of the Colorado NAACP. its hard for me to imagine just how much more blatantly apparent the double standards of white amerika and its corporate media running dogs can get.
as the attack in paris takes up all the space, all the talk i see about “freedom of speech” “satirists are martyrs for the first amendment” and “pointing out that these cartoons were racist and unfunny is victim blaming and supporting terror!” is pretty bizarrre to me.
i just cant conveniently forget the context of centuries of colonization, orientalism, and white supremacy. (and this isnt just the global crusades done by the west but the more local history of france’s xenophobic economic policies). it’s power that discourse can always reproduce. and it’s usually this specific type of status-quo discourse, one that’s “edgy” “not PC” and can let white liberals laugh and bond over how they wish the world really was (and actually is but whites need to feel like the victim).
i do not applaud the killing of other human beings. that’s what white people do (see: columbus day, miltary worship, police lynchings).
there have already been violent retaliations against the muslim community in france. naturally in the white gaze 1.8 billion folx are responsible for the actions of a few. once again, the nuances of individual humanity is something only white people are responsible enough to handle, apparently.
so go ahead, chant free speech while you crack your jokes about violence against women or kick a marginalized population as they experience terrorism in the hands of whites every day.
and in the meantime, shut down anyone with valid critiques against white supremacy and its government and so-called culture. cut off their microphones, troll their blogs, snub their letters to editor. never mind that these usually come from powerless people. we’re all equal right?!
i dont mean to suggest that the bill of rights is being twisted/corrupted by its selective use/rejection to reinforce and defend white supremacy. this is what “rights” and “freedoms” where meant to do this whole time in amerikkka and a globalized white supremacist capitalist regime.
before i feel obliged to condemn the terrorist acts perpetrated by muslim individuals, i want to see every white person condemn the NAACP bombing as an act of domestic terrorism.
til then, im just gonna assume yall support the klan. (who should be taken at least as seriously as the taliban or isis or whomever.)
i mean, fuck, im not trying to de-value other people’s values. i dont sympathize with the theocratic fascists. but people are being forced to agree that some political cartoonists are champions of racial justice because they regurgitate white abuse and old-as-the-hills physical stereotypes under freedom of expression and it’s just like: lol nope.
i dont doubt white people’s value of freedom of expression any more than i doubt their values of black death and misogyny.
we were raised to believe that hot pursuit by a cop is always the proper logical course (just like in the movies!); that immediate deadly force on black people is rational police behavior; that black people are to be feared yet we all value tolerance;
that all of humankind is equal yet we can’t dispute the onslaught of anti-black cultural signals from every media source;
that there is nothing special about our economic circumstances, so that we were perfectly ordinary children in ordinary families, getting by on our labor and talent; that whiteness has no place in the equation;
that poor whites are not worth discussing and poor blacks have their lot because they just don’t have the fortitude to reach our kind of prosperity, which seems to endlessly suspend us;
that the police have heroically dangerous jobs, will come when you call, will check out anyone you bring to their attention, and are the necessary for defending private property;
that racial harmony looks like this piece of police propaganda, which is the only visual form of blackness that the white establishment will accept — vulnerable, infantilized, dependent on our benevolent police system for security and comfort;
that there are two kinds of people in any given nation: citizens and criminals; that the boons of Democracy, such as equal protection and anti-discrimination, belong solely to the former; that anyone who is incarcerated clearly does not belong inside the meaning of “human being”, the concept itself reduced to a legal representation;
that nothing would express gratitude to the state that feeds and educates us better than keeping our mouths shut about things that surely don’t affect us, and keeping our hands over our hearts.
[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.