I have this manifesto. Well I do not really have a manifesto. I have been trying to write one or it has been preoccupying me more than usual that having something to say is not the same as having the wherewithal to say it or the energy to take down out of the vast wandering hoardes of sounds and images just the right ones in just the right order to say something like what all of them would say if any of them could say anything.
Wait a little while and you can make art out of it.
Which is true. You can wait. And you can make art out of it or anything else you care to. You can exchange long intimate notes with yourself refining each point down until it vanishes into its own infinite resolution.
You can speak plainly.
Except that never works well and I haven’t another whole lifetime to figure out why that is so to be unplain and unclear:
I do not know what to put here.
Thanksgiving as we call the last Thursday in the last full week of November here in the US is mostly to me an insufferable holiday although not as insufferable as the holiday immediately following.
William Burroughs says it well and I am not inclined to stretch the critique out any further this year but only to point out that it is convenient and simple to give his hymn a listen and a nod and then decide that cynicism is unbecoming and go back to doing just as we always have done. It might be more challenging to move from cynicism in some other direction besides attributing Burroughs’ attitude to young disaffected people and something to get over and grow out of and then never give another thought to unless some foundation that we have thoroughly researched as responsible with their funding and not actually any danger to our comfort asks for a little money and then we can open our wallets and do our bit for
what was it we were doing our bit for? Well whatever. I am glad that part of my life is over. It does get better you know.
I mean unless it doesn’t get better exactly or it just gets different and complicated in ways that somehow are always slightly enough beyond the scope of your current store of understandings that to understand and outline and craft the correct response to each point and then close the account catalog it and file it in the drawer marked domesticated seems at first only not quite possible and a little later on less possible than that.
Was William Burroughs always a disaffected and rebellious young man?
Did William Burroughs have a respectable American adulthood to retire to when he’d had enough of fighting authority?
Did he remain uncomfortable on purpose just to be annoying?
We can convince ourselves of most anything if it helps to prop up our worldview and our worldview is what gives us comfort and stability.
I am an old queer. I remember being a young queer and unearthing stories about and pictures of queers who were old when I was not. It used to be quite difficult even to find out that you could be old and queer at the same time. At first old queers seemed miraculous.
Old queers are miraculous.
By that I do not mean to say I am a miracle although the odds have never appeared to me to be tipped in my favor and yet here I am getting old. I am still young of course but any claim to youthfulness I have now and will have for the rest of my life will be metaphorical. The teeth are already starting to go. As are eyes and skin and joints and hair in one particular spot but hair in general is its own narrative for me but I am not going to write about hair now.
Your Holiday Mom is offering virtual families for queer children again this year. I followed them last year not knowing what the operational definition of children was for we are all somebodies’ children even if we are very old and our parents have been gone a very long time.
I still do not know. My parents are not gone but they are not here either. I have not seen or heard them nor they me for more than seventeen years. We have email contact at the moment. They were young parents and so are not terribly old just yet. I do not know whether I will see them again alive and the question of whether I want to is sort of complicated to answer although it is slowly becoming less so. Less complicated that is.
Last year I left a comment for a couple on Your Holiday Mom. I do not recall precisely what I said. They may have had a decade on me if that but it did not feel quite right to me to address as proximate parents anyone younger than I and I was not even sure I was supposed to be looking for familiar reception there given my age but I figured it was worth a shot.
There was no reply.
I do not know if I will do more than read their stories this year. It is said that many connections were made last year.
Sometimes it is so easy to write that I can barely type fast enough to take everything down. I thought this was going to be like that but I made the mistake of starting it with the knowledge that I wanted to post it. I tried to pretend that was not the case but it was too late for the elaborate offices of censorship that I myself built out of the need for self-preservation to reverse course or even slow down the procedure for the initial establishment of emergency services because he is about to say something.
Among the many projects that float around in protean form in my head is some sort of online, public but safe-as-internet-space-can-be writing project open to anyone who is unsure of their voice or who has experienced on a regular and or systemic basis their voice being shouted down or hushed or ignored or ridiculed or forbidden. You might guess that this would be one of many attempts to do an end-run around my own internal bureaucracy and you might be right. I am wondering though, if it is easier to do that surrounded by people in similar straits and or people who are willing to be patient with our bureaucracies as we try to spit out whatever we have to say.
I am fairly convinced that what we have to say needs to be heard. Almost convinced enough to burst out here on my own, but that may or may not happen. I have hundreds of thousands of words already arranged in mostly sensical sentences in text files on various digital storage media. I could just post them. If I tell myself this a few more times maybe I could get undiagnosed out a little more quickly than its current faint trickle of a few thousand words every three months.
Or maybe I need some other strategy.
Fits and starts. Throat-clearing. Setting the stage.
Continual reduplicating of effort.
Exhortations to speak.
Exhortations to keep quiet.
3 thoughts on “introductory preface to a prolog on the combination and recombination of networks of terrestrial systems on Earth for the next few billion”
Oh, how frustrating.
Now I have to try to reconstruct the entirety of the comment that I just left for you, because it disappeared between typing and logging in. I had taken the precaution of copying it, as such things have happened before (as with my response to your post re: the trouble with SSI).
However, that was not enough, as my mobile device then mysteriously froze and shut down, losing the copied text.
So, I have to try to recall what it was that I said, because it felt to me like those things ought to be said.
I could be wrong.
“Interestingly, when you posted this, I was trying to manage to say something meaningful about privilege, sanism, and the so-called recovery movement. How…”
Oh, thank goodness. I just remembered that I had copied my response into a draft email from which I had copied portions of my response and so I don’t have to reconstruct the whole thing after all.
“Interestingly, when you posted this, I was trying – for the 17th time in recent days – to say something about privilege and “the movement.”
Yet, all I can seem to manage is a few muddled phrases mumbled through the uncomfortable paradox that being able to say anything about anything at all is itself a privilege and so who am I to say anything?
When I read your excerpt:
“having something to say is not the same as having the wherewithal to say it or the energy to take down out of the vast wandering hoardes of sounds and images just the right ones in just the right order to say something like what all of them would say if any of them could say anything.”
I thought, “This describes my current quiet.”
It felt like a comfort.
For days, I have been sitting on my porch and feeling perplexed the phenomenon of people only knowing so much about a person as the person is able to communicate about themselves and that a great deal of what people may think about us is rooted in conjecture and assumption, partial pictures.
I don’t think I fully understood this before.
There’s a lot I could say, but lately I find myself fantasizing about sewing together pictures from scraps of fabrics and even the look of words seems to make me feel mute.
What could I possibly say?
Would you be interested in posting an essay or miscellaneous piece of writing about privilege, ableism, psychiatric human rights and the recovery movement on Mad In America?
It could be posted there under my blog space or maybe as an Op-Ed?
If it were posted through my blog space, I could briefly introduce the writing by telling the story of me struggling to say something about privilege and “the movement,” and was dismayed by the unexciting:
“Over the past few weeks, the subject of privilege has been the focal point of a lot of conversations about who is involved in the movement to change the ways we think about mental health.
These aren’t easy conversations to have.
The fact that I am posting this here, on a website, is a matter of privilege.
My voice, for whatever reason, is valued.
Why is that?
How does privilege impact the way we might, as individuals, see things…or not see things?
To what extent does privilege affect a person’s ability to live their life in self-determined ways and to define their own form of wellness?
Are we being presumptuous in applying perspectives gained through our own lived experiences to the realities of other people’s lives?”
…it all felt like a moot point because I am depressed and confused, but not really confused, only confused about why it is that I can’t seem to articulate the things I am not confused about…and then this random blog that I follow (that would be you) posted an introductory preface to a prolog on the combination and recombination of networks of terrestrial systems on Earth for the next few billion…and I knew right then and there that I would much rather hear an old queer’s thoughts on privilege, ableism, recovery, and activism than I would try to figure out some way of saying something about these topics which might be so effectively brilliant and earnest that the fact that I am a relatively privileged cis gendered white woman might maybe matter a little less…because right now that’s just not happening.
Yes, I do know that having a space to offer and the power to include someone in something is a matter of privilege.
Ooooh, if a post were posted, it could be linked back to this piece and then people would not only get to read your truly excellent introductory preface, they might also note the comment which served as a precursor to the post which is not yhet a post and which may not be a post, but if it does come into existence, well…this comment might serve as a small example of the ways that the future is made.
Happy Thursday, by the way.”
It’d make me feel happy if scenarios that could be real became real.
Thanks for being out there, Erik.
My question to you was quite serious. If you wanted to write something, anything really, it’d probably be great.
Heh. Your reply showed up here twice. I am putting this one up since it contains the first.
I would be very happy to write something for Mad in America or even maybe to offer you something I have (half-)written already if it turns out I have something suitable like that. If that seems to make no sense it is only because I write in not exactly manic spurts because I have never experienced true mania only slight over-caffeination but the result is still that I often write about the same thing several times from several different directions and then come back to look later and only remember, say, one of them. Which means sometimes I am pleasantly surprised at having a “new” piece of writing without any effort that I can recall. The hard part is putting it somewhere without editorializing the life out of it.
So yeah, let me poke around in my files and in my neural associations.
And also sometimes I get caught in a tight nervous spiral of almost motionless indecision so when I say would be happy to write for Mad in America I keep in mind that sometimes I freak out when trying to create a thing for a specific time or place or person but I would be happy to try to recalibrate that response enough so that I might be able put something together for you.
I would imagine you are not worried too much about linearity since after all you must have read what I have already written before asking me to write! I mention it mostly for myself and that part of my soul that was forged in the crucible of grad school where even though my poetic performances were acceptable imitations of seminar papers I still worry about coherence as an academic even though technically I might not be one at the moment anyway.
I may just transcribe a conversation with myself. Seriously, there is no telling what I will actually write but I am very interested in finding out myself.
Right this minute I am going to retire with cats and the last few stories in the Hyperbole and a Half book. I am almost at the end of it and I wish it had no end but eventually I will have to read the last page, close the book, and then somehow go on from there.
I will, um, have my people stay in touch with your people. :) Thanks for dropping in!
There is no specific time, no specific place.
See what you find in your files.
Linearity is dull and uncomfortable to me.
The rubrics of coherence are a requirement of the made-up sane, the rational sycophants, a tool excluding those who may have no choice other than to describe their world in broken syntax, partial thoughts.
Since I have been in graduate school and making efforts to write in ways that are clear and accessible to assessors, my mind has grown increasingly dull and lifeless.
I am in the midst of failing to meet a great many expectations and so, soon, it may be the case that my voice is not valued.
I am okay with that right now.
If I had my wits about me, which I do not – they seem to be on some hiatus, perhaps gracing some other person with cunning ideas? – I might write a diatribe of some sort, a protest, a bold pronouncement of bullshit, but – like I said – I don’t have my wits about me.
Where the hell did my wits go?
I’d like to read whatever you might write or have written.
You speak beautifully on the nature of this quandary, this saying anything at all.