Friday, November 30, 2012


i graduated into the world of the traveling mp3 device...  the mixtape just died a little bit (more) but this baby step into the technological unknown is not without skepticism & trepidation, for the record.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

two countries

Two Countries by naomi shihab nye

Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a 
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.

Skin had hope, that's what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers--silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

red shoes by honor moore

Red Shoes

by Honor Moore

all that autumn you step from the train

as if something were burning

something is burning

running across the green grass bare feet

that day death was only

what we lose in fall comes back in spring

something is burning

from the train you climb

smoke between the skyscrapers

Paris was so beautiful, the sky– 

all that autumn

then tears

Why do we do this again?

she turns to you in the kitchen

she puts her arms around you

she is wearing those red shoes

Monday, November 26, 2012

theoretical issues

quotes from the essay "is family systems theory really systemic?  a feminist communication" by harriet goldhor lerner from the book a guide to feminist family therapy

"viewing the world through a patriarchal lens is equated with a position of 'neutrality' requiring neither explanation nor justification, while those of us operating from a feminist perspective are suspected of bias or excessive subjectivity."

"patriarchy does not decline when individual womyn make clear 'i-statements' about their thoughts, feelings, and wants.  indeed, it is extremely difficult for subordinate group members to identify their own thoughts, feelings, and wants, because dominant group members define the very nature of things."

"those womyn who openly express anger about their victimized status are the same womyn who have been busy writing womyn back into language and history, discovering womyn's roots in prior generations, and establishing countless programs and services central to womyn's lives, such as health clinics, childcare centers, antirape squads, scholarly journals, womyn's studies programs in universities, to name just a few."

"every family therapist knows that it is not useful to think in terms of villains and victims in a family system; spouses choose each other for good reasons, provoke and maintain each other's behavior and resist the very changes that they seek.  psychoanalytic theorists also are aware that if one looks deeply enough, no one is to blame for anything.  cause and effect are circularly intertwined and we all do the best we can, given our context and circumstances.  'blaming,' however, is a word used glibly in reference to feminists and has not been clearly enough defined.  on the one hand, there is repetitive, nonproductive blaming that only serves to maintain homeostasis and blur one's sense of clarity of self and responsibility for one's own life.  on the other hand, there is other-directed anger that occurs when an individual can clearly identify those external forces impeding growth and blocking one's ability to develop the self and define the terms of one's own life.  members of subordinate groups experience this other-directed anger when they are able to see beyond the dominant group's definition of 'reality' and clearly identify their own subordinate status.  this other-directed anger does not reflect enmeshment or undifferentiation, but rather is an expression of dignity and self-regard which are essential milestones in the process of personal and social change.  other-directed anger that serves to challenge the status quo must be distinguished from nonproductive anger that serves only to maintain it."

"the family system is given its shape and form by the societal system, which reciprocally is shaped and formed by the family system."

"viewed from feminist eyes, a family focus that ignores the dysfunction of the sociocultural system is equally as narrow as an intrapsychic focus on an identified patient that ignores the primary dysfunction in the family system."

"as long as men are the makers and shapers of culture in the world outside the home, as long as womyn are not free to define the terms of their own lives, as long as society continues to convey the message that mother is the child's environment, then the basic dysfunctional triad of distant, overfunctioning father, emotionally intense, overinvolved mother with a child with little room to grow up, is a natural outgrowth and microcosm of the culture."

"the more womyn are blocked from proceeding with their own growth and excluded from positions of power and authority outside the home, the more they become excessively child-focused.  as emotional intensity and intimacy increase within the mother-child dyad, the distance and emotional isolation of the husband/father becomes more entrenched."

"at the heart of systemic theory is the notion that a dysfunctional individual can best be helped by disrupting and changing the rigid rules, expectations, and structures that inhibit growth in the family system.  yet, systems theory has not seriously addressed the parallel notion that dysfunctional families can best be helped by disrupting and changing the rigid rules, expectations, and structures of patriarchal culture."

"low on the differentiation scale is the stereotypic female: life energy goes into seeking love, approval, happiness, and security; there is relatively little investment in pursuing independent, goal-directed activities; feeling and emotions override more planful, intellectual (i.e., 'masculine') modes of thought; and 'being for' others outweighs 'being for' the self."

"de-selfing is culturally prescribed for womyn, who are taught to strengthen men by containing and expressing the very qualities that men fear in themselves and do not wish to be 'weakened' by.  de-selfing and underfunctioning are still considered by some to be the hallmarks of successful femininity."

"the pressures on men to overfunction, through relinquishing the experience and expression of dependency, passivity, vulnerability, and other so-called 'weaknesses' or 'feminine attributes' constitutes a de-selfing of its own kind.  further, men are characteristically the underfunctioners when it comes to attunement with the emotional components of humyn experience, and the ability to rely on cooperative, rather than aggressive/competitive modes of interactions.  while it is clear to feminists and systems thinkers alike that underfunctioners and overfunctioners reinforce each other's complimentary positions and 'get stuck' in self-perpetuating sequences of interaction that are difficult to interrupt, family systems theorists have yet to pay sufficient attention to the cultural 'rules of the game' which effect and reinforce these circular dances."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

this is the poem where she builds a fire

this is the poem where she builds a fire

without matches
you know the ones
she seeks sparks
winter all a-glitter
oh it's a cold wide way
everything wet as wood
time goes flip flap
hours saved for dawn instead
of dark as dinner

crumpled papers find
this smell of trees

sometimes stones
palm-sized pebbles
mediums for psychics
rocks so hard they block
the wind the plan the pain

the builder must be somewhat of a
magician, elements shifting at her
orchestral fingers and whispers
reasoning and averaging
more air more breath more burning

this is an escape fire
there went the ice
these are the absolutes


the universe is written in
smoke retreating to its source
she, alone, the clearing
with leaves with frost with refusal
the sorrows glow

from heat to ash
what is burned will be born
this she holds with open hands


Friday, November 23, 2012

frantz fanon.

from black skin, white masks by frantz fanon

"every act is an answer or a question.  both, perhaps.  by expressing a certain way for my being to excel itself, i am stating the value of my act for others.  conversely, the passivity observed during some of history's troubled times can be read as default on this obligation."

"to speak of society's dreams as one speaks of an individual's dreams, to speak of a collective will as one speaks of individual sexual instinct, is once again to reverse the natural order of things, since, on the contrary, it is the economic and social conditions of the class struggle that explain and determine the actual conditions in which individual sexuality is expressed, and the contents of an individual's dreams depends also in the end on the general conditions of civilization in which he lives." - pierre naville

"i was hated, detested, and despised, not by my next-door neighbor or a close cousin, but by an entire race.  i was up against something irrational.  the psychoanalysts say that there is nothing more traumatizing for a young child than contact with the rational.  i personally would say that for a man armed solely with reason, there is nothing more neurotic than contact with the irrational."

"like every aspect of human behavior, behavior toward authority is something to be learned.  and it is learned within a family that can be psychologically distinguished by its specific organization, i.e., by the way in which its authority is allocated and exercised." -joachim marcus 

"the family structure and the national structure are closely connected.  militarization and a centralized authority in a country automatically result in a resurgence of the father's authority.  in europe and in every so-called civilized or civilizing country the family environment finds the same laws, the same principles, and the same values."

"if we want an honest answer, we have to call on the notion of collective catharsis.  in every society, in every community, there exists, must exist, a channel, an outlet whereby the energy accumulated in the form of aggressiveness can be released."

"the first characteristic seems to be the fear of showing oneself as one actually is.  this is a broad range of various fears: fear of disappointing, fear of displeasing, of boring, of wearying. . . and consequently, of missing the opportunity to create a bond of friendship with others or, if it already exists, damaging it.  the abandonment neurotic doubts whether he can be loved as he is, for he has undergone the cruel experience of being abandoned when, as a child, hence without artifice, he offered himself to the tenderness of others." -g. guex

"make people ashamed of their existence, jean-paul sartre said.  yes: make them aware of the possibilities they have denied themselves or the passiveness they have displayed in situations where it was really necessary to cling to the heart of the world, like a splinter - to force, if needed, the rhythm of the world's heart; dislocate, if needed, the system of controls; but in any case, most certainly, face the world."

"such then is the haunted man, condemned to make his choice of himself on the basis of false problems and in a false situation, deprived of the metaphysical sense by the hostility of the society that surrounds him, driven to a rationalism of despair.  his life is nothing but a long flight from others and from himself.  he has been alienated even from his own body; his emotional life has been cut in two; he has been reduced to pursuing the impossible dream of universal brotherhood in a world that rejects him.  whose is the fault?  it is our eyes that reflect to him the unacceptable image he wishes to dissimulate.  it is our words and our gestures - all our words and all our gestures, our anti-semitism, but equally our condescending liberalism - that have poisoned him.  it is we who constrain him to choose to be a jew whether through flight from himself or through self-assertion; it is we who force him into the dilemma of jewish authenticity or inauthenticity. . . this species that bears witness for essential humanity better than any other because it was born of secondary reactions within the body of humanity -  this quintessence of man, disgraced, uprooted, destined from the start to either inauthenticity or martyrdom.  in this situation there is not one of us who is not totally guilty and even criminal; the jewish blood that the nazis shed falls on all our heads." -jean-paul sartre

"literature increasingly involves itself in its only real task, which is to get society to reflect and mediate.  my book is, i hope, a mirror with a progressive infrastructure where the black man can find the path to disalienation."

"and above all, beware, my body and my soul too, beware of crossing your arms in the sterile attitude of the spectator, because life is not a spectacle, because a sea of sorrows is not a proscenium, because a man who screams is not a dancing bear." - aime cesaire

"the collective unconscious is quite simply the repository of prejudices, myths, and collective attitudes of a particular group.  it is generally agreed, for example, that the jews who settled in israel will give birth in less than 100 years to a collective unconscious different from the one they had in 1945 in the countries from which they were expelled."

"moral consciousness implies a kind of split, a fracture of consciousness between a dark and a light side.  moral standards require the black, the dark, and the black man to be eliminated from this consciousness.  a black man, therefore, is constantly struggling against his own image."

"if the morbid universe is to be understood on the basis of transgression and guilt, a normal individual will be someone who has unloaded this guilt or in any case has managed not to suffer from it.  more directly, each individual must lay the blame for his base agencies and instincts on the wicked genie of the culture to which he belongs (we have seen that this is the black man).  this collective guilt is borne by what is commonly called the scapegoat.  however, the scapegoat for white society, which is based on the myths of progress, civilization, liberalism, education, enlightenment, and refinement, will be precisely the force that opposes the expansion and triumphs of these myths."

"either i ask people not to pay attention to the color of my skin; or else, on the contrary, i want people to notice it.  i then try to esteem what is bad - since, without thinking, i admitted that the black man was the color of evil.  in order to put an end to this neurotic situation where i am forced to choose an unhealthy, conflictual solution, nurtured with fantasies, that is antagonistic - inhuman, in short - there is but one answer: skim over this absurd drama that others have staged around me; rule out these two elements that are equally unacceptable; and through the particular, reach out for the universal."

"self-consciousness exists in itself and for itself, in that and by the fact that it exists for another self-consciousness; that is to say, it is only by being acknowledged or recognized." -hegel

"man is human only to the extent to which he tries to impose himself on another man in order to be recognized by him.  as long as he has not been effectively recognized by the other, it is this other who remains the focus of his actions.  his human worth and reality depend on this other and on his recognition by the other.  it is in this other that the meaning of his life is condensed."

"it is when i go beyond my immediate existential being that i apprehend the being of the other as a natural reality, and more than that.  if i shut off the circuit, if i make the two-way movement unachievable, i keep the other within himself.  in an extreme degree, i deprive him even of this being-for-self.  the only way to break this vicious circle that refers me back to myself is to restore to the other his human reality, different from his natural reality, by way of mediation and recognition."

"action from one side only would be useless, because what is to happen can only be brought about by means of both. . . they recognize themselves as mutually recognizing each other." -hegel

"in its immediacy, self-consciousness is simply being-for-self.  in order to achieve certainty of oneself, one has to integrate the concept of recognition.  likewise, the other is waiting for our recognition so as to blossom into the universal self-consciousness.  each consciousness of self is seeking absoluteness.  it wants to be recognized as an essential value outside of life, as transformation of subjective certainty (gewissheit) into objective truth (wahrheit).  encountering opposition from the other, self-consciousness experiences desire, the first stage that leads to the dignity of the mind.  it agrees to risk life, and consequently threatens the other in his physical being."

"it is solely by risking life that freedom is obtained; only thus is it tried and proved that the essential nature of self-consciousness is not bare existence, is not the merely immediate form in which it at first makes its appearance, is not its mere absorption in the expanse of life." -hegel

"only conflict and the risk it implies can, therefore, make human reality, in-itself-for-itself, come true.  this risk implies that i go beyond life toward an ideal which is the transformation of my subjective certainty of my own worth into a universally valid objective truth."

"i ask that i be taken into consideration on the basis of my desire.  i am not only here-now, locked in thinghood.  i desire somewhere else and something else.  i demand that an account be taken of my contradictory activity insofar as i pursue something other than life, insofar as i am fighting for the birth of a human world, in other words, a world of reciprocal recognitions.  he who is reluctant to recognize me is against me.  in a fierce struggle i am willing to feel the shudder of death, the irreversible extinction, but also the possibility of impossibility."

"the individual, who has not staked his life, may, no doubt, be recognized as a person, but he has not attained the truth of this recognition as an independent self-consciousness." -hegel

"unsure whether the white man considers him as consciousness in-itself-for-itself, he is constantly preoccupied with detecting resistance, opposition, and contestation. . . the i posits itself by opposing, said fichte.  yes and no.  we said in our introduction that man was an affirmation.  we shall never stop repeating it.  yes to life.  yes to love.  yes to generosity.  but man is also a negation.  no to man's contempt.  no to the indignity of man.  to the exploitation of man.  to the massacre of what is most human in man: freedom.  man's behavior is not only reactional.  and there is always resentment in reaction. . . to induce man to be actional, by maintaining in his circularity the respect of the fundamental values that make the world human, that is the task of utmost urgency for he who, after careful reflection, prepares to act."

"intellectual alienation is a creation of bourgeois society.  and for me bourgeois society is any society that becomes ossified in a predetermined mold, stifling any development, progress, or discovery.  for me bourgeois society is a closed society where it's not good to be alive, where the air is rotten and ideas and people are putrefying.  and i believe that a man who takes a stand against this living death is in a way a revolutionary."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

secret secret

Girls work like dead sidewalks.
Why does the skyscraper grow?
Anger is a dark window.
The car eats a dark rain.

Windows run, fast trucks.
Hot sidewalks fight a dead, dry corner.
All rains love faceless streets.
All hoods hustle fast, misty guys.

Jackhammers shrink!
The dark slum quickly drives the flower.
Why does the girl talk?

Shrink roughly like a small skyscraper.
God, noise!

The cold light roughly grabs the window.
Action, life, and life.

Damn, exhaustion!
The noisy car quietly hustles the worker.
Ah, love!
The old window quietly sells the flower.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

number 8: strength

from the collective tarot

strength is about letting go of control, grounding in self knowledge, and living in your own power.  this strength image represents surrender, integration, and vulnerability.  it's about living in communion and partnership with all parts of self.  the decorated and half-naked person draped with cloth gazes at the lion, exhibiting great trust and knowing.  her concern is not with maintaining control, but with collaborating with and understanding her many-chambered self - and, from a place of self-knowing and integration,she establishes her own authority, developed not from domination but grounded power.

the traditional image for strength is a womyn (the self) gently dominating a tamed lion (base selves civilized and under control), who gazes up at her devotedly.  this image relies primarily on assumptions about gender and power - that a feminine figure could dominate a dangerous wild beast implies miraculous power and strength.  acting emotionally or irrationally are feminized, and therefore devalued, modes - the traditional imagery and interpretation of strength leans heavily on privileged "mastery" of emotions, and seeks to uproot emotional and intuitive agency.

in masculinist traditions, strength is equated with "conquering fear" and is characterized by the absence of weakness.  strength here is both the product of and the source for integration of disparate and diverse parts of self.  this image represents literally facing your fears and emotions, building intimacy and equanimity with devalued, instinctive, and non-lingual/non-cognitive parts of self.  strength invites you to make a place at your table for your instincts and feelings, to honor that which you normally fear - initiate a collaboration.

pulling the strength card indicates an opportunity to examine old ideas of indestructibility, self-blame, courage, work ethic, and bogus cultural claims of rugged individualism.  this is a chance to parse out your own ideals and principles from the rich buffet of cultural baggage around strength.  do you ask yourself, or force yourself, to "prove" your strength in ways that aren't true to who you are?  are you gritting your teeth to wait out some infringement on your boundaries?  in work, school, parenting, and community, can you make time for yourself to replenish, daydream, travel, draw?  knowing and loving yourself actively and fully are unshakable sources of strength.

this card is an opportunity to think about what you're asking of your body - are you getting enough sleep?  eating well?  getting the action you want?  dancing?  moving and breathing?  in our inherited ideas of strength and unstoppableness, we often tax our physical selves to a point of self-destructiveness.  our inherited ideas of strength derive much of their punch from the ableist, classist, sexist, racist, capitalist structure we function within.  pulling the strength card is an invitation to look at the patterns in your life, and to work on getting closer to your own inner sense of groundedness, clarity, self-care, and healthy power.

mythical images of noble character, martyrdom, and purity have mitigated our intuitive sense of strength.  it doesn't make us any less strong when life circumstances demand that we compromise our ideals.  we live in a broken system, and we frequently have to use broken tactics in order to survive.  if we don't want to acknowledge we're compromising our beliefs, we usually pay, in some form, to let someone else compromise for us.  strength is about learning and following your own compass - incorporating the brilliance and idealism of your community and your culture with what you know needs to be done.  only you can define your own strength, so do it with integrity, accountability, and confidence.

this card indicates communication and fellowship with animals and plants.  it represents empathy and support for spheres of life dominated by human-centric culture.  this is true on a very physical level, but also functions as a metaphorical representation for one's own animal-selves and inferiorized, "lower" selves.  the strength card can indicate a leap toward risk, a departure from learned or familiar ways, and can invite or acknowledge the questioning of these established modes and ideas.  it calls you to be your own best ally, to advocate for and honor all forms of life, in yourself and in the world.  it indicates that you are following your internal compass, your sense of self, or suggests that you need to do so.

often, power and strength become synonyms for not getting hurt - learning how to eschew vulnerability, withhold trust, inspire fear in would-be combatants, out-smart abuse, and stay vigilant.  here, strength is about being grounded in systems of support that interrupt patterns of isolation - "doing it all myself".  it is about love, support, and esteem manifesting in the individual as a result of radical and transformative community.  the self represented in this image of strength is unburdening himself of defensiveness.  he is learning to trust, rather than trying to function based on fears, assumptions, old hurts, and old patterns of woundedness.  he is tired of living his life trying to prevent getting hurt again.  by connecting with deep knowing, you have the strength and clarity to trust new steps, to take risks, love big, and luxuriate in the wealth of feelings and experiences your life has in store for you.

the strength represented in this card is strength you already have by existing, not by physical strength or ability, not by conditioning, not by biting the bullet or turning the other cheek or bending so as not to break.  it is about the strength to break and rebuild, to bend with the wind, and the exhilaration of the strength implicit in just being alive.  strength is about defining yourself, and surrendering to being changed.  groundedness in desire, integration, surrender, and fierceness - knowing who you are, what you want, and why you do what you do - are all sources for and products of strength.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

gems from octavio paz

“It is always difficult to give oneself up; few persons anywhere ever succeed in doing so, and even fewer transcend the possessive stage to know love for what it actually is: a perpetual discovery, and immersion in the waters of reality, an unending re-creation.”

“I thought that the world was a vast system of signs, a conversation between giant beings. My actions, the cricket's saw, the star's blink, were nothing but pauses and syllables, scattered phrases from that dialogue. What word could it be, of which I was only a syllable? Who speaks the word? To whom is it spoken?”

“At times poetry is the vertigo of bodies and the vertigo of speech and the vertigo of death;
the walk with eyes closed along the edge of the cliff, and the verbena in submarine gardens;
the laughter that sets on fire the rules and the holy commandments;
the descent of parachuting words onto the sands of the page;
the despair that boards a paper boat and crosses,
for forty nights and forty days, the night-sorrow sea and the day-sorrow desert;
the idolatry of the self and the desecration of the self and the dissipation of the self;
the beheading of epithets, the burial of mirrors;
the recollection of pronouns freshly cut in the
garden of Epicurus, and the garden of Netzahualcoyotl;
the flute solo on the terrace of memory and the dance of flames in the cave of thought;
the migrations of millions of verbs, wings and claws, seeds and hands;
the nouns, bony and full of roots, planted on the waves of language;
the love unseen and the love unheard and the love unsaid: the love in love.”

“Beyond myself, somewhere, I wait for my arrival.”

Friday, November 9, 2012

summer reading part four

all quotes from the book indigenizing the academy: transforming scholarship and empowering communities edited by devon abbott mihesuah & angela cavender wilson

from chapter 10: "in the trenches: a critical look at the isolation of American Indian political practices in the nonempirical social science of political science" by joely de la torre

"political science is dominated by white males who are not concerned with Indigenous knowledge, American Indian political practices, or empowering Indigenous people.  Instead, they hide behind terms like 'academic,' 'empirical,' 'quantantative,' and 'evidence' to avoid any meaningful analysis."

"all groups must come to understand themselves as their situation defines them and not as other groups see them.  by accepting ourselves and defining the values within which we can be most comfortable, we can find peace.  in essence, we must all create social isolates, which have economic bases that support creative and innovative efforts to customize values we need.  myths mus be re-examined and clarified.  where they are detrimental, sharp and necessary distinctions must be made.  the fear of the unknown must be eliminated.  the white mythologizes the racial minorities because of his lack of knowledge of them.  these myths then create barriers for communication between various segments of society." -vine deloria, jr.

"if sovereignty is restricted to a legal-political context, then it becomes a limiting concept, which serves to prevent solutions. the legal-political context is structured in an adversary situation, which precludes both understanding and satisfactory resolution of difficulties and should be considered as a last resort. . . in which human problems and relationships are seen." -vine deloria, jr.

"native scholars such as deloria argue that cultural integrity moves from defining sovereignty as a political power or a legal concept to a value-based approach.  in other words, he defines cultural integrity as follows: 'commitment to a central and easily understood purpose that motivates a group of people, enables them to form efficient, albeit informal social institutions, and provides for them clear identity which cannot be eroded by the passage of time.  it involves most of all a strong sense of community, a degree of self-containment, a pride that transcends all objective codes, rules and regulations.'"

"Indigenous knowledge should also be included in political theory that searches for other conceptions of political decision making, outcomes, and processes.  most political theory courses compel students to analyze and critique only theoretical descriptions of behaviors and political institutions.  including Indigenous knowledge in political theory would challenge students and the discipline to examine cognitive and affective issues, consider alternative methods, and ultimately participate in determinations that positively affect the students, the discipline of political science, the academy, individual Indigenous scholars, and Indigenous communities as a whole."

"dialogues must be encouraged that revisit traditional systems of governance, instead of dwelling on contemporary forms of government."

"empowering American Indians to assert our political status in a world that consistently tries to depreciate our status is of utmost importance.  we must comprehend both how our tribal background and structure operates and how the american political system operates if we are to effectively deal with the rhetoric, policy shifts, and legal challenges that come our way."

from chapter 11: "graduating indigenous students by confronting the academic environment" by joshua k. mihesuah

"how can an outsider really understand life on reservations, the struggle for recognition, sovereignty, economic development, preservation of language and culture?" -karen swisher

from chapter 12: "so you think you hired an 'Indian' faculty member?: the ethnic fraud paradox in higher education" by cornel d. pewewardy

"the true source of power and control is the ability to convince people that their experienced reality is real."

"we scholars/activists of color need to understand the ways in which we manipulate our multiple, fluid, clashing, and colonized identities and how our identities are manipulated and marginalized in the midst of oppressive discources." -sofia villenas

from chapter 13: "not the end of the stories, not the end of the songs: visualizing, signifying, counter colonizing" by david anthony tyeeme clark

"first, everyone here agrees, at least for now, that to decolonize what currently is widely accepted as knowledge about 'Indians' is crucial.  second, a consensus emerges in these pages around the need to theorize, conceptualize, and represent Indigenous sovereignty so that our people may live well into the unforeseeable future.  third, contributors to this volume argue for the necessities of producing indigenous knowledges for Indigenous Peoples rather than primarily as subjects for non-Indigenous curiosity."

"these three central concerns consist of the interrelated matters of decolonizing research methodologies, theorizing sovereignty, and producing knowledge."

"when the academy becomes a safe place wherein scholarly attention is devoted to studies of Indigenous governance, languages, oral histories, technologies, and sciences, as well as to historic and sacred site protection, community health, and treaty rights, then, in those moments of knowledge production, the academy will be indigenized."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

the pit

the pit

i couldn't find it choking me
i threw myself over a chair
held my hands to my throat
air not rushing heavy into spaces
all was doomed

the dance slammed me hard
the fire cooked me down
the arms closed upon themselves


what i didn't ask for


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

summer reading part three

all quotes from the book indigenizing the academy: transforming scholarship and empowering communities edited by devon abbott mihesuah & angela cavender wilson

from chapter 7: "keeping culture in mind: transforming academic training in professional psychology for indian country" by joseph p. gone 

"the conventions of professional practice in psychology are western in origin and frequently diverge in profound and problematic ways from the cultural concepts and practices of contemporary Native communities."

"the history of euro-american colonization renders the provision of conventional psychological interventions to Native people a potentially detrimental encounter, resulting from the fundamental incongruence of such interventions with the extant healing traditions of many tribal nations."

"these western ethnopsychologies. . . are discordant with most tribal ethnopsychologies with regard to emotional experience and expression; norms governing kinds and qualities of acceptable communication; the nature of distress, disorder, and its treatment; and the meanings of personhood, social relations, and spirituality."

"western ethnopsychologies of the person typically embrace the traditions of dualism, individualism, and modernity, conceptually separating mind from body, prioritizing the individual self over social relationships, and typically excluding attention to spirituality.  one implication of these formative cultural assumptions is the organizational segregation of 'mental health' from the rest of biomedicine within western health care systems."

"Gros Ventres are culturally committed to a view of personhood that celebrates forbearance, emotional reserve, and strength of mind in the face of hardship, suffering, or distress. . .such a view of personhood stands in sharp contrast to the cultural assumptions embedded within the most prevalent contemporary psychotherapies, in which confessional acknowledgements of weakness, fragility, or dependency are explicitly encouraged and unvarnished expressions of illicit thought or troubling emotion are directly solicited."

"Native American experiences of Euro-American colonialism have always inspired acts of resistance, discourses of critique, movements of agentic negotiation, and moments of alternative possibility, though always in the context of asymmetrical power relations."

"to the extent that we are committed to refashioning, reenvisioning, or reforming the Western academy with recourse to indigenous thought and practice, we are inevitably prescribing (whether implicitly or explicitly) what we are willing to adopt from the western university tradition, what we are willing to adapt of our own indigenous epistemological traditions, and which aspects of these disparate traditions we are prepared to omit from the transaction altogether.  the intrinsic complexity here involves an infinite array of strategies for deciding what to adopt, what to adapt, and what to omit from these divergent ways of knowing and learning within our visions for transforming the academy."

"community psychologists have long advocated community-based education and consultation (as opposed to clinic-based psychotherapeutic services) emphasizing collaborative and empowering relationships with community stakeholders (as opposed to expert-client relationships with patients) toward the development of strengths-focused (as opposed to deficit-focused), preventive (as opposed to rehabilitative) interventions."

"cultural psychology takes as its conceptual point of departure the co-constitution of culture and mind.  its central locus of inquiry therefore concerns the semiotic (i.e., symbolically mediated) nature of human experience.  the resultant formulation of local ethnopsychologies within the framework of cultural psychology will encompass multiple relevant content areas, including culture, language, and mind; self and personhood; emotional experience and expression; concepts of health, illness, and healing; and research reflexivity (i.e., attention to how the knower constructs the known)."

from chapter 8: "should American Indian history remain a field of study?" by devon abbott mihesuah

"we need to eliminate useless or repetitive research and focus on actual community needs; it is both unethical and wasteful to plow familiar ground continually." -vine deloria jr.

"nietzsche asserted that 'the unhistorical and the historical are necessary in equal measure for the health of an individual, of a people, and of a culture.'  for Indigenous people, knowledge of the past is crucial for their identity growth and development, pride, problem-solving strategies, and cultural survival.  nietzsche also claims that being 'unhistorical' - able to forget the past - is one way to find happiness.  in some circumstances, the advice to 'forget it and move on' is useful, especially for trivial day-to-day events and confrontations.  but the strategy of becoming unhistorical is simply not possible for tribal people with complex histories and cultures and devastating past (and present) relations with non-Natives that have shaped their modern realities."

"history is best defined as a continual, open-ended process of argument, which is constantly changing.  no question is closed because any problem can be reopened by finding new evidence of by taking a new look at old evidence.  thus there are no final answers, only good, coherent arguments: history is not some irreducible list of 'the facts' but continually changing bodies of evidence." -norman j. wilson

"narrative is also the reflection of the author's bias, political agendas, and patriotic fervor.  if one needs to prove a point, any history is possible."

"Native historians and our allies should have the right to identify histories that are helpful to the tribes, accurate in their tribe's eyes, racist, or incomplete.  wilson proposed it first by entitling one of her essays 'American Indian history or non-Indian perceptions of American Indian history?' and by suggesting that authors admit what they are attempting to accomplish."

"a useful model in understanding why historians write the way they do is the 'patterns' of history put forth by grob and billias, in which they argue that writers analyze the past according to the standards and political and social climate of the generation in which the historians live.  'every generation of american scholars seem to have reinterpreted the past in terms of its own age,' they write.  'thus, each succeeding generation of americans seems to have rewritten the history of the nation in such a way as to suit its own image.'"

"any science of society should be launched in the service of some conception of social justice, equity, freedom, and progress - that is to say, some idea of what a good society might be." -hayden white

from chapter 9: "teaching Indigenous cultural resource management" by andrea a. hunter

"the issues between these two [Native American and archaeology] communities center on various aspects of cultural heritage, that is, who owns the past, who manages the past, and who has the right to tell stories about the past.  imbedded within these questions, particularly the question of who owns the past, is the concept of repatriation and protection of sacred ancestral sites and objects."

"if there has ever been a discipline in the academy that needed to be Indigenized, it is certainly anthropology, and archaelogy in particular."

"traditionally, american archaeology has adhered stringently to a western, scientific worldview for studying and understanding past cultures and teaching about the past.  incorporating tribal knowledge, oral histories, and particularly migration and origin histories into archaeological research of past cultures is viewed by some as an inappropriate course of study because such resources are considered objectionable."

Monday, November 5, 2012

summer reading part two

all quotes from the book indigenizing the academy: transforming scholarship and empowering communities edited by devon abbott mihesuah & angela cavender wilson

from chapter 5: "warrior scholarship: seeing the university as a ground of contention" by taiaiake alfred

"colonialism is not an historical era, nor is it a theory or merely a political and economic relationship.  it is a total existence, a way of thinking about oneself and others always in terms of domination and submission that has come to form the very foundation of our individual and collective lives."

 "five hundred years of physical and psychological warfare have created a culture of fear among both the subdued and dominant peoples.  we have all emerged out of a shameful past, a history of racial and religious hatreds, of extreme violence, and of profound injustice.  it is impossible to even acknowledge it truthfully.  our modern culture, for both the victims and the perpetrators, consists in a denial of the past and of its moral implications.  it is an aversion to the truth about who we really are and where we come from.  more than the moneyed privilege of the newcomers, more than the chaotic disadvantage of the original peoples, this is what we have inherited from our shared past: relationships founded on hatred and violence and a culture founded on lies to assuage the guilt or shame of it all.  we are afraid of our memories, afraid of what we have become, afraid of each other, and afraid for the future.  fear is the foundation of the way we are in the world and the way we think about the future.  it has become normal, and we have grown used to it."

"the conception of the truth that will liberate us from our colonial past is this: honesty and courage lead to mutual understanding, and understanding creates the crucial connections that generate the sense of community - love - that is needed to overcome the disconnection and division and mutual hatreds that reinforce colonialism."

"in withdrawing from relevancy and immersing ourselves in the battle for personal gain or involving ourselves only in disciplinary and academic fights, we are playing assimilation's endgame."

"for those among us who are opposed to assimilation to the north american standard of conformity to possessive individualism, consumer culture, and state patriotism, there are two imperatives in an Indigenous ethical frame.  the first is to respect, value, and honor differences (independence); and the second is to organize one's mind and attitudes around the idea of the sharing of space (interdependence)."

"universities are part of the larger institutional system serving imperial objectives, today called 'globalization' when referring to the economic facets of the process or 'modernity' in relation to the cultural facets."

"given that academe today is such a crucial part of the larger injustice of modernity. . .are we part of the process of destruction of Indigenous cultures and nations, or are we upholding our responsibility to contend with it?  what can we do?  and what is the way to transcend this situation and regenerate our communities and cultures so that our peoples may survive into the future?"

"struggling against and negotiating with the descendants of europeans occupying our homelands for all these years, we have become very skilled, in the european way, at naming everything about ourselves: beliefs, rights, authorities, jurisdictions, land use areas, categories of membership in our communities. . . as if it were enough to speak these things to make them into a reality.  in fighting for our future, we have been sucked into thinking that 'Indigenous' or 'First Nations,' 'Carrier,' 'Cree,' or 'Mohawk' (even if we use Kanien'kehaka, or Innu, or Wet'suwet'en) is something that is attached to us inherently, and not a description of what we do with our lives."

from chapter 6: "seeing (and reading) red: Indian outlaws in the ivory towers" by daniel heath justice

"it's the standard stereotype for Native peoples throughout the americas: we're measured by pieces and parts, 'torn between worlds,' relegated to some romanticized past, never fully of the present.  and sometimes, in reality, we're pulled between the ranks and privileges of powerful institutions and the kitchen tables of our families, where life and culture so often gather.  Native wholeness is a threat to white dominance, as it evades the allotment of our lives and lands and faces the threat directly.  our fight is that of all Indigenous peoples: to remain whole, unbroken, and adaptive through tradition."

"humility is elusive in an academic world that privileges individual achievement over communal harmony"

 "to survive in the mouth of this dragon we call america, we have had to learn this first and most vital lesson - that we were never meant to survive.  not as human beings." - audre lorde

"whether Native or non-Native, we've been trained by the overculture to see whiteness as normative and eternal; decolonization, in this worldview, is not only portrayed as unrealistic, but even pathological, for it brings into question the very conceptual foundations upon which the colonial estate is built."

"the struggle for sovereignty is not a struggle to be free from the influence of anything outside ourselves, but a process of asserting the power we possess as communities and individuals to make decisions that affect our lives." -clyde warrior

"we're also active participants in the community's making of meaning.  we're not outsiders looking in; we're insiders looking in and out."

"American Indian people have recently experienced the end of the world. . . [we] are a postapocalypse people who, as such, have tremendous experience to offer all other people who must, in their own time, experience their own cultural death as part of the natural cycle.  the ways in which American Indian people have suffered, survived, and managed to go on, communicated through story-telling, have tremendous potential to affect the future of mankind." -sidner larson

"all people have poetry in them.  some can't write it, but the poet can listen intently to what people say and send it out into the world.  it's a process of translation for the people." - marilou awiakta

Saturday, November 3, 2012

summer reading part one

all quotes from the book indigenizing the academy: transforming scholarship and empowering communities edited by devon abbott mihesuah & angela cavender wilson

from chapter 1: "marginal and submarginal" by vine deloria jr.

"academia has often been a hotbed of racism because scholars are taught to pretend that they can observe phenomena objectively."

"with western thought primarily a binary, yes/no method of determining truth, so much data is excluded, and so limited are the possible answers that western knowledge might be regarded as a mere classification system devoid of valid conclusions."

from chapter 2: "academic gatekeepers" by devon abbott mihesuah

"all rulers are the heirs of those who conquered before them.  whoever has emerged victorious participates to this day in the triumphal procession in which the present rulers step over those who are lying prostrate.  according to traditional practice, the spoils are carried along in the procession." -walter benjamin

"projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry.  the teacher presents himself to his students as their necessary opposite; by considering their ignorance absolute, he justifies his own existence." -paulo freire

"what is the use of studying history and culture if you cannot assist those alive today?"

from chapter 3: "corrupt state university: the organizational psychology of native experience in higher education" by keith james

"the image of an institution of higher education that many of us have internalized includes ideals of dominance of reason, meritocracy, free exchange of ideas, and humanistic support for the downtrodden.  in higher education, as in organizations of other types, however, emotion, informal identity, and culture- and social-group-based norms frequently trump formal institutional ideals, goals, and policies."

"professing one set of policies and procedures while actually operating under another is the essence of corruption.  in fact, the tendency of groups whose members share a common identity to share information and decisions among themselves and withhold it from outsiders is a major corrupting force of bureaucratic systems."

"it is not that linearity and reductionism are evil a priori, it is just that they tend to be overly valued by mainstream science and mainstream academics such that complexity and integration are often ignored or greeted with hostility even when circumstances really demand them."

from chapter 4: "reclaiming our humanity: decolonization and the recovery of indigenous knowledge" by angela cavender wilson

"a large part of decolonization entails developing a critical consciousness about the cause(s) of our oppression, the distortion of history, our own collaboration, and the degrees to which we have internalized colonialist ideas and practices.  decolonization requires auto-criticism, self-reflection, and a rejection of victimage.  decolonization is about empowerment - a belief that situations can be transformed, a belief and trust in our own peoples' values and abilities, and a willingness to make change.  it is about transforming negative reactionary energy into the more positive rebuilding energy needed in our communities." -winona wheeler

"as intellectuals we have a responsibility to generate and sustain a social and political discourse that is respectful of the wisdom embedded within our traditions; we must find answers from within those traditions, and present them in ways that preserve the integrity of our languages and communicative styles.  most importantly, as writers and thinkers, we should be answerable to our nations and communities." -taiaiake alfred

"engaging in an activity within the academy such as the recovery of Indigenous knowledge also presumes that to some extent Indigenous knowledge can be effectively transferable to an institution.  this is a great presumption, and certainly we as Indigenous scholars would agree that there is much tribal knowledge that is inappropriate for the microscope, manuscript, or classroom."

Thursday, November 1, 2012



i was born with a path of skin
measuring itself.

i tumbled into the front row
without tickets, past security,
here. this. have a seat.

we find a stage,
sweltering wounds,
heat and blushing and bandages.

let's speak about skin but also
about paper. with documents 
and dollars, let's talk

prisons, land.
the mystic hears music

and sleeps in
jumpsuits (the color of sun
rise), cold cots with no
one to call.


seriously, go. 

find it,
the answers.

what becomes of this
empty rhetoric, what of this
cold eye yay eye.

i just don't get
it i get it


there are fences that fall on my hand
as i reach, there are borders
that cross my body at each
blue eye

so crying comes
easily, heaving, it happens
a lot, i will
rise into echoes

overfed or
so small
i disappear

you tell me.

for the cracked
brutal landscape of this
world, is my heart?

show ourselves
in shiny surfaces
and tiny