Sunday, April 28, 2013

kora in hell:

by william carlos williams 

How deftly we keep love from each other. It is no trick at 
all: the movement of a cat that leaps a low barrier. You have 
if the truth be known loved only one man and that was before 
my time. Past him you have never thought nor desired to think. 
In his perfections you are perfect. You are likewise perfect in 
other things. You present to me the surface of a marble. And 
I, we will say, loved also before your time. Put it quite 
obscenely. And I have my perfections. So here we present 
ourselves to each other naked. What have we effected ? Say 
we have aged a little together and you have borne children. We 
have in short thriven as the world goes. We have proved fertile. 
The children are apparently healthy. One of them is even 
whimsical and one has an unusual memory and a keen eye. 
But It is not that we have not felt a certain rumbling, a certain 
stirring of the earth but what has it amounted to? Your first 
love and mine were of different species. There is only one way 
out. It is for me to take up my basket of words and for you to 
sit at your piano, each his own way, until I have, if it so be that 
good fortune smile my way, made a shrewd bargain at some fair 
and so by dint of heavy straining supplanted in your memory the 
brilliance of the old armhold. Which is impossible. Ergo: I 
am a blackguard. 

The act is disclosed by the imagination of it. But of first 
importance is to realize that the imagination leads and the deed 
comes behind. First Don Quixote then Sancho Panza. So that 
the act, to win its praise, will win it in diverse fashions according 
to the way the imagination has taken. Thus a harsh deed will 
sometimes win its praise through laughter and sometimes through 
savage mockery, and a deed of simple kindness will come to its 
reward through sarcastic comment. Each thing is secure in its 
own perfections. 


After thirty years staring at one true phrase he discovered 
that its opposite was true also. For weeks he laughed in the grip 
of a fierce self derision. Having lost the falsehood to which he d 
fixed his hawser he rolled drunkenly about the field of his 
environment before the new direction began to dawn upon his 
cracked mind. What a fool ever to be tricked into seriousness. 
Soft hearted, hard hearted. Thick crystals began to shoot 
through the liquid of his spirit. Black, they were: branches that 
have lain in a fog which now a wind is blowing away. Things 
move. Fatigued as you are watch how the mirror sieves out the 
extraneous : in sleep as in waking. Summoned to his door by a 
tinkling bell he looked into a white face, the face of a man 
convulsed with dread, saw the laughter back of its drawn alert 
ness. Out in the air: the sidesplitting burlesque of a sparkling 
midnight stooping over a little house on a sandbank. The city at 
the horizon blowing a lurid red against the flat cloud. The moon 
masquerading for a tower clock over the factory, its hands in a 
gesture that, were time real, would have settled all. But the 
delusion convulses the leafless trees with the deepest appreciation 
of the mummery : insolent poking of a face upon the half-lit win 
dow from which the screams burst. So the man alighted in the 
great silence, with a myopic star blinking to clear its eye over his 
hat top. He comes to do good. Fatigue tickles his calves and 
the lower part of his back with solicitous fingers, strokes his feet 
and his knees with appreciative charity. He plunges up the dark 
steps on his grotesque deed of mercy. In his warped brain an 
owl of irony fixes on the immediate object of his care as if it 
were the thing to be destroyed, guffaws at the impossibility of 
putting any kind of value on the object inside or of even reversing 
or making less by any other means than induced sleep which is 
no solution the methodical gripe of the sufferer. Stupidity 
couched in a dingy room beside the kitchen. One room stove- 
hot, the next the dead cold of a butcher s ice box. The man 
leaned and cut the baby from its stem. Slop in disinfectant, roar 
with derision at the insipid blood stench: hallucination comes to 
the rescue on the brink of seriousness: the gas-stove flame is 
starblue, violets back of L Orloge at Lancy. The smile of a 
spring morning trickles into the back of his head and blinds the 
eyes to the irritation of the poppy red flux. A cracked window 
blind lets in Venus. Stars. The hand-lamp is too feeble to have 
its own way. The vanity of their neck stretching, trying to be 
large as a street-lamp sets him roaring to himself anew. And 
rubber gloves, the color of moist dates, the identical glisten and 
texture : means a ballon trip to Fez. So one is a ridiculous savior 
of the poor, with fatigue always at his elbow with a new jest, 
the newest smutty story, the prettiest defiance of insipid pretences 
that cannot again assert divine right nonsensical gods that are 
fit to lick shoes clean : and the great round face of Sister Palagia 
straining to keep composure against the jaws of a body louse. 
In at the back door. We have been a benefactor. The cross 
laughter has been denied us but one cannot have more than the 
appetite sanctions. 


Awake early to the white blare of a sun flooding in sidewise. 
Strip and bathe in it. Ha, but an ache tearing at your throat and 
a vague cinema lifting its black moon blot all out. There s no 
walking barefoot in the crisp leaves nowadays. There s no 
dancing save in the head s dark. Go draped in soot; call on 
modern medicine to help you: the coal man s blowing his thin 
dust up through the house ! Why then, a new step lady ! I ll 
meet you you know where o the dark side! Let the wheel 

In the mind there is a continual play of obscure images which 
coming between the eyes and their prey seem pictures on the 
screen at the movies. Somewhere there appears to be a mal 
adjustment. The wish would be to see not floating visions of 
unknown purport but the imaginative qualities of the actual 
things being perceived accompany their gross vision in a slow 
dance, interpreting as they go. But inasmuch as this will not 
always be the case one must dance nevertheless as he can. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

getting acquainted

from awareness itself: the teachings of ajaan fuang jotiko

"other people can teach you only the outer skin, but as for what lies deeper inside, only you can lay down the law for yourself.  you have to draw the line, being mindful, keeping track of what you do at all times.  it's like having a teacher following you around, in public and in private, keeping watch over you, telling you what to do and what not to do, making sure that you stay in line.  if you don't have this sort of teacher inside you, the mind is bound to stray off the path and get into mischief, shoplifting all over town."

"a student came to complain to ajaan fuang that she had been meditating for years, and still hadn't gotten anything out of it.  his immediate response: 'you don't meditate to 'get' anything.  you meditate to let go.'"

"how do you use your powers of observation to get acquainted with the breath?  ask yourself: do you know the breath?  is the breath there?  if you can't see whether the breath is for real, look further in until it's clearly there.  the important thing is whether or not you're for real.  if you are, then simply keep at it.  that's all there is to it.  simply keep being real, being true in what you do, and your mediation will make progress.  it'll gradually grow stronger, and the mind will grow calm.  just be clear about what you're doing.  don't have any doubts.  if you can doubt even your own breath, then there are no two ways about it: you'll doubt everything.  no matter what happens, you'll be uncertain about it.  so be straightforward and true in whatever you do, for everything comes down to whether or not you're true."

"the breath can be a resting place for the mind, or it can be what the mind actively contemplates.  when the mind isn't willing to settle down and be still, it's a sign that it wants exercise.  so we give it work to do.  we make it scan the body and contemplate the breath sensations in the different parts to see how they're related to the in-and-out breath, to see where the energy flows smoothly and where it's blocked.  but make sure that your mind doesn't wander outside of the body.  keep it circling around inside and don't let it stop until it gets tired.  once it's tired you can find a place for it to rest, and it'll stay there without your having to force it."

"people of discernment can take anything at all and put it to good use."

"there are two kinds of people: those who like to think and those who don't.  when people who don't like to think start meditating, you have to force them to contemplate things.  if you don't force them, they'll simply get stuck like a stump in concentration, and won't get anywhere at all.  as for those who like to think, they really have to use force to get their minds to settle down.  but once they've mastered concentration, you don't have to force them to contemplate.  whatever strikes the mind, they're sure to contemplate it right away."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


i went for the throat
my throat
said too much
coughed up blood
two fingers to the windpipe

i went for the head
against the wall or floor
my head
smashing?  i can't remember
something rattled, came loose

i went for the fluids
drained every organ, orifice
my openings
scratched the definition of skin
which is the real
which has its limits

was there a gun or a knife or
a car or ice was there a fall
on rocks or fumes or pills was it
spring or evening what
was swallowed where
did it lead

i went for the walk
in good company,
my desire.
a train approached, a whistle.

i let go of my hand


Monday, April 22, 2013


quotes from the use of pleasure: the history of sexuality by michel foucault

"the aphrodisia are the acts, gestures, and contacts that produce a certain form of pleasure."

"when aristotle in his nicomachean ethics wants to determine exactly which people deserve to be called 'self-indulgent,' his definition is cautiously restrictive: self-indulgence - akolasia - relates only to the pleasures of the body, and among these, the pleasures of sight, hearing, and smell must be excluded.  it is not self-indulgent to 'delight in' colors, shapes, or paintings, nor in theater or music; one can, without self-indulgence, delight in the scent of fruit, roses, or incense; and. . . anyone who would become so intensely absorbed in looking at a statue or in listening to a song as to lose his appetite or taste for lovemaking could not be reproached for self-indulgence"

"for there is pleasure that is liable to akolasia only where there is touch and contact: contact with the mouth, the tongue, and the throat (for the pleasures of food and drink), or contact with other parts of the body (for the pleasures of sex)."

"one should, however, note the importance attributed by many greek texts to the gaze and to the eyes in the genesis of desire or love, but it is not that the pleasure of the gaze is self-indulgent; rather, it is thought to make an opening through which the soul is reached. . . as for the kiss, it was very highly valued as a physical pleasure and a communication of souls despite the danger it carried.  as a matter of fact, an entire historical study could be undertaken on the 'pleasure body' and its transformations."

"in the teaching and the exercise of moderation, it is recommended to be wary of sounds, images, and scents; but this is not because attachment to them would be only the masked form of a desire whose essence is sexual: it is because there are musical forms capable of weakening the soul with their rhythms, and because there are sights capable of affecting the soul like a venom, and because a particular scent, a particular image, is apt to call up the 'memory of the thing desired.'"

"in the experience of the aphrodisia. . . act, desire, and pleasure formed an ensemble whose elements were distinguishable certainly, but closely bound to one another."

"nature intended. . . that the performance of the act be associated with a pleasure, and it was this pleasure that gave rise to epithumia, to desire, in a movement that was naturally directed toward what 'gives pleasure', according to a principle that aristotle cites: desire is always 'desire for the agreeable thing'. . .for the greeks there could not be desire without privation, without the want of the thing desired and without a certain amount of suffering mixed in; but the appetite, plato explains in the philebus, can be aroused only by the representation, the image or the memory of the thing that gives pleasure."  

"what seems in fact to have formed the object of moral reflection for the greeks in matters of sexual conduct was not exactly the act itself (considered in its different modalities), or desire (viewed from the standpoint of its origin or its aim), or even pleasure (evaluated according to the different objects or practices that can cause it); it was more the dynamics that joined all three in a circular fashion (the desire that leads to the act, the act that is linked to pleasure, and the pleasure that occasions desire).  the ethical question that was raised was not: which desires?  which acts?  which pleasures?  but rather with what force is one transported 'by the pleasures and desires'?  . . .it was an ontology of a force that linked together acts, pleasures, and desires.  it was this dynamic relationship that constituted what might be called the texture of the ethical experience of the aphrodisia." 

"the second major variable that engaged moral valuation, in addition to the 'quantity of activity' criterion, was the question of remaining in one's role or abandoning it, being the subject of the activity or its object, joining those who underwent it - even if one was a man - or remaining with those who actively performed it.  for a man, excess and passivity were the two main forms of immorality in the practice of the aphrodisia."

"while it was all right to 'use' pleasures, one had to be careful not to be carried away by them - the reason was not that sexual activity was a vice, nor that it might deviate from a canonical model; it was because sexual activity was associated with a force, an energeia, that was itself liable to be excessive."

"when he speaks in the symposium, the doctor eryximachus claims for his art the prerogrative of advising on the  manner in which one must make use of the pleasures of the bed and the table; according to him, it is doctors who ought to say how to enjoy rich food without making oneself sick; it also rests with them to prescribe, to those who practice physical love - eros pandemos - how to have an orgasm without any resulting ill effects.  it would be interesting, surely, to trace the long history of the connections between alimentary ethics and sexual ethics, as manifested in doctrines, but also in religious rituals and dietary rules; one would need to discover how, over a long period of time, the play of alimentary prescriptions became uncoupled from that of sexual morals, by following the evolution of their respective importance (with the rather belated moment, no doubt, when the problem of sexual conduct became more worrisome that that of alimentary behaviors) and the gradual differentiation of their specific structure (the moment when sexual desire began to be questioned in terms other than alimentary appetite)."

"they all raised the same question: how could one, how must one 'make use' of this dynamics of pleasures, desires, and acts?  a question of right use."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

the answer to anger & aggression is patience


The Buddhist teachings tell us that patience is the antidote to anger and aggression. When we feel aggression in all its many forms—resentment, bitterness, being very critical, complaining and so forth—we can apply the different practices we’ve been given and all the good advice we’ve heard and given to other people. But those often don’t seem to help us. That’s why this teaching about patience caught my interest a few years ago, because it’s so hard to know what to do when one feels anger and aggression.

I thought, if patience is the antidote to aggression, maybe I’ll just try that. In the process I learned a lot about what patience is and about what it isn’t. I would like to share with you what I’ve learned, to encourage you to find out for yourself how patience works with aggression.

To begin with, I learned about patience and the cessation of suffering. It’s said that patience is a way to de-escalate aggression. I’m thinking here of aggression as synonymous with pain. When we’re feeling aggressive—and in some sense this would apply to any strong feeling—there’s an enormous pregnant quality that pulls us in the direction of wanting to get some resolution. It hurts so much to feel the aggression that we want it to be resolved.

So what do we usually do? We do exactly what is going to escalate the aggression and the suffering. We strike out; we hit back. Something hurts our feelings, and initially there is some softness there—if you’re fast, you can catch it—but usually you don’t even realize there is any softness. You find yourself in the middle of a hot, noisy, pulsating, wanting-to-just-get-even-with-someone state of mind: it has a very hard quality to it. With your words or your actions, in order to escape the pain of aggression, you create more aggression and pain.

At that point, patience means getting smart: you stop and wait. You also have to shut up, because if you say anything it’s going to come out aggressive, even if you say, “I love you.”

Once, when I was very angry at a colleague of mine, I called him on the telephone. I can’t even remember now what I was angry about, but at the time I couldn’t sleep because I was so furious. I tried meditating with my anger and working with it and doing practices with it, but nothing helped, so I just got up in the middle of the night and called him. When he answered the phone, all I said was, “Hi, Yeshe.” But he immediately asked, “Did I do something wrong?” I thought I would very sweetly cover over what I was really feeling and say something pleasant about all the bad things he had done, whatever they were. But just by the tone of my greeting to him, he knew. That’s what it’s like with aggression: you can’t speak because everyone will feel the vibes. No matter what is coming out of your mouth, it’s like you’re sitting on top of a keg of dynamite and it’s vibrating.

Patience has a lot to do with getting smart at that point and just waiting: not speaking or doing anything. On the other hand, it also means being completely and totally honest with yourself about the fact that you’re furious. You’re not suppressing anything—patience has nothing to do with suppression. In fact, it has everything to do with a gentle, honest relationship with yourself. If you wait and don’t feed your discursive thought, you can be honest about the fact that you’re angry. But at the same time you can continue to let go of the internal dialogue. In that dialogue you are blaming and criticizing, and then probably feeling guilty and beating yourself up for doing that. It’s torturous, because you feel bad about being so angry at the same time that you really are extremely angry, and you can’t drop it. It’s painful to experience such awful confusion. Still, you just wait and remain patient with your confusion and the pain that comes with it.

Patience has a quality of enormous honesty in it, but it also has a quality of not escalating things, allowing a lot of space for the other person to speak, for the other person to express themselves, while you don’t react, even though inside you are reacting. You let the words go and just be there.

This suggests the fearlessness that goes with patience. If you practice the kind of patience that leads to the de-escalation of aggression and the cessation of suffering, you will be cultivating enormous courage. You will really get to know anger and how it breeds violent words and actions. You will see the whole thing without acting it out. When you practice patience, you’re not repressing anger, you’re just sitting there with it—going cold turkey with the aggression. As a result, you really get to know the energy of anger and you also get to know where it leads, even without going there. You’ve expressed your anger so many times, you know where it will lead. The desire to say something mean, to gossip or slander, to complain—to just somehow get rid of that aggression—is like a tidal wave. But you realize that such actions don’t get rid of the aggression; they escalate it. So instead you’re patient, patient with yourself.

Developing patience and fearlessness means learning to sit still with the edginess of the energy. It’s like sitting on a wild horse, or on a wild tiger that could eat you up. There’s a limerick to that effect: “There was a young lady of Niger, who smiled as she rode on a tiger. They came back from the ride with the lady inside and the smile on the face of the tiger.” Sitting with your discomfort feels like riding on that tiger, because it’s so frightening.

When we examine this process we learn something very interesting: there is no resolution. The resolution that human beings seek comes from a tremendous misunderstanding. We think we can resolve everything! When we human beings feel powerful energy, we tend to be extremely uncomfortable until things are resolved in some kind of secure and comforting way, either on the side of yes or the side of no. Or the side of right or the side of wrong. Or the side of anything at all that we can hold on to.

But the practice we’re doing gives us nothing to hold on to. Actually, the teachings themselves give us nothing to hold on to. In working with patience and fearlessness, we learn to be patient with the fact that we’re human beings, that everyone who is born and dies from the beginning of time until the end of time is naturally going to want some kind of resolution to this edgy, moody energy. And there isn’t any. The only resolution is temporary and just causes more suffering. We discover that as a matter of fact joy and happiness, peace, harmony and being at home with yourself and your world come from sitting still with the moodiness of the energy until it rises, dwells and passes away. The energy never resolves itself into something solid.

So all the while, we stay in the middle of the energy. The path of touching in on the inherent softness of the genuine heart is to sit still and be patient with that kind of energy. We don’t have to criticize ourselves when we fail, even for a moment, because we’re just completely typical human beings; the only thing that’s unique about us is that we’re brave enough to go into these things more deeply and explore beneath our surface reaction of trying to get solid ground under our feet.

Patience is an enormously wonderful and supportive and even magical practice. It’s a way of completely changing the fundamental human habit of trying to resolve things by going either to the right or the left, calling things right or calling things wrong. It’s the way to develop courage, the way to find out what life is really about.

Patience is also not ignoring. In fact, patience and curiosity go together. You wonder, Who am I? Who am I at the level of my neurotic patterns? Who am I at the level beyond birth and death? If you wish to look into the nature of your own being, you need to be inquisitive. The path is a journey of investigation, beginning to look more deeply at what’s going on. The teachings give us a lot of suggestions about what we can look for, and the practices give us a lot of suggestions on how to look. Patience is one extremely helpful suggestion. Aggression, on the other hand, prevents us from looking: it puts a tight lid on our curiosity. Aggression is an energy that is determined to resolve the situation into a hard, solid, fixed pattern in which somebody wins and somebody loses.

When you begin to investigate, you notice, for one thing, that whenever there is pain of any kind—the pain of aggression, grieving, loss, irritation, resentment, jealousy, indigestion, physical pain—if you really look into that, you can find out for yourself that behind the pain there is always something we are attached to. There is always something we’re holding on to.

I say that with such confidence, but you have to find out for yourself whether this is really true. You can read about it: the first thing the Buddha ever taught was the truth that suffering comes from attachment. That’s in the books. But when you discover it yourself, it goes a little deeper right away.

As soon as you discover that behind your pain is something you’re holding on to, you are at a place that you will frequently experience on the spiritual path. After a while it seems like almost every moment of your life you’re there, at a point where you realize you actually have a choice. You have a choice whether to open or close, whether to hold on or let go, whether to harden or soften.

That choice is presented to you again and again and again. For instance, you’re feeling pain, you look deeply into it, and you notice that there’s something very hard you’re holding on to. And then you have a choice: you can let go of it, which basically means you connect with the softness behind all that hardness. Perhaps each one of us has made the discovery that behind all the hardness of resistance, stress, aggression and jealousy, there is enormous softness that we’re trying to cover over. Aggression usually begins when someone hurts our feelings. The first response is very soft, but before we even notice what we’re doing, we harden. So we can either let go and connect with that softness or we can continue to hold on, which means that the suffering will continue.

It requires enormous patience even to be curious enough to look, to investigate. And then when you realize you have a choice, and that there’s actually something there that you’re attached to, it requires great patience to keep going into it. Because you will want to go into denial, to shut down. You’re going to say to yourself, “I don’t want to see this.” You’ll be afraid, because even if you’re starting to get close to it, the thought of letting go is usually very frightening. You may feel that you’re going to die, or that something is going to die. And you will be right. If you let go, something will die. But it’s something that needs to die and you will benefit greatly from its death.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s easy to let go. If you make this journey of looking to see if there’s something you’re holding on to, often it’s going to be just a little thing. Once when I was stuck with something huge, Trungpa Rinpoche gave me some advice. He said, “It’s too big; you can’t let go of it yet, so practice with the little ones. Just start noticing all the little ways you hold when it’s actually pretty easy and just get the hang of letting go.”

That was extremely good advice. You don’t have to do the big one, because usually you can’t. It’s too threatening. It may even be too harsh to let go right then and there, on the spot. But even with small things, you may—perhaps just intellectually—begin to see that letting go can bring a sense of enormous relief, relaxation and connection with the softness and tenderness of the genuine heart. True joy comes from that.

You can also see that holding on increases the pain, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to let go, because there’s a lot at stake. What’s at stake is your whole sense of who you are, your whole identity. You’re beginning to move into the territory of egolessness, the insubstantial nature of oneself—and of everything, for that matter. Theoretical, philosophical, distant-sounding teachings can get pretty real when you’re beginning to have an inkling of what they’re actually talking about.

It takes a lot of patience not to beat up on yourself for being a failure at letting go. But if you apply patience to the fact that you can’t let go, somehow that helps you to do it. Patience with the fact that you can’t let go helps you to get to the point of letting go gradually—at a very sane and loving speed, at the speed that your basic wisdom allows you to move. It’s a big moment even to get to the point where you realize you have a choice. Patience is what you need at that point to just wait and soften, to sit with the restlessness and edginess and discomfort of the energy.

I’ve come to find that patience has a lot of humor and playfulness in it. It’s a misunderstanding to think of it as endurance, as in, “Just grin and bear it.” Endurance involves some kind of repression or trying to live up to somebody else’s standards of perfection. Instead, you find you have to be pretty patient with what you see as your own imperfections. Patience is a kind of synonym for loving-kindness, because the speed of loving-kindness can be extremely slow. You are developing patience and loving-kindness for your own imperfections, for your own limitations, for not living up to your own high ideals. There’s a slogan someone once came up with that I like: “Lower your standards and relax as it is.” That’s patience.

One of the Indian Buddhist teacher Atisha’s slogans says, “Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.” It means that if a painful situation occurs, be patient, and if a pleasant situation occurs, be patient. This is an interesting point in terms of patience and the cessation of suffering, patience and fearlessness, and patience and curiosity. We are actually jumping all the time: whether it’s pain or pleasure, we want resolution. So if we’re really happy and something is great, we could also be patient then, in terms of not just filling up the space, going a million miles an hour—impulse buying, impulse speaking, impulse acting.

I’d like to stress that one of the things you most have to be patient with is, “Oops, I did it again!” There’s a slogan that says, “One at the beginning and one at the end.” That means that when you wake up in the morning you make your resolve, and at the end of the day you review, with a caring and gentle attitude, how you have done. Our normal resolve is to say something like, “I am going to be patient today,” or some other such set-up (as someone put it, we plan our next failure). Instead of setting yourself up, you can say, “Today, I’m going to try to the best of my ability to be patient.” And then in the evening you can look back over the whole day with loving-kindness and not beat yourself up. You’re patient with the fact that when you review your day, or even the last forty minutes, you discover, “I’ve talked and filled up all the space, just like I’ve done all my life, as long as I can remember. I was aggressive with the same style of aggression that I’ve used as long as I can remember. I got carried away with irritation exactly the same way that I have for the last...” If you’re twenty years old, it’s been twenty years that you’ve been doing it that way; if you’re seventy-five years old, it’s seventy-five years that you’ve been doing it that way. You see this and you say, “Give me a break!”

The path of developing loving-kindness and compassion is to be patient with the fact that you’re human and that you make these mistakes. That’s more important than getting it right. It seems to work only if you’re aspiring to give yourself a break, to lighten up, as you practice developing patience and other qualities such as generosity, discipline and insight. As with the rest of the teachings, you can’t win and you can’t lose. You don’t get to just say, “Well, since I am never able to do it, I’m not going to try.” You are never able to do it and still you try. And, interestingly enough, that adds up to something; it adds up to loving-kindness for yourself and for others. You look out your eyes and you see yourself wherever you go. You see all these people who are losing it, just like you do. Then, you see all these people who catch themselves and give you the gift of fearlessness. You say, “Oh wow, what a brave one—he or she caught themselves.” You begin to appreciate even the slightest gesture of bravery on the part of others because you know it’s not easy, and that inspires you tremendously. That’s how we can really help each other.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

i'll take an x on my finger

quotes from the essay "gay marriage and queer love" by ryan conrad (from the book queering anarchism: addressing and undressing power and desire)

"marriage has never been centrally organized around love, but the buying and selling of womyn as property through a patriarchal dowry system that evolved into the soft coercion of domestic indentured servitude."

"now, in the aftermath of the nauseatingly class-elitist failed campaign, gay and lesbian organizations, and the professional activists that prop them up, remain resiliently resistant to critically questioning what we, as queer and trans subjects, are seeking to be equal to in the first place.  do we really want full inclusion in the institution of marriage, a social contract that explicitly limits the ways in which we organize our emotional and erotic lives?"

"these state benefits and privileges, as outlined in the defense of marriage act, are overwhelmingly about the transfer of money and property (including children, as the only way marriage allows us to think about them is like property).  the almost exclusive emphasis on property rights highlights that marriage has little to do with love, but with benefits and privileges as doled out by the state to those who adhere to a specific set of moral values determined by the church."

"what if we, as a queer and trans social justice movement, focused on achieving access to many of marriage's forbidden fruits (i.e., healthcare, freedom of movement across nation-state borders, etc.) for all people, not just citizen couples, gay, straight, or otherwise?"

"neoliberalism, which i broadly define here as the concentrated privatization of every facet of our daily lives, depends upon this affective discourse, which asserts that the immediate family constitutes an unproblematized site of safety and security while the rest of the world is rendered a dangerous outside."

"furthermore, equality rhetoric has created a vacuum of gay pragmatism in which our queer political imagination has withered away."

"equality rhetoric. . . positions our most fantastic queer futures as not only unattainable but also unreasonable.  it demands that we put our time and energy into the desperate fight to be equal participants in oppressive and archaic institutions instead of attempting to actualize our dreams of queer utopia. . . i invoke utopia here not as a naively conceived physical time or space, but rather as a mode of critical inquiry, an understanding that we should always be attempting to realize our most fantastic and equitable queer futures in the here and now.  why aim for anything less than the horizon of becoming?"

and some words from emma goldman (1917)