Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"the real function of a spiritual friend is to insult you"

all quotes from the places that scare you by pema chodron

"it's important to recognize that we don't usually want to investigate laziness or any other habit. we want to indulge or ignore or condemn. . . we want to continue to escape into comfort orientation, to talk to ourselves endlessly about our loss of heart, or to chew on the fatalism of couldn't care less."

"we train. . . in 'not afraid to be a fool'. we cultivate a simple, direct relationship with our being -- no philosophizing, no moralizing, no judgments. whatever arises in our mind is workable."

"he taught that when we understand that there is no final attainment, no ultimate answer or stopping place, when our mind is free of warring emotions and the belief in separateness, then we will have no fear. . . to the extent that we stop struggling against uncertainty and ambiguity, to that extent we dissolve our fear. . . by learning to relax with groundlessness, we gradually connect with the mind that knows no fear."

"when we start to interrupt our ordinary ways of calling ourselves names and patting ourselves on the back, we are doing something extremely brave. slowly we edge toward the open state, but let's face it, we are moving toward a place of no handholds, no footholds, no mindholds. this may be called liberation, but for a long time it feels like insecurity."

"with ongoing patience and kindness toward this inevitable process, we will never trust that it's wise and compassionate to relax into the egoless state. we have to gradually develop the confidence that it is liberating to let go. . . it takes time to develop enthusiasm for how remaining open really feels."

"when our attitude toward fear becomes more welcoming and inquisitive, there's a fundamental shift that occurs."

"the practice is compassionate inquiry into our moods, our emotions, our thoughts. . . we are encouraged to be curious about the neurosis that's bound to kick in when our coping mechanisms start falling apart. this is how we get to the place where we stop believing in our personal myths, the place where we are not always divided against ourselves, always resisting our own energy."

"this relationship will show us if our heart is big enough to welcome the whole gamut of life -- not just the part that we approve of. to the degree that we are capable of remaining steadfast with our spiritual friend, to this degree we can remain steadfast with the world as it is, with all its violence and tenderness, with its meanness and moments of courage. we find ourselves opening up in a way we never thought was possible."

"once we click into solid views of justification or blaming, our minds become very small. closing down in any form causes suffering to escalate. our solid views could take the form of 'the teacher is perfect and can do no wrong' or 'the teacher is a charlatan and can never be trusted.' both are expressions of freezing the mind. we love to talk about vast, open mind, completely clear and spacious. but can we abide in the openness that presents itself when the bottom falls out of our dream?"

"in working with a spiritual friend we learn to love in an open-ended way -- to love and to be love unconditionally. we're not used to this kind of love. it's what we all want but what we all have difficulty giving. in my case i learned how to love and be loved by watching my teacher. when i saw how unconditionally he loved other people, i began to trust that he could also love me. i saw for myself what it means to never give up on anybody."

"this unconditional commitment to ourselves and to others is what is meant by limitless love. . . this mutual warmth, this heart connection, allows for a meeting of minds."

"anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. it's the kind of place we usually want to avoid. the challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. the challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid. becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender. when we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously. by not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what's happening, we begin to access our inner strength."

Monday, March 28, 2016

a visceral experience

quotes from between the world and me by ta-nehisi coates

"and you know now, if you did not before, that the police departments of your country have been endowed with the authority to destroy your body. it does not matter if the destruction is the result of an unfortunate overreaction. it does not matter if it originates in a misunderstanding. it does not matter if the destruction springs from a foolish policy. . . destruction is merely the superlative form a dominion whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings, beatings, and humiliations. all of this is common to black people."

"there is nothing uniquely evil in these destroyers or even in this moment. the destroyers are merely men enforcing the whims of our country, correctly interpreting its heritage and legacy. it is hard to face this. but all our phrasing -- race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy -- serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. you must never look away from this. you must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body."

"to be black in the baltimore of my youth was to be naked before the elements of the world, before all the guns, fists, knives, crack, rape, and disease. the nakedness is not an error, nor pathology. the nakedness is the correct and intended result of policy, the predictable upshot of people forced for centuries to live under fear. the law did not protect us. and now, in your time, the law has become an excuse for stopping and frisking you, which is to say, for furthering the assault on your body. but a society that protects some people through a safety net of schools, government-backed home loans, and ancestral wealth but can only protect you with the club of criminal justice has either failed at enforcing its good intentions or has succeeded at something much darker. . . it does not matter if the agent of those forces is white or black -- what matters is our condition, what matters is the system that makes your body breakable."

"not being violent enough could cost me my body. being too violent could cost me my body. we could not get out. i was a capable boy, intelligent, well-liked, but powerfully afraid. and i felt, vaguely, wordlessly, that for a child to be marked off for such a life, to be forced to live in fear was a great injustice."

"your grandmother was not teaching me how to behave in class. she was teaching me how to ruthlessly interrogate the subject that elicited the most sympathy and rationalizing -- myself. here was the lesson: i was not an innocent. my impulses were not filled with unfailing virture. and feeling that i was as human as anyone, this must be true for other humans. if i was not innocent, then they were not innocent. could this mix of motivation also affect the stories they tell? the cities they built? the country they claimed as given to them by god?"

Sunday, March 27, 2016

indiscriminate love

from the hours by michael cunningham

"what is wrong with her? she loves richard, she thinks of him constantly, but she perhaps loves the day slightly more. she loves west tenth street on an ordinary summer morning. she feels like a sluttish widow, freshly peroxided under her black veil, with her eyes on the eligible men at her husband's wake. of the three of them - louis, richard, and clarissa - clarissa has always been the most hard-hearted, and the one most prone to romance. she's endured teasing on the subject for more than thirty years; she decided long ago to give in and enjoy her own voluptuous, undisciplined responses, which, as richard put it, tend to be as unkind and adoring as those of a particularly irritating, precocious child. she knows that a poet like richard would move sternly through the same morning, editing it, dismissing incidental ugliness along with incidental beauty, seeking the economic and historical truth behind these old brick town houses, the austere stone complications of the episcopal church and the thin middle-aged man walking his jack russell terrier (they are suddenly ubiquitous along fifth avenue, these feisty, bowlegged little dogs), while she, clarissa, simply enjoys without reason the houses, the church, the man, and the dog. it's childish, she knows. it lacks edge. if she were to express it publicly (now, at her age), this love of hers would consign her to the realm of the duped and the simpleminded, christians with acoustic guitars or wives who've agreed to be harmless in exchange for their keep. still, this indiscriminate love feels entirely serious to her, as if everything in the world is part of a vast, inscrutable intention and everything in the world has its own secret name, a name that cannot be conveyed in language but is simply the sight and feel of the thing itself. this determined, abiding fascination is what she thinks of as her soul (an embarrassing, sentimental word, but what else to call it?); the part that might conceivably survive the death of the body. clarissa never speaks to anyone about any of that. she doesn't gush or chirp. she exclaims only over the obvious manifestations of beauty, and even then manages a certain aspect of adult restraint. beauty is a whore, she sometimes says. i like money better."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

getting free

all quotes from the places that scare you by pema chodron

"because they challenge us to the limits of our open-mindedness, difficult relationships are in many ways the most valuable for practice. the people who irritate us are the ones who inevitably blow our cover. through them we might come to see our defenses very clearly."

"when we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience our fear of pain. compassion practice is daring. it involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently towards what scares us. the trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion, to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance."

"the essence of bravery is being without self-deception. . . seeing ourselves clearly is initially uncomfortable and embarrassing. as we train in clarity and steadfastness, we see things we'd prefer to deny -- judgmentalness, pettiness, arrogance. these are. . . temporary and workable habits of mind. the more we get to know them, the more they lose their power."

"we can love someone for his own sake, not because he is worthy or unworthy, not because he is loving toward us or he isn't."

"it is our vulnerability in difficult encounters that causes us to shut down. when a relationship brings up old memories and ancient discomforts, we become afraid and harden our hearts. just at the moment when tears could come to our eyes, we pull back and do something mean."

"there are three near enemies of compassion: pity, overwhelm, and idiot compassion. pity or professional warmth is easily mistaken for true compassion. when we identify ourselves as the helper, it means we see others as helpless. instead of feeling the pain of the other person, we set ourselves apart. if we've ever been on the receiving end of pity we know how painful it feels. instead of warmth and support all we feel is distance. with true compassion these up-down identities are stripped away."

"overwhelm is a sense of helplessness. we feel there is so much suffering -- whatever we do is to no avail. we've become discouraged. . . the second way of training with overwhelm is to keep our attention on the other person. this one takes more courage. when someone else's pain triggers fear in us, we turn inward and start erecting walls. we panic because we feel we can't handle the pain. sometimes, we should trust this panic as a sign that we aren't yet ready to open so far. but sometimes instead of closing down or resisting we might have the courage to do something unpredictable: turn our attention back toward the other person. this is the same as keeping our heart open to the pain."

"the third near enemy of compassion is idiot compassion. this is when we avoid conflict and protect our good image by being kind when we should say a definite 'no'. compassion doesn't imply only trying to be good. when we find ourselves in an aggressive relationship, we need to set clear boundaries. the kindest thing we can do for everyone concerned is to know when to say 'enough'. . . it is said that in order not to break our vow of compassion we have to learn when to stop aggression and draw the line. there are times when the only way to bring down the barriers is to set boundaries.

the far enemy or opposite of compassion is cruelty. when we reach the limit of how much suffering we can take, we sometimes use cruelty as a defense against our fear of pain. this is common for anyone who was abused as a child. instead of feeling kindness for those who are defenseless and weak, we can feel an irrational desire to hurt them. we protect our vulnerability and fear by hardening. if we do not recognize that by doing this we hurt ourselves as much as we hurt others, we'll never get free. booker t. washington was right when he said, 'let no man pull you so low as to make you hate him.' cruelty when rationalized or unacknowledged destroys us.

the near enemy of joyfulness is overexcitement. we can churn ourselves into a manic state and mistake riding high above the sorrows of the world for unconditional joy. again, instead of connecting with others, this separates us. authentic joy is not a euphoric state or a feeling of being high. rather, it is a state of appreciation that allows us to participate fully in our lives. we train in rejoicing in the good fortune of self and others.

the far enemy of joy is envy. until i started working with the practice of rejoicing in the good fortune of others, i never realized i could be so envious. to say that this was humbling is an understatement. i was amazed to see how frequently i react to others' success with resentment."

"there is a simple practice we can do to cultivate forgiveness. first, we acknowledge what we feel - shame, revenge, embarrassment, remorse. then we forgive ourselves for being human. then, in the spirit of not wallowing in the pain, we let go and make a fresh start. we don't have to carry the burden with us anymore. we can acknowledge, forgive, and start anew. if we practice this way, little by little we'll learn to abide with the feeling of regret for having hurt ourselves and others. we will also learn self-forgiveness. eventually, at our own speed, we'll even find our capacity to forgive those who have done us harm."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


where to put
this craving
where to put
these words
this craving

poder, poner
to be able     to put
puedo tener poder
(a question)
to reach to succumb
i must find
other tongues

i: grasp without warning
i: choose without choices
write and rewrite revise and revisit
that: memory, jagged, flexed and exact
this: wished, clipped. narration, corrosion.

you: tell me
i: tell you








but what is worse

(a question)
pick me up
pick me
trick me

me: bondad verdad o belleza
let me get there
but not just yet
yes why not now
how silly
how sobering
how the addict
pivots, turns
someone's drug

(dios, mierda)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

i forbid you

quotes from adam haberberg by yasmina reza

"i can't picture the world. i can see only scattered fragments, shards, i can make no sense of it. i'm not capable of renting bicycles for my family because i'm simply not capable of grappling with the idea of joy, pedaling along amid the idea of joy kills me. whistling along amid salt breezes with happy families is beyond my strength. if i get onto a bicycle with the little one on the saddle behind, what'll overcome me is the desire to weep. to avoid having the desire to weep, one would need to have made a success of everything else, to feel oneself in one camp or the other. whistling along in single file with your wife and children amid the salt breezes is not the least you can do, it's the ultimate achievement."

"what gives her the right to judge what state i'm in, he thinks, what gives her the right to deliver an assessment of the state i'm in, this limping female rat in the rain with her bags of samples. what gives her the right to decree that i'm not well, this nauseatingly robust ghost from the past. it's not that i'm not well marie-therese, i'm extremely unwell, i'm experiencing indescribable grief and i've no idea where consolation might come from, but you cannot know that. you cannot imagine it, marie-therese, because your energy betrays you and your courage betrays you. a being who can live in this hole without being annihilated, who can open their shutters onto this barren landscape without weeping bitter tears, cannot judge the state i'm in. a being who can face that long, narrow kitchen and that lineup of domestic appliances without feeling mortally bereft cannot judge the state i'm in. i have no admiration for your energy, it injures me. i have no admiration for your good temper, it confounds and revolts me. nothing in you speaks to me and nothing in me can speak to you. and just because fate put me into your jeep wrangler today it doesn't mean you can claim the least complicity and tell me, with such gall, that i look as if i've hit rock bottom, and with what stupefying authority, that you could see clearly that i'm not well and that you'd seen it right away back at the jardin des plantes. you can understand nothing about my life because you, marie-therese, were damned from the start. you accepted this damnation and you live with it. you've blended into the mass, you've ironed out all the discords between the world and yourself, and made your nest there, you say bottom line, you talk about the image of the washing machine, you say i have positively bloomed, a woman who talks about my business with that fervor is forever alien to me. you're one of those people who never long for the impossible and one way or another have avoided expecting it. homespun sages, i'd call you. people who succeed because they're genuine and authentic in a milieu in which any sensitive spirit withers and disintegrates. i refuse to believe that god has departed, leaving the field open to your sort of humanity. there's no parity between you and me. we don't resemble each other in any way, i forbid you to think we might be equals to the extent that i could allow myself to confide in you. defeat and the sense of desolation are beyond your ken. you don't know what solitude is. you get up alone, you have no children, you've bypassed the universal model, but you do not experience my solitude. if you experienced it you couldn't survive for two minutes between your burrow in viry and your operation setting up outlets in amusement parks. my own solitude clings to me, i'm never free of it. whether i'm with irene, or with the children amid the family life that'll be the death of me, in which a man only demeans himself and sells himself cheap, whether i'm in company or on my own, the feeling of solitude never leaves me. it's what rules my life. if it had ruled yours, marie-therese, you would be lying at the bottom of the lake, for you wouldn't be able to endure opening your shutters onto that dead water and those distant cries. at one moment in the jeep you said to me: we're not even fifty, you said we, as if we were from the same stable, you and i, as if the absurd class we were in at the lycee had any meaning. marie-therese, i hardly remember you at the lycee, you were the most invisible being ever. when you came up to me with your bags of samples and your umbrella, i pretended to be renewing a nonexistent link out of the kindness of my heart. when in the wrangler you said we, i realized my mistake, i realized it didn't strike you as an immense honor for me to be sitting on the seat beside you and an immense honor that i could accept your unthinkable invitation. now i learn that i was not even your equal but your protege. i made your heart bleed, bald and alone on my damp bench, and you loaded me into your four-by-four the way you would one of the zoo animals if they could be taken out of their cages. one cannot be too wary of people of your type, supposedly inoffensive people who crush one with a sentence. people who bring you down in the worst possible way, without you asking anything of them, without you granting them the privilege of the least familiarity, and who take advantage of your weakness to demolish you. marie-therese, i've held on to the naive dream of becoming a writer, that is to say a man who tries to save himself from himself. a man who, in order to hold on to a little momentum toward the future, attempts to exchange his own existence for that of words. i don't want to hear i'm not well. such phrases are of abject insignificance coming from you, marie-therese. my hair is turning white, my teeth are turning yellow, and my hands are shrinking. i forbid you to notice. even if i'm in the throes of death, i forbid you to notice that i'm in the throes of death, you have no right to notice anything at all about me, you can understand nothing about what i am, you have chosen to live as marie-therese lyoc, you have chosen to be part of the hoi polloi of humanity, we do not belong to the same caste, i forbid you to notice my decline."

Monday, March 21, 2016

the body of the condemned

all quotes from discipline and punish by michel foucault

"undercover of the relative stability of the law, a mass of subtle and rapid changes has occurred. certainly the 'crimes' and 'offences' on which judgment is passed are juridical objects defined by the code, but judgment is also passed on the passions, instincts, anomalies, infirmities, maladjustments, effects of environment or heredity; acts of aggression are punished, so also, through them, is aggressivity; rape, but at the same time perversions; murders, but also drives and desires. but, it will be objected, judgment is not actually being passed on them; if they are referred to at all it is to explain the actions in question, and to determine to what extent the subject's will was involved in the crime. this is no answer. for it is these shadows lurking behind the case itself that are judged and punished."

"knowledge of the offence, knowledge of the offender, knowledge of the law: these three conditions made it possible to ground a judgment in truth. but now a quite different question of truth is inscribed in the course of the penal judgment. the question is no longer simply: 'has the act been established and is it punishable?' but also: 'what is this act, what is this act of violence or this murder? to what level or to what field of reality does it belong? is it a phantasy, a psychotic reaction, a delusional episode, a perverse action?' it is no longer simply: 'who committed it?' but: 'how can we assign the causal process that produced it? where did it originate in the author himself? instinct, unconscious, environment, heredity?' it is not longer simply: 'what law punishes this offence?' but: 'what would be the most appropriate measures to take? how do we see the future development of the offender? what would be the best way of rehabilitating him?' a whole set of assessing, diagnostic, prognostic, normative judgments concerning the criminal have become lodged in the framework of penal judgment."

"the body is also directly involved in a political field; power relations have an immediate hold upon it; they invest it, mark it, train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to perform ceremonies, to emit signs. this political investment of the body is bound up, in accordance with complex reciprocal relations, with its economic use; it is largely as a force of production that the body is invested with relations of power and domination; but, on the other hand, its constitution as a labour power is possible only if it is caught up in a system of subjection (in which need is also a political instrument meticulously prepared, calculated and used); the body becomes a useful force only if it is both a productive body and a subjected body. this subjection is not only obtained by the instruments of violence or ideology; it can also be direct, physical, pitting force against force, bearing on material elements, and yet without involving violence; it may be calculated, organized, technically thought out; it may be subtle, make use neither of weapons nor of terror and yet remain of a physical order. that is to say, there may be a 'knowledge' of the body that is not exactly the science of its functioning, and a mastery of its forces that is more than the ability to conquer them: this knowledge and this mastery constitute what might be called the political technology of the body. of course, this technology is diffuse, rarely formulated in continuous, systematic discourse"

Sunday, March 20, 2016


in fact this vein
it shows and scourges it is never
too cold           for blue becomes

it shows! and scrubs the skin clear eyed
freckles and filth this skipped silt
wrapped taut and without warning
blew sky skimmed simply it burst
open it showed every inch and scratch i cried i swear i could do no harm

what i wanted was the sound of “opening”
but every however slammed the opposite
like this stretch of touch slapped out loud
out of place here as if white
ruffles and
black lace were a thing that crawled              
from dirty bugs

however budging however cut with muscles
the shape of a back i swear i swear
who looked with cutting eyes out of this place out

we spill

every time the door is knocked someone gets up

it makes no difference

why the body sways left to right left
to right
to right
this front
or around this wind spinning

the body makes hoops
the body curls itself like a catch
the skin a hasp, then a lock
the flesh forwards all and every
the motion       the blood

which is it. the lines the lake the store
or slivered sea.

i can't do this anymore
is what someone thinks
was said.

june 2015

Friday, March 18, 2016

grab bag

"The poems I have loved the most are those I have understood the least." - T.S. Eliot
"The only thing that separates the writer from others—and far from making him or her a better or wiser person, let alone a more amenable one, as it redoubles the force of solitude, 'one’s ultimate hard irreducible inorganic singleness'—is that the reading of a poem, or the pondering of a crucifixion, becomes an event. Not a diversion, a flight, or a release from chores, but an experience no less transformative than a day in bed with a lover." - Samuel Beckett
"The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person."
- Czesław Miłosz
“I forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.”
- Marcel Duchamp
“There are some things one can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction.” - Franz Kafka
"Wisdom is tolerance of cognitive dissonance." ~ Robert Thurman
“In the artist of all kinds, one can detect an inherent dilemma, which belongs to the co-existence of two trends, the urgent need to communicate and the still more urgent need not to be found.” - D. W. Winnicott
“My identifying features / are rapture and despair.” - Wisława Szymborska 
“Perhaps the greatest reading pleasure has an element of self-annihilation. To be so engrossed that you barely know you exist.” - Ian McEwan

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” - Simone Weil

“Poems do not endure as objects but as presences. When you read anything worth remembering, you liberate a human voice; you release into the world again a companion spirit.” - Louise Glück
"In poetry, you become infinitely small without disappearing." - Roberto Bolaño
"The most demanding part of living a lifetime as an artist is the strict discipline of forcing oneself to work steadfastly along the nerve of one's own most intimate sensitivity." - Anne Truitt
"All poets adore explosions, thunderstorms, tornadoes, conflagrations, ruins, scenes of spectacular carnage. The poetic imagination is not at all a desirable quality in a statesman." - W.H. Auden

“Let's not forget that small emotions are the great captains of our lives.” - Vincent van Gogh

Thursday, March 17, 2016


all quotes from the places that scare you by pema chodron

"even though peak experiences might show us the truth and inform us about why we are training, they are essentially no big deal. if we can't integrate them into the ups and downs of our lives, if we cling to them, they will hinder us. we can trust our experiences as valid, but then we have to move on and learn to get along with our neighbors. then even the most remarkable insights can begin to permeate our lives."

"it is possible to move through the drama of our lives without believing so earnestly in the character we play. that we take ourselves so seriously, that we are so absurdly important in our own minds, is a problem for us. . . self-importance hurts us, limiting us to the narrow world of our likes and dislikes. we end up bored to death with ourselves and the world. we end up never satisfied."

"it is only by practicing through a continual succession of agreeable and disagreeable situations that we acquire true strength. . . we expect that what is always changing should be graspable and predictable. we are born with a craving for resolution and security that governs our thoughts, words, and actions. . .  our prejudices and addictions are patterns that arise from the fear of a fluid world. because we mistakenly take what is always changing to be permanent, we suffer."

"only when we relate with ourselves without moralizing, without harshness, without deception, can we let go of harmful patterns."

"training with kindness results in someone who is flexible and confident, who doesn't become upset when situations are unpredictable and insecure. . . we need self-compassion to stabilize our minds. we need it to work with our emotions. we need it in order to stay."

"transformation occurs only when we remember, breath by breath, year after year, to move toward our emotional distress without condemning or justifying our experience."

"when our emotions intensify, what we usually feel is fear. thus we train in opening the fearful heart to the restlessness of our own energy. we learn to abide with the experience of our emotional distress."

Thursday, March 10, 2016


are not chosen

any stone
can sing

we come to languages
not lives

your tongue is useful
not unique

-lucille clifton, from mercy

Friday, March 4, 2016

i too

poor skin poor poem poor people someone was waiting for it
someone was poor
someone wants me to say
in spirit
but bored, i won't

i will not i say i will
                        letters are streaks of lightning.)

it matters with whom you converse about such things.

this the fix, the poor poor shot smoke drip dry
we wring. hands and things. i carved a simple cigarette
from false teeth. she smiled. her walk half hearted,
a dismount.

waves of carsickness become her. i prick up such ears
and cough. i am one of the “them”. i am “we” which is
sung with spirit
in unison

i am the start or the swipe
full-throated with a clench of fluid or fabric.
i too display
i too perform
i too
i too

june 2015

Thursday, March 3, 2016

narratives of whiteness

all quotes from white bound by matthew w. hughey

 “I view the taken-for-granted narratives and boundaries in everyday life as enabling people to interpret, represent, and explain social life in ways that rationalize a certain distribution of material and symbolic resources along particular racial lines.”

“These social relations play a critical role in perpetuating social inequality in the absence of formal laws and policies that stratify resources in ‘postracial’ america.”

“whites’ feelings of entitlement and trivialization are not racially neutral judgments and interpretations but help constitute white racial identities.”

“It is important to note that this race-place relationship is a co-constitutive process. That is, the meanings of racial identity and the meanings of the places those identities inhabit simultaneously inform one another.”

“Through members’ shared comfort in talking about suffering, victories, hard work, citizenship, music, and a plethora of ‘nonracial’ objects, ideas, and practices, these members demonstrated their own understandings of whiteness. It was during these discussions that I observed how, when, and why they became (un)conscious of their whiteness in relation to these things.”

“Institutions reveal much about themselves when under stress or in crisis, when they face the unexpected as well as the routine.” - Michael Burawoy, “The Extended Case Method”

“Talk of diversity without talk of power is hollow speech.”

“White racial identity formation is (re)produced and (re) articulated in relation to rationalizing and dictating where one lives, with whom one interacts, what job one holds, and what power one wields. these dimensions are not abstract or happenstance positions but are detailed practices that labor to defend white racial group privilege without any conscious or planned cognitive component.”

“I think of dominant racial meanings as powerful, implicit, and far-reaching scripts and expectations to which people are socially accountable as members of particular racial groups. . . the dimensions. . . enable whites to explain and justify their actions in ways that appear normal and even racially neutral but that preserve the privileges implicitly associated with whiteness and exploitive social relations that often benefit whites.”

“Polished and cleaned to near invisibility, lenses instead provide a specific way of seeing. Feelings of racial entitlement and judgment are not directly observable. They hide in plain sight.”

“When cultural objects coded nonwhite (especially black or Latino) function as autonomous, self-supportive, and unrelated to a seemingly white world, some may decode them as an alienating force and substance. . .When cultural objects and practices do not hail (interpellate) the white actor as an omniscient subject, a sense of frustration often builds. . . one can be offended only if one expects (or feels entitled) to be hailed as the “always-already” all-knowing subject of the discourse at hand.”

“Within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture. . . fantasies about the Other can be continually exploited, and that. . . exploitation will occur in a manner that reinscribes and maintains the status quo.” -bell hooks

“The fact that white people sometimes feel uncomfortable and even fearful when in predominantly black spaces, such as black neighborhoods, does not necessarily indicate that white existence is constrained in a similar way that black existence is. Unlike black people, white people are seen by a white racist society as having the right or authority to enter freely any public space they wish. That they cannot do so comfortably in, for example, prominently black neighborhoods tends to be seen as a violation of the ‘natural’ order of things, as an ‘unjust’ limitation.” - Shannon Sullivan

“An unequal arrangement privileges the movement of white bodies across and between differently racialized spaces, while nonwhite movements are literally and figuratively policed, surveilled, and disciplined by whites who are understood as the natural owners and administrators of that space. Such an arrangement well demonstrates the claim that ‘space is fundamental in any exercise of power’.” 

“When it comes to race, whites are increasingly competing to play the victim. Such talk of white victimhood and stigmatization persists in the face of mountains of evidence of white privilege and even after the most obvious acts of white racism.”

“White power secures its dominance by seeming not to be anything in particular.”

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

a captive population

all quotes from the evidence of things not seen by james baldwin

“let us backtrack, and, trying to be fair, remember that the Black demand was not for integration. Integration, as we could all testify, simply by looking at the colors of our skins, had, long ago, been accomplished. . . the Black demand was for desegregation, which is a legal, public, social matter: a demand that one be treated as a human being and not like a mule, or a dog. It was not even a direct demand for social justice: desegregation was a necessary first step in the Black journey toward that goal. It had absolutely nothing to do with the hope of becoming white. Desegregation demanded, simply, that Black people, and, especially Black children, be recognized and treated as human beings by all of the institutions of the country in which they were born.”

“a high-risk area is intolerably expensive because the money spent by the ghetto never returns to the ghetto. This means that those who batten on it – salesmen and landlords and lawyers, for example – must turn their profits with ruthless speed, for the territory occupied by the Blacks, or the non-White poor, swiftly becomes a kind of devastation.

This means that the citizens of the ghetto have absolutely no way of imposing their will on the city, still less on the State. No one is compelled to hear the needs of a captive population. Thus, the ghetto is condemned for the garbage in the streets, the condition of the buildings, which they do not own, the disaster of the schools – just as though the Black battles with the boards of education never happened, just as though schools exist independent of the neighborhoods in which they are found, and as though a Black person can walk into a bank and take out a loan or insure his property or his life on the same terms available to white people.”

“the poor do not exist for others, except as an inconvenience or a threat or an economic or sometimes missionary or sometimes genuinely moral opportunity.”

“a writer is never listening to what is being said, he is never listening to what he is being told. He is listening to what is not being said, he is listening to what he is not being told, which means that he is trying to discover the purpose of communication.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


from seascape by edward albee:

“NANCY: . . .But I thought: well, if he can turn his back on me like this (Rises.) – nice, isn't it, when the real and the figurative come together – I can turn, too, if not my back, then . . . back.

. . .
NANCY: Hm? (Matter-of-fact.) Knowing how lonely he is . . .substituting . . . using a person, a body, and wishing it was someone else – almost anyone. That void. La petite morte, the French call the moment of climax? And that lovely writer? Who talks of the sadness after love? After intimate intercourse, I think he says? But what of during? What of the loneliness and death then? During. They don't talk of that: the sad fantasies; the substitutions. The thoughts we have. (Tiny pause.) One has.”