Election night in Canada
Voting always makes me think about death
|Alex Verman||Oct 22, 2019|
“If you come back to America, just hit me up.” — Lana Del Rey, California
“Being with Stephen and other family and friends of Stephen’s as he died, I re-experienced the power of the wake. The power of and in sitting with someone as they die, the important work of sitting (together) in the pain and sorrow of death as a way of marking, remembering, and celebrating a life.” — Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being
“What’s wrong with being a dead end? Dead ends are where the road disappears and its logics disintegrate.” — Gwen Benaway, Pussy
This has been an alarmingly difficult week. Deadlines impending, workloads overflowing, temperatures rising, balances owing — without getting into the details, I have been confronted continually with the messy uncertainty of my future and my place in it, an anxious episode no doubt exacerbated by the looming, enveloping shadow of tonight’s election.
More than anything — more than Yom Kippur, more than the dreams I’ve been having lately where my Bubbie appears silent and glowing, more than the bare limbs of greying trees or the proliferation of funereal Halloween decorations — voting always makes me think about death. We are trying to decide the kind of life we want for the next four-odd years, and all of our prospects will end badly. Who by water and who by fire, who by mercury poisoning and who by solitary confinement, who by privatized healthcare and who by precarious housing? And of course, many of us cannot or will not vote at — a protest against a system that ensures the life of some of its participants precisely by inscribing the mass deaths of others.
This year, the tone has felt especially macabre. The other week at a party someone joked about the possibility of an asteroid striking earth. Imagine a planetary demise of an unexpected variety — an apocalyptic option we hadn’t even considered! Another person said, laughing, “wouldn’t that be hilarious? if we did everything right, if the NDP won the election, if we changed our climate policies, and still we all died?”
I’ve thought about that sentence every day since. Every part of it brings up new questions. It is those questions that I hope these readings will come close to answering.
Perhaps, by next week, I’ll have had one good night’s sleep. Perhaps then I’ll have more to say.
Harlem Is Hijaz Is Havana Is Harar, Or: The Whole Point of the Black Arts Movement Is That They Were Moving / Momtaza Mehri, Bomb Magazine
Prison poems ain’t nothing but poems written in this World.
Shoahtecture / Sam Holleran, Jewish Currents
Despite these competing motivations and unholy circumstances, when ground is broken on a new museum or memorial there is a tacit, or sometimes very explicit, assumption that once rendered in impermeable materials, Shoah narratives will have a deterrent effect, ensuring that “never again” really means never. Both the US and Germany have opted for big museums and memorials in the heart of their capitals. But while “genocide prevention” is a stated goal of all of these projects, it’s not clear if they’re actually doing their job. In the months after Bill Clinton cut the ribbon on DC’s Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993, the US mostly sat and watched as thousands of Bosnians were sniped in Sarajevo and as Rwandan Hutus killed Tutsis en masse. While it may be unreasonable to expect that museums can transform the makeup of the human spirit, one wonders if these grandiose national projects—with their solemn, but toothless ribbon-cutting ceremonies—let states off too easy.
Burial Ground Acknowledgements / Lou Cornum, The New Inquiry
It is by confronting our ultimate disposability that we begin to stake out other ways to matter to each other. So far the scramble for slots in the hierarchy of humanity has fundamentally detracted from the force of our movements. To dwell with genocide is to refuse apology, and acknowledgment, and forms of repair that can never lead to a different world because they necessitate that the masters of this one are still speaking. The title of Billy-Ray Belcourt’s first collection of poetry tells us “the wound is a world.” From the rupture, rather than the smoothed-over terrain of sovereign personhood, there is a form that cannot be captured or assimilated into colonial categories of object and person status.
It Came in Through the Bathroom Mirror // Natasha Lennard, Real Life Magazine
I was petrified as a child, but only in private. Neither withdrawn nor fanciful, I was not imaginative enough to see ghosts everywhere, nor fairies anywhere. Precocious enough to reject magic, and not philosophical enough, until much later, to let it back in. But my bathroom was haunted.
The haunting was pretty standard: I would lie like stone under my covers, hiding my feet. Trips to pee at night were mad dashes to the toilet and back, under the watch of a dark presence, with a felt immateriality no less robust than a human gaze. Yes, yes, the male gaze in my bathroom mirror. The fact that the ghost has always seemed male to me is probably not an accident, but this essay isn’t a therapy session. The ghost will never show or prove itself male or not, or gendered in any direction, because the ghost won’t prove itself at all. And the ghost hardly stands alone in the set of beings interpellated into gender. But, again, the ghost is not a metaphor.