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Across These Miles

12 Sep

A few weeks ago my life burned to the ground. Or perhaps that happened a few months ago, time grows slippery when measured in hasty choices. This occurs, anyway, every few years: I lose my life and I find myself. Last time I ran all the way to New York to do it, before that I started chaosbogey, even before that I quit science. This is not something that simply happens to me, of course; for someone so suspicious of origin stories I certainly concoct a great many.  As someone recently reminded me, my infallible instinct for erasure is why I delete most of the words I write and can’t bear to keep old diaries. Perhaps, she suggested, I ought to consider what that means. All it means is that I’m an obedient citizen of late capital, but who likes admitting they are the most banal of humans?

It was while I was pondering that, my point is, that bogey (born as she was from an earlier conflagration) returned with customary flamboyance. How tedious it must be, she observed, to recall one’s existence in epochs. Chaosbogey, laughing at Din since 2010. A few weeks later, she said something else I doubt I’ll ever forget: when, Din, did you become such a white woman? Now there is a question worth pondering.

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This Awful Silence

4 Mar

O Alibi of Chronology, in what script
in your ledger will this narrative be lost?

This week I published an essay that was sparked into premature life by the JNU protests. Umar Khalid gave his speech on the anniversary of Malcolm X’s murder—the two links showed up nearly simultaneously on my TL—and I remembered, instantaneously, Malcolm X’s prophecy, made two days before he was assassinated: “it is a time for martyrs now.” No, my brain revolted, we have had enough martyrs. Pondering that on the subway, I looked up, and the six train’s “Heaven” caught my eye. It will be the past. We’ll all go back together.  That reminded me, as ever, of my very favorite poem in motion, Mary Ruefle’s “Voyager.” Memory, what can I make of it now that might please you—this life, already wasted and still strewn with miracles? 

From that constellation of strange associations was this essay made.

star-of-the-hero-1932-1

Roerich, Star of the Hero.

A Map of Lost Longings was argued on the basis of an intuition that I’ve nurtured for a long while—that the crisis on the left is primarily epistemological. The ways in which we produce knowledge in the western academy make it incredibly difficult to theorize a politics of solidarity. That intuition is why I resigned myself to graduate school, and I haven’t gotten very far in thinking through what I want to say or how to say it. This brief essay was my first attempt to begin a public conversation, and the proposal I make for transversal history both terrifies and exhilarates me. The potential for violent erasure and cheap homologies inherent to the method I suggest is almost limitless; there is a reason fascism is so fond of mythology. Can I, with my big brahmin brain, rescue myth-making? Almost certainly not. Can I try? I certainly intend to, because there is also a reason that fascism so often wins. Is it contradictory to deploy failure and demand success? It is, but no more so than turning a theory of abstract labour against political economy. The paradox of good theory worked then, and fuck, it might again. (I know, I know, I’m not Marx, but Marx wasn’t Marx either, you know, until he was. He was just a broke bro in exile.)

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