atolnon: (Default)
2017-07-20 07:50 am

Environmentalism Under Capital

Many of the problems we face, in terms of the environment, even if they're not explicitly caused by capitalism, are made worse by capitalism and can't be solved while capitalism is the dominant economic structure we employ globally.

For example: almost any economic structure allows for manufacturing at some level, and they certainly allow for agriculture. These are major problems we have to face - how do we produce the things we need to live without overtaxing our environment? However, it's capitalism that's driven to produce in excess of need, or even want, because capitalism's development cycle is shark-like - it must always grow and never stop production, or the entire system collapses. That's how we've ended up with planned obsolescence and the concept of infinite growth.

I actually do think, in theory, that population growth is a problem - but the problem isn't really with "developing nations" (which is a Western, capitalist projection, anyhow) but with industrialized nations attempting to maintain population growth. (Which tends to taper off naturally, anyhow. We should let it.) But the reason it's a problem isn't an issue of living space, or even food production, but mostly, as I see it, water. And it's not drinking water that's the problem (it's a problem for people, but not a growth problem), but it's a problem with first-world industrial manufacturing turning people into faceless sales numbers.

We literally cannot solve environmental crises under the capitalist mode of production, because the capitalist mode of production cannot allow itself to cease - we simply have to find different things to purchase. And, I suppose in theory, we could simply attempt to circulate cash via media consumption, but by that stage, it's pointless because the very thing that makes it possible to circulate currency via media renders currency moot - the fact that media can be created and circulated indefinitely without loss. The physical issues of storage space (servers, electricity, and so on) are miniscule.

Not only is our current economic model unsustainable, but it's completely unnecessary. We wouldn't even have to change our lives that much - knocking the pillars out of planned obsolescence, rehabbing homes, re-distributing food, and ensuring clean water solves a lot of our problems right away. Entertainment is almost free. New technologies make food cheaper and easier to produce. Solving the transportation and infrastructure problems are paramount, but absolutely possible. We can actually see capitalism disintegrate before our eyes - it's the attempt to prop it up by force that will cause the colossal loss of life that is to come.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-07-19 03:55 pm

The Absolute Value of “Vaporwave?”

One of the assertions I see people make when discussing the viability of vaporwave as a genre of music is that it’s comparatively very easy for people to produce tracks, and it’s often heavily based on sampling, so it’s “less music,” basically. The exact argument tends to differ right there, but that ends up being the gist of it.

The gist behind the gist is basically, “If anyone can do it pretty easily, than it’s not really good, is it?” and that’s often pointed at some fundamental degree of musical value or worth.

Like, this is actually a pretty common argument if we look at other fields. Digital art versus physical mediums, or say, photography, live music versus studio music, or craft art versus “high” art. You get into issues of complexity with the written word, too.

I wanna say that a lot of this is just about class, ultimately. That capitalism is what it is, and does what it does so well is more or less just a refinement of that in terms of method, you know? There’s a virtue in physical mediums and kinds of technical skill (of which there are different kinds - I know some very sophisticated musicians who can barely answer their email, so they’d be useless with a digital music studio - so what’s “easy” is clearly relative), but only insofar as you get the “product” you want out of the application of that skill.

So, with vaporwave, the critique that it’s easy and very accessible to people who might not have been able to make music before simply makes it very democratic along one axis.

But the argument that it’s worth less because lots of people can do it, in this environment, is made so much worse with capitalism. The reason why is pretty straightforward - we view something easy to get as comparatively cheap (in terms of access, if not money) because of skewed (or overly simplistic) notions of supply and demand. Normally you might suppose that lots of people being able to write or make music would be good, because now there’s more writing and music! Yay! But music in that mode becomes valueless (even less so because sampling issues make it almost impossible to sell, sometimes).

Thus, you know, the perverse as hell incentive to make music making harder, to keep it “valuable.” We see this in the field of education, too - you would expect that you’d want a very educated group of people and as a society, you do! But as an individual, you don’t, because that means what you can do is less valuable. It creates a sick situation where you want to be educated, and more people are getting educated, so the value of the education drops, but demand for education is very high so the price rises.

According to some crude theories of capitalism and market dynamics, this will level out when the value of education drops and people stop, say, enrolling in college because it’s not worth their time. But why do we want that? In the same way, why would we ask people to stop producing music, or make it more difficult - on the whole, doesn’t it make all of our lives better? The argument against the relative valuelessness of vaporwave is a little sick, isn’t it?
atolnon: (Default)
2017-07-18 08:15 am


I’ve always been confused (and a little irritated) by the assumption that all theoretical writing is either 1: useless because it doesn’t have a visible direct application or 2: needs to be accessible to every level of readership, by itself, with little or no relation to any other work that precedes it. I know why these assumptions have come about, but they’ve really only gained traction because the critiques are usually directed by writers who are both concerned about overall accessibility and the applicability of the work in the first place.

Accessibility is important, but readership levels are going to vary, and the complexity and audience of the writing are going to vary, too. By default, not every piece of theory is going to be easily accessible to every reader.

It’s not as though an inability to read any given piece of technical theory is a moral or ethical failing. It’s not as though writing in a complex way (even an overly complex way) is a moral failing, either - unless it’s intentionally written to obscure it from non-academic readers in order to keep them out of the conversation. Typically, the worst you can say it’s that it’s a technical failing - assuming that there’s no more simple way to put it. Often it’s a space or time saving issue - it’s written for an audience that already understands a lot of this stuff, and it can be (and should be) broken down for other readerships, but this particular document really only wants to be, like, 15 pages instead of 50 and rehashing a lot of stuff assumed readers already know.

I guess I’m just thinking out loud here, but while a lot of the critique against theory complexity and applicability is meant well (and we need to keep that critique in mind!), I think there’s a certain amount that’s largely just directed at writers in order to put them in their place, and when I see them pop up on social media, there’s almost always phrased in moral terms. I even see the accusations directed at people hoping to break down complicated jargons into more accessible works, as if the act of reading the original work, in itself, is a moral failing. That seems so goddamn asinine. I almost never see people accusing STEM fields of making their top-level writing inaccessible, even though I have seen more than one instance of STEM educators and writers deliberately making their fields inaccessible as a way of washing out students they saw as undesirable.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-07-14 10:05 am

Just Your Standard Update

It's been long enough, so I figured I ought to check in. I'm pushing on how many pushups and situps I can do in one session, and trying to improve flexibility and my form for dumbbell curls. I should do more cardio, and I've been thinking about enrolling at a gym or signing back up for taekwondo, but I've been out of martial arts for a really long time, now, and the old instructors are really likely to have passed the dojo on to their top student - I have no idea if he's running it or not, though, now. I'm just keeping up with daily exercises and trying to set aside time every day for it. I've missed some days, but not really all that much. I started with only a few pushups a day, and I'm up to 25 which isn't all that impressive, but it's a clear improvement.

We're into mid-July, and it's been a very slow season. I had hoped that my CV would be back a little sooner, but my friend has assured me that it should be in by this upcoming Monday. I'll send out some emails to people I've worked with in the past who can attest to my pedagogical method as references, and put my hat in the ring for a few part time adjunct positions nearby. I have it on reasonable authority that the local community college is in desperate need of an alternate instructor for Creative Writing, since they only have one instructor willing or able to teach it, and it's possible she won't be there indefinitely. And, of course, the perennial need for willing rhetoric and composition instructors.

I've managed, so far, fifteen pages of fiction which is twelve and a half thousand words, and probably as far as I've gotten into a piece of fiction since I was a child, writing by hand in a notebook or maybe in college, though the pieces I was expected to write usually clocked in shorter - especially when you factor in that I was double-spacing it before and this is single spaced copy.

This is only a draft, though, and I really expect that the for every page I write, probably more than half will eventually get cut. Everything hits the page, in whatever order it makes sense initially and I can already tell I want to re-order sections of the plot. Right now, it'd be disingenuous for me to say that it's not a story, but it's not a very good one yet. However, yeah, I do think that there's the DNA of what will eventually be a good read; it's fun to write, it's interesting to me, I do find myself invested in the characters, their faults, their virtues, and whatever. A lot of setting information hits the page that'll eventually get pulled, but what I'm feeling with that process at the moment is that I'm fleshing out the setting as I go along - I already know what it's like, but I haven't shaken out the details, so the document ends up being a combination of extrapolation, research, description, and plot. Once I have all of that, it's easier to know what you need to convey the scene, which information is important, which information the reader will want, and what's just over-explaining. The last, of course, being a classic science fiction/cyberpunk pitfall.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-07-05 07:24 am

4th of July Media Roundup

The 4th was intentionally uneventful - we had to be home early-ish to make sure the cats were fed and that they weren't frightened by people setting off fireworks in the neighborhood, so we went over to my dad's place at about 2:30, ate a good dinner and hung out, then watched Arrival before going home. That's become a thing I've liked - watching a movie with my dad when we come over gives us something to do other than just drink and reminisce, and he's got a bunch of movies over there that neither of us have seen because he waits for them to go on sale and snaps them up, but doesn't watch anything on his own. And I'm like... that's relatable, and I'm trying to fix that, but I imagine it's sort of like preparing a nice meal for yourself or going out to a place to eat by yourself; there's nothing wrong with it, and it can be good for you, but people view these things as group activities.

The movie itself was good. It didn't rely on cheap hooks or overused "twists," it was well-executed, and I feel like it trusted the viewership to be adults and handle the ideas it laid out on their own. It clearly derived inspiration from Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse 5," if you're into that kind of thing, but it felt much less cynical. I don't know how much re-watch value it has, really, but it was worth seeing at least once, I felt.

I've also just finished Nabokov's "Despair," which is short but still was tough to initially get into. I had tried twice, but the third time worked fine and it was worth getting to the end. There was something almost profound and, personally, frightening about the narrator's inability to perceive the world around him that made the book an especially powerful read at the end. I think it plays into my own very fears about my inability to determine the world around me in any objective sense - you finish the book, or you get close to the end, and you realize the depth of Nabokov's elaborate setup. The narrator himself is the criminal, intent on what he perceives to be the perfect undetectable crime, but it really is Nabokov himself that has strung you along. Like many Russian writers, I'm not sure that I can say the book was a pleasant read at all, but as psychological horror (for me) it was extremely engaging.

I'm getting through Marvel's Iron Fist, but pretty slowly. It's alright. I can't help feel like you're supposed to be mortified with Danny Rand's behavior, but that's not really entertaining to watch. His lack of discretion seems to make everything worse - like he's the poster child for entitled young white guys with a savior complex.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-07-03 12:09 pm

(no subject)

Writing my CV had been giving me fits for weeks. I had the relevant data, but my academic experience is pretty anemic. Being disconnected from the academic environment is bad for the career, and without any kind of mentor or guide, I was just kind of trying to hack it on my own. My work was good, yes, and I'm sure letters of recommendation and cover letters will work out well for me, but trying to figure out how to put a decent spin on a nearly non-existent academic footprint is tough. I was accepted into the grad assistant program, I taught comp rhet and tutored for grammar and rudimentary composition. I completed my thesis, which is available online, but I'm otherwise unpublished. No awards, no scholarships, no presentations - I did a lot of this on my own, and spent all my time either teaching or writing.

So, that's tough. An old friend had been offering to help with my resume/CV for a while, and I finally took him up on it. I know him well and trust his advice completely, and that's taken a huge weight off my shoulders - I'm much more confident about the results.

It's funny. My first syllabus struck fear into my heart, and now I'm not worried about it at all. I've done a dozen resumes for myself, but the nearly identical CV was paralyzing. Anxiety is not a rational actor.

Aw, hell, there was definitely something else I intended to write here, and I've totally forgot. Well, whatever - have a happy 4th, if you're in America!
atolnon: (Default)
2017-06-27 08:53 am

(no subject)

I end up splitting my journal entries a fair amount, so I realized that my posting's been a little sparse here. Things just haven't been that exciting, to be honest, which is definitely how I prefer it for a little while. Kay's still putting long hours of work in at the office, and I'm doing sort of the very same thing here. That's not likely to change much in the near future. The hours suck, the overtime's good.

I've got a dentist's appointment in a few hours. One of the good things about getting up really early on weekdays is that if you've got somewhere to go, you've already been up all damn morning. I kind of hate driving anywhere since the accident, because my car looks like shit. It drives fine, you know? But there was some hail damage on the hood I was hoping to eventually get fixed, and then some knucklehead put something on my hood - it looks like caramel? I have no idea. You'd think it'd dissolve over time if it was, but this shit just sits there, and it seems to be impervious to water or efforts to wipe it away with a towel. Anything short of harsh chemicals seems unlikely to work, which makes me figure it was vandalism of some sort. Between that and the large dent in the ass-end of my car, it's demoralizing. Lots of people drive around with dinged up cars and I don't think anything less of them for it, but it sucks for the driver.

I've gotten the scheduling and ordering of housework down pretty well - when the laundry and dishes need to be run and when they can't, when it's a good time to sweep and mop based on cat activity, when food needs to be prepared and how long it'll take to clean up, etc. I would have preferred to do a kind of strict 9-5 schedule, but that's not really the clock a house runs on, so you find yourself taking your rec time in weird places. 9 AM, 3 PM, 8 PM, these are pretty common. Neither of us did 'housework' as our primary task, so we'd split it up and do it whenever, which mostly worked. If you do it all by yourself, you have to get into a schedule for it. I haven't actually clocked how long it takes to do, but it feels like a large part of my day is devoted to making sure it gets taken care of.

So, that's kind of what I mean. It's not exactly interesting even to me, but it takes up a lot of my time, and getting it done consistently and correctly, without exhausting me and requiring a lot of re-work has taken a pretty good amount of my energy. Like any other job you commit to doing in an organized way, it takes time to get good at it, even if you understand the constituent parts of it pretty well already. I'm still writing a page per day, which has been going well. My writing's bad - at least as an aggregate - but I think worrying about quality is common, and I haven't written fiction consistently in a long time, so I consider this practice as well as drafting.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-06-23 08:02 am

Our Very First Priority

There is a very straightforward conversation to be had in America right now. I believe that this conversation is taking place all over the world - I have no intention of putting America in the center of this global conversation - but I am speaking about America because that is where I live, that is what I know, and maybe more to the point, I feel like this is where the conversation has gone awry.

It is this: do people have a right to live?

I don’t believe in God, and so I cannot look to an external, objective source for my answer. In some ways, this inhibits me, because there is no ethical or moral tradition of moral absolutes I can draw on. If I am being extremely literal with my answer to the question, then the answer is that no, people do not have a right to live, because there is no such thing as a “right” in any objective, absolute capacity.

This is why we can ask the question at all.

That means we are forced to decide what our priorities are as a civilization. We get to make a choice. In fact, we are forced to, because even neglecting to take a position is a choice and this is the choice that allows us to turn a blind eye to the homeless, the hungry, the sick, and the refugee from violence and terror saying, in effect, that it’s not your place to make a decision.

Which is cowardice. There is no human being alive or dead who has more of a right to decide than you, right now, what your priorities are for the civilization you partake of and contribute to. There is no way out of this decision.

As a civilization and as a nation - since we are forced to make due with nations for the time - do you think that everyone should have a right to medical care, food, shelter, water, education, and from aggression?

Or do you believe we have more pressing priorities and that we should allow people we could save to die?

That’s what it comes to. That’s the first question you need to be able to answer.

I don’t really consider my writing to be polemic. I do consider it to be theory, with a practical bent, in a way. Let me put it this way - I have seen and understand the arguments people make against things like full employment, universal income, or simply making sure everyone, everywhere has food and water.

These arguments make sense. They come from a certain perspective. Some of them are oriented around the idea that poverty is the material sign of a lack of morality, or are rooted in a personal weakness. These arguments are either disingenuous - made by someone who knows that poverty originates systematically - or they’re founded in a misunderstanding of how Western society functions.

Providing you can explain that to someone who holds this opinion, what you will typically end up with is someone who retains their beliefs, but changes why it is they hold them. Exactly why this happens, I don’t know, but very often the holder of this opinion has something at stake in retaining it. Sometimes it’s material - they tangibly benefit from the system as it is. But other times, it’s the result of a deeply sick world view - this is the case when you see very poor rural whites vote against their disinterest. The morality of their suffering is, to them, rooted in the objective, absolute judgement of the divine.

These are very broad strokes, I know.

So when I write that the problem of poverty - which is a lack of good food, water, housing, transportation, power, etc - is systemic, and that system is made by humans, I’m stating that we have the power to change that system if we choose. So the question we have as a society is “what priority do we place on ending this material poverty” and not "can we eliminate this material poverty?”

Since that is our question as a society, we can essentially ask the question, “As a society, will we commit to prioritizing providing all of us the things we need for a happy and healthy life, or do we prioritize something else?”

And if you choose something else, we should admit that this is the choice that announces that we are fine with watching people die in order to make sure that other thing is upheld - and in our society, that other thing is almost always the continued profit of the very wealthiest in our society at the expense of the incredible suffering of the rest of us.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-06-21 07:59 am


I've done some freewriting that I've ended up posting online - and it's usually pretty awful. I mean, you've seen most of it here, so don't worry about having missed it or anything. A lot of times, I think my gist is right, but my follow through is poor, and more often than not now, I've been trying to keep it because I wrote it and I'm trying to kind of build on that impulse in a positive way. I don't know if it's working. Life's funny like that.

In the same way that I've been trying to make a habit of not doing unhealthy things - kind of a negative habit - like eating fast food, drinking too often or too much, going to bed too late, neglecting to clean, and so on, I've started trying to build on healthy ones. So, that's like... I'm exercising daily now, which I add on to little by little, I've committed to writing one page of fiction a day. The house is staying clean. I'm trying to actively strike a balance of work and leisure, and I'm working hard to eat healthy and cut down on meat when I can. My life seems a little cluttered because adding stuff back in means I have to kind of work on rearranging my daily schedule which I have never managed to stick to. Or, I guess I do have one that I've fallen into and it's not quite what I want for myself.

My shit largely gets done, though, so... a little bit more of sticking to it, and maybe I'll get where I want to be. I know that good habits take time.

The thing about writing fiction is just that I'm not actually especially good at it. So I'll sit down to write a page, which is the minimum I've given myself so far, and I do that. But it's not very good. Maybe an individual scene is good, or maybe a paragraph is okay, or maybe a sentence is good but it doesn't lead into anything else, it doesn't connect, it's not cohesive. I really like describing things, I really like dialogue, and I'm really bad at caring about plots and I'm especially poor with transitions. These things are difficult to begin with, but I also think these issues are symptomatic of how I tend to experience the world itself, and I don't know if that's the kind of thing that seems obvious when you know me well or if there's just no way of knowing that just from observing me in the wild. But, it's whatever. I actually have a pretty bleak outlook of how much I'll accomplish with this, since very little typically comes of any of my projects, but you don't succeed at anything by not trying.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-06-13 11:53 am

(no subject)

I've really come to appreciate digital journaling over the years. I do it in places that are typically public, and I guess I don't have to because the biggest thing I appreciate about them is the ability to quickly type something out in comparison to how long it takes to write something by hand, but I've generally felt pretty good about it regardless. Because there are, like, a minimum of three calls I'm waiting on today, and I'm going to have to almost immediately sally out to run errands after one of them, it feels better just to knock out what I'm feeling here than trying to write it out longform. It's nice to have that flexibility.

The insurance company we've been dealing with owes us about 800 dollars, and it's been like pulling teeth to get it in a timely way. In fact, I'd say that it's been months, now. We've been budgeting under the assumption that the money would come in only a little later than initially scheduled (in that we scheduled when it was supposed to come in and assumed that the bulk of it would be at least a month late) and it's later than that, even, so that's the kind of thing you'd learn from if you ever anticipated having to go through it again. Since I'm really hoping we go a truly extended period without having to simultaneously purchase a car while being the subject of a traffic accident or two, hopefully it's nothing I really have to take to heart. I think Rihanna did a song about how one tends to feel in this situation. Something about getting money one's owed.

A friend came in from way out of town and was around for the better part of a week and he managed to stop by yesterday, which was super rad. We're clearly in no shape to go out around town at the moment, so having him be willing to come by the house and have dinner here was really positive, and we were able to just sit around and shoot the shit for a few hours and have a beer before he had to go and Kay had to duck back out and go to class - since he's signed himself up for summer sessions again in order to get art feedback and design space.

Despite how low key everything was and how comparatively good things have been in general lately, last night was filled with stressful, only dimly remembered dreams and I woke up this morning feeling some pretty familiar pangs of really pointless self-loathing and depression. This stuff generally clears up in the late morning, and today was no different from usual, leaving me able to deal with the day just fine - and only be irritated at the usual need for me to sit on my hands and wait for calls from people who owe me a good bit of money so that we can pay our damn property taxes and bills in a timely goddamn way.

I have to tell you - in theory, all of the numbers line up. Providing, of course, that the numbers come in and leave at their designated times, and nobody decides to fuck up the math badly in the interim. It's not as though I do anything the should make things more difficult for us, but it hardly seems to matter sometimes. Quite honestly, the sooner we can get to the next stage of our plans where I'm earning money as well, instead of just tending to the house, the easier I'll sit.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-06-06 04:13 pm

Individualized "Niceness"

I know some very nice Republicans.

I mean, they're nice. Being nice is important to them. They're polite. They view this as a personal issue of distinction which is, I think, generally speaking, what the problem is.

The same tends to be true of self-styled libertarians.

Now, this writing is devoted to shitting on them. In fact, I strongly disagree with them in some very fundamental ways to such a degree that I don't interact very much with people that skew much further to the right than people who understand themselves as being liberal-to-moderate. But I will generally acknowledge that, on a personal level, these people can be very... nice.

But I don't trust them very much, and I'm usually glad when they don't have the ability to make very many important decisions that impact others.

The reason why is that no matter how nice the individual is, the right-wing tends to skew ideologically towards the belief of the individual as the arbiter of their own moral authority in isolation, where the state has no call to, as they say, legislate morality. You'll often hear that in absolute terms - one can't legislate morality. This is to say, a law will not alter an internal moral state but still, I think that you'll find that this canard mostly pops up when we hope to pass some kind of law that legislates a positive change that used to be considered the province exclusively of the generous institution or individual. That is, the (a?) church or else what we would call 'charity.'

How strange that we don't consider a moratorium against murder to be some kind of moral legislation in circumstances like this.

That's the mainstream case. Of course, we must be aware at least academically that tax dollars certainly go towards paying for prevention and punishment of murder and murderers. Not to mention incarceration, at the moment. How does this not touch on the legislation of morality? Although an opposition to abortion is not universal among people who skew right in the United States, it's still a flagship issue, and the very fundamental of the argument against it is, first, an appeal to the murder of a baby and, subordinate to that, the moral question.

And so on, and so on.

For someone focused on the individual's niceness or kindness - not the same thing, but related - is to focus on the individual's distinction from the common person who, presumably, is less nice or less kind. And so the question for the hyper individualist who is often politically right wing is how they are better as a person than someone who we would assume is less kind. This is also a question of dependence in interpersonal relationships - if you find an individual who is seemingly kind, you must remain with them because you would not be able to expect society to be as kind as this particular individual. If you are weak or without resources, you become this person's dependant. And thus, as the right wing patron would explain to you, you remain dependant on their will until you are - ahem - "strong" enough to make it on your own. Thus, they set the rules.

But they're nice, you think, and they wouldn't abuse that. Except, in truth, the individual who is nice under this construction also reserves, at any point, to rescind this kindness. Kindness is not a universal state, it is a power action - a political action - and if they dislike you or otherwise feel like it, they can withdraw their niceness, because it is contingent on how they feel about you. This is the very nature of individualized charity - it is inherently based on an unequal power dynamic. It is intentionally undependable.

A guarantee of safety and well-being based on your community's guidelines is often opposed because it "forces" people to be kind - hence the resolution that one cannot legislate true morality. What's strange is that society might operate better by the numbers if it were and people who are supposedly kind and giving people already donate or provide certain kinds of charity - so why are they opposed? Isn't this simply a more efficient way of doing what they suppose ought to be done already? That they already very well may do? The concern we see raised here is the concern of freedom for others.

In this circumstance, we always see it phrased as a freedom from a domineering state that seeks to remove personal autonomy from good, law-abiding people who have the god-given right to be terrible, stingy, and not contribute to the larger society. I wonder about this from time to time - if we are good or kind, why are we more concerned about the right to be awful or horde when others go hungry than we are about the right to have a place to sleep and to have food? What about the freedom of the have-nots? Eh? What do kind right-wingers have invested in the right to a hording society? If they are truly nice - though now I recind the word "kind," than I would expect that the rationale is that it is important for them to actually commodify kindness as a type of social currency that they use to elevate themselves among the rest - but it is also political. It is a kindness that applies only when the recipient behaves in a certain way and belong to a certain tribe - it is a kindness that is designed to be rescinded and thus it implies the right to be cruel on demand.

You will understand this behavior when you see it, if you haven't already witnessed it yourself.

The right to be cruel is the right to exercise political will on others, and it exists systematically from maladjusted home life right up to the right to refuse admittance to the country for those fleeing violence and persecution outside our borders. It is not a kindness at all. Niceness is something of a sham - kindness exists from society to all peaceful people or it does not truly exist at all.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-06-05 09:27 am

Five Days of June, and Rounding in the End of May

I just got my tire patched on Friday - fortunately the thing didn't need to be fuckin' replaced and it only cost me 24 bucks instead of 5 or 10 times that. I will tell you - for sure - that made my weekend better. Kay doesn't really rest at all, though. Last Thursday, he worked a 16 hours shift, leaving at 6:30 AM and leaving at 11:30 PM, getting back a little after midnight. There was a day off on the 29th, as you know, and overtime was still made. Like, genuinely, Kay has zero chill, because the weekend was just work at home, too.

Sunday was not nearly so exhausting, though. I was able to go on a grocery run since I was now safely assured my exhaust wouldn't fucking drop off into traffic on a slight bump and my front left tire wouldn't explode. I did fuck all in terms of yardwork, true, but that was because it rained all day - can't be blamed on that account. Instead, I've been doing the incredibly tedious job of backing up and organizing files from the beginning of grad school until right now, which is a huge relief. I'm taking a crack at reading through the tome that is the Exalted 3rd Ed. book, finishing up Narnia (which has been fun, but I'm eager to resume heavier texts for sure), and - painfully - trying to make it through Mr Robot at the pace of one episode per day on most workdays.

Mr Robot is good television - at least from my point of view - so 'painful' might be an odd choice of words, though I assure you it's accurate. The show causes me anguish. It excites my anxiety for an entire day after I watch an episode. I mean, the way it's designed, that feels completely intentional and I think that it's the kind of production that's designed to give the viewer critical insight into Eliot's mental state, but while it's doing its job as intended, for someone who also suffers from anxiety pretty badly, it occasionally feels like something of a force multiplier for the sensation. As someone who's incredibly interested in cyberpunk and the semi-genre of media that's clearly inspired by it, Mr Robot feels like a must-watch - mandatory viewing. As a piece of art, it's clearly doing what it's supposed to be doing - my clearest personal criteria for 'good,' though I guess we'll see how it sticks the landing of season 1.

Every week, lately, our household agenda has just been to clean, clear out as much bureaucratic underbrush as possible, and get our shit in order - nothing about that changes, and nothing about that is likely to change through the entire season of summer. However, positive changes are clearly visible on a week by week scale, and that feels really good.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-05-30 12:10 pm

The 50 Book Quota, and Other Things.

I don't post on the weekends - largely because it isn't often I get extended periods of time with Kay, and we had aggressively portioned off the three day bloc as an incredibly low-key kind of anniversary weekend off from outside obligations. We were both in the retail racket when we got married and for the next few years, one of us was working in that milieu so I don't really have to tell you that the weekends were considered somewhat off-limits. We were hoping, eventually, that we wouldn't be and this is the first time in the whole period we've been married that neither of us had to work like a dog over the Memorial weekend. All we really did is clean the house, watch movies, and take walks around the block for three days and it's the most relaxed I'd felt in years, probably.

I'm out of work at the moment. Honestly, it might be that I ought to be looking, but I'm not because if I actually succeeded in getting something in short order, that'd kind of fuck up our living situation and we'd have to scramble to figure out workarounds. I could work a few hours a day pretty easily, probably - I'm thinking 4 is about what I could manage - and still get my other tasks done, but it'd be pretty exhausting. But, what I have been able to do a lot more is catch up on some personal reading since I'm no longer doing extensive research or class reading. I've been recording what stuff I've read since the year began, and I had this kind of far-out hope of maybe reaching a total of 50 books by the time next January rolled around. It seemed pretty foolhardy - there wasn't much of an expectation on my part that I'd hit the mark - so I haven't been worrying about it at all.

Lately, though, my reading list has exploded. Numerically speaking, I've been an unexpected breakaway success. But why? My typical reading for the last two years has either been fiction for grad classes, cyberpunk reading for my thesis, or more typically, lit theory and philosophy. My biggest problems have tended to be that I wasn't sure if I ought to count slim volumes of theory as being books or simply very long essays, and I'd been considering simply making a new category for theory journals and thesis. I'm not really trying to extended my book count artificially, but I'm also not really interested in trying to somehow triangulate a new definition for what counts as a book; it has always seemed pretty obvious to me before.

It was the huge and accidental success of my expanding "Read List" that finally convinced me that there's zero sense in working towards any specific number of books, actually. On Kay's request that I finally read C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia books that were a favorite of his from childhood, I've been working my way through a boxed set, and just finished the fourth - Prince Caspian - this morning. They're clearly children's literature but they have the weight of history saying that they are clearly books - individual volumes - and each one is just one specific book. So I read one and dutifully put it on the list, and my count for books read this month has come up to eight, at a point where I'm not working especially hard to read anything at all - just whatever is nearby.

In a similar way, two good friends are starting a podcast for the Animorphs series where they re-read them all and kind of discuss their thoughts on the matter. I'm participating as an avid reader who was Animorphs-adjacent when I was a kid and just never read them to give the opinion of a fresh, critical reader with no nostalgia factor working on me, and I just know that's going to dramatically continue to inflate the volume of books read. Meanwhile, Manning Marable's Malcolm X or Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness both also only count as one book. In years where I'm only reading one type of book or I'm reading a hefty mix of books with the occasional light reading filling in gaps, it might not throw off the numbers too much, but this year is clearly a different story. I think it's pretty funny - I'm counting, but I'm not putting any weight on it any more - and I can still use the list to give me a good idea of what it is that I've watched and read over the course of the year, which is a fun exercise. It's actually really freeing, in a way. Trying to build up a list of one kind of media and hit a target number actually had a chilling element on watching movies or pursuing really complex texts even though I didn't give it a lot of personal weight. Quotas work strange effects on the mind, frankly.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-05-25 08:35 am

Money often serves as both a means and an end.

I feel like I've had pretty good luck ironing out the basics of my pedagogical goals in relation to composition and rhetoric. I have a syllabus from my previous sections which I think would be ready to go with some minor, but meaningful changes to the curriculum. Having time to think on it and do some reading has been helpful, though I don't think I've hit the point where I've read everything that would be immediately useful to me, so it's an ongoing project - and it likely will be for years to come. It's strange to look at that and feel good about it. I really wasn't in a position either materially or mentally to take 100% of the options available to me while I was a grad student, and most of that has to do with anxiety around a new situation or with my financial stability. I'm traditionally something of a slow learner - or at least I'm slow to get started. Anywhere I'm able to stay and get a firm grip on my situation, I do well in.

Precarious financial states have traditionally been what's been keeping us from doing much that's interesting to talk about, and that issue persists even though we're admittedly doing much better. The unpleasent truth is that we're incredibly backed up on basic repairs and bills so that even though the immediate concerns are taken care of, we have lingering debt that we'll be dealing with for a while, and that eats up all of our spare funds. We've done several projections of where we expect to be the next few months - we're not in a particularly abject state, or anything - and we're not going to have much left over. Recreation is easy, since our hobbies are, like, reading, writing, and cooking. If it's not that, we're like, I don't know, taking walks and shooting photos, and watching movies together. So it's not as though our tastes are expensive, but we're also not going on vacation or anything like that for a while. It makes sense to plan for that in the future because if we overextend, it's possible in theory, but our nerves are very bad about stuff like that. Our luck tends to be particularly bad - I tend to think of luck as something that largely pertains to how much you can rely on others to help you in a tight spot or whether you have the ability to easily account for things that go wrong. Thus, the poor traditionally appear to have awful luck, because they're constantly overextended. "Luck" is when bad things don't affect you. Our margins are incredibly tight, and so when something goes wrong, it's not the kind of irritating but normal thing that happens to everyone - it manifests instead as terrible luck.

So that's why even though things are better, we're still holing up here for a while until things are easier.

But that's the kind of issue that manifests when I'm making lists of fun things to do over the course of the year, too. Like, trying to copy my friend's list of "3X+ Quests before my birthday" thing seems like a great way to give myself a direction after I graduate, which I figured I needed but... frankly, I just don't have the money for a lot of this stuff. We don't really have the time or the money to buy extra stuff to go camping, for example. We don't have the money to cook elaborate dinners for five or more people. We don't have the money (or, more importantly, the time) for a road trip. We don't have the money or space for large glass bottles full of fermenting honey. I already have a direction, but writing up a CV isn't a fun quest and getting hired often feels more like an exhausting trial than a fun "quest," so the stuff I need to do and the stuff I want to do doesn't actually get put on the list. So, without the time incentive, it's just a bucket list - full of cool things, but I literally can't afford to have them take priority over the other things in my life.

The truth is often stranger but more depressing than fiction, but dropping the game I was running and dropping the list of stuff to do has largely been very good for me. These things added a really unnecessary degree of stress for me at a point when I'm trying to let myself concentrate on the work that's important to me and, also, trying to decouple feelings of anxiety and guilt to basic activities like watching a movie or reading for fun. I'm trying to let myself watch one or two TV shows a day and do some recreational reading along with my theory. It's actually been really good for productivity, but that's also this weird thing I'm trying to do - decouple associating every action with if it makes me a better worker for some kind of nebulous, non-existent Other. One thing at a time.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-05-23 09:30 am


I like the idea of fully automated luxury communism in theory, but in practice it tends to be messy, and I generally regard it as “the singularity,” but for leftists.

The communism angle I get, but not everything can or should be automated, and the things that can be automated are not always things that we would even want to exist in the first place. For example, I guess, although I think consumer electronics have a pretty substantial benefit, we certainly don’t need to turn them out in the numbers we do currently. The same is true for almost everything, really. I’m not an aesthetic, but FALC feels very much like a “First World” idea, and the First World really has to learn to rein in its consumption because, frankly, we’re acting like embarrassing children about it.

So, large scale industrial automation might be fine, but I feel like when people get hype about automation, what they’re actually getting excited about is the ability to never have to work again. And, you know, I like that idea in principle, but it’s really not practical. I’m not trotting out some concept of “work to eat,” because I think that we’re clearly to a point where not everyone has to work, and we can probably make it so that anyone who can’t, won’t, or doesn’t want to work probably doesn’t have to. That’s good! But it seems likely that there will always be work of one dimension or another to do, and I think the idea of FALC tend to bury that.

How do we address that some people will inevitably be working, but there won’t be enough work in the sense of production for everyone? First, I think that almost everyone does work all the time, and a great deal of it is disregarded because it’s not “productive,” so that’s something we need to account for. Even if they weren’t, we’re not leaving anyone behind. That’s why increasing automation is so troublesome for capitalism - because it’s increasingly trying to locate a workforce and offload its waste and product (often just another form of waste, to be frank) to and on new markets. That’s my principle objection to the universal wage in, say, America. It would functionally turn the US into a plantation state where many of us passively receive the benefits from the continued exploitation of the third world. While I don’t really buy into something like Settlers, this really would create a material reality where the proletariat (a term I’m finding increasingly less useful) working classes in the US into those who effectively direct shareholders in every system of extraction and oppression in US-corporate colonial states.

The Musks, Bezos, and Zuckerburgs are thinking ahead, and there’s little doubt that they expect to be the new post-industrial god-kings after this late-stage capitalism gambit crumbles, and it’s generally pretty clear what their agenda is. It’s true that capitalism in the form it has taken now can’t last; heavy automation and digitization have taken an incredible toll on who can be “allowed” to work and what can even be effectively sold anymore. Because they’re in a very good position to simply buy out what’s left of the US infrastructure when the time comes, it seems unlikely that there will be anyone to stop them, regardless of how problematic their agenda will actually be.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-05-22 04:54 pm

From One Dimension of Pedagogy to the Other

With the semester coming to a firm close, that's it for degree seeking for a while in this household. It's sort of in the air if either of us will ever intend to go back for any reason, but it's not really consequential to our needs at the moment and, frankly, I don't think either of us want to consider it for at least a little while. We're both very tired.

As always, there's loose ends to clean up, and those ends typically fall into different categories, but it probably suffices to say that Kay's working the financial end of that equation and I'm working hard on the domestic. For a long time, I've subscribed to the notion that just because housework isn't paid doesn't mean it's without value, and it's largely industrial society and the new commodification of capitalism that really kind of creates that notional tendency. That said, at the moment, I am working pretty hard but Kay is working substantially harder - partially because some amount of overtime is mandatory but also because time and a half is too much for Kay to ignore in pursuit of paying off old debts.

This sounds extreme, but it's easier than what we were doing previously, where Kay was attempting to stack a 70 hour work week with two online classes where the teachers literally made no appearances on the forums they said they'd be active on - which left me to read through the coursework and structure a haphazard kind of lecture/study guide/research assistantship along with whatever else I was doing. (Once again, I think it's clear I had the easier job.) I have one minor task left to do that I agreed to and I'm clear on that count. All Kay has, then, is overtime, which is simpler and pays better.

I'm tired so stuff I'd normally do in pen gets typed here instead, but although I'm not really rushing to get into that Summer semester (I was considering it, but Kay made a case for me staying home in the temporary, and I conceded the issue because), I'm kind of rebuilding my syllabus based on how I felt about my first three sections of composition and a rethinking of my pedagogical direction. Not that I want to change course entirely, but that I can maintain a serious degree of rigor while changing my tone, rhetoric, and to a degree, my course load.

On one hand, the actual difficultly level of my course was not something I consider to be especially high, but I do think that my first year writing students were surprised that getting an A was more difficult than they anticipated. I'm not really sure how to take that - I don't really believe getting an A actually should be particularly easy, and not all classes of the same level are difficult in the same way - my largest concern is facilitating growth and maintaining a level of core competency that will at least facilitate a student's progress through their program. 101 seems ripe for me to restructure it towards students understanding their writing goals and audience and be able to differentiate between different writing methods and rudimentary capabilities (email writing is something first-year writers tend to be abysmal at strictly from a technical knowhow standpoint, for example). 102 seems better fitted towards my initial run at basic theory, research, and integration of multiple writing methods to produce a text.

Additionally, and this is difficult so adding this next layer and retaining coherence in the course is an issue, but I tend to believe the writing is an inherently creative enterprise. There is an element of 'art' to it that we generally refer to as style, but in attempting to foster a strong writing style, I see it take a drastic backseat to structure and form - partially because style is hard to judge objectively, and it's already often difficult to make the case to students that composition and rhetoric aren't entirely issues of empty style over objective substance. Threading the needle on this is mostly going to be about how I divide the semester and what kinds of criteria I lay out for the work I'd intend to assign - in composition. I'm in the position of attempting to reverse the curriculum for Creative Writing, making the case that this is a subject that carries over into everyday life more than most people would expect. But, maybe most importantly, I think that if I'm providing the tools and foundation to grow as a writer in either case, than I'm doing the job I'm hired to do. In any case, though, since I have a little time to read up on pedagogical methods, that's what I'll do.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-05-19 10:59 am

On the cusp of an informational event horizon.

Something happened to me a while ago, which feels like forever, but I think was just late summer of 2015 while I was being rammed through a 500-level pedagogy course trying to train me to teach first year writers in two weeks (which is a whole ‘nother story), and it’s where I was told that my Master’s education was frankly worth a lot less than it used to be, because there are a goodly number of people walking around with an English degree now and, moreover, the degrees that undergraduates are getting are worth even less.

Kind of implicit in that whole thing was the underlying idea that it’s unfortunate that so many people are going to school for their Master’s or Bachelor’s, and that really fucking threw me, because it replicates the logic of capitalism so well and so fucking perniciously.

First, because the numbers tend to bear it out. That’s the gross fucking truth, innit? The more people who have an education similar to yours, the less it’s worth on the market, because it drives supply up. This isn’t always how it works, I guess, but in an environment where English departments are struggling for cash and there are hiring freezes, an increasing reliance on adjuncts or especially poor graduate students (which I now kind of feel basically act as perpetual scabs, even if that’s not strictly the case), and so on, it feels pretty true.

I feel gobsmacked, though, that somehow the education itself doesn’t have value to the student in that the knowledge and capabilities gained are somehow perceived as less useful the more people that have them. This has every effect of reinforcing a kind of knowledge priesthood, first off, and second, I just find it super fucking perverse that we actually feel the desire to prevent others from having an education so that our job prospects would be better. There is, of course, the perpetual irony of needing to have someone to teach to make the job worth having in the first place.

There - there’s an excellent example of how the logic of capitalism absolutely doesn’t drive us to excellence.

I see this logic sometimes applied to certain kinds of intellectual property. I think writers are familiar with this - almost anyone with a basic literacy has at least the rudimentary tools needed in order to write, and so writing is frequently perceived as a pretty valueless “thing.” I’ve seen this applied to digital art, and also digital music - the idea that since anyone (and I know not anyone can functionally do this - we can just say that the barrier to entry is much lower than it used to be) can acquire the tools in order to produce the art or music, or whatever, than the “product” has less “value”. I can’t help but think about how ridiculous this is - the amount of something has no effect on what the thing itself is. Literally the only thing that changes the value of the artefact, whatever it is, is the concept of how much you can sell and that turns every interaction, every knowledge, every skill, and every artefact into a zero-sum product.

Why do we choose to live this way if we don’t need to?
atolnon: (Default)
2017-05-17 08:52 am

Degree Seeking

This one's likely to be long, but not because of any particular problem, just because it's just the results of hashing out a series of thoughts I've been having since I'd seriously thought about undertaking my Master's degree. My thoughts are, in a way, kind of come to completion not with the award ceremony or receiving my degree, but kind of ironically in how I haven't received it in the mail yet and coming at the conclusion of my partner's finishing an Associate's but not yet having gotten the final grades back in yet. For me, it usually seems that even the most major goals or projects end unceremoniously, or else their real endings are marked by something that seems to refute a conventional catharsis.

I didn't have money for my graduation ceremony, so I didn't go, and I genuinely hate that kind of thing anyhow. I didn't have much family in the area and the ceremony for my Bachelor's degree was legitimately one of the most disappointing events in my life. Right now, I'm trying to get my university to mail my diploma to the correct address, as they sent it to one that I had never lived at while simultaneously actually enrolled with them. They want to charge me $13 to print a new one and send it, which seems a little insulting. This is, of course, the end result of all my time, effort, and -the most important element of the equation- money. Money I really didn't (and don't) have. The task, you know, the actual process has ended. The work is done. The essay has met with approval, and I have received at all points the nods and ceremonial ratings that dictate that I should ascend to the ranks of having a degree that thousands and thousands of individuals have before me - neither more or less important than myself, and certainly not special in any meaningful way.

According to the 2012 US Census, about 11% of Americans have a Master's degree of one sort or another. I think how many people you see daily who have one is probably extremely dependant on your location, but you can see there's nothing particularly amazing about it. I have the capacity to go on to a Ph.D, and I was told that I'd be a promising candidate, but that the cost probably wasn't really worth it in this environment. That's true with the Master's as well, I suppose. My goal isn't to be part of a rarified percentage as determined by census data - it was to do something I'd wanted since I was a child. The pursuit of a doctorate isn't out of the question for me, but it's very much a matter of being a personal goal, and I'm unwilling to invest in it in the same way that I was willing to go into the hole for the Master's.

I feel like there's no trouble at this point being as clear in public as I have been with myself and my partner (who I really couldn't, in good conscience, have included in this mess without total honestly about where it would probably lead us materially) - and that is to say that I agree that, financially speaking, going for the Master's degree in English isn't worth it. It's just not. There's no job that I can get with this degree that would pay more than just getting some technical certificates and going into IT. The lowest paying jobs are about on par with a good retail gig, and you don't take retail home with you in the same literal way as you take a bunch of Comp. 102 essays. I could never justify English from the perspective of money alone, and that is the kind of thing that has constantly marked the degree as the kind of thing that the modestly privileged - in terms of class - pursue. I was poor when I started and I am poor now, and both of us in this household gaining employment will push up to the rank of a modest working class household - the kind of income bump that seems like it heralds straight-up paradise to both of us.

This doesn't especially bother me. Or, it does in a systematic way, but it's not as though I'm coming to this in a state of unvarnished shock. I received those exit counseling emails not long after I finished my classes - like, within days. Some probably came in even sooner. I looked at the numbers I owed, since I wasn't able to afford to decline loans, and they're huge. Yes, I have a plan for dealing with it, but let's be honest and I'll tell you that I already knew this. The poor are not supposed to have this education, and everywhere within the structure that I looked, this was indicated. The poor, in theory, are only discussed in theory and not in practice. The professors are in academia, even the less affluent ones. But I will say that there are, among the adjuncts, the working class academics, and that looks to be me, soon. This is what I would refer to as a gathering class consciousness as those with extensive education both practical and theoretical enter into university spaces as workers and not as pure academics - because class issues will also bend one's mind in the service of a practical education, and anything practical is inevitably political.

That is why I entered academia. Because I want to be a writer, and now I am, because I have written. It was always possible for me to grasp some of the tools I needed, but it wasn't not easy to grasp all of them. It was always possible to gain access to some of the spaces I needed provisionally, but with extensive limits. It was possible to spend time to practice, but only in slivers. It was possible to gain access to some of the mentoring, but mostly second hand, at best. It is rarely enough to do it on one's own - I would say that it isn't enough. My colleagues were more blase about the concept of gathering to oneself an intellectual cohort even without academia, but they were also there - so who was more right?

All of this stuff is true for me, and I genuinely feel like I've grown as a person. In order to get my work done, I also had to learn to prioritize and develop better habits. It helped me shake off my funk and develop a new direction for myself. There are doors, small doors, maybe windows, or cracks, or holes, that are open to me that weren't before - that literally could not have been, purely based on the credentials I carry. So that's good, at least. But truly, I consider this one of the best and also most selfish things I've ever done for myself, because none of that was the reason I enrolled. I did it because if I didn't do it now, I never would have and I would have always wondered if I was up to it. I did it because I was less than ten when I told my dad I wanted to go to college and get a degree, and I really don't do these things. I tend to subsume my goals under a deluge of practicality and under the needs of others and, while that's generally good or even virtuous, this was important to me. And I don't care about the rewards or ceremonies hosted by others at all, but the fact that I pulled it off means everything to me.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-05-12 09:15 am

A Good Spin on Mid-May

It's been a hectic last week. There's been a few personal setbacks which caused a tremendous amount of stress, Kay's been working super-overtime lately because a huge amount of last-minute work has come in at the business factory, and we've both been attending to the last of the semester's work load. It's all getting done, but I've had to drop the game I'm running and although that's made it much easier to focus, it's a drag. I'll be honest, though, I think it was a bit of a bust on my end; there was a lot of good work from the players, but I couldn't get the spark to fire for myself. So, gaming is on hiatus for a while for me, and I'm not sure for how long. I've been spending a lot of time depressed, and the gaming schedule has been unexpectedly difficult for me, even going into late Spring. I have a few major writing goals, and maybe I ought to focus on those, since a gaming project takes up a huge amount of mental space. I have to assume that I just wasn't as fully invested as I ought to have been to make things work.

But, you know, classwork is over on Tuesday. The work I'm doing to help will mostly just be over before noon, today. I have some writing I want to do terribly, and this will be the first time in a few years I actually do have the freedom to do that which coincides with an energy level that supports it. Considering being able to write actually excites me, and kind of threatens to lift the anxiety I feel constantly surrounded with, and it actually seems a little too good to be true. If I can write a few small pieces of creative work, I feel like I can really move into a Fall Semester teaching schedule in a really good place. Who knows, after that?

Academically, I think I want to spring board off of some previous work - my thesis, to be specific. I'd been reading some academic work on vaporwave in particular, and I think that the time is ripe for cyberpunk theory that transcends basic musing on bodies and machines or trying to determine what the political axis of the sci-fi of the 80's and 90' (especially since I have an answer I'm using to drive my work). There's some other stuff which probably won't happen but I'll take a stab at, but really shouldn't go into more detail in until I know for sure whether it would or wouldn't fly. And so on, and so on.

I know that most of the stuff I've tried to do hasn't worked out, especially when it comes to writing projects. But you know what? Back in 2005 - 7, I had an idea in my head that I wanted to work out. The work I was doing was entirely without access to academic resources, but the rough outline seemed good. In 2016 and very early 2017, I finished my graduate thesis - an essay ten years in coming. And even now I'm looking at it and thinking, "I can do more of this, better." and so much of that comes down to picking a project and really trying to focus on it. The kind of access to help and resources I have now wasn't something I could easily expect back then, and I wasn't nearly as mentally put-together then, either. So I'm interested to see what I'm able to make happen now.
atolnon: (Default)
2017-05-05 10:39 am

Edward Crawford, Ferguson protester and man in iconic tear gas photo found dead from gunshot.

They say that Edward Crawford, the man in the iconic Ferguson protest image throwing tear gas away from protesters, has been “found dead of self-inflicted gunshot wounds,” according to the headline in the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

I’ve been trying to step back from directly touching politics for a minute. It’s both hard to step back and it’s hard to address, since I’ve been deeply seized by anxiety lately, and it’s hard to focus on anything. But this really does shake me badly, and at a time when I’m already in rough shape, emotionally.

“Crawford’s death” - it’s hard not to note the passiveness of the headline. I know that this is how a lot of news is written. Suicide often seems to be described as passive, as if it’s just something that happens. That he’d shoot himself to death in his car seems suspicious from the get-go. He’s not the first Ferguson activist or protester to simply die in their car of a gunshot wound. How many people, when you hear that they’ve committed suicide - a difficult act under any circumstances - do so by firearm in their car? So we shake our heads and say, “No, that doesn’t seem right,” but we know that it’s already been ruled a suicide and we know how this will go, and we likewise know that whatever peace had been found in this community since the active protests died down a few years ago won’t last.

I’m deeply worried for my community, I’m worried for the black communities of Ferguson and St Louis, and I’m just so, so sick and depressed.