It is Easter and the sun just rose.
Every morning recently I have been waking and sitting with my coffee, my journal, my cat, and Simone Weil. She was a radical philosopher, a mystic and marxist, a spiritual seeker and committed materialist, who relentlessly sought an experience of the reality of justice and love. In this time of the Great Pause, of great disruption, suffering, and confusion as well as intimacy and possibility, Simone has been keeping me centered on the blend of intellect and lived spiritual practice that is the lodestone of my life.
Here I am…
A few weeks ago I was slowly, diligently reading the book Linguistic Disobedience: On Restoring Power to Civic Language, by Yuliya Komska, Michelle Moyd, and David Gramling. I ordered the book after a brief Facebook exchange with Michelle, a fellow historian, who shared with me part of the one poem found in the entire text:
Make a decision
to care for language
as it is used
in human and nonhuman interaction
in complex, multilayered ways
in times of great need
and spaces of great suffering
This was enough for me, although in the book, the poem goes on:
The seed of this piece of writing is fatigue.
The seed of this piece of writing is anger.
The seed of this piece of writing is curl-up-in-a-ball-and-remember-that-shitty-Christian-pregnancy-clinic-that-showed-you-oversized-photos-of-fetuses-and-cry-but-no!-there’s-so-much-work-to-do-plus-your-kids-need-you-and-so-do-other-people-too.
Right now I have three pieces of work to do, in front of me —
One is a book review about British concentration camps during famine, plague, and war in India and South Africa.
One is an article about the Holocaust for high school students.
One is the world we live in. Full stop. Incessant. Climate disaster and patriarchy and racism.
And it’s raining. Heavily. Late May, in California.
It’s hard to see…
Dear Nutcracker -
You’ve probably heard all this before. If I Googled “Nutcracker capitalist spectacle” I would probably (hopefully) find some really good stuff. But right now I’m bursting with the need to write you this letter, so I’m putting off perfection and typing furiously instead.
Given pretty much everything about where we are, Nutcracker, I need to tell you that I have no patience for you anymore.
It was just a sweet local production, really. I didn’t even need to drive down 101 in holiday traffic to reach the city, where undoubtedly the sets include giant lollipops and real…
Note: I have a very belabored, thoughtfully-designed essay on these subjects that I have been working on for years now, since #yesallwomen, and that I can’t seem to finish — because I can’t strike the right tone, find the right architecture, figure out how to say what I want to say without hurting some people I love. It’s riddled with metaphors of bones and (ivory) towers and dinosaurs you are afraid will come alive. Well, that essay still exists, in draft form. But this one is for today, September 28, 2018. …
This “idea of justice” seems to me to be irreducible in its affirmative character, in its demand of gift without exchange, without circulation, without recognition or gratitude, without economic circularity, without calculation and without rules, without reason and without rationality. And so we can recognize in it, indeed accuse, identify a madness. And perhaps another sort of mystique. And deconstruction is mad about this kind of justice.
…‘Perhaps,’ one must always say perhaps for justice.
— Jacques Derrida, “Force of Law”
Part One: The Mundane (Personal)
Twenty years ago I turned down a fellowship at a university I admired, that…
On the morning of election day last week my eight-year-old was lying on the sofa with a blanket over his head.
“What’s integrity?” we heard him say, in a muffled sort of way.
I took a deep breath and said, “Wow.” Then breathed some more. “Integrity,” I said, “is when a person is making choices about how to be in the world — how to act, how to speak, the kind of work they do — and they try to do those things so that they match what they really care about, what they value, what they really believe.”
I do not work in higher education. I work as a mother. I work as a poet. I work part-time as a copyeditor. I work on my children’s school board, as a political activist, and for my rural, collectively-owned community. All those things are work. But because of the society in which we live, much of that work is not paid work, and I am tired. Not just tired of feeling hostage to the systems of value that have been set up and organized over time, but also tired of reinventing myself, of trying to figure shit out.
May 31, 2017
Maybe you already know this:
When I was in my late 20s and in graduate school at Stanford, you came to give a talk about the American West. I think it was right before you published River of Shadows, your book on Eadward Muybridge and the technological west. I approached you afterwards. I told you that I was planning on leaving academia to pursue writing, the kind of writing you did, maybe, and I could use some conversation and direction. Let’s have coffee, you said. We exchanged emails. I screwed up my courage and sent…
I am on an aisle seat in an airplane on my way to Philadelphia. My children are sitting next to me, doing word searches and homework. There are families and business people and elderly couples and people of all colors and ages around me. I wonder if any of them are headed to the Women’s March, like me.
On Saturday my mother and my 9-year-old daughter and I will get up at a god-awful early hour, board a bus at the Wayne train station, and head down to D.C. I have not been to Washington D.C. in many, many years…