Dispatch from the Furnace

Being back in America at this historical conjuncture is surreal. For years, voices from the left have voiced that the reality we now find ourselves in was a likely possibility given a fragmented left and a coming crisis of legitimacy.

One expects talk of Trump to be constant. But it isn’t. Given the fractured nature of knowledge — its bubbled production/consumption and the bubbled existence we all live (something further mediated by the advent of social media that seems to erect more borders than it demolishes) — it shouldn’t come as a surprise that concern, worry, and terror is punctuated. As everything else in neoliberalism, this too is unequal.

My immediate family is both angered and baffled but accept the “legitimacy” of the election. The comrades congregate and speak of alliances and defense. Educated white women feel accosted. People of color see a coming assault.

Antje and I retreated two days to a seaside hotel in Ocean Beach to gather ourselves. At Pizzaport, one would hardly guess fascism was coming. Not a single person said Trump as we sipped our beers and ate our pizza. The feeling was not so different at Tacos el Gordo.

Democracy doesn’t die with applause. It’s rather with indifference — if not ignorance. The road before us is long and difficult, no doubt.

I am reminded of a friend with whom I conversed after reading a day of sad headlines. Quoting someone I used to listen to in a small apartment in Golden Hill as I would watch the planes soar down towards the runway from a fenced and carpeted “balcony,” he said to me the other day, “Into this furnace I ask you now to venture, you whom I cannot betray.”

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