You don’t need me to tell you that the world is on fucking fire.
While messaging a good friend yesterday, I said something that resonated with me as I was saying it (does that ever happen to you?); essentially, I said that the world has always been dark and nuanced, but it has felt for the last four years as if our actual planet is ending.
This is an easy and terribly reductionist thing to say; after all, existential crisis does not belong only to us. It is existential panic and the atom bomb—truly— that created post-modernism. The AIDS crisis begat my favorite poets ever. Humans have always been in situations simultaneously infinitely worse and infinitely better than anyone else in any other period of time, as Rebecca Solnit, that wonderful genius of shit-is-terrible-but-don’t-give-up, extols.
I just finished James Baldwin’s “Another Country”, written in the early 1960s, which remains an exacting, devastating, gorgeously-rendered conversation about race as I’ve read today. The characters are multifaceted, generous, and always terribly fucking their lives up.
This week’s stories — and our playlist, which is the punkest it’s ever been (you’re welcome), embrace those hard edges of being a soft body in a glinting world.
We love you.
July (+ Katie)
January Tarotscopes: DISASTER, by Dacia Holliday
“The Disaster card is also known as the Tower in a more traditional deck, & there are some things you should be aware of when Disaster comes to play. First of all, no tower is eternal. A bunch of preschoolers taught me this lesson when I noticed that while they enjoyed building towers taller than themselves, what brought the most smiles & squeals of laughter was knocking that shit down. At first I was like, “Huh?”
But then I began to realize that they understood that there were a limited number of blocks, so if they wanted to build new towers, the old ones had to come down. There was also an undeniable joy when demolishing their towers. There was an occasional kiddo that needed coaxing to bring down their tower, but not all the time. Through these mini lessons, they taught me how to develop some kind of non-attachment to towers, no matter how much time or energy was used to create them, cuz inevitably they all gotta come down.”
Giving Birth Left Me With Lifelong Scars, by Josephinejsargent
“In a fog, I walked out with my baby, not even taking a nappy bag. My temperature was over 40C (104F); the tremors came and went and my blood pressure was dangerously low.
Immediately, I was admitted and wheeled back to the maternity ward for antibiotics. “You have an infection,” said the nurse. “We need to find out where it is.”
My Sex Education Was Non-Existent: A Comic, by Sebastian Bisbal
In Praise of the Explicit, By July Westhale
“Hearing Tori Amos’ song “Icicle” — as chilling and brilliant and clear as it sounds — and catching the sharp edge of her lyrics: “And when my hand touches myself/I can finally rest my head/And when they say take of His body/I think I’ll take from mine instead.”
Masturbation! This song was about fucking yourself.”
Silence In The Age of Enthusiastic Consent, by Kat Taylor
“And then his hand crept past my collar bone and wrapped firmly around my throat.
I had a strange thought in that moment. That my neck was made of hollow bones. Bird bones. That they could snap cleanly beneath the flick of a stranger’s wrist. You didn’t ask me about this, I thought, unsure of how to say no, afraid of what his reaction might be.”