Quote of the day: SONGWRITING

April 27, 2017

SONGWRITING

There’s this sadness about [Katy Perry’s hit song “Teenage Dream”], where you feel young listening to it, but you feel impermanence at the same time. When I put that song on, I’m as moved as I am by anything by David Bowie, by Fleetwood Mac, by Neil Young. It lets you feel something you didn’t know you needed to feel. There’s something holy about it.

–Lorde, interviewed by Jonah Weiner in the New York Times Magazine


Quote of the day: NAMES

April 16, 2017


Photo diary: Tax March, NYC, 4/15/17

April 15, 2017

(click photos to enlarge)

Show me what democracy looks like? THIS is what democracy looks like. Empowered citizens hit the streets all over the country today to demand that the president release his tax returns, in the name of accountability, to let the American people judge whether he is acting in our interests or his own in his dealings with foreign powers. It was great to show up at Bryant Park and share energy with a real grass-roots assembly of New Yorkers — lots of pussyhat-energized women, young and old, multi-generational families with kids wielding handmade signs and grandparents in wheelchairs making their voices heard as we marched from there up Sixth Avenue.

Some chants: “We need a leader/Not a creepy tweeter!” “We don’t want your alternate factses/We just want to see your taxes!” “We wanna know/Who you owe!”

 


Quote of the day: COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN

April 15, 2017

COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN

“Email, Texts, and Negative Escalation”

In our contemporary time, email and texts are so often the source for tragic separations of potentially enriching relationships. First of all, email and text are both unidirectional and don’t allow for return information to enhance or transform comprehension. We must speak to each other, especially when events or feelings are fraught. I wish that all the people of the industrial world would sign a pledge that any negative exchange that is created on email or text must be followed by a live, in-person conversation. And clearly we have a responsibility to encourage our friends and colleagues to not make negative judgments based on email or texts. So many relationships are ruined by the artificial nature of these obstructive walls, especially when one party makes a negative power-play by refusing to speak to the other in person. They then create the false problem of whether or not the two conflicted parties will speak at all, which makes addressing and progressing to the real source of anxiety impossible. Refusing to communicate has always been one of the main causes of false accusation as it guarantees negative fantasy about the other, especially in arenas that are particularly loaded like sexuality, love, community, family, materiality, group identification, gender, power, access, and violence. Email and texts don’t allow us to go through the human phases of feeling that occur when we actually communicate face to face.

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Email creates repression and anxiety. No one is seen and no one is affirmed. The only way to recreate the normal human cycle of response is to send even more short emails or texts in a row, each with an evolved position. The next one assures you that I understand, as I am afraid that you are misconstruing me. And the final one wishes you a good trip. And, sadly, I have only made it all worse by now being in the arena of what I know is going to be simplistically called “too much” when in reality it is frankly and literally not enough. Five texts are culturally stigmatized as excessive, but they only cover a minute or two of conversation. And people need interactive conversations, even short ones, in order to understand each other.

Most Americans have cell phones now. They can return phone calls on the walk from the subway station to their apartment buildings, from the car to the mall. There is no reason why people do not return phone calls except for the power-play of not answering. It certainly does not save time. It is tragic that we have evolved a social custom that people need to email in order to ask for permission to make a phone call. Just call! Emailing to ask for permission to speak privileges the rage, Supremacy, and Trauma of withholding over the human responsibility to communicate and understand. I say, let’s get back to the first one hundred years of telephone culture, where people looked up each other’s numbers and called. The now “forbidden” ten-to-twenty-minute phone conversation could save the subsequent months or years of misplaced bad feeling. All this terrible loss, for nothing.

–Sarah Schulman, Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair


Food for the Joybody: “Pleasure, Anesthesia, and the Burden of Consciousness”

April 15, 2017


Last fall I published an extremely personal essay in RFD, the radical faerie reader-written journal, for a special issue on Substances. My essay, which is titled “Pleasure, Anesthesia, and the Burden of Consciousness: Notes on Substances,” has just been reprinted in Reality Sandwich, the online magazine created by Evolver Learning Lab here in NYC.

My intention with this piece of writing was to speak honestly about my own experience of using various mind-altering substances, what I’ve gained, and how closely I monitor the balance of recreational and ceremonial explorations, what’s excessive and what’s enough. Early on in the piece I say:

I am at heart an epicurean. I believe that pleasure is the greatest good in life, and in my sacred intimate practice I’m a champion of healing through pleasure. I’m quite attached to the pleasures in my life: the four cups of strong black tea that fuel my day, the couple of glasses of wine or beer that are my treat at the end of the day, my robust sex life, my enjoyment of music, and the occasional toke that my stoner boyfriend has taught me to enjoy. At the same time, I’m aware that sometimes it’s hard to distinguish pleasure from anesthesia, and sometimes I wonder what pain or fear I might be medicating or numbing with the substances I routinely enjoy. I’m sure I’m a bit hypervigilant about this because my father’s alcoholism left a strong imprint on my life. But I like to believe that I remain in choice rather than compulsive about my pleasures, and I’ve noticed that when I diet to prepare for sacred medicine ceremonies, I get quite cranky about giving up tea and wine and still spend considerable energy thinking about and craving them. There are writing projects that are important to me that I’m trying to summon the energy and stamina and concentration to complete, and it’s unclear to me whether my use of substances helps or hinders that. The constant existential battle between Living a Good Life and Getting Things Done.

You can read the entire essay online here. Check it out and let me know what you think.


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