"Now with all the weight of disordered time as my container"
On mundane experiences in memory, time/hope perspectives under empire, and a series of sci-fi considerations.
a buoyant atmosphere
What are you wearing?
I’m in shorts with an elastic waistband and a worn t-shirt tucked into that. Both black. One is more faded than the other. My favorite pieces of black clothing are mostly faded, but I get hung up sometimes on going outside in different shades of black, haunted by that basic tenet of dressing for outside in the city that requires monotone looks to match in tone. I remember people in high school trying to deduce where they were going to get the exact matching tone of shirt and accessory piece to match the particular cherry red or cerulean blue of their new shoes, and others getting clowned for trying to act like their socks and shirt weren’t two different tones of citrus and neither matched the sneaks either. I had to wear a uniform all before high school and was dressed in layaway and thrift store and Forman Mills otherwise, and I remember one time my dad on his Monday visit came by with both a black and a white pair of low top Reebok Freestyles that he’d gotten on a buy-one-get-one. I was like FINALLY I AM OUT OF BOBOS THESE ARE BRAND NAME!!!! But I was like…9 and did not articulate those words at all and was more experiencing an emotion that I may now be more accepted by the kids on my block who were uniformly outfitted in Keds and Nikes and Reeboks already and not puff-painted no-name canvas tennis shoes from the craft store…
The sun is shining from out the soupy chill overcast above, and I feel untethered of self loathing and numbness and preoccupied detachment today. Taurus season is running its course and Gemini season approaches. I tend to feel energized around this time of year, when school was drawing to a close and the honeysuckle starts to flower. Also I know and admire like forty different Tauruses out there? Happy Birthday to yall. I’ve never been without a Taurean friend somewhere nearby.
One recurring gift of Taurus season has been the opportunities to catch performances, talks, workshops, and other cultural events that would have otherwise been held as one-time/limited gatherings in (often variously inaccessible & far off) places like metropolitan art spaces or $200 ticketed concert halls and so on. Michelle Handelman’s feature-length documentary BloodSisters: Leather Dykes and Sadomasochism is one of those events that was supposed to be relegated to a London film/art festival but is instead currently hosted on Vimeo! It’s full of mean hotties including Patrick Califia and I have watched it twice so far. :3
Of course, there was the Jill Scott x Erykah Badu verzuz event as well, which I live-tweeted along with a solid third of my twitter friends, swooning amidst 90s-00s high school graduation era deep feels and pure joy. AND somewhere in the middle Jill Scott was like,
There are a lot of writers watching right now who are holding onto stuff b/c they don’t know how people will accept it.. And it doesn’t matter. You have to get it out. You’re just holding onto something that really doesn’t belong to you anymore.
and that made me INSPIRED. Phewww!!
[image description: the edge of a wooden desk cluttered with a basket holding a hair brush, a fidget spinner, and surrounded by things like nail polish, tech dongles, small bottles of skincare oils. my cell phone is in the midst of it and the screen shows the split-screen from the stream of the Jill Scott vs Erykah Badu jawn.]
alive to witness
On that very warm summer preview day this past Saturday, I rode my bike over to Clark Park with the intention that I would journal Chani Nicholas’s prompts for Venus Retrograde in Gemini if the park didn’t seem too full of selfish fools. Now, I live closer to Belmont Plateau—maybe equidistant—than to Clark Park, but I was hoping to maybe see some familiar faces from the 19139-19143 zips cause I had just been in an argument and was feeling so out there. Instead of seeing anyone while journaling, I had to aggressively shoulder off an obnoxious dog one time too many and move from a sunny spot to a shady spot where I finished up. The fog horn wah-wahhh of the unmasked white woman’s “sor-reeee” when I turned to confront her… What IS that inflection? Where did it come from?
Like last night I attempted to listen to a popular queer podcast. I did listen to it, it was fine. I had tried listening to it a couple years ago but was too annoyed by the host’s inflection to commit. A bored dragging-on and over emphasizing of frictive Ss and full-stop consonants and can you just get to the fucking point and let your guest talk instead? I associate it with a liberal arts women & gender studies living on the East Coast type queers, but suspect that’s not quite it. I tend to be terse and short with people who talk like this because it grates on my nerves. Some iteration and transformation of the up-rising Valley Girl flection. Some sort of play on talking like rich spoiled people and maybe these people were raised middle class and… man when I listen to myself talk I have a hard time imagining why someone would make that their regular speaking voice.
But who am I to judge?
Meanwhile, I made it to the final chapter of Dhalgren a couple days ago. In the past I told friends Dhalgren is not the book to start reading Delany from, Dhalgren makes me feel as bored and malaised as it does to be living in the city with nowhere to go and nothing to do but get into trouble, Dhalgren is hard to follow, and all this other shit. I don’t think I made it past 300 pages last time. Now with all the weight of disordered time as my container, I began to reread it a few weeks ago. Long stretches on the roof, at the kitchen table, in bed in the middle of the day, upon waking up and feeling unable to get out of bed (and the book was already by my pillow). My dear spacer and I agreed that reading Dhalgren is chewy and savory and demanding of one’s time and attentiveness. For one, the main character himself has a novel way of experiencing time and space, and you have to adjust your reading to keep track with his narration. When I’m done I’ll write a book review. For now I’ll say if you enjoyed The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions and maybe also like playing haunting fantasy PC games and are into recent United States history with attention to white flight and divestment of cities from the Civil Rights ~ Vietnam era…. If you were a teen delinquent and-or runaway who has car pooled from one poly queer acquaintance group to another in search of yourself, I think Dhalgren will be of interest.
[image description: the wooden desk from before, this time strewn with an open notebook full of notes, an open laptop to its right, a tarot deck, a closed leather journal, a few pens, some small house plants, and a little toy push-button water game won from an arcade]
With the energy gained from reading Dhalgren along with the pure inspo from Jilly from Philly Miss Scott, I’ve been tying up arc 1 of my ALL THAT’S LEFT manuscript a couple dozen or hundred words at a time. Tying up arc 1 requires journaling about the hard details necessary in arcs 2 and 3—things I’ve never really wanted to flesh out, stuff like encounters with physical group violence or bothering to imagine the possibilities of techno-state infrastructure and so on. Maybe you’ve been with me since I started calling what I’m working on fantasy rather than sci-fi. Dhalgren reminded me of the kind of fantasy I mean—some things inexplicably happen and no, there will not be a ‘reason.’ What’s more, too many of the inexplicable scifi-type details of my composting cyborg world have ended up getting viable backstories all on their own from real world events.
Today, for instance, I read an article that Jeanne D’Angelo shared, called Screen New Deal: Under Cover of Mass Death, Andrew Cuomo Calls in the Billionaires to Build a High-Tech Dystopia, talking about how NY governor Cuomo is hot to trott with letting surveillance AI technologies envelope the state as an answer to life ‘post-pandemic.’ The article goes in:
Anuja Sonalker, CEO of Steer Tech, a Maryland-based company selling self-parking technology, recently summed up the new virus-personalized pitch. “There has been a distinct warming up to human-less, contactless technology,” she said. “Humans are biohazards, machines are not.”
It’s a future in which our homes are never again exclusively personal spaces but are also, via high-speed digital connectivity, our schools, our doctor’s offices, our gyms, and, if determined by the state, our jails. Of course, for many of us, those same homes were already turning into our never-off workplaces and our primary entertainment venues before the pandemic, and surveillance incarceration “in the community” was already booming. But in the future under hasty construction, all of these trends are poised for a warp-speed acceleration.
This is a future in which, for the privileged, almost everything is home delivered, either virtually via streaming and cloud technology, or physically via driverless vehicle or drone, then screen “shared” on a mediated platform. It’s a future that employs far fewer teachers, doctors, and drivers. It accepts no cash or credit cards (under guise of virus control) and has skeletal mass transit and far less live art. It’s a future that claims to be run on “artificial intelligence” but is actually held together by tens of millions of anonymous workers tucked away in warehouses, data centers, content moderation mills, electronic sweatshops, lithium mines, industrial farms, meat-processing plants, and prisons, where they are left unprotected from disease and hyperexploitation. It’s a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable, and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.
By the way, I just can’t get over how sinister it is that Google formed this clandestine parent company that quietly got involved with defense contracting and statecraft advising, and named that jawn ALPHABET. Real Neal Stephenson style white male technocrat cyberpunk hell.
The article goes on…
The Electronic Privacy Information Center recently got access through a Freedom of Information Act request to a presentation made by Schmidt’s NSCAI one year ago, in May 2019. Its slides make a series of alarmist claims about how China’s relatively lax regulatory infrastructure and its bottomless appetite for surveillance are causing it to pull ahead of the U.S. in a number of fields, including “AI for medical diagnosis,” autonomous vehicles, digital infrastructure, “smart cities,” ride-sharing, and cashless commerce.
The reasons given for China’s competitive edge are myriad, ranging from the sheer volume of consumers who shop online; “the lack of legacy banking systems in China,” which has allowed it to leapfrog over cash and credit cards and unleash “a huge e-commerce and digital services market” using “digital payments”; and a severe doctor shortage, which has led the government to work closely with tech companies like Tencent to use AI for “predictive” medicine. The slides note that in China, tech companies “have the authority to quickly clear regulatory barriers while American initiatives are mired in HIPPA compliance and FDA approval.”
Then the slide has a bulleted list with the first one saying “MASS SURVEILLANCE IS A KILLER APPLICATION FOR DEEP LEARNING.”
Must I rally your consideration to why the IG face filters some of us amuse ourselves with exist?
Must I also caution you, dear reader, to remember that ‘the future’ is not lost for us, and the horror of these warmongers’ imaginations for it aren’t allowed to take hold of our own. Alice Sparkly Kat’s May horoscope for Gemini was short and sweet, saying:
There’s no such thing as the future. The future is a made up story that we tell ourselves so that we understand time in a certain way. Your job in May is to play the role of the time scientist. If you were to create another dimension, where would you put it?
If you stop believing in the future, then what do you start believing in? Do you start believing in the things that we used to represent the past with? Primordial connections between insects and plants? Conversations between different types of soil? Your job, Gemini storyteller/time-scientist, is to choose the type of stories we bring into the new world.
And this Emergence Magazine essay by Jake Skeets, The Other House: Musings on the Diné Perspective of Time ponders:
Right now, it seems hope is hard to feel amid all this grief. Perhaps the social media questions and posts should not be about the impossibility of poetry but about the impossibility of hope.
Hope, however, connotes a type of linear time wherein the subject that hopes is looking forward toward a future without the current challenge. This kind of hope I fear is linked to the onslaught of capitalism and the genocidal ideation of the American Dream. So maybe an answer lies within the reimagining of hope through the reimagining of time.
And don’t you all know by now that to fuck with me is to make a pilgrimmage viewing of Rasheedah Phillip’s presentation on Dismantling the Master’s Clock[work] Universe??
Last night while digging through suggested YouTube I came across this user with a combined ’history podcast with slides’ plus simulated historical Philadelphia architecture project channel (with bonus SEPTA critique content), and started watching their episode about the history of Banking & Commerce, specific to the first US banks that got their start in Old City here in Philly. History really does repeat itself man! Did I say before how my awareness of historical events of empire and plague have given me a sense of calm? (Understanding how demonic the forces of state violence imperial technology and consolidated power have always been gives me the space to stop worrying about ‘what might happen’ next and focus on what needs doing now, such as moving funds food manpower and resources to the most vulnerable.)
Anyway, in this episode there’s an attentive overview of just how much Andrew Jackson was “a dumb moron idiot asshole” with SPECIFIC regard to aggitating his followers into backing an avoidable economic crisis, much like the administration today. You can also really get a sense of how this country was funded by people like big daddy tech patriot Eric Schmidt by watching this jawn. (Here I make a series of exasperated snort-guffaw half-aspirated starts of words.) Ugh.
Time to take a break.
no more feeling sorry for yourself
The other day a queer youngster asked me to proof read 25 pages of a WIP they're hoping to get published, and it put the idea in my head that I should offer editing services. I had to remind myself, like……. oh yeah I am editing people’s work for zines and books and at work (when I was employed), and oh yeah I designed and edited an entire book and that book received a Lambda nomination. Like come on! Quarantine has me examining my tendencies to belittle myself & my accomplishments and my avoidance of 'acting like' or claming a level of professional experience with skills to offer and ~charge for~. Does anyone have links to websites of editors you’ve worked with so I can research them OR do you work as an editor and wish to beqeauth unto me any salient mentoring advice? I’d appreciate it.
The city is changing: new faces, apartments, businesses. These changes are often framed as progress or advancement. But what about what's left behind? What happens to those who can't afford the tickets to the future? In the COVID era, remote lifestyles radically alter the flow of life in Philadelphia. The past is being pushed out at a rate that quickens with society's digital consciousness, which makes M. Téllez’s short-story collection, Transitional Times Transitional Bodies, especially timely.
As far as I know, no one has reviewed this book anywhere on the internet or in print!! I’m making a big deal of this occasion because who else will! I have no press agent or speaking tour-powered inter/national following! My thanks to you, Corey!
Speaking of reviews, I updated that corner of cyborgmemoirs.com with some recent and relevant reads:
TESTOJUNKIE by Paul B Preciado
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr
James Tiptree Jr: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon by Julie Phillips
…which I have tagged as #transmemoir even though the Tiptree entries are short story collection and biography respectively. I want to point out that I’m posting reviews direct from my official URL in a move to not have context exclusively hosted at A*azon-owned sites like Goodreads. Not only does Am*zon outright own or own stock in some of the fundamental online platforms in the United States and elsewhere, but an enormous portion of the very content and files of the web itself is hosted on Ama*on Web Services. How we manage to divest from their invasive stranglehold of the very infrastructure of the internet itself is something to meditate on. In the past, the robber baron monopolies were supposedly broken up by the government. In the present, the US government loves and believes in Amazo•.
When you watched shit like the Matrix and Animatrix and all the other sci-fi comics and anime and movies that depict the small-minded horrors of a robot uprising that ~enslaves~ humanity, did you ever think it might mean something like the enclosure of public society and private life by a global entity like Amaz•n? My essay for Mask Magazine about the romance of the colony ends like this:
You have spent all these years holding on to a mounting dread while the internet’s transformed into a convenient, everywhere, totally identified companion reality that optimizes your behavior for social control. Maybe it was never for your own benefit. You write these words because you wonder what it’s like to be a pre-pubescent person in this era of coercive data-for-service internet. You wonder when it will become criminalized to not maintain an active social media presence. And what will you do then?
Is anyone else thinking about a time when everyday communication and movement will change because the platforms and the devices are too harmful to use? I’m certain it won’t be the first time. It might not happen. It happens all the time.
[image description: an up close view of sunny, stony cement sidewalk with its cracks full of small weeds. there is a stone ledge in front of a front yard, with more weeds and plants growing. but the focus is on a piece of trash on the ground, packaging for a NINJA FACE MASK.]
So. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, to ask for what you really need. You can start by thinking it (what i really need is _____), write it down, say it out loud. It’s not so bad, and it’s worth trying too.
Till next time.