"portal or threshold, we are crossing it"
On patron saints, cybernetics, and the time spirals of Saturn.
There is a Catholic sacrament called Confirmation, where you become an adult in the eyes of the church, where the Holy Spirit enters you. In the bible, Jesus is dead and the apostles are somewhere congregating when the Holy Spirit descends upon them outta nowhere and these holy ghost flames sit on their heads like little hats and they all start speaking in tongues and shit. And I guess after that they’re ready to disperse across the lands of the earth preaching the gospel.
Since Easter’s come and gone, I likewise came across an essay about Mary Magdalene and how she too was an apostle. It timed well with this Story of Catholic Philadelphia documentary I’m in the middle of. The doc heads right to the topic of the nativist riots from settler assholes who were pissed immigrant Catholics wanted to read their own version of the bible in public school instead of the Protestant version. On twitter I wrote
all the history that casually mentions cholera and yellow fever outbreaks n shit... epidemics are.... very regular.
For my Confirmation my mother had urged me to choose (the then Blessed now) St. Kateri Tekakwitha, an Algonquin–Mohawk woman whose parents died of smallpox and who herself was marred for life by it. In my Catholic school, Maternity BVM (that’s the Blessed Virgin Mary), we received Confirmation in 5th grade. Which honestly is too young for second and third generation Irish Italian Polish and-so-on kids growing up in Northeast Philly (I went to school in my grandmom’s parish but lived next to Cardinal Dougherty and St. Helena’s). “Picking” a patron saint was akin to a whimsical responsibility, with most of my peers choosing saints based on how much they liked their names. Lots of arcangel saints. Theresa. Anthony. Michael. Blaze. Francis. My mom wanted me to pick St. Kateri because she was native.
For a while now I’ve been sensing out a path to asking my mom how she thought of herself and her relationships in terms of race and class, and what she thought growing up with parents who were children in the Great Depression. Who assimilated, were volatile and loving and dysfunctional. My Nana who threw the second oldest of eight out of the house for dating Black men, and made a watercolor painting tried-college-but-didnt-like-it stoner of my mother. My mom had me in ‘83. An aspect of my childhood was that my mom always sought out stories for me of native peoples American Indians from the library, or shared her interest and knowledge of them walking around Pennypack and other places with Lenape names. We went to pow-wows held in the parks. For some reason she was drawn to study and know of american indians. I do not have a clear understanding of why.
One time on social I saw someone make a righteous comment about white women of a certain generation who thought of themselves as reincarnated indian princesses. I let out a very long slow exhale.
Anyway I have been praying to St. Kateri for guidance, and asking her about what of her story might be hidden from what’s told today. On a shelf just above eye level, I hold my hands together in a gesture many millions have repeated before me, and talk to her rosary, given to me by my nana from her New York shrine. I think about how time is a spiral.
There is this stranglehold of 'civilization' on the popular imagination, how in medieval Europe the people were backwards, ill-informed, stupid, purposefully unclean. While the people suffered, the barons, kings, bankers, and priests fought wars over land on that very land. In the time period of Robin Hood, King Richard is away on the Third Crusade. The third! When King Richard’s daddy took power in England he basically had to lay seige to all the barons to get them under his thumb and stop them wreaking havoc on the peasants – burning crops, destroying homes, and torturing and raping the people on the very land they hoped to conquer. Shit is fucked up! Conquest is about petty revenge from a misguided purpose. Nothing is sacred, everything a target of attack. This is what we’re dealing with generationally, ok? The aftereffects of surviving through conquest, and continuing to witness and endure it in our own lifetimes.
If you are a witness, you may have a responsibility to those you witness. Assimilation is deciding to forget. Whether it’s by choice or circumstance or not is dependent on your broader situation.
The April forecast episode of the Astrology Podcast went dutifully in-depth on a broader astrological event currently enveloping us: the Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto conjunction of 2020. Around the turn of the years from 2019 into 2020 all the popular queer astrologers were making mention of how this year was going to be really rough – it has some of the hardest astro weather they’ve seen, and it is all year long. If you want to experience a tingle on your neck hairs, try watching the March forecast episode of the Astrology Podcast, where our unwitting pre-pandemic astrologers drop all kinds of deeply foreshadowing insights about what the astro weather could possibly entail.
In short, we are living through a dense onslaught gauntlet of incredibly intense era-defining planetary transits. I can’t credibly speak to the details, but here is a long-read about The COVID-19 Pandemic & The Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto Conjunction if you are interested.
If you want to look outside, you can indeed get up in the late tail of the night, sometime around 4am if you are in EST, and see a slight arc of Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter low in the sky, stable in their steadfast glow and following the waning moon. If you have decent binoculars, try seeing if you can spot the nebulous lesser cast of Jupiter’s largest four moons or Saturn’s rings. You can see their reflected sunlight and think about the shape of time, spiraling and folding in on itself.
I suppose it’s worth mentioning that I started a Discord ‘server’ that you’re all invited to. It’s a chat room complex, and mine is a holodeck resort. Write me if you’d like an invite, it’s very relaxed there.
I bring up Discord to mention that my friend L dropped a link in our #dessert-cafe one morning to Alice Sparkly Kat’s essay Het-Jacking, which led me to Reading the I-Ching Through Yaoi, and finally to this sumptuous devotional, An Etymology of Saturn:
The original perfection of Saturn’s golden age was used to reveal the degeneracy associated with political and cultural fabrications for the Romans. While the USA and Germany both used the concept of degeneracy associated with the Saturnian agrarian ideal to invoke fears around racial mixing, both nations pursued the state of original perfection as an achievable utopia and not as a symbolic tool more useful within poetic and political manifestos rather than economic planning.
I found myself wrinkling my nose to the passing association of contemporary Saturnia emerging as Marxist revolution elsewhere in the article, with Russel Mean’s For America To Live Europe Must Die speech forever simmering in my nervous system/memory recall. But the essay moves quickly past that point and into late capitalist meditations on Saturn and revolution.
Late capitalism, by way of name, is the end of capitalism due to natural forces.
It was a very enjoyable essay.
As I read I listened to this field recording project that Johann Diedrick recently shared (and is a part of). It gave me a satisfying feeling of being ‘outside’ or at least the similar level of ambient noise of being at a cafe.
How are you doing?
Here let’s take a break…
(thanks to strawberry-privilege for sharing this in #club-bump the other day)
And a meme from my mom. [image description: An illustration of a hare rabbit holding a foamy pint of beer and looking at you from one eye. Text says ‘A priest, a rabbit, and a minister walk into a bar. The rabbit says, ‘I might be a typo.’”]
The other day Max Fox (whose Lammy nominated translation of Guy Hocquenghem’s The Ampitheater of the Dead sits beside my computer) shared this translation of an unfinished essay by Sandra Göbel, Trespassing Horizons. It’s about cybernetics, a topic that may seem eternal in the canon of futuristic technologies, yet still originates from a time and place.
In the discussions of automation in the 1980s, some of cybernetics’ foundational implications began to disappear from view. Awareness of these implications only reemerged once the Internet and its extensive virtual reality made them tangible again. Suddenly people noticed that something was missing in their lives. But what? If we want to avoid simply blaming that lack on the artificially created fetish for technology, or merely staring at the problem the way a rabbit stares at a snake, then we must look for an answer along the path traversed.
One of cybernetics’ means is the attempt to orient current efforts in the direction of a future goal.
he did “not want to predict a probable future, but to prepare a desirable future, and maybe to go even further: to make efforts to render that desirable future probable.”
and (while looking at your, Telescoping Effect story, Rasheedah)
Hasan Özbekhan, planning director of the System Development Corporation, had a vision of using databases to calculate future situations, and thus of “constructing anticipations by manipulating future situations backwards, in order to see . . . which changes must be undertaken to achieve the anticipation.”
Now I’m back in my feelings about generational entanglements (as Rasheedah might say) and living through time. One day at a time.
One day at a time.
how’s the book?
Thank you to Emily Bate who thought to ask me on the progress of ALL THAT’S LEFT. I haven’t been able to write more than 500 words since the start of March! I have no desire to force a sense of productivity, but I do find myself chagrined at having been forced into self-isolation after already having gone 3 months in a state of self-isolation for the purpose of writing this book. Unfortunately I’m an information addict and the calls for action and news reports have been roaring lately, myself caught up in its din until just recently. I am glad to be able to write this much with coherence, but journaling is much much easier for me than the forging of fiction.
If I’m honest, I have also been wracked with the quandary of…what is the aspiration of publishing a book even at a time like this? Who will even read it?
I’ve since talked myself into continuing.
The trans sff anthology MEANWHILE, ELSEWHERE has been made free to the public in PDF format on Casey Plett’s website, along with her book A Safe Girl to Love. My story HEAT DEATH OF WESTERN HUMAN ARROGANCE appears in MEANWHILE, ELSEWHERE, as well as right here:
Additionally, I decided to put some work into my plastic bag appreciation Instagram, @serviceappreciation, which I invite you all to follow if you so desire. I’ve queued up a string of daily posts, very mundane, and tagged all previous posts with categorical tags so you can search for only smiley or only floral type bags, etc.
Lastly, I’ve thought about VENUS SATURN SQUARE, the smut zine in progress, and yeah I don’t have it in me at all to address the editing process for that. My apologies to anyone whose been waiting for follow-up on that. I’ll address it when I can.
[image description: A screencap from the manga version of Beastars. An anthropomorphized buck deer Louis has his hand on the shoulder of wolf Legoshi. They are sitting by a windowsill wearing people clothes. The deer says ‘Your fetishes are what make you who you are.’ The wolf looks a little shook.]
Well this has been an effort, and I’m glad to have made it. I forwent my usual introductions this letter, I hope you don’t mind. I’m having many moments of reevaluation as the days and nights pass.
What else can I say? I hope to see you soon.