Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Thank You Harold, and other reflections on The Anxiety of Influence




Early in Illuminations on Market Street,  a young woman invites our protagonist back to her college dorm room and tells him  a story.

 ““I talked to a friend of mine at Wesleyan University,” the girl who had first run up to me announced. “She told me about Harold Bloom coming to the campus last week. He was early for the lecture he was going to be giving so he went for a meal at a breakfast place off the campus and ended up falling asleep. The waiter woke him up saying, ‘All right Mac, it’s time to pay up and get out of here! Let’s hit the road!’ With his hair all mangled on one side, Bloom took offense saying, ‘I am Harold Bloom.’ The waiter responded, ‘And I don’t care.’ Then Bloom says, ‘I am a preeminent literary critic.’ Isn’t that hilarious?” She mimicked, “I am a preeminent literary critic.” Blah blah blah... passing the time for something else which could only come once the time had passed. Soon everyone left for food at the coop and Zoe and I were on our own. I looked at her. “Do you give good back rubs?” she asked. I noticed how blue her eyes were. “Sure,” I said.”

The two characters chat about Kundera and feminism,
Hookups and college dating, 
Before having a go of it themselves.
Ourselves.

Later in the story, Cab finds a closer connection with another young Vassar student,
He finds himself coming to grips with her reactionary whips and chains sort of way.
“We were full of conflicts and contradictions, on and off, connected and separated, west coast and east, Catholic or agnostic. At Thanksgiving, Chloe confessed she wanted to reembrace Catholicism. I had always loved the Madonna-whore thing she had going. But this was the first time I had seen her move back toward the other end of the pendulum.”
Later Chloe refers to a book by Harold Bloom:
“Have you read the Book of J?” she asked me, referring to a newly discovered book of the Old Testament which was all the literary rage. I hadn’t. And neither had she, but she was interested in exploring it. I was confused, but also intrigued, with her elusive ever-evolving self, and I was more attracted to her than ever.”

Two references to a literary critic I’d never read in my roman à clef.
That’s a lot of foreplay banter.
Whips and chains food for thought through the years.

We were all characters in this story.

Eros and Thanatos dancing throughout the years.
“Every poet begins (however 'unconsciously') by rebelling more strongly against the fear of death than all other men and women do,”

I always thought it was the coolest book title I’d ever read.
Your books and ideas pointed at something we could be:
“We read to find ourselves, more fully and more strangely than otherwise we could hope to find.”
he reminded us.
I found that space in the library digging through the stacks chasing that something that would be who I was.
You showed us that was ok,
Even when it wasn’t cool.
From Bronx Science to Yale to the NY Times,
You helped us ponder what it meant to read and think about it all.
Thanks for being a part of it all these years, even if we never really knew you.
Thanks reminding us, it was ok to contemplate the space between poetry and the sublime. 

“It is hard to go on living without some hope of encountering the extraordinary.”
― 
Harold Bloom

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

ICE Raids and Scream Outs, Impeachment Marches and Everyday Life


ACT UP,  Fight AIDS, Stop ICE!
Another demo, in a long history. 
Karlos Subverses is with Benjamin Heim Shepard at Central Park Columbus Circle NYC.Yesterday at 2:19 PMNew York
ACT UP, Fight back, Fight ICE
Money for AIDS, Not ICE Raids declares ACT UP!


All week, I thought about the string of actions that had consumed the last few days.
Blood and guts on Wall Street Monday.
Civil disobedience in DC on Tuesday.
Feeling a chill riding up to Columbia on Wednesday
Missing Thursday.
And writing about it all Friday.
Such actions have long been a part of life,
A witnessing,
A way of pushing forward,
Showing up,
Supporting,
Speaking to history,
Reaching out,
 Connecting with people and movements.
A way to live democratically.
But…
Are they helpful?
Some more than others.
No one is entirely sure. 

Still we proceed.
And wonder.
They are a way I fill my days when not teaching or writing.
Sunday would be a day full of actions. 
Saturday would be a break, a pause for book groups and bike rides.
Up to Stanley’s I rode from Brooklyn, across the Manhattan Bridge,
Past the Extinction Rebellion graffiti for the previous Monday’s action.
Up Madison, where we’d be discussing
Everyday Life in the Modern World, Henri Lefebvre’s tome from 1968.
Peter Bratsis, author of Everyday Life and the State, was  pinch hitting  for Stanley in the hospital.
After 1968, Lefebvre wrote, The Explosion, he explained,
Improvising throughout our conversation of about Everyday Life In the Modern World.
To understand this, you have to understand the whole, posits Bratsis.
It’s a lived whole, everyday life.
A critique of the fractured approach separating the part.
Its better to understand the co determined parts in the dialectic.
Marx begins with the commodity form.
Here people are turned into commodities, everything is.
The marketplace to sell our labor.
Understand it as a totality.
Chapter ten of Capital - “The Working  Day” -unpacks this process:
 “Capital is dead labor,” writes  Marx, in Section One, “that Vampire like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives, only the more labor it sucks, the time during which the laborer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labor time he has purchased from him.  If the laborer consumes his labor time for himself, he robs the capitalist.”
Hence our compulsion to enjoy, to protest, to scream, to make as much noise, as much time as we can outside of work.

My friend Sean told me he was sad he had to work instead of make it to DC for our action.
But he had to work. 
And he regretted it.

We assign meanings to commodities, with signs and signifiers.
Significance attached to those elements that change and transform over and over again.
Taking us back to questions about desire and the unconscious.
Part of the critique is the boredom.
The Clash, the Magnificent Seven.
“Ring ring, its 7 AM,
Get yourself to go again.”
Daydream
Fantasy.
Imagine another life,
Another experience.
Another place.
Another time,
Vacation.
Time to travel.
Fetish commodity.
Go to Japan.
Libidinous manipulations everywhere,
The commodity is more interesting, the digital avatar
 more intriguing than the sex itself,
posits Bratsis.
Can  it really be true?

Is there a way out?
The festival,
The vacation.
Civil disobedience,
Escaping the rules of the everyday.
Rearranging the relation of the whole and the parts.
The detail is in the number of parts,
Categorized.
As alienation expands.
We clock our lives.
Everyday life restricted by the temporal discipline.
Mythic vs diachronic time divided.
Work and wage labor vs  play free time.
The clock determines our lives.
But from time to time, we stumble into a mythic realm
Where something else takes shape,
 in a magic place.

How do we change social  relations?
Wonders Peter.
With a Right to Be Lazy.
“Laborers killing themselves  with over production…”
We crave work,
Satisfaction,
Desire.

Can we challenge the rigors?
The oppressive mechanisms of how we live,
The means of production.
Is any of it sustainable/
This is what social movements are about
 Our collectives point us toward something,
Hopefully.
Toward the good life and how we live it.
A way that makes us free er.
That is real and concrete,
That is the revolution of everyday life.
The first volume came out in 1946.
It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the party caught onto what he was saying
About oppression in everyday life
Under both Capital and Stalin.
The boot was swift.
The communists kicked him out.

But the problem remained.
Authoritarian tendencies.
Burnout activism.
Protestant, moralistic tendencies.
From time to time we all stop.
Bartelby stops.
“… would prefer not to…”
But it is the collective stop that matters.
The stoppage is transformative.
But the Taylor Laws punishing.
We fetishize our tactics.

Its hard to see the forest through the trees. 
Part of what allows us to endure the repetitions is the fantasy that we’ll have a revolution.
In the meantime, we go to work.
Taking our part in this culture of controlled consumption. 
Enabling us to deal with it all.
This was what 1968 was about.
Unpacking questions.
Exploring things that change conditions.

We consume signs.
Most of us are philosophers.
The challenge is to become aware of it. 

And so the weekend meandered.
The little one and  I continued the  conversation.
Why is there air?
Would we have locked up Einstein?
What was it that  Nietzsche believe in?
Joining a philosophy club.

Biking  in  between it all.
Looking at the Mind Detergent
And the Graffiti.
Dick shots.
Working  it out.
Through the dead end streets about to be rezoned.
Along  the waterfront.
Dancing with friends.
Exploring.
Wondering who are  our neighbors?
Can we  meet them on their  own terms?
Give them a  blessing that means  something to  them.
Even  if we don’t know what else  to do?
Eco collapse challenges us all to look around.
And try to see.
Human activity causes harm to our neighbors.

This is what act up and rise and resist and the New Yorkers for Hong Kong railed about all afternoon.
Riding across the Manhattan  Bridge again.
Past the Extinction Rebellion 10/7 signs.
Up to Judson.
For the feast of the animals.
Reading “Luke” by Mary Oliver,
Wondering about our friends.
“not in a  serious,
careful way
that we choose
this blossom or that blossom-
the way we praise or don’t praise –
the way we love
or don’t love
but the way
we long to be –
that happy
in the heaven or earth –
that wild
that loving…”

Out into the streets to explore the city.
The energy of the day,
Trying to connect.
NYC is screaming. 
Visiting the impeachment revolt,

“…taking to the streets in NYC,

 marches nationwide

meeting in Times Square,

 marching to Union Square.

 step off at 1:30pm….”
The day we stop fighting for democracy is the day we lose it.

The ground shifting,

 keep up the momentum until we’ve won….”

Declare the organizers. 


In  the meantime,
The Hong Kongers are converging at the Cube:

“‘Mask up’ and ‘Shout out’ for Hong Kong Freedom and Democracy
New Yorkers have been actively supporting the Hong Kong freedom and democracy movement.
This Sunday to show your concern and opposition to the enactment of emergency regulation ordinance to ban facemasks at protests in Hong Kong..
 highlight the erosion of liberties to congregate and protest.
…show solidarity with the people of Hong Kong,
 educate the New York public about these protests,
and stand with each other in these challenging times.

Can I be in three places?
Is it possible?
I ride up to the impeachment rally.
And then up to Columbus Circle to support act up before making my way down to join the Hong Kong Shout Out!

The horrors of history are many,
As bodies become commodities, to be bought, sold, and detained.

Money for AIDS, Not ICE Raids –
ACT UP reminds us:

“Seeking asylum is not illegal and ICE should not be detaining any migrants, especially when they cannot provide adequate care to HIV+ individuals.
ACT UP New York demands that ICE be abolished, that the U.S. government end detention of asylum seekers, and that the ICE/DHS/CBP officials involved in these deaths be prosecuted.

ACT UP New York demonstration on Sunday, October 13,
 protest the criminal neglect and detention of HIV+ individuals under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Since 2003, 17 known deaths of HIV+ individuals under their detention.
On July 25, CBP’s Chief of Law Enforcement Brian Hastings stated during a hearing with House Judiciary Committee that the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol was using HIV+ status as an additional reason to separate parents seeking asylum from their children.
Queer and transgender HIV+ migrants are being treated with malice and neglect.
Under the Trump administration, 24 deaths in ICE detention facilities …
 ICE has stopped updating its official “List of Deaths in ICE Custody” page.

As part of this demonstration, protesters hold posters in memoriam of the 17 HIV+ individuals who died.
“ACT UP, Fight Back, End ICE.”

The action ends with a die-in, which includes reading the names and backgrounds of those who died under ICE’s cruel, inhuman detention.

  The die-in 18 minutes long - 1 minute for each person living with HIV who's died in ICE custody and 1 minute for the many more who couldn't/didn't know their HIV status, wouldn't reveal their HIV status for fear of discrimination or whose status ICE never learned about.
> 
> 1)     Adetunji POPOOLA, a 48 year old immigrant living with HIV from Nigeria, died on February 2, 2004 while in ICE custody.
> 
> 2)     Hector MOSLEY, an HIV+ person from Panama, died 2 days after their 57th birthday while in ICE custody.
> 
> 3)     Jose Rangel RODRIGUEZ, a 32 year old immigrant from Guatemala living with HIV, died on March 3, 2004 from ICE custody.
> 
> 4)     Carlos MENDEZ-BACCA, a 29 year old citizen of Honduras living with HIV, died on March 19, 2004 while in ICE custody.
> 
> 5)     While in ICE custody, Kandiab SATKUNES-WARAN, a 39 year old person living with HIV from Sri Lanka, died on April 17, 2004.
> 
> 6)     Samou FANKEU, a Cameroon citizen living with HIV, died on May 11, 2004 while in ICE custody.
> 
> 
> 7)     Simon REYES-ALTIMlRANO, a 25 year old immigrant from Honduras living with HIV, was diagnosed with chicken pox and sent back to his cell with Benadryl in ICE custody, where he died 2 weeks later.
> 
> 8)     While under ICE detention, Yvel FILS-AlME, an HIV+ citizen of Haiti, died on November 11, 2004.
> 
> 9)     Walter RODRIGUEZ CASTRO, a 28-year old living with HIV from El Salvador, died on April 23, 2006 after days of complaining of fever, stiff neck, and vomiting while in ICE custody.
> 
> 10)  Victoria Arellano, a transwoman from Mexico living with HIV, died on July 20, 2007 after being denied medical attention and her prescribed medication despite protests on her behalf by other detainees while in ICE custody.
> 
> 11)  In 2008, GUIDO NEWBOROUGH, an HIV+ German citizen, requested medical attention while in ICE custody but was instead knocked to the floor by guards and dragged to an isolation unit where he later died due to complications from HIV.
> 
> 12)  Juan BAIRES, an HIV+ immigrant from El Salvador, died on November 12, 2008 after 54 days in ICE custody while being repeatedly denied his HIV medications.
> 
> 13)  SERGIO JIMENEZ‐ROJAS, from Mexico, died on Feb 7, 2009 from complications due to HIV while in ICE custody.
> 
> 14)  Ernesto Gomez-Vasquez, a person living with HIV from Guatemala, died on March 5, 2010 at age 30 while under ICE detention.
> 
> 15)  Mauro Rivera Romero was an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador living with HIV who died 4 days after being detained on October 1st, 2011.
> 
> 16) Roxsana Hernandez was a Honduran citizen, HIV+ transgender woman and asylum seeker who arrived to the US in May of 2018 with a caravan.  After her death on May 25, 2018, her family released a statement, “Roxsana Hernandez was our sister and it was an injustice to have her die the way she did.  For us, her closest family, it’s been extremely painful to deal with. She left with dreams of opening a beauty salon and hopes of helping us out. She fled Honduras because here transgender people are discriminated against. She left with hopes of living a better life.”
> 
> 17)  Johana Medina was a 25-year-old transgender asylum seeker with HIV from El Salvador who died while in ICE custody on June 1 — the first day of Pride Month – in 2019.

> 18)  We should assume that there are many more deaths of people living with HIV while in ICE custody, but there is no record of them.  We have no information about them because they could not know their HIV status due to lack of medical care.  Or because they could not reveal their HIV status for fear of discrimination or harassment. Or because ICE did not know the HIV status of the people in their custody.  For those people who died in ICE custody but did not know their positive HIV status or who could not reveal their HIV+ status due to fear of discrimination, we continue the die-in ….


Everyday life in its countless forms.
Its countless revolts.