If we are ambivalent about love in its present form, it is only because, against the odds, we choose to feel something other than hatred.

Girl, you have always done too much or too little, and you are always too much or too little already. You are a mess of emotions, you live hand-to-mouth and from one day to the next, the slightest touch sends you into raptures or turns you cold as ice. It’s an achieved miracle, a form of heroism, that you still consent to be touched at all.

#Love  #Desire  #Gender  #Sex  

To appreciate “King Lear”—or even “The Catcher in the Rye” or “The Fault in Our Stars”—only to the extent that the work functions as one’s mirror would make for a hopelessly reductive experience. But to reject any work because we feel that it does not reflect us in a shape that we can easily recognize—because it does not exempt us from the active exercise of imagination or the effortful summoning of empathy—is our own failure. It’s a failure that has been dispiritingly sanctioned by the rise of “relatable.” In creating a new word and embracing its self-involved implications, we have circumscribed our own critical capacities. That’s what sucks, not Shakespeare.

Rebecca Mead, "The Scourge of ‘Relatability’"The New Yorker

Calmly we walk through this April’s day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn …)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(… that time is the fire in which we burn.)

(This is the school in which we learn …)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run
(This is the school in which they learn …)
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(… that time is the fire in which they burn.)

Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,
But what they were then?
No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)
But what they were then, both beautiful;

Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.

  Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day, Delmore Schwartz

'For he who knoweth his Master's will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes, and thus have I chastened you.' And the Negroes found fault, and murmured against me, saying that if they had my sense they would not serve any master in the world. And about this time I had a vision—and I saw white spirits and black spirits engaged in battle, and the sun was darkened—the thunder rolled in the heavens, and blood flowed in streams—and I heard a voice saying, 'Such is your luck, such you are called to see; and let it come rough or smooth, you must surely bear it.'

The Confessions of Nat Turner

As the bruises fade, the lightning aches.
Last week, making love, you bit me.
Now the blue and dark have gone
and yellow bruises grow toward pale daffodils,
then paler to become until my body
is all my own and what that ever got me.

Richard Brautigan, “As the Bruises Fade, the Lightning Aches” 

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

Marie Howe, “What the Living Do”

The challenge of re-entry, framed as an individual’s problem that requires an individual solution obscures the aggressive police practices and educational structures that have produced unemployment among those targeted for violent passage through the criminal-justice system. The depiction of incarceration, “cognitive deficits,” and unemployment as an individual problem reduces criminalized people and their educational opportunity to a market-based logic that denies the reality of structural racism. By focusing on re-entry to the job market as a solution, nonprofits and the Department of Education promote low-wage labor and remedial education as a way to reject the need to reform racist institutions because of their racism.

Sabrina Alli, “Carceral Educations”, The New Inquiry 

It cannot be neglected that the mythology of the democratic polity avidly recounts the heroic combat against the police agents of the old order. But even if the police officer of today did not evoke the images of the past at all, he would still be viewed with mixed feelings. For in modern folklore, too, he is a character who is ambivalently feared and admired, and no amount of public relations work can entirely abolish the sense that there is something of the dragon in the dragon slayer.

All our fevered history won’t instill insight,
won’t turn a body conscious,
won’t make that look
in the eyes say yes, though there is nothing

to solve

even as each moment is an answer.

From a poem in Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, reviewed at The Rumpus by Shaelyn Smith.

(via therumpus)

[A] vast amount of the energy that goes into what we call the Negro problem is produced by the white man’s profound desire not to be judged by those who are not white, not to be seen as he is, and at the same time a vast amount of the white anguish is rooted in the white man’s equally profound need to be seen as he is, to be released from the tyranny of his mirror.

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

The disciplining of the body is the precondition of industrial existence.

Against the Gendered Nightmare - baedan

From you I want more than I’ve ever asked,
all of it—the newscasts’ terrible stories
of life in my time, the knowing it’s worse than that,
much worse—the knowing what it means to be lied to.
Fog in the mornings, hunger for clarity,
coffee and bread with sour plum jam.
Numbness of soul in placid neighborhoods.
Lives ticking on as if.
A typewriter’s torrent, suddenly still.
Blue soaking through fog, two dragonflies wheeling.
Acceptable levels of cruelty, steadily rising.
Whatever you bring in your hands, I need to see it.
Suddenly I understand the verb without tenses.
To smell another woman’s hair, to taste her skin.
To know the bodies drifting underwater.
To be human, said Rosa—I can’t teach you that.
A cat drinks from a bowl of marigolds—his moment.
Surely the love of life is never-ending,
the failure of nerve, a charred fuse?
I want more from you than I ever knew to ask.
Wild pink lilies erupting, tasseled stalks of corn
in the Mexican gardens, corn and roses.
Shortening days, strawberry fields in ferment
with tossed-aside, bruised fruit.

I find no peace, and all my war is done:
I fear, and hope; I burn, and freeze like ice;
I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise;
And nought I have, and all the world I seize on;
That locketh nor loseth holdeth me in prison,
And holdeth me not, yet can I ‘scape nowise:
Nor letteth me live, nor die at my devise,
And yet of death it giveth me occasion.
Without eyen I see, and without tongue I ‘plain;
I desire to perish, and yet I ask health;
I love another, and thus I hate myself;
I feed me in sorrow, and laugh in all my pain.
Likewise displeaseth me both death and life,
And my delight is causer of this strife.

Thomas Wyatt, I Find No Peace

Gary Hume - Older (2002)