this, that, and the Other

identity, alterity, and everything in between

Month: September, 2011


It starts first in subtler
ways, suspect of the arms
as they pull out from under
you, doubting from the
get-go these two wobbly
things called ‘legs’ can
really carry you at all,
wondering whose they are
even—next you doubt them,
of course, whether or not
their sense of security is
that at all or something
entirely else, you begin
dismissing the words they
use, words like ‘not yours’
or ‘bad, bad, bad,’ until
you outright don’t listen
altogether. Soon you’re
doubting people you’ve
heard of, the tooth-fairy
or Santa Clause for instance
until you move right on
to doubting the very structure
of things as you know them,
the so-called grander words
like ‘god’ or ‘saint,’ things
which can’t be ‘real’ you say,
until you find yourself
in more complicated
situations, whether or
not his portrayal of the
Kennedy’s or Oscar Wilde
is ‘real’ for instance, you
start doubting the poet
or poem—who wants to live
in a world where the poem
is ‘real’ after all, what with
the sort of responsibility
that entails, ‘who wants
that kind of world’ you say,
casting aside equally the capital-‘N’
novel alongside the night you
finally told her or him what
you did and how you cried
and cried and couldn’t speak
another word, no point in
remembering now all those
terrifyingly not so real things
you said and did to those
you loved or said you loved,
no point in saying that name
you nearly forgot too that felt
like so many strands of cotton
candy when perched on
your pursed lips, better to
let these things be unreal for
awhile, to close your eyes and
realize reality is something that
happens, that you have so little
to contribute, and begin to enjoy
something of these pleasures.



For starters, Dr. Harris-Perry wrote a great article (very charitably) critiquing some unfortunate trends in contemporary discussions regarding race.

Bitch has a fun list up of some punk groups you may have forgotten about or never heard of because of that whole white, heterosexual, male hegemony thing. If you haven’t heard ‘DEATH’ before you really should. Wonderful.

What do you do when two Finnish activists reveal abuses going on in a pig factory? If you guessed prosecute the activists of course you guessed correct.

Carol J. Adams doing what she does best and calling BULLSHIT on the New York Times speciesist, misogynistic idiocy.

Worst article ever. Please send the NY post a complaint at LETTERS@NYPOST.COM.

And if you have a moment, read this few page excerpt from David Halperin’s Saint Foucault. I will be purchasing this book now.

The Star has curious piece on the correlation between the meat industry and other forms of social violence.

And I’ll leave you with this delightful, epic, fun piece here:

an Offering

I would

like to


have sex

with you.



you are


and where

ever you


are now—

no talk about


feelings and

who we wish


to be or poetry

about flowers,


the sun or

snow or



wind. This


is not that

kind of


poem. It’s

just today I


am full

with love


and would

like to have


sex with

you. Only


you. This

is an offering


from me

to you. Let’s


finally cut

the bullshit.


I am here

and waiting



for you.

Top 5 things I hate being asked in a bar; OR: on the frustration of labels

Forgive the lack of blogging recently—I’ve had yet another occurrence of strep throat (a somewhat common relapse for me) plus was writing a piece of music for a new music concert (the piece is called Things arise and she lets them come—catch the Tao reference, huh? huh?), and thus was a little out of the blogging loop. That being said, I finished the piece (feel free to shoot me an e-mail or post a comment or whathaveyou and I can send you a copy) and am getting over the strep.

So. In order to ease my way back into the comfort ability that is my blog, I thought I’d post a list of the top five things I get super frustrated at when asked at a bar (and by super frustrated I mean answer with a smile and no noticeable difference until I wake up steeped in depression or frustration the next day).

Number 5: Are you a vegan for health or ethical reasons? The answer, of course, is YES. This question was really annoying back when I smoked, because it often took the form, “WAIT, you’re vegan??? BUT YOU SMOKE??? THAT’S FUNNY!!! HAHAHA” etc. Like. YES. I get the irony that smoking causes cancer and that red meat increases the risk of cancer but you know, that’s not the ONLY reason for being vegan. Like. There’s that whole commercialization and reduction of life to a commodity. You know. That part. Of course when I would tell the person this, upon hearing the word ‘commodity’ used in a non-positive way the person instantly would go through this thought process: “commodity, huh? sounds like Marx… therefore communism.. therefore Stalinism… therefore fascism.. therefore some offensive analogy involving Hitler!” If the person is nice, however, they usually list all the positive things about veganism and why they *can’t possibly* be vegan. This ranges from being allergic to soy, gluten intolerance, anemia, and other such reasons that if you know something about veganism aren’t very good excuses at all.

Number 4: Some demeaning question about being a poet. This one can take a few different forms, but it typically rides off of being asked where I plan on going to grad school or what I plan on studying. It usually is followed by the other person proceeding to tell me how they really loved poetry in junior high and wrote some great ‘haikus’ (‘haiku’ is plural, damn it!) and got one published in the school paper and it was swell and they wish they could’ve followed their dreams of being a professional haiku-ist but then they had to get like a real job and start earning money and being a real member of society. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone give me a compliment for trying to take my poetry seriously without being extraordinarily patronizing or demeaning. One annoying aspect about being asked about my poetry is it tends to lead to the other four annoying questions, i.e. “oh what are your poems about?” “Well, it’s often me processing through ecological, personal, and sexual issues by taking up the metaphors of each, so, like seeing what sort of ideas and images arise when we put queer theory and say animal rights into a poetic blender and see what comes out.” Blank stare, slightly confused and disgusted face upon hearing the words ‘queer,’ ‘animal,’ and ‘blender’ in succession. “Ummm… animal rights… uhhh… so are you vegan (if so, for health or ethical reasons?)” ETC.

Number 3: Music composition grad? So… are you in a band??? This question can also take the form of, “Composition… huh…. so… what instruments does that mean you play?” or “Oh yeah! Like John Williams” or “oh wow—I play guitar!” Now. I love music. And I love talking about music. But for some reason people feel the need to categorize and label everything about someone when in a bar, and most people don’t know the labels ‘concert music,’ ‘art music,’ ‘contemporary classical,’ or a host of any others. Which causes the confusion of thinking I write film music. Let’s get one thing straight—I. DON’T. WRITE. FILM. SCORES. I have loads of respect for people who do, but, as should become obvious at this point in the conversation (people normally have blazed through a couple of these questions before this one), I DON’T WANT TO WORK FOR DISNEY. I’M NOT A HUGE FAN OF CAPITALISM. I don’t know how this could not be excruciatingly obvious by this point.

Number 2: So you went to Biola/a Calvary Chapel High School, so you’re a Christian then? This means one of two things. Either the person is about to list everything about contemporary evangelical Christianity I hate as the greatest thing since sliced bread (I LOVE CHRISTIAN ROCK!!1!!—this tends to lead to, WAIT, YOU WRITE MUSIC, ARE YOU IN A CHRISTIAN ROCK GROUP  ❤ !!1!), or they are about to preach to me all the woes that Christians have tragically done to certain people groups at times and places. I wish saying, ‘No no, I’m not like them—I’m ANGLICAN/EPISCOPELIAN’ was a valid excuse, but, you know, like Anglicans can be pretty evangelical and the whole fact that the Church of England was killing Quakers and Puritans and such was sort of how that whole colonization/conquest of the Americas kinda got underway doesn’t help either. And I wish saying I was a liberal or secular or materialist or even atheist Christian clarified. But. This usually results in *more* hostility seeing as the other person most likely hates organized religion, but is a quasi-Cartesian dualist (but the kind that would even make Descartes twinge), who loves talking about ‘soul-mates’ and a ‘feeling of the beyond.’ When I say I think ‘soul’ is just another means of talking about the body and concerning oneself with doing good in order to be rewarded in an afterlife is ressentiment, you shouldn’t *need* a reward in order to be nice, AND I think liturgy and prayer and meditation are great, well… it doesn’t always go over super well.

Number 1: So you like boys, right? OR: So you like girls, right? One. NO. I happen to like consenting adults, thank you very much. Secondly, WHY WHY WHY do you feel entitled to ask me who and why and when and how I have sex? Is that anyone’s business other than my own and the people involved? Seriously, people. I have told people I’m straight, bisexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, and demisexual all while at bars—all only kind of true—mostly false and just a means to avoid conversation. People want a simple label. And it frustrates me to no end that I can’t share a drink with someone, chat maybe, without them feeling like they ought to label and appropriate my entire sexual identity into a neat little category so as to prevent them having to adjust their worldview (usually a neat homo/hetero binary). I don’t exactly feel like going into my entire psychical and sexual history with someone I don’t know in order for us to drink together—and the few times I have it hasn’t exactly gone well (‘ahhh… so you’re in the closet!’; ‘but you *would* sleep with so-and-so’; ‘so you mean you’re bi? Yeah—me too! I kissed a boy/girl once!’; ‘well, I only ask because my friend thinks you’re *really cute*’ etc).

All this is to say I’m kind of sick of going out and having to squirm into other people’s categories or feel like I have to deconstruct everyone else’s worldview when all I want to do is have a drink.[rant and self-pity therein concluded thusly].

Some Links for you

One. You should go over and sign this petition right now. The fact that this is even an issue shows how tragically deep-seated transphobia is.

BITCH has a great post up on masculinity and body-image issues up here.

If you ever thought quoting Full Metal Jacket to an Asian American was a good way to look super sexy, think again in this satiric but depressing video and article.

And over at The Lichenthrope, a great article about non-violence and what exactly constitutes violence and non-violence. This article is very fitting given the side debate on Harman’s blog here as well as a good response by Critical Animal here on some comments Žižek made on the Roma. It strikes me that Žižek can be guilty of this very sort of compromise of “violence” (‘well, violence constitutes everything, confronting the other is violent, and love is violent, and blah blah, so don’t get mad at me if I’m racist” etc).

On a happier note, I hope, I have recently fallen in love with the art of Mike Mills, director of Beginners. I hope you so fall in love too. Just a sampling below:

Picasso’s War Period

During that time he concerned himself with documenting the subtlety of each and every lover—hands seemingly mangled from nowhere, the face itself displaced, eyes decentered, carrying the whole of a continent’s conflict in the mold of the body.

But I couldn’t help but turn to you then, with the worlds of conflict seeded in our bodies, and say, “Really, Pablo? I mean, really? The whole of a war, the countless atrocities and abuses on all sides; the Gestapo; death-camps; the bomb and all the so-called radiation ‘tests’ on single black mothers, the impoverished, the disabled; the drug testing; the abuses within the US prison system, countless sterilizations; fire-bombings; the mounds of flesh and hair and gold, all caught up and reduced to the half-dozen or so fucks of a stodgy and aging middle-class, straight, white man?”

I’m sorry. There are wounds I cannot find the pity to lick. Poems better left unwritten.


And when he finally came back,

after having left behind in shame

those who loved him, what was there

left to love? It was their love for him

that died, and sure, there was hope,

but it was a hope he was gone, that

no stone would be upturned to

reveal love become that: pale and sick,

wounded, convinced of holier things.