Archives for the month of: November, 2012

This piece by Jacky Wong on LIES journal. She makes the already popularized critique of innocence as a standard for white empathy/support of Black bodies. She also highlights the role that gender/feminism has played in the expansion of the prison industrial complex. I am hoping to read this book at some point: “In an abusive state: how neoliberalism appropriated the feminist movement against sexual violence.”

What is new and interesting to me in this piece is when she points out how the left too, tries to moralize and project innocence to judge the worthiness of rage/anger/riots. I am actually not too sure I agree with their analysis and take on this. In light of the Psych class I am in now and the very individualized and pathologized understandings of “anti social behavior” (cluster b), I think this can help me understand/think through some stuff.

Well meaning leftists who felt obligated to affirm the riots often did so by imposing a narrative of political consciousness and coherence onto the amorphous eription, sometimes recasting the participants as “the proletariat” or dissatisfied consumers whose act of theft and looting shed light on capitalist ideology. These leftists are quick to purge and rearticulate the anti-social and delinquent elements of the riot rather than integrate them into their analysis, insisting on figuring the rioter-subject as a “sovereign deliberate consciousness”, to borrow a phrase from Spivak.

re: the author refers to Zizek’s piece “Shoplifters of the world” and specifically his quote, “[the rioters] were a manifestation of a consumerist desire violently enacted when unable to realize itself in the ‘proper’ way – by shopping. As such, they also contain a moment of genuine protest, in the form of an ironic response to consumerist ideology: ‘You call on us to consume while simultaneously depriving us of the means to do it properly – so here we are doing it the only way we can!’ The riots are a demonstration of the material force of ideology. From a revolutionary pov, the problem with the riots is not the violence as such, but the fact that the violence is not truly self assertive.”

They continue:

“Following the LA riots, leftist commentators often opted to define the event as a rebellion rather than a riot to highlight the political nature of peoples’ actions. This attempt to reframe the public discourse is borne of good itnentions, but it also reflects the impulse to contain, consolidate, appropriate and accomodate events that do not fit political models grounded in white, euro american traditions. when the mainstream media portrays social disruptions as apolitical, criminal, devoid of meaning, leftists often respond by describing them as politically reasoned. here, the confluence of political and anti-social tendencies in a riot/rebellion are neother recognized nor embraced [..] sympathetic radicals tend to privilege the voices of those who are educated and politically astute, rather than listening to those who know viscerally that they are fucked and act without first seeking moral approval. ” [p157]

When we shift the discussion away from merely the “production of value” into the “reproduction of the capital-labor relation” (re Theorie Communiste), this change in focus allows them to bring within their purview the set of relations that actually construct capitalist social life beyond the walls of the factory and office [from Maya Gonzalez], While this reframing may shed light on relations that constitute social life outside of workplace, it foes not shed light on social death, for relations defined by social death are not reducible to the capital-labor relation [really? what about the surplus population/dispensable population argument and the role of racialized and gendered castes within capitalist society?] — all this from p 159

 

This idea of “social death” that Wong discusses here is powerful. Especially when we think of the medical industrial complex — who lives, who dies, and more importantly HOW do we die?

Frank Wilderson highlighting the distinction bw being exploited under capitalism vs. being marked as disposable/superfluous to capitalism (The slave and prisoner)…unable to cope with the possibility that the generative subject of capitalism, the Black body of the 15th and 16th centuries and the generative subject that resolves late capital’s over accumulation crisis, the Black (incarcerated) body of the 20th and 21st centuries do not reify the basic categories that structure conflict within civil society: the categories of work and exploitation. … slavery needs to be understand in terms of social death rather than labor or exploitation. Slave relation cannot be explained by economic exploiyayion…doesnt explain racialized incarceration. An analysis of capitalism that fails to address anti-Blackness or sees it only as a by product of capitalism is deficient. re: Orlando Patterson [160]

Another powerful insight on SAFE SPACES. “When people use safe space language to call out people in activist spaces, the one wielding the language is framed as innocent and may even amplify or politicize their presumed innocence […] People can mobilize their experiences with racism, transphobia, classism to purify themselves. When people identify with their vitimization, we need to critically consider whether it is being used as a tactical maneuver to construct themselves as innocent and exert power without being questioned. This does not mean delegitimizing claims made by survivors, but rather, rejecting the framework of innocence, examining each situation closely and being conscientious of the multiple power struggles at  play in different conflicts”

“when an analysis of privilege is turned into a political program that asserts that the most vulnerable should not take risks, the only politically correct plitics become one of reformism and retreat, a politics that capitulates to the status quo while erasing the legacy of Black Power groups. For Fanon, it is precisely the elemt of risk that makes militant action more urgent – liberation can only be won by risking one’s life. Militancy is not just tactically necessary – its dual objective is to transform people and fundamentally alter their being by emboldening them, removing their passivity and cleansing them of the “core of despair..”

“emphasis on personal comfort…prioritizing personal comfort is unproductive, reformist and can bring the energy and momentum of bodies in motion to a standstill. the politics of innocence and the politics of safety and comfort are related in that both strategies reinforce passivity. comfort and innocence produce each other when people base their demand for comfort on the innocence of their location or subject position.”

“Ultimately, our appeals to innocence demarcate who is killable and rapable, even if we are trying to strategically use these appeals to protest violence committed against one of our comrades. when we challenge sexual violence with appeals to innocence, we set a trap for ourselves by feeding into the assumption that whte ciswomen bodies are the only ones that cannot be vilated because only white feminity is sanctified.”

 

 

 

my parents have just gone through some really difficult times. they have been brave. some would say foolishly brave, 一种笨傻.

但是我的父母所谓的笨傻其实就是一种野蛮的骄傲.

their perceived foolish stubbornness, is actually their stubborn dignity.

so when my father called today, to tell me that him and my mother have just joined a health food social club, i cracked up.

first, it’s ironic that my mother is in a health food club. the woman loves her fatty pork, the chicken butt, turkey butt and chicken feet. and even the chicken head (even i think that’s gross.)

so to think that she would be in a health food club…is just a little strange to me!

but, i think this is the sort of thing that old people should be doing right?

and, in her zealousness, she takes 5 times the servings recommended for the health food product.

she is actually, OD-ing on this health food substance!! not very healthy!!!

” we are looking for the fountain of youth!” says my father in english. i guess he is less self conscious speaking english when he’s reading it off an advertisement slogan.

and i cherish these conversations. these awkward strange moments that my parents convey of the lives they live, which i can picture but cannot be present for. because talking to them makes me feel like i belong on this earth. even if the exact moment i am in right now may not always feel present. i know somewhere in this earth, there is a place where i can exist. even if just momentarily, over a long distance phone call.

i cherish this because i know it will not last forever.

my father used to give me this analogy, which in retrospect sounds very strange and weird. but that’s how he is and in its awkwardness, it makes sense.

he used to tell me that the bacteria in our body have different life spans from us. that what is a lifetime for a bacteria (obviously one that isn’t antibiotic resistant), may only be one second for us.

so, in the same light, we exist in this big universe, as a bacteria exists in us. coming, disappearing, living, existing, dying. all cycles overlapping at different times. transient.

i was supposed to understand his logic, his rationales for being a strange unconventional father. that even tho i may be ashamed of him, at least i could/would understand that he lived life likening himself to a bacteria in a human gut, except in human form in an infinite universe.

very ridiculous.

in retrospect, very endearingly ridiculous.

but only in retrospect.

maybe i have become as ridiculous as him.

i have written of the theft

of time snatched through

cell deaths and

busy work hours and

cancerous spreads.

i have spoken of death

starring dep into our eyes

sucking sensations away

from nerves,

pores dry

of oxygen

but i have spoken too, of

touch

that awakes sensation to skin

that orients body to space

touch that wipes

those beads of sweat breaking 

from feverish temperatures

there is touch that is 

undesired, unconsented, violent

triggers of violations

there is touch too,

that our muscles forgive in relief

.

 

1) choice — we choose everyday. and yet our awareness of our daily choices are removed from us.

2) you can choose in a way that is not genuine to oneself

3) temptation to desire fame, desire money, desire the world. this is real. this needs to be recognized and talked about in the work i am involved in. it is toxic.

4) rewards/fulfilment as a material embodiment — that is…what?

5) great compassion, great suffering. what is choice within this? what is desire within this?