“To Stonk or Not to Stonk”: Stock Market Advice From An Anarchist Who Doesn’t Know Anything

Two dearly beloved longtime readers/actual human friends who are also real-life life partners who live together posted SIMULTANEOUSLY YET UNBEKNOWNST TO ONE ANOTHER on my last entry, asking me for, of all things, stock market advice! Well, one of them wasn’t asking for advice, to be fair, but their comments were about the same issue, and that’s crazy enough for me.

Here is their mutual question as voiced by one of them:

First off, I want to acknowledge that this is an AWESOME problem to have. Please excuse me if this sounds like I am complaining about good fortune!
So my partner and I had long discussion last night about investing in the stock market. She is a university professor, as you know. I am a freelancer with many random jobs, including some adjunct work. Through privilege, pandemic luck, a bushel of scarcity thinking, and seven years of my partner’s stable income, we’ve managed to amass a savings of $15K. We both feel safer than we ever have, feeling like if something happened to our house or medically we are finally in a place where we wouldn’t be in crazy trouble. Once we hit this savings goal, we began to aggressively pay down debts, highest interest rate first.
So that’s where we’re at. The problem is that that savings is just sitting in point zero zero zero whatever apr savings accounts and my partner feels like she is being stupid by not investing it. She doesn’t LIKE capitalism, but feels like “participating in the economy” is how life works if you want to be comfortable when you retire or if you have extra money, like literally, you are being stupid if you’re not using it at least to keep up with inflation.
I know this is SO dramatic sounding, but the thought of willingly investing in the stock market makes me feel ill. Encouraging unethical business practices, the ethos of growth, and “finding new markets,” all of it. Not to mention, I believe investing in the stock market has the power to degrade folks’ moral characters. God, it sounds so crazy to say that, but we live in trump territory and most of the people who are into him are so strictly for their retirement accounts. We’ve talked about alternatives, including peer-to-peer lending, real estate (maybe like a real estate investing co-op), and even weird (to me) shit like gold bars/coins. None of this seems as logical and straightforward as an index fund to my partner.
We have a non-optional stock market-based retirement account through my partner’s job. In the last few months, I have been randomly bequeathed stock in a utility company that my grandfather worked for. So I know that I’m already participating. My partner makes the point that we already participate by just being alive in this country and I see her point. But life is choices, right? Every day, we try to make decent choices, going to the farmer’s market, reusing things, not eating meat, whatever. I don’t know. I have the feeling I’m being a huge baby but I also having a really hard time processing the idea of willingly investing in the market system.
One last thing: we’ve agreed that we have until March 1 to come up with a compromise solution or we’ll just go for it. I’ve promised her that I’ll be fully on board, joking I’ll get myself a green tinted visor and a cute pair of suspenders for the occasion. We’ve also talked about how we’d rather not divide the savings into “hers” and “mine” and instead want to do something as a team.
Any advice for a more productive conversation around this or for just swallowing this pill?

My friends, let me preface my predictably long meandering overwrought response by first very definitively saying: me no know.

This life is so complicated and contradictory and I don’t know if I can tell you concretely what you should do, not least because I haven’t solved this problem for myself either. My partner and I are similarly comfortable thanks to similarly privileged life trajectories/my current employment situation, and we similarly now have a little money in the bank, and don’t really know what to do with it aside from putting it into our home, which we also own and said ownership of which also chains us–albeit in a more abstracted way–to the stock market (in the form of “property values”) etc.

We don’t invest in the stock market ourselves, for all the reasons you mention in your question, so in that sense I guess I am more on your side than your partner’s. BUT!!! I have many caveats to this. For starters, as your partner points out, we too are already “invested” in the stock market, with or without our full consent. I am a state employee, and so I have a pension fund, like your partner. I have nothing to do with it, didn’t choose it, don’t manage it in any way, but it’s there, a fund for my retirement that I pay into and that my university manages on my behalf, and I imagine it’s all part of the university’s own investment package, you know, how they take their money and put it in fossil fuels and resource extraction and real estate speculation then so it’s like the health of my retirement fund is contingent on the health of the university’s other investments, a.k.a. the rape of the planet/other cultures/the poor. This is upsetting. And there are movements to divest the university from fossil fuels and all that, but nothing’s ever gonna change this basic dynamic. I can’t remember if it’s Marx or somebody else I’ve recently read, but basically literally any time you get a profit off an investment it is coming from somebody’s unpaid labor, somewhere. That’s just the deal.

Every qualm and conundrum and back-and-forth you and your partner mention is exactly right. Everyone has to survive in this system and there IS NO WAY of doing that without being complicit in this system in some way, as your partner notes. “There is no ethical consumption under capitalism” and all that. There is no “good” way to retire–it will ALWAYS be done on the backs of other people elsewhere, somehow, so long as our social organization is chained to capitalism. There are no “good” jobs, only jobs manifesting varying degrees of complicity with the overriding system of global evil and destruction that is required for accumulation to continue.

ON THE OTHER HAND, there is complicity and there is complicity, right? Like you say, life is choices. There is “I have to work for somebody so I guess I’ll take this random desk job or wait tables” and there is “hmmm I will deliberately write code for Amazon to sell to the U.S. military.” There is buying a home to live in and there is buying 10 homes to rent out to people who don’t have generational wealth. There is putting your money in the bank because you have to put it somewhere and there is BEING a banker, and taking all that money and sticking it into the global imperialist project.

It’s hard to both recognize that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism (and rent is theft and wages are theft and ACAB etc.) and nonetheless figure out some sort of life plan/set of choices that you are able to live with, morally, while also continuing to, you know, literally live.

And yet, like your partner, I sometimes worry that we are being foolish. If we reject all these investments and opportunities to make money, what does it mean for us? If we are 65 and living in penury because of choices made in our impetuous radical youth (lol “youth” but you know what I mean) what does that really look like, how will that feel, will it be pathetic and will we regret it? Gary says: well, if that is how it plays out, then we will just die in penury, like millions of people currently do every day already. We aren’t special and we don’t have some special preferential spot on the earth where like it’s wrong for us personally to suffer the same fate everybody else does. This is really hard and scary to think about. We are trying to basically embrace the reality of death, which is maybe impossible and anyway super fucking scary and sad.

By this I mean, facing your own death and your own insignificance in the global project. Things start seeming smaller, maybe, maybe in a good way. In fact maybe it helps to put it in different terms than “facing death,” which is admittedly so brutal and perhaps needlessly metal. Maybe it’s more like, “insisting on life.” Real life. Doing things, and doing them in such a way, so as to insist that a better world is possible. And that we can all choose to live in that world, already, whenever we get the opportunity. That’s what “mutual aid” is for example–an act of “prefiguration” where you simply behave as though you already live in the world as you want it to be, a world where people help each other totally outside of any organizational or institutional or legal framework, and with no money changing hands. The more mutual aid we do, the more it spreads, the more practices get folded into it. Will these small-scale experiments bring about the downfall of global capitalism? Obviously not, but they plant seeds. They create ties. They open up ideas of what could be possible, if things were to become different. So e.g. we have this woo-woo feeling that by not putting our money in places where you are supposed to put it, and instead using it for other stuff in the here and now, we are acting as though we believe by the time we are old the world will be different. Like we’re putting our faith in that, as an act of hopeful practice. I do think that in reality this is stupid and won’t work out for us, so, you know, caveat emptor on this whole concept.

Ok so anyway these are my thoughts on your side of the equation, sort of, I guess. AND YET, I also want to turn back toward your partner’s point of view. Because I also think I believe that there are lots of ways to turn away/turn toward, and that it’s our responsibility to find those ways for ourselves, where they make sense for us, in our own situations. Maybe for your emotional health you really should invest your nest egg! Everyone is in a different situation. For example I know that my familial situation engenders in me a deeply-felt sense that “it’ll all probably work out,” because my parents are well off and I’ve always had a support network I’ve taken utterly for granted because it’s always absolutely unconditionally been there. I’ve definitely been broke as hell in my life but deep down there was always the absolute knowledge that if I really needed to I could ask mommy and daddy for help and they would help me instantly. So like being broke was an inconvenience and stressful and sometimes humiliating but it has never yet been SCARY, for me (knock on wood; my life ain’t over yet). I think this stuff looks and feels a lot different to people living closer to the edge, obviously, so there’s another caveat from me.

And anyway we’re always entangled in this system so long as we continue living in society, which I think we have to do. You can’t leave society, that’s nihilistic and probably impossible anyway. So, if we choose not to invest in the stock market, we are still feeding into the system in other ways. Given the fact of all of our complicity, yet also given the fact that it’s also all of our (in this case “our” meaning “people with the luxury to have choices at all”) responsibility to critically engage with this and make good decisions anyhow, somehow, I don’t think there are, or should be, rules for everyone to follow. I think you have to decide your own rules for yourself, you have to answer the thought experiment yourself, and how to put imagined things into practice yourself, in the way that makes sense for your context. Not Investing In The Stock Market is maybe just one rule; there could be many others. If you do invest your little nest egg, maybe you could actively challenge yourself to look for other opportunities to offset that act of complicity. Where are there opportunities to “create the new world in the shell of the old,” for you? They exist everywhere, and will be different for different people. I don’t know if this is an ideologically coherent thing I am suggesting, but I THINK this is basically what Gary and I do, for whatever that is worth to you to hear.

I love thinking about all the different needs the struggle has, all the different ways we can be useful to each other. I’m a middle aged middle class white intellectual, what are my skills, what is authentic to me, who do I have access to to build coalition with, to challenge, to be challenged by? To whom can I be useful and how? I just read an essay by a guy who couldn’t get hired as a history professor in the 50s because he was a communist, so instead he went to law school and became an employment lawyer and spent his career helping poor people sue their bosses. He said he first thought about just saying fuck it and going to work in a factory, but then he was like, that’s stupid, I am who I am, and because of who I am I have the opportunity to use the tools of the system to serve people who don’t have access to those tools, so that’s what I should do. And he’s like 100 years old now and he says he feels great about this life choice. A life spent relentlessly hectoring rich people! #goals

I guess I’m describing something a lot more concrete than just “try to be a good person” or like “give some money to charity.” I’m saying, find an actual project, a thing to really do in real life with your actual human hands, a way to change your own life so that it is turned toward a radically different, better world, in some way, even if in a small way, or a temporary way. I know you already do good work like this; maybe the answer to your painful dilemma is to consciously dedicate yourself to doing more of it, in addition to whatever else you do to survive. Mutual aid work, direct actions of all kinds, maybe you turn your garage into a free place for someone to live, maybe you start a free school in your town, maybe you offer classes to incarcerated people in your area on whatever they want to learn about within your purview, maybe you start a food distribution network or join an existing one, maybe you have a cool skill like gardening or canning or construction and you can offer free instruction in those skills, like literally put up a flyer at the library and just go for it, maybe you start a group to make demands of your city council, maybe you do a community needs survey and use it to demand your town defund the police, literally there are so many things to be done, given where you are, what the needs of your community are, what skills you can collectively muster.

This essay on accomplices not allies is really thought provoking for me, maybe it will be helpful to you. It’s one attempt to outline What Should People With Relatively More Comfort/Access/Etc. ACTUALLY DO. And it suggests a framing that I have been finding really useful lately, in reorienting myself in the struggle. What can you do from INSIDE, where you–regrettably, perhaps, and anyway through no particular fault of your own–happen to have ended up living? I mean to the extent that we even are “inside,” in terms of access to wealth and power. We have a little bit more access than a lot of other people, I guess you could say. And here by “we” I literally just mean myself and the two people I am addressing in this entry, lol, I don’t know anything about the rest of you people!!!

There are certainly radicals out there who would read this entry and think “what a bunch of bullshit.” Bunch of rich people wringing their hands about how to both live comfortably in the imperial core AND somehow serve the struggle. Well, you can’t do both, they would say, and maybe they are right. Maybe I am justifying a lifestyle that is unjustifiable (I don’t mean to be “justifying” it, though, exactly, but like maybe I’m being lazy or turning away from something I should be willing to grapple harder with, I don’t know). But I think there are roles for everyone to play and that we all have different ways we can authentically contribute, and I also think you can’t really change who you are and how you’ve been shaped by the various compounding accidents of birth. You can abdicate and go join the guerrillas in the jungle, and some people do do that, and that totally rules, I just have limitless awe and respect for that act. But I also have to believe there are other ways to be of service than only the most extreme acts of abdication. What can you do, in your position? To whom are you legible? To what do you have access? Where can you reach out, make a connection, build something with those around you? This is where I’m at, at this moment in my political development, so this is what I say to you guys in response to your dilemma. I’m saying something less extreme than “quit your jobs and move to Chiapas and learn to use automatic weapons” and something more extreme than “just do your best and don’t be too hard on yourself.” Something in between those two poles. Something that is real and that manifests real change in our lives, a change that grows and flowers out of really critically grappling with reality, but that also doesn’t cause us undue anguish or pointless suffering. Investing or not investing, ultimately this is passive either way–what is something active that’s also available to you?

I don’t know what else there is to do, honestly. You can’t abdicate privilege, it will always be part of you. I think it’s our job to find ways to put it to use, and that means staying here, and staying here means being complicit also, and constantly struggling with ourselves in deciding what is the right way to be, what little examples of a new world can we create together right here in the shitty shell of the old one. And we will never do this perfectly, ever. And that’s it!

I love you both and I am glad to be with you in this struggle, and I also will say I hope you can find a way to make this struggle joyful and not just grueling/a source of antagonism betwixt you. This is the real stuff, what life is all about! Grappling together. I think whatever you decide to do after all this grappling will be great.

Also I’m sorry that this went off the rails and I talked about a bunch of stuff you weren’t actually asking about. But I took this opportunity to work through some problematics I’ve been chewing over in my own life, so thank you for indulging me (as always).

Solidarity!

Posted in Opinion | 3 Comments

What a Tangled Web we Weave

Hi y’all
It’s been like a week of nonstop gross weather and I am starting to feel the burn, of Covid life I guess. The burn of the onrushing online semester I deeply dread; the burn of isolation from humanity; the burn of constant low-grade anxiety and all that. I haven’t been sleeping well. When you become middle aged “not getting a full night’s sleep” is like “drinking poison” or “letting a man hit you with a novelty fairgrounds hammer for ten straight minutes” or something. I saw a tweet where someone said once you’re over 30 pulling an all nighter would mean your certain death and I definitely think that is factually true.

Anyway but, I have been having such a great reading journey these recent months. I actually set myself the task of using this time to read Capital Vol. 1 cover to cover, and I am doing it! I just got to Part 7 (709 pages in) and this is now truly the home stretch (only 240 pages left to go). It’s been really exhilarating. One tries to read Capital periodically but it presents so many barriers. Its fantastical length of course is intimidating–you can’t really imagine casually carrying it around and cracking it open at a bar or something, it’s more like a Torah you study in a dedicated space–but also it’s so complex and layered, by intention, but then also the intervening couple hundred years-ish since he wrote it have added more layers you have to first identify and learn about, like about history and stuff, and about his method.

It’s just an outrageous book. I’m also reading David Harvey’s companion book which is really fun because you read a chapter in Marx, then you go read the companion chapter in Harvey, and sometimes Harvey literally is like “chapters 19-22 are boring and the writing is bad” and you’re like great I’ll skim those, thanks for the tip. He also says you can’t understand Capital without understanding Marx’s critical-theoretical method, but Marx never wrote anything explaining his method, and in fact the best explanation of his method is simply the entirety of Capital, which you can’t read without understanding his method. Then Harvey is like “sorry!” He’s also great because he points out all the ramifications of this or that theory given what we’ve seen happen since the 1860s in the world, like what would Marx have said about this or that facet of today’s world, and see how this or that aspect of his theory is borne out or disproven given what’s actually happened since he wrote this crazy book.

Harvey also notes that “Marx himself would never have gotten tenure at a university in any discipline,” which makes the whole thing so much more compelling and interesting to me. The point being, this is a VERY STRANGE BOOK. I never understood how unusual it is until just now, actually reading it straight through. It incorporates everything into this deeply entangled and nuanced and complex web in an effort to understand not just how capitalism literally works but also its effects on/in life, history, the family, how we think and feel. So he interweaves long critical exegeses of political economists’ work with what we might call “primary source” material–reports from factory inspectors and doctors, reports from people who wrote factual descriptions of the condition of the working class in 1830s London, reports from Engels on how factories function etc.–but then also interspersed with extremely enlightening and apropos quotes from Goethe, Shakespeare, Aristotle, the Bible, Benjamin Franklin etc. You can’t know it completely if you approach it only with your own disciplinary perspective and I LOVE THAT. Harvey: “you have, in short, to struggle mightily to determine what he is saying beyond what you can easily understand by way of your particular disciplinary apparatus, your own intellectual formation and, even more important, your own experiential history.” So reading it isn’t just like “learning what Marx thought about x or y,” it’s also like, “struggling to clearly see what *I* think about x or y and how the shapes of those thoughts create a frame within which I slot everything I learn” and then “trying to break out of that frame a little bit in various ways.” You read Capital to learn about capitalism but also to learn about the dialectical method itself, which you can only learn by experiencing it. And after awhile all the crazy shit people have said to you in explaining dialectical materialism start clicking and you are like oh, so it really is just taking opposites and smushing them together over and over. To see how and why the world has developed in this or that particular way; to see what problems and contradictions new things have arisen to (seemingly) resolve.

It feels more like a spiritual process or a journey than like reading a book. Not because you feel reverent or whatever but just because it’s like this process of grappling and that’s what the book is–the process of grappling itself. It’s a book about grappling and also the book IS a grappling. It’s so awesome. Once you get past the harrowing first three chapters where he just relentlessly goes through the various mathematics of how a commodity becomes a commodity and all that, it gets so good. He’s so angry and his anger is so cleansing. The other thing that makes Marx hard I think for contemporary readers is I think a lot of people don’t give historical authors the benefit of the doubt when it comes to humor and irony. We take them at face value, like they were all just stuffy-ass humorless caricatures of old-time prissy assholes. I have actually published an academic article about this, I just realized, haha. But anyway Marx is constantly sarcastic and hilarious. If you take him at face value he seems to be saying many offensive things–so don’t do that! Give people some fucking credit! There’s long sections where he’s basically like “yes, the amazing factory! What a gift to the world, what astounding feats of mankind” etc. etc. but actually he’s just BLISTERINGLY trolling the classical liberals who “proved” that the free market guarantees political freedom or whatever. He’s being funny! I don’t think anyone ever told me how funny this book is, and I think that is very wrong. It should be a selling point. So it’s been delightful to experience that aspect as well. My margins are filled with “LOL”s. There is this super long footnote where he quotes some political economist he hates, and he keeps interspersing “(!)” and “(?!)” in the text and the insertions get more and more intense and constant (like after every word) as the quotation goes on. Hahaha he put that in a book!

It’s incredible to see how little has changed since he wrote it, in a certain way. All the fatuous insipid shit that liberals say to justify market capitalism–which he dismantles with the most scathing scorn you could imagine–are, like, almost word for word the same shit people say today. 160 years of constantly being assured that capitalism isn’t bad, just our current version of it needs some tweaking. You start to see that this will go on forever. 1,000 years from now when all of earth is a wasteland and one man owns literally every inch of the planet and we all live in dormitories eating regulation sludge out of a tube these people will still be like, yes, there have been some abuses of the system, but progressive tax reform will fix it all this time! Also the way liberals use rationality to address moral issues and how soul-killing it is. There’s this long chapter about child labor and it’s so infuriating. He quotes from all these reports and articles and parliamentary proceedings to demonstrate that questions like “is it wrong to work a child to death” become formulated as like quibbling over “what is the legal definition of ‘child'” or of “day” or “hour” or “work” or whatever. It’s ok to work a 13 year old to death but not a 12 year old, it says so on this piece of legislation! All set. And the way the poor are blamed for their own sufferings–he documents this in excruciating detail. Article after article decrying the selfishness of working mothers, drugging their babies with opiates so they can leave them home alone while they go to the factory. They value their own selfish gain over the lives of their children! Marx describes capitalists as vampires and werewolves but also as automatons, almost, he describes them as “capital personified” and given motivations and ideas. So the book moves around back and forth, from long mathematical equations to werewolves baying at the moon to imagined dialogues between Worker and Capitalist to long sarcastic screeds about the classical liberals’ “Crusoe fantasies” to long excerpts from Aristotle demonstrating that he couldn’t quite get to the answer of what creates profit because he lived in a slave society. And then, like, the perfect quote from Faust demonstrating all of this in one sentence, somehow.

It’s very demoralizing to see how nothing has changed, ideologically, over all these years. But one must press on!

I am also halfway through a biography of Marx that is very fun/upsetting. His marriage sounds so wild and incredible, suffering together so epically and staying in love the whole time (their daughter in her memoir wrote in irritation about how her mom and dad had so many inside jokes that they would roar with laughter together until tears ran down their cheeks and it was SO EMBARRASSING MOM GOD). Jenny never blamed her husband for their life of travail and poverty, “rather she blamed the Prussian government, and capitalism.” I love hearing about these people’s teen years in particular, the worry they cause their long-suffering parents. His dad just wanted him to be a lawyer! But now his son isn’t going to class and is instead reading philosophy and sending home long rambling letters about his sexual longings for his girlfriend Jenny and how he wants to be a poet? And enclosing his poems, which are VERY bad? And then suddenly the Prussian secret police are knocking on the door??? Son, please, your mother is worried

Worried Parents Of History

THE OTHER THING I AM READING is this astonishing history of textiles and/as “women’s work.” It is called “WOMEN’S WORK: THE FIRST 20,000 YEARS,” which is a hilarious title but she is dead serious. It’s about cavemen and shit. It’s interesting thinking of this book in the context of all that stuff I just said about Marx, because it also entails a certain degree of interdisciplinary revelation. It opens with this great origin story–this author grew up weaving, like on looms and such, because her mother was a weaving nerd, a full-on weaving expert who studied the ancient ways in Denmark and stuff. So this girl grew up weaving and knowing all about cloth. But then she became an archeologist. And one day in archeology school they were looking at a bunch of old-ass pots and she was like “look, there’s an impression of a textile on one of these,” and the professor told her that wasn’t possible because they didn’t have looms at that point in history. But the girl was like, I KNOW that is a textile impression!!! What does it mean? And she started doing all this weird research, and found all this amazing information that just hadn’t been put together yet, and it ended up becoming her dissertation and then also a book. I love that so much!!! The way knowledge accumulates in different ways / can be put together in different ways. Those pots existed and were studied for ages, but it took someone with such a specific background and life journey to have that realization: a woman who grew up weaving, which is very ancient and describes millions of women who have lived on this earth; but also a woman who grew up weaving but who also lived at a time when women who grew up weaving could also go to archeology school; and then also a woman who grew up weaving who had access to archeology school and who WANTED to go to archeology school. All these things had to be in place for this particular revelation to happen. Think about all the other revelations out there waiting to happen! Wonderful.

I am learning so much amazing wild stuff from this book. Here is a small selection:

– hieroglyphics in tombs were painted without perspective because the idea was that the objects they depicted would somehow mystically accompany the dead person into the afterlife, and so they had to be depicted in their entirety in order for that transubstantiation to occur. So you get stuff depicted both sideways and in birds-eye view, really weird perspectival stuff that now makes sense when you know this is why

– the dramatic ancient Egyptian eye makeup was actually a fashion that was based on a necessity–the makeup was made out of a mineral that was an insecticide for a specific insect that gave them eye diseases

– the Venus de Milo, what was she doing with her missing arms? SPINNING WOOL (long tradition of associating spinning/weaving with women/fertility (making something out of nothing))

– most flags until the late 19th century used only red, white, and blue because until the invention of synthetic dyes, red and blue were the only organic dye colors that were colorfast when they got wet. LITERALLY THESE COLORS DON’T RUN

– King Tut was actually a boring short-lived king nobody cared about, and his tomb was embarrassingly small and shoddily furnished, compared with other pharaohs, and the reason he’s a big deal to us is simply that unlike all the other tombs we’ve studied in modern times his tomb made it through thousands of years of history INTACT, and the only reason it made it through history intact is that a later, cooler, fancier, richer king built his own tomb in the hillside above King Tut’s, and the debris from that huge construction project covered up Tut’s tomb so completely that nobody found it again for 6,000 years

– There’s this site in Eastern Europe where they’ve found tons of artifacts from 10,000 years ago, specifically ORGANIC MATERIAL like wood and cloth (which normally cannot last that long, it rots/degrades/goes away), because these ancient people decided to build a little town right on top of a horrible-sounding mud bog, even though it makes no sense, apparently they had to constantly pound wooden pylons down into the mud to keep their houses from sinking, etc., and anyway the mud is this really specific thick-ass deep mud with specific chemical properties that mean anything dropped into it is swallowed up immediately and totally preserved essentially indefinitely. And so it’s now this trove of amazing info about ancient cultures, because so much shit got dropped into it from this weird town. So I love thinking about that so much. For example she talks about a hank of spun dyed yarn that is one of the artifacts. She talks about how much work went into spinning and dyeing that hank of yarn–shearing a sheep, carding the wool, spinning and spinning for hours until you had a useable hank, then dyeing it (pounding berries, creating the dye, etc. etc.), and then the person fucking DROPPED it in this STUPID FUCKING MUD and I picture them being like OH GODDAMNIT, like what a total disaster…..and then somehow there’s a connection between that person and the archeologist 10,000 years later who found the yarn and was like HOLY SHIT GUYS LOOK AT THIS!!!!!!!!!!! Like both people at either end of that connection are so invested in the yarn but for different reasons

– she has an entire chapter about the invention of string. She’s like, everybody talks about the wheel, the internal combustion engine–but fuck all that. Humanity literally could not have progressed if we hadn’t invented string. And then you read the whole chapter and you’re like, damn she’s right, string RULES

This book is also so interesting to read alongside Marx, and it’s incredible I just happened to read them both at the same time, because of course Marx’s main example of “labor” he returns to throughout the book is WEAVING. And his insights would have been even stronger had he considered weaving specifically in light of the ancient and longstanding gendered quality of that labor! But he didn’t, and so that’s a great example of how even the most fantastically brilliant among us are still only able to think and see what our historical context allows us to think and see. The great thing about Marx is that he’s aware of this and indeed it’s sort of the whole point: trying to analyze your own brain (probably this is not a good description of the dialectical method but whatever)–his big criticism of Darwin and the classical liberals is that they didn’t take THEIR OWN BRAINS into consideration in formulating their analyses. He’s like, huh it’s pretty crazy that Darwin identified modern English society in the workings of “nature” (meaning: survival of the fittest and competition and progress–all the stuff in the 19th century theory of evolution is just capitalism, and evolutionary scientists in other non-capitalist countries didn’t come to the same conclusions as the English ones. AND then isn’t it interesting that the English version of the theory was the one that won, and that we all learn in school as the only theory of evolution that exists? And not, say, the Russian version, which emphasized cooperation and collaboration as the engine driving evolution? Huh neat). Like if you can’t at least acknowledge that there COULD BE angles you aren’t seeing because your own brain is inevitably conditioned by who/where/what/when you are using it to think things, you are a dangerous person to be weighing in on things like “human nature” or “how great capitalism is for everyone on earth.”

David Harvey tells a charming anecdote about how he was involved one time in the planning of a new city, and so it was a group of architects and engineers and stuff, and then him, as a geographer, and he started talking about what cities are for and how to think about what goes on in them and how constructions of cities tell us a lot about the values and ideas of the people who built them, and everyone is sort of flummoxed and astonished, and somebody says “where can we read more about all that stuff you just said” and he goes “oh, footnote 4 of chapter 15 of volume 1 of Marx’s Capital!” and then he says he was an “idiot” to say this, because immediately everyone was like……[fart sound] and it made him sad

“Capital, which has such ‘good reasons’ for denying the sufferings of the legions of workers surrounding it, allows its actual movement to be determined as much and as little by the sight of the coming degradation and final depopulation of the human race, as by the probable fall of the earth into the sun…Après mois les déluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation.”

Damn, dude, tell us what you really think

Posted in Opinion | 5 Comments

“I’m Still Alive”–Pearl Jam

Y’all!!! Thanks to the couple of people who have checked in on me recently. I know it is weird when you have been reading some random person’s blog forever and then they disappear. You are like, did they die? How would I ever even find out? It’s very strange, this internet life. Rest assured, as of yet I am not dead, and I will try to remain in this state for some time, as we continue surfing our way into apocalypse.

I have been becoming a different person, or trying to, insofar as we can ever change who we are/what we were born into. I really have stopped thinking about my “work,” my research etc., which I was completely obsessed with for so many years. I think back on how unhealthy my relationship with my job was, how cowed and fearful I was about getting tenure, how stupidly I lived my life while trying to get that book out. Not sleeping not eating, allowing myself to go through mental health spirals, neglecting everything, directing everything inward, thinking only of myself, etc. I totally participated in my own mental exploitation and it was dumb of me. I’ve started reading Fred Moten and I sat in on this amazing talk he and Stefano Harney gave about how we should all (meaning academics) stop doing our jobs and it made a huge impression on me. “Find the work, in your job, and just do that,” meaning basically don’t read the emails from the Dean, don’t spend time on the self-reporting paperwork, don’t submit to the “diversity and inclusion” committee survey, don’t participate in the bullshit. Find the work, which is probably for most of us teaching, but even within teaching, find the real work, which is not grading and assessment but something else, the thing that drew you here to this imperfect, deeply complicit and corrupt institutional pathway in the first place. I’m trying to do that.

But I am spending most of my time doing work unrelated to my job at all, except in the sense that I’d been reading all this anarchist theory and now I am trying to live those things in practice to the extent I am able. I joined an affinity group and we are working on abolition projects in our town. Currently I am in charge of researching participatory budgeting and creating a budget survey for our community. It’s fascinating. We are requesting public records and police logs and different group members with different skill sets are doing different things with it all. Sitting in on excruciating city council meetings, delivering furious speeches to the city council. We are learning so much shocking info about how our town works. For example we learned that our public schools rely on unpaid jail labor for a lot of their grounds maintenance. Neat! If you have the time and inclination to get involved in this kind of work in your community I highly recommend it.

We also joined a mutual aid group that does food distribution in a nearby town. Every week we pick up leftover produce from all the little local farms, bring it to a central spot, throw it all into bags, and give it out to whoever wants it. It’s so much fun and feels so good. Mutual aid is amazing and easy and everyone loves it. I’ve been reading and thinking about mutual aid for so long and only the current uprising made me realize, wait, oh, this is something you DO, not just something you theorize about. I don’t understand what was in my mind all these years, why I just read and thought and didn’t do. Anyway I am trying to change this orientation in my life. This food distro stuff is also eye-opening work, just seeing the massive, massive amount of food that is actually available and that, if we didn’t drive around and pick it up, would simply go into the compost. And if this is the amount of waste at this tiny local level, imagine larger farming operations, how much wasted food there is.

I think a lot of people think of the revolution in terms of scarcity, in terms of all of us who have scraped together some wealth and some luxury having to give it all up in order to scrabble in the dirt with everyone else. But I think of it in terms of unlocking all the abundance that is already here and readily available, and simply sharing it with everyone instead of letting like 6 guys hoard it all. There is so much food out there. There is so much space, so much housing. There are so many people who want to be teachers, doctors, counselors, farmers, artists, shepherds, potters, tech dudes, to do all the things we need to make our lives fun and worthwhile. We have everything we need and (thank you Karl Marx) we also have the tools we need to continue making more and more abundance. It’s not about giving up our hard-earned shit, it’s about breaking everything wide open and sharing what’s already a wildly profuse amount of wealth and good things. This food we give out each week, nobody bought it, nobody had to raise money for it, it wasn’t hard to get, and it isn’t hard to give it away. Nobody has to present a pay stub proving how poor they are. Nobody has to do x number of volunteer hours in order to become eligible for x number of free bags of food. It’s not charity, because charity is paternalistic and fucking sucks. It’s mutual aid. It’s us taking care of ourselves. If you want a bag of food, come and get it; if you have something to offer your community, do it, and if not, that’s fine too, because you just existing as a person is contribution enough. We had some extra time, so we went and collected this food and had fun doing it; here you go. A few weeks ago someone who got food from us saw that we needed another big table, and so she went home and got one she wasn’t using, and gave it to us. That’s mutual aid! I’m meeting so many people I would never have met if I hadn’t started doing this. And I’m learning about food networks and forging solidarities and also getting the opportunity to do a lot of internal work I wouldn’t get to do if I stayed in my normal demographic lane. Intersectionality is a key value of anarchism. Working together with common cause but without the expectation that differences will be resolved; solidarity without the need to anxiously avoid antagonisms. At the last distro event, for example: I had a moment of being clumsy with pronouns; then later some younger comrades were unintentionally ageist to me and it hurt my feelings; then later due to white privilege I didn’t notice until too late an awkward racist question a community member asked one of my comrades. There was also a moment when I tried to talk about something that was actually too arcane and boring for who I was talking to, which is part of being older but also obviously has to do with being in academia, and I think this is a type of difference also; we have different interests and that’s fine, we don’t have to force our interests on anyone else; my younger comrades sometimes talk about stuff I find deeply boring and that is not just fine but as it should be; I don’t need to be involved in every convo and vice versa. There were all these points of conflict and stress and acknowledgment of our different lives, identities, experiences, and places in the network; and yet the entire day we laughed and slung watermelons around together and supported each other in those moments of conflict and (I believe, I hope) ended up feeling invigorated and powerful and happy to be together. Periodically throughout the day different people suddenly go “isn’t this amazing?” and everyone says YES. That is the world I want to live in, and this work lets us create that world for a minute together. It could all be like this, all the time, if we made it so.

It’s interesting to hear the questions people ask when they come to our distro area. Who paid for all this? No one. How did you get this job? This isn’t a job. Do you need to see my license? No. Can I have extra corn instead of beets, is that okay? You can simply take whatever you want, and as much as you want. Are these peppers spicy? I actually don’t know.

What else? Ummmm since covid started I haven’t really been able to read or write. I struggle even to read a novel. I read the Twitter accounts of journalists on the ground in Portland, and I read, like, Jezebel. Early in covid I did somehow manage to read a bunch of books about anchorites that were totally riveting. Anchorites! Nuns that chose to be walled up in a tomb and live in there, doing nothing but praying, until they died and got buried in the floor of the tomb and a new nun would move in on top of them. There were a lot of people who did this! And they occupied a weird position, not quite part of the church hierarchy/not quite part of society. They were declared legally dead and a requiem mass was said over them while they lay in their own grave, inside the tomb. In some of the tombs, the little slit window into the church is positioned so that in order to hear mass you’d have to kneel in your own grave. It’s fucking GOTH. And what I learned is that Hildegard of Bingen was an anchorite for TWENTY YEARS! I somehow never knew this about her?! She was dead and lived in a tomb. And then in her 40s she got a vision from God telling her to found a new nunnery, and she petitioned the bishop to let her out, and after some reluctance he agreed, so they took down the wall of her tomb and said she could be alive again, and she crossed the river and started the new nunnery and became a famous scientist among other things (the list of species of fish in the Rhine River that she compiled remained the authoritative list until 1926), and scandalized the local gentry by putting on biblical plays in which her nuns wore jewelry and let their hair down (there is a letter she wrote replying to the criticism of this practice, in which she says that the Bible says that only married women should hide their beauty, not virgins). Did I tell you all this already? I can’t remember when last I wrote here. Anyway it’s fucking crazy and amazing and I love it, the death nuns of medieval Europe, who cultivated “the holy idleness” necessary for true communion with God. I’ve been thinking a lot about idle time and how it is anathema to capitalism, not only because it is time during which we could be generating surplus value for our employers, but also because–as we see is the case during covid!–it’s time during which we get the headspace to look around and be like, wait a second, this is all bullshit!!!! FUCK THIS I’m not going back to fucking work! So I love this idea of “holy idleness.” Specifically an idleness that seems mostly to have appealed to women. Not having to get married and raise children! Instead you want to sit and read and think about Jesus. Go for it, dude.

My heart totally pounds when I imagine Hildegard leaving her tomb after 20 years. Walking through the streets of the town, smelling the smells, seeing the sights. Seeing crowds! Seeing horses. Hearing a profusion of voices, hearing somebody sing a song, seeing a juggler, seeing a blacksmith, seeing children running, hearing a lute, seeing the river. Being amongst the bodies of men, instead of only women. Seeing the sky! The last time she experienced these things she was twelve years old. What was it like?????

Other than that brief amateur research immersion I have barely read a single thing. I read a book about rape, feminism, and the carceral state that was great (The Feminist and the Sex Offender). I read the introduction to The Ecology of Freedom. I read some essays. I read an essay about classical music and white supremacy a friend of mine wrote. I read some anarchist collections and an amazing essay by John Zerzan about how tonality is the sound of hierarchy. I read some collections of Black radical thought and the introduction of a book about the word “comrade.” I read some Adorno. But mostly I am not reading. It makes me feel sad and confused but I don’t know how to force my mind back into that space of quiet concentration. I don’t know if it is laziness or something else, or multiple things including laziness.

Oh yesterday I did successfully read this really mesmerizing thing Wallace Shawn wrote in the 90s that recreates the internal monologue of a rich liberal slowly having a shattering revelation about class and capitalism and his own indefensible yet also irreconcilable position within it, and it’s all metaphorized as him being violently sick on the floor of a luxury hotel in “a poor country” where he’s a tourist. You’re supposed to read it out loud as a performance piece to small groups of people in your home. Ha! Here it is, it’s pretty great: http://www.wischik.com/lu/senses/fever.html

I will say that a few years ago a friend of ours was in the cheap seats at the Met and at intermission Wallace Shawn came all the way up all the stairs past all the tiered levels to the very top (worst) one, zeroed in on our friend, and said he had to leave early and did our friend want his fancy tickets. So our friend and his girlfriend got to watch the second half of the opera in the best seats in the house and they said it was incredible. I don’t know what this story symbolizes or signifies except that Wallace Shawn, insofar as the restrictions of his class position allowed, seems like he was a pretty nice guy. I love thinking of him climbing all those stairs and looking for the shittiest looking person he could find, and it was our friend.

His description of the revelation he has about commodity fetishism while reading Capital naked in bed is pretty great. You can tell he really has read Capital because he mentions how the first three chapters are impossible to read but then it gets so good because Marx unleashes his rage. That is everyone’s experience of Capital, very authentic.

I read the three Wolf Hall books several times in a row, that was part of my covid self-care and it was pretty effective. Those books are simply divine. I have also been playing a new video game that I hate. And re-reading Le Guin short stories. It sounds like I am reading a lot I guess but compared with my “normal” reading amount it is hardly anything and it stresses me out. But maybe that is ok.

I also had my best year yet in terms of food preservation, I will say. I feel so proud and smug when I look upon my works. It starts in June and I finished by mid August. Here is what I have done:
– picked 6 quarts of strawberries and made like 14 jars of jam
– 5 pints rhubarb sauce
– 6 quarts peaches
– 14 pints cucumber pickles (I did have an epic failure here because I actually GREW all the cucumbers I needed to make this many pickles, and I did it, and I made the pickles, and then I realized I’d grown the wrong kind of cucumber, and so the pickles were so mushy nobody could eat them, so I had to start over with purchased cukes, and I am just sick about the waste of time and materials and just generally what a dipshit I am)
– 19 pints of salsa
– an assortment of weirdo pickles, like “cucomelons,” I have no idea
– 3 little jars of very fancy blackberry preserves (you can make whiskey smashes with the syrup once you open a jar)
– and of course the king of preservation season: 55 quarts of heirloom tomatoes. Last year I did 44 quarts and it didn’t quite get us through the whole year, so this time I did 55 and we’ll see how far it gets us. Y’all I get 20 pounds of heirloom tomatoes for 20 bucks. A buck a pound?! What a steal. And I think I ended up canning 150 pounds or something? Anyway, a lot.

Then in the freezer:
– 5 batches of dried tomatoes
– 10 “pizza portions” of corn
– enough zucchini, poblanos, and corn to make one batch of calabacitas, which I will save for a day in the deadest of winter when we are feeling our worst
– 20 cubes of pesto; 20 cubes of basil
– 3 quarts of blueberries
– 5 portions of cherry tomatoes for use in “pizza casserole”
– 20 jalapeños
– I think some other stuff I’m forgetting

Feeling pretty good about it. We’ll see how it goes. Our apple tree still did not produce apples even after an expensive professional pruning; we think now maybe it is the drought. So no apple report. We will do cider again this year but we’ll have to buy it from the orchard.

We also joined a community gardening/food security network that will get ramped up in the spring. I hope to learn how to garden finally.

Oh I also started making all our yogurt. It’s absurdly easy. I’m actually so appalled at how many years I spent buying plastic containers of yogurt over and over again. It’s so easy to make it yourself! And it’s so good. And the other day I seized victory from the jaws of defeat: I made yogurt, put it in its little warming cooler to sit for 24 hours, then FORGOT ABOUT IT, and only remembered the NEXT day, and was like oh fuck, but guess what, it was the best I’ve made so far. I’ve learned a valuable lesson! I feel like the monk who accidentally invented champagne. “Brothers, I am tasting stars!”

We got our porch rebuilt because it was rotting and a huge hole had opened up that had become a liability for the mailman. It was such a pain and porches are so stupid even though they are great. But they just really rot all to hell. Why aren’t they all made of concrete, as in Texas?? It’s like the only thing Texas gets right, aside from Mexican food, which isn’t even from Texas except in the sense that Texas rightfully belongs to Mexico in the first place. Those big sprawling concrete patios of childhood, out there in a thunderstorm playing parcheesi. The salad days.

Early in the revolution Gary was diverting a lot of his anxiety and feelings of uselessness into obsessing over the totally baseless idea that our house was infested with termites. He did stuff like get up in the middle of the night and start prowling around the basement with a flashlight. He was really going into a weird Howard Hughes place in his mind or something. During this fugue state he bought an extremely expensive new side door off Home Depot’s website, and it got delivered on a big wooden pallet and sat in our driveway for awhile while he fretted and agonized over it. Then one night we had a tornado warning, and I went and looked outside and it actually did feel like tornado weather (again my Texas childhood coming in handy, as when I envision the ideal porch) so we decided we should probably move this heavy loose door into the shed just in case. We went out there and got set up to move it. Gary was so careful and nice and patient about it, as he has lived with me a long time and knows my ways. “It is very very heavy, okay? Make sure your feet are stable. You pick up that end and we’ll move it towards me okay? Are you sure you’re ready? It’s VERY HEAVY, are you sure you’ve got it?” I kept being like “yes, yes I’m fine, I’ve got it.” So he said one two three and we lifted it up and I IMMEDIATELY fell all the way down, dropped the door, fell full length on top of it and face-planted into the glass, and crushed my whole arm and hand in between my body and it. It hurt SO bad. And also me falling shoved Andrew hard into our neighbor’s car. And we dropped the door. It all happened in less than 2 seconds, him saying one two three and me falling was like, almost simultaneous. And I was lying there in the driveway under the creepy green tornado sky and I was like, I literally think I broke my wrist. The door was fine! I was so lucky the glass didn’t break when my face hit it, can you imagine. Anyway we moved it into the shed and then there wasn’t a tornado anyway. And TO THIS DAY (this was weeks ago) my hand hurts and the spot between my fourth and fifth knuckles is totally numb and throbs, and I can’t put that hand on my hip because that angle hurts it. who knows what happened in there? It’s all part of this wonderful life process of learning. Anyway the punchline is it was the wrong sized door to begin with so we had to rent a truck in order to return it to Home Depot because they wouldn’t pick it up. It was a true fiasco start to finish. And then we got involved in all this mutual aid stuff and Gary’s obsession with termites fizzled. We never had termites at all.

I got tenure and am now on sabbatical, which is the reason I have all this time to spend not thinking about my job, which is giving me the space to try to become a different person. Which I realize is a great unresolvable irony, my very job giving me the incredible luxury of time off from my job to think about ways to subversively not-do my job. I get it, believe me. Anyway it’s really incredible, reflecting on my life and what a different person I am now than I was 10 or even 5 years ago. By the time I got my tenure decision I literally wasn’t even thinking about it anymore. I got the email and was like oh cool. Yes, by that point I was confident I would get it (although with covid, who knows) and I don’t intend at all to diminish the anguish of those waiting for tenure because it truly sucks and is grueling. But still, my feelings upon actually getting it are not even vaguely comparable to how I thought I’d feel. I used to fantasize about it and yearn for it, and feel like my life would totally change once I got it. And now, because of covid and also the revolution, I feel like…I don’t even know if there will be a university a year or two years from now. And actually, maybe that would be fine. I don’t mean that in a flippant way at all. I love my job and a world in which the university ceased to exist would almost undoubtedly be a very stressful world for me and probably everyone else to navigate. But… I used to think I would be nothing without this job, that it defined who I was in a very deep and real way, and now I don’t feel that way anymore. I like my job and I like the lifestyle it enables me to have and I care about certain aspects of it very much. But also I am a whole multi-faceted person with all kinds of things I am interested in and probably would be good or okay at doing, and there is all kinds of work to be done out there and anyway lately I’ve been feeling like I’m kind of trying to annihilate myself, in a positive way. Trying to become no one. Trying to simply exist as a creature in the world, without so much ego wrapped up in everything. Trying to harness the socially useful powers of the Leo and violently repress the self-serving ones. I might shave my head and get a tattoo to mark this moment of transformation.

Basically I feel like I am having a very positive midlife crisis, one that’s being shaped by the synchronicity of the political theory I’ve been reading for the past several years and the actual revolution that was sparked this summer. We’ll see what happens. But also I don’t matter at all so it doesn’t matter.

I do wake up in the night sometimes, sleepless with terror and dread about the coming Times. Or clenched up with anxiety about weird specific things, like How Will We Kill Our Dog If The Apocalypse Comes or What If My Parents Get Covid or I Will Never See My Brother Again And I Don’t Know How To Live With That If It’s True or or or any number of other things, just like most of you I am sure, these sleepless nights, these apocalyptic scenarios, all of California is on fire, everyone in Florida is dead, it is now totally legal to mass murder people as long as you are a white supremacist…….

One thing I have been thinking A LOT about is the idea of detaching Hope from Optimism. I read a book about this and it has made a huge and lasting impression (Hope and Grief in the Anthropocene, it’s on Routledge and very expensive, unfortunately, I got it for free because I contributed to an edited volume for them, weird perk). She argues that hope is a practice, and optimism is a feeling, and we need to work to separate the two inside ourselves, and that to do so would mean we would have to confront grief. Before we can talk about cleaning up a river, we have to look the fact of “ecocide” full in its face, and say, this is what we have done, and the grief of it is depthless and will never end so long as we live, and we will have to find ways to live within that grief and address the river in a different way through that acknowledgment. Meaning, if in order to do things based on hope for the future we must also feel optimism–the happy belief that our actions will be successful–it keeps us from seeing the full extent of the problem and thus what really would have to happen for a solution to be found. Because if we can only do work if we can be certain it will have a positive outcome, it means we will only do the easy work. The problem of climate change is such that it could only be addressed by the world as we know it coming to an end. Society would have to change in the most drastic ways imaginable. Every single one of our lives would have to be utterly, shatteringly transformed; our outlooks and worldviews and ways of living would have to utterly change. But that is too hard to imagine and too scary and hard to draw up an Excel spreadsheet demonstrating so instead we are like “oh boy, if we simply vote in a carbon tax we will have addressed climate change!” Because that is manageable and seems doable, whereas within our current discursive framework anything that is NOT manageable or doable is just not on the table. And if that is the case, then the full extent of the problem can never be named. And this is why this author argues that liberals, as well as conservatives, are climate change deniers. Because they refuse to face the grief of our murdered world, the world they too have murdered. Because they deny the full scope of the situation, instead fixating on small tweaks to the existing system, and calling anyone who tries to pull back the curtain a fanatic, a dreamer. Our job is to stop living in denial, acknowledge that the murderous devastation is irreversible and morally evil, and yet work tirelessly to change things regardless. Optimism is a trap, in other words, a trap the system uses to keep things from changing. Anyway it’s a great book. It’s about Australia.

Hope is a practice! This is the thing I reflect on a lot lately. Hope is actions and works and things you do, not a blobby feeling you try to cling to because you’re scared of a world without it. You make it, you don’t feel it, and you make it simply by doing the actions that insist that it is real. That’s it.

So this stuff wakes me up at night, but also things like, uhhhh, should I get my teeth cleaned

Oh, I also joined the Wobblies! How fun, why did it take me so long. Everyone should join!

We have been watching a huge array of diverse movies. We watch a movie every single night. Everything from The Act of Killing to Encino Man; a documentary about Tibetan women to all of Lucretia Martel’s movies; Parasite and Single White Female; all of Ruben Ostlund’s movies in a row followed by Batman Forever; Mrs. Doubtfire followed by Mati Diop’s Atlantics; etc. We went on a kick of watching movies from childhood we haven’t seen since, and it’s fascinating to see which ones hold up and which ones don’t. Wayne’s World DOES NOT hold up; Bill and Ted DOES. Shockingly, Weekend at Bernie’s holds up to the max. Just laughing very authentically at Weekend at Bernie’s! Who knew?! We watched both the 1945 and the 1985 adaptations of Brewster’s Millions (both very weird movies–Max Weber stuff about money and work, very confusing). We watched Passenger 57, extremely good. After painting our bathroom in the Miami Vice palette we watched a bunch of episodes of Miami Vice and it is just a shockingly insane show, I somehow missed it due to growing up without a television so it was all new to me and I was actually truly shocked by it. Every single person involved in that show just absolutely had to be on cocaine the entire time. It is COMPLETELY incoherent, its narratives make absolutely no sense, there is no connection between scenes, nothing that happens makes any kind of sense. I mean at a very concrete, literal level. I have honestly never seen anything like it and it is unimaginable to me that it was such a popular mainstream show. It is weirder than the weirdest experimental film I have ever seen, in certain respects. We watched Ivan the Terrible, which I uncontrollably slept through. We watched Major League and enjoyed it so much that the next night we watched Major League 2, one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life (“it was worse than Miami Vice, which at least was crazy”). Lately we are watching episodes of On Cinema followed by episodes of this German drama called “DARK” that is Twin Peaks plus Stranger Things plus Lost, in Germany. The music is REALLY good and one of the main guys looks like Mads Mikkelsen but I’m pretty sure he isn’t.

My hair is very long and I look like a witch. I try to do yoga every day but I never do. I am cooking a lot. We get all our food from these two local farm pickups and it’s very fun. I make: bread, pizza, “pizza cake” (stale bread recipe); calabacitas; enchiladas; cool summer pastas; pesto; boring stir fries to use up all the leftovers. I made some pies. I made Gary a yellow sheet cake for his birthday. I made cherry muffins and took them to our neighbor and she said they cured her gout.

Our snoopy dog is good. He is old and lumpy and sleep all day as usual. He’s a great pal.

All is well; nothing is well; everything is beautiful; the world is ending; watch Weekend at Bernie’s and you won’t regret it

solidarity and love to you all!!!!

Posted in Opinion | 6 Comments