Monthly Reading, Sunday, 29/03/15

Escape Velocity, or, There Must be 50 Ways to Queer ‘The Family’ I struggle with ways of addressing these questions, this frustration. Dissident gender and sexual practices and modes of living emerge in specific contexts, there is no way to generalize, to abstract any “cause” beyond local conditions and meanings. For myself, I have come to understand my own “difference” as an exit strategy, more about making an alternative world than about abstract sexual desire or gender identity.

We Are Not “Just Like Everyone Else.” I do not want equality, with its demand that those of us on the margins must assimilate to norms that remain unquestioned, rather than transforming those norms altogether. I do not want to achieve social recognition for my family if that recognition hinges on my willingness to restructure my relationships according to the narratives and norms presented to me through conventional legal marriage. I do not support the further fracturing of queer communities such that only two-person monogamous relationships are granted validation (because those relationships are familiar enough to a dominant norm that the oddity of their same-sex-ness can be excused). I certainly do not want the pressing concerns of the most vulnerable members of my community (employment, housing, access to physical and mental health care, immigration protections, and so much more) to be sidelined in pursuit of the much more luxurious interests of people like me. Equity? I’m on board. But equality, and specifically equality signaled by access to marriage? Not so fast.

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Reading Round-up 22/02/2015

Why Ernesto Laclau is the intellectual figurehead for Syriza and Podemos

When a radical activist movement has become so successful that it is called upon to do the work of the state, not just by vulnerable citizens but by the state itself, the political conjuncture is striking in its uniqueness. Podemos is drawing directly on Laclau’s work to make the most of this opportunity, rejecting the old Spanish left of the PCE (Communists), smashing the discredited austerity-lite of the PSOE (Socialists) in the polls, and channeling a rehabilitated notion of leftist populism.

Powers to bring empty houses into use ‘ignored’

“It’s totally scandalous to have thousands of homeless people sleeping rough when there are nearly a million empty houses” said Taylor, who obtained the latest figures while research a report on the housing crisis which is due in March. 

Sublime Fragments of Gothic Futures

Brecht spoke of modernism ‘erasing the traces’ of the cold past but the only thing that’s getting erased these days is the modernist canon. Brutalist Britain and its concretopias being sold off to make way for a future minimalist in content; gentrified villages as the nihilistic narcissistic white smarminess that proliferates the so-called ‘creative industries’ and all the post-Fordist capital associated with it. Finally ‘alternative’ capitulates to quaint kitsch revanchist throes of ‘community’, as if we couldn’t see the tragic farce anyway. Continue reading

Monthly Reading: January, 2015

The same as Sunday Reading, but on the last Sunday of every month, instead of every week.

When Your Girlfriend wants Two Girlfriends

They are in a relationship with a woman who has a long-term partner, and open to seeing other people. ‘I think polyamory places quite a lot of emphasis on sex and (romantic) love, but for me non-monogamy is important as part of a wider practice of thinking critically about all relationships – both sexual and non-sexual.’

 On Effigies and Elegies

In its broadest definition, an “effigy” is a representation of a person, usually life-size, and almost always three-dimensional. More distantly, an effigy also describes funerary art that might adorn a tomb or coffin. But effigy also carries within it its negative connotation: a crudely made figure representing a hated person and made to be publicly destroyed (eg “George W. Bush was burned in effigy”).  In the twitter storm and media outrage machine that followed the discovery of the lynching images, it was this last meaning that framed, if not foreclosed, the conversation.

The brutal secrets behind ‘The Biggest Loser’

TW: Fat Shaming, ED

‘The whole f- -king show,” she says today, “is a fat-shaming disaster that I’m embarrassed to have participated in.” Continue reading

Sunday Round-up 28/12/14

The Race-IQ ‘Blackout’ With that said, Andrew’s ahistorical approach to race and intelligence has always amazed. The contention, for instance, that “research is not about helping people; it’s about finding out stuff,” may well be true in some limited sense. But it’s never been true, in any sense, of race and intelligence.

The Bell Curve Through the Veil I remember when Andrew published The Bell Curve excerpt in The New Republic. I was an undergraduate at Howard University — same city, but a different world. All of the young intellectuals who’d gather under the flag-pole on the yard were hot and angry. But a professor on campus (and I wish I could remember who) handed out xeroxed copies of the excerpt and its responses and simply told us, “Arm yourselves.” Don’t get angry he told us. Get informed.

Some Final Thoughts If you’re going to charge forth with the freighted claim that black people are intellectual inferiors, you should not do so claiming a lack of “profound knowledge of the deep research.” Continue reading

Sunday Round-up 21/12/14

Why these Tweets are Called My Back

The number one priority of any movement dedicated to ending violence should be to bring marginalized grassroots women into all spaces, make them feel safe and prioritize their voices.

Feminist Hurt/Feminism Hurts

And: the histories that leave us fragile are often those that bring us to a feminist room. This is what I want to reflect on here. What are the implications for feminism that our points of entry are often sore points? How many of us became feminists because of experiences of violence? I cannot separate my feminist history from my experiences of violence. What a tangle. Messy.

A visit to the cereal café

Breakfast cereal is toasted, granulated defeat, sprinkled with sugar, riboflavin, and iron filings. It’s all already there for you, and you just pour milk on top. Breakfast cereal is enjoyed by children because children are too passive and stupid to make a real breakfast for themselves. Continue reading

Sunday Round-up 14/12/14

“Hunger, filth, fear and death”: remembering life before the NHS

Some historians have called the decade of my birth “the Roaring Twenties” but for most it was a long death rattle.

Dear White Protesters

Dear white protestors, this is NOT about you.

In and Out of Time in Iraq

On the evening of the summer solstice of 2013, I moored my sailboat in the Fox Islands Thoroughfare, one of the most beautiful places I know. I relaxed in the cockpit of the little sloop, drank a beer, and watched the full moon rise, pulling an unusual twelve-foot tide with it. It glowed pink and orange in the sunset. This was something I could trust. Nature might kill me, but it doesn’t lie to me. Continue reading

Sunday Round-up 07/12/14

Crazy in Love

You can be as unhappy as you like if you can still make rent. You can be convinced that every streetlight is an angel as long as you walk past them and to your own door. If you have a lot of money, you can go on being crazy without consequence for longer than if you have only a little.

After Shia LaBeouf’s art gallery trauma we should affirm that all rapes are ‘real’, and all are breaches of trust

rape is a moment-by-moment process of deliberately borderline coercion that those subjected to it struggle to comprehend is taking place, even until the very moment a direct act of sexual violation occurs.

Acting French

In my long voyage through this sea of language, that was my first sighting of land. I now knew how much I didn’t know. The feeling of discovery and understanding that came from this was incredible. It was the first moment when I thought I might survive the sea. Continue reading