I realise this is the kind of thing that it’d probably be impossible to do any accurate research on, but I’d be really interested to know if there’s ever been anything written about the distribution of sexual fetishes across time and space. Like, it feels like something people don’t have any control over, but at the same time it’s so historically contingent on a whole variety of factors that be really specific to certain historical settings - from actual technological stuff like the availability or otherwise of latex, to the fetishisation of certain roles that only exist in certain social contexts. Were master/slave fantasies more or less common in societies where actual slave ownership was a widespread thing? How have changing constructions of race influenced the kind of raceplay that people are into? Given how much of BDSM consists of a kind of performance of sex-negativity, what would BDSM practices look like in a society where sex wasn’t seen as dirty? Interesting questions, even if they’re probably unaswerable.
“She used to think sex wasn’t an issue, it wasn’t crucial, it was a pleasant form of exercise, better than jogging, a pleasant form of communication, like gossip. People who got too intense about sex were a little outre. It was like wearing plastic spikes with rhinestones and meaning it, it was like taking mink coats seriously. What mattered was the relationship. A good relationship, that’s what she and Jake were meant to have. People commented on it at parties, as if they were admiring a newly renovated house.
That was what it had been at first: no mess, no in love. By the time she met Jake she’d decided she didn’t much like being in love. Being in love was like running barefoot along a street covered with broken bottles. It was foolhardy, and if you got through it without damage it was only by sheer luck. It was like taking off your clothes at lunchtime in a bank. It let people think they knew something about you that you didn’t know about them. It made you visible, soft, penetrable; it made you ludicrous.”—Margaret Atwood, Bodily Harm
On this shifting scale all positive positions are defined and structured against a negative someone else. There’s “us”, and there are those who’ve failed; who don’t try hard enough; who are lazier than the rest of us; who parasitise the collective taxpayer; who don’t even care for their own neighbourhoods. Thus a fractal logic by which white professionals — come round to anti-racism — measure themselves up against feckless chavs; poor whites against an immigrant bogeyman; South Asians against lazy Afro-Caribbeans; Afro-Caribbeans against Somali criminality, and so on.
Contrary to the pseudo-sociological taxonomies of media stereotypes, the “less so” here, the someone else, has never come to constitute any coherent “underclass”, definable by its relation to welfare receipts, unemployment etc. Indeed, through this period the opposition of welfare and work came to be undermined by a proliferation of welfare untethered to unemployment, such as child benefit, or actually hinging directly on work, such as tax credits. At the same time, unemployment itself has been redefined as an ever-steeper chute back into the labour market; recent developments in “workfare” are only the latest extension of this longer term logic. Thus, while massive unemployment was the direct consequence of Thatcherite restructuring as whole major industries were demolished, this has given way to a regime of insecurity in which… worklessness appears as “jobseeking”. On the other hand, employment itself has become increasingly unstable as a category, with rising temp work, short-term contracts, and most recently the “zero-hour contract”, by which employees are guaranteed no minimum number of hours of actual work, but must simply hope for the best from one week to the next. In these senses, comparisons of actual employment levels with those of the 1970s can be deceptive, since the meaning of the work/unemployment distinction has changed so significantly over the period. If unemployment figures remain high compared to the years of the post-war settlement, employment itself is qualitatively less distinguishable from unemployment.
For these reasons it is important not to read the tendential precarisation of the wage as leading necessarily to the constitution of any neatly delimitable “surplus population”, identified simplistically by a lack of formal employment or residency in some marginal zone: it was never directly “the surplus population” that took up residency in Britain’s poor urban estates, nor was it in any immediate sociological sense a “surplus population” of unemployed that developed a propensity to riot over this period. Indeed, a majority of rioters in 2011 seem to have been either in full-time education or employed, and though unemployment remains of course higher in the marginal areas in which riots tend to generate — and was spiking significantly in the period leading up to the riots, making it legible, perhaps, as a significant contributing factor — it has remained markedly low in hyper-flexibilised Britain, compared to other European countries. While the general law of capitalist accumulation is to produce a surplus population, and this is a central dynamic of this epoch, we should also be wary of identifying these developments with a clearly specified “precariat” class, for the erosion of the stability of the wage is something socially general, not neatly confinable to a specific part of the population: insecurity is everywhere, only with varying types and degrees of intensity.
For such a long time you wanted us to speak but we kept quiet, this time we are going to speak up. We know the majority of you sincerely want to help us. Each in your own way have tried everything. You have been strict or easy-going, patient or impatient, attentive or distant. You have thought about things, talked matters over between yourselves, with us, with the college administration.
You have told us so many things, we said nothing or very little, we’d keep quiet, we’d smile. You used to say to us: “It’s no laughing matter, get on with your work” or, “we have a laugh here but we work really hard”, or even “if you don’t intend doing anything don’t interfere with your friends who…”, or, ”make an effort”, or, “Mr so and so do you think you’ll be allowed to turn up late for work?” or “oh it’s you, get back in your place”. Or, “answer doesn’t anyone know?” or, “well, in 10 years of teaching I’ve never come across anything like this before” or, “if you have a problem come and see me at the end of the lesson” or, “come on now, ask some questions!” and “I also have a daughter of your age”, “keep quiet when I’m talking”, “take a sheet of paper” and “repeat what I’ve just said”,”come on – find me a piece of paper” and “I warn you I’m not like what’s his name”.
Well, you’re wrong. It’s all the same - you’ve tried hard but that hasn’t changed a thing. You have given us your advice, you’ve seen our parents, you’ve said: “if it were my son”. You’ve worked hard, gone back to the beginning, prepared courses, arranged visits, trips, provided summaries, prepared days out. we’ve drunk coffee together, you’ve gone on strike, shouted and bawled and maybe even cried but that hasn’t changed a thing.
Year after year, the social meat grinder has devoured us. You wear the pupils you’ve saved like medals – they are well deserved, each one of us has cost you plenty. But that’s not possible with everyone.
Neither you nor we were the problem, it is everything else.
To be sure, you knew it but you probably thought it was inevitable. It’s not the failure of the school system we reproach you with but for having accepted for too long and trying to make us accept too, a state of affairs, of people and of relationships between people, which are unacceptable.
To you we’re problem kids, you felt sorry for us in advance – as if your life was something marvellous. We can see well enough how you react, how you are also fed up.
You say: “What have you done with yourselves?” Well to be exact, because of what we’re doing today we criticize our former passivity.
You say: “That’s unfair, our lives aren’t a misery, we don’t do as we’re told, we want to help you”.
Prove it! You want to talk to us! We wouldn’t understand you all that well, we‘re already out of earshot, come closer; if you don’t, in a week’s time you’ll not have the foggiest clue.
Before our passivity was your excuse (not any more). YOU CAN’T HELP LIKING US, WE STATE THE TRUTH, a heart felt truth that people are fed up with hierarchical relationships, with separation, with a cramped narrow life. You daren’t say so or even believe it. But that’s what it boils down to. Teachers – that’s the hurdle you must leap -but if you don it help, if you give up, if you betray… nothing, we won’t say a thing. Our looks will speak for us. They’re unrelenting, as you well know. You’ll be the judge of yourselves - there’s no reprieve from that.
”—From a leaflet produced by 16-18 year old apprentices who’d walked out of classes in France, winter 1986-7. Taken from here.
Dolly Parton knows good class analysis. 9 to 5 remains one of the clearest iterations of “antiwork” politics in song since “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum!”: a powerful, clear expression against an ideology that labour has an inherent dignity that benefits the worker, despite almost all human experience pointing to the opposite. In a few catchy verses Parton pretty neatly encapsulates a specific relationship of white-collar and pink-collar labourers to their work which runs counter to the “American Dream” ideology – the United States’ variant on the “dignity of work” myth so beloved of the mainstream European Left throughout the 20th Century. In Pop we can always find kernels of workers’ desire; here I’m going to pull out a trio of songs from the past 30 years which interact with an antiwork tendency and engage with the changing conditions of the American workplace. These three bangers all offer some hint towards an antiwork politics generally ignored by the political mainstream, and are presented in the hope that we can perhaps think of building a future workplace politics around not Stakhanov or McDonald’s Employee of the Month, but Dolly and Shangela Laquifa.
Released in 1980 to accompany the eponymous film in which Dolly starred, 9 to 5 isn’t laced with the “fuck your boss” anarchic rebellion of much emergent hardcore punk of the time, but instead a more nuanced and thoughtful example of a class analysis of the workplace. The song comes at an interesting moment in the class struggle: 1980 was the year Ronald Reagan was elected and began his personal brand of neoliberal reform already begun by Margaret Thatcher in the UK, deregulating financial services whilst launching a concerted attack on the working class through attacks on various representative organs, such as trade unions, and the minimal workplace rights their presence protected. These reforms were yet to kick in, however, when Dolly laid down her track. Instead the workplace 9 to 5 describes is the tail-end of a working environment laid down after demobilisation in the Second World War, albeit one which had been through an enormous workplace revolution in regards to women’s rights and the feminist movement of the 1970’s.
Fundamentally, it is a steady workplace; at the top of the hierarchy sits the “boss-man” (and he is always a man), whose total control of the workplace is demonstrated through his control of workers throughout the company. Despite Dolly’s “service and devotion” to the company, a “fair promotion” is very much down to managerial discretion, and the worker feels trapped within both her workplace routine and her allotted role in the company. It’s here the divergence between the ideology of the American Dream — that due effort is rewarded with due success — and the reality — “Want to move ahead / But the boss won’t seem to let me in / I swear sometimes that man is out to get me” — reach a point of rupture.
From here on out, Dolly Parton’s analysis of the proletarian condition is sharp, concise and furious. “They let you dream / Just a watch ‘em shatter,” she rails, eviscerating the U.S. national ideology, before getting down to the brass tacks of the capitalist system “You’re just a step / On the boss man’s ladder”. Aren’t we just. 9 to 5, however, is firmly located amongst the last hurrahs of the fordist labour process, as evidenced not only in the monotony of the routine, but also in the almost casual recognition that workers’ power is still latent in the workforce in the shape of generalised employee solidarity and their attendant dream of a process of communisation:
On the same boat
With a lot of your friends
Waitin’ for the day
Your ship’ll come in
And the tide’s gonna turn
An’ it’s all gonna roll your way
Granted, what we could call ‘Partonism’ might still retain the odd whiff of historical determinism, but perhaps this is contingent on the unique, pre-Reaganite condition of the U.S. working-class. Still, it’s worth being clear here; what Dolly offers is a powerful example of a workers’ subjectivity which renounces the dominant ideology both of the bosses and the trade unions.
9 to 5, yeah, they got you where they want you
There’s a better life
And you think about it, don’t you?
It’s a rich man’s game
No matter what they call it
And you spend your life
Puttin money in his wallet
Stopping just short of calling for a ‘Worker’s Party Against Work”, Dolly nonetheless has elucidated a clear call here against both the capitalist system and the small, fragmentary and limited gains the working class have made through reformist demands for regularised, formal work patterns. What remains at the core is a rejection of the very form of work, and a desire to escape the mental, affective and physical straightjacket of the wage relation in toto. As Bifo has laid out, however, it was this very desire of workers to escape the regimented form of the fordist workplace, and the political struggle against it, that helped transform the productive regime into the precarious, post-fordist regime of totalising semio-capitalism today. So how did the antiwork ethic and the relation between boss and worker change as the organisation of production changed? Let’s look at two more examples of songs which recount this change: TGIF by Le Tigre, a NYC-based electroclash band formed in 1998, and Werqin’ Girl by Shangela Laquifa, a totally sickening drag queen (IMO) who broke through on Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 2.
Don’t fuck with me I’m the fuckin manager!
The move from Dolly’s world to the post-fordist world is perhaps besr summed up in TGIF by Le Tigre, whose lyrics speak of trying to balance a creative practice in the arts (“some kind of underground electro feminist performance artists”) with the rapidly dwindling prospect of job security in a white collar job (I know 40 hours a week would suit you fine / but your application’s been denied, surprise! / This is how it feels to be free.) This is combined with the gendered division of labour we saw earlier with Parton’s “boss man”, this time demanding not only that the worker does the job she’s contracted for, but also that she emotionally identifies with the (heaily surveilled) role, as is clear in the intro: “You better write down everything you accomplish /And lemme see your fuckin smiles around the office”.
The 9 to 5 of the office environment is on its way out, brought about in this historical double-bind of workers’ desire to escape the routine of rigid labour, whilst being cursed by the precarity that escape from the production line brings. There’s literally no way out of this bind short of destroying wage labour, btw. But in TGIF, what still remains is solidarity, and revelling in the illicit thrill of the antiwork subjectivity which still implicitly attacks the ideological position of capitalist managers, whether bosses or union bosses: that there is dignity in labour. As Le Tigre put it:
I hope this feeling never ends
cuz you’re beautiful
And your boss is an asshole
and I don’t give a shit what the dick thinks.
We will survive as thieves, we will survive as freaks.
Nothing reveals the immense historical positivity of workers’ self-valorization more completely than sabotage, this continual activity of the sniper, the saboteur, the absentee, the deviant, the criminal that I find myself living. I immediately feel the warmth of the workers’ and proletarian community again every time I don the ski mask…
The sabotage of absenteeism and deviancy from workplace discipline evident in the intro to TGIF perhaps shows the generalisation of the antiwork tendency as Dolly’s world gives way to something akin to our world of labour; affective yet atomised, precarious and lacking basic representation of labour unions and other working-class institutions. Despite being released at the height of an unprecedented boom due to the post-79 financialisation, with house-prices at an all-time high and credit unsustainably cheap, there’s little love lost here between the white-collar NYC office worker and the world of work; a clear communist, antiwork ethic is on display which puts wage labour outside the acceptable moral boundaries of the proletarian, even if it remains our defining characteristic: “It’s okay to hate your job, after all it’s fucking wrong.”
This is hardly an innovative moral statement. However what’s interesting is how far even this act of ethical disavowal with the wage-relation has dissipated in the decade that followed. As we see in Werqin’ Girl by Shangela Laquifa, the developing post-fordist model has resulted in the creative industries in a uniquely powerful identification not just with labour, but a subsumption of the labour process into the subjectivity of the worker. In Werqin’ Girl Shangela is so desperate for a job she structures her entire performed labour around herself as product.
I came to work. I’m here to work. Didn’t you see my badge? I’m a professional.
Sometimes I feel like drag queens are the only ones who really understand the collapse of the massified workers’ subjectivity. A decade on and we see a much more developed sense of the creative worker being a full-package, with labour almost totally indistinguishable from sense of self, in Shangela Laquifa’s Werqin’ Girl. And unsurprisingly, because what a decade: between the two songs we’ve seen a techno-cultural revolution in web 2.0, combined with totally new possibilities for developing entrepreneurial forms of income. We’ve also seen the rise of the Reality TV and new forms of celebrity built almost entirely upon personal brand and affect.
To call Werqin Girl a melting-pot of representations of affective labour would be to put it mildly; gender, race and class ping from the screen within the first 30 seconds as Shangela asserts the only references she needs for her prospective job are based upon her socio-political position: “I heard you was hiring… you ain’t gotta interview any of those other chickenheads out there. I got my credentials from the street, baby”.
Like in the drag ball scene that the contemporary US drag scene pulls its cultural references from, “realness” (the ability to blend into the hegemonic cultural norms) is key to survival here: there’s a direct link between the drag and the ability to work “clock the bag, clock the shoes — now punch the clock, it’s time to work”. And work is what Shangela is advertising; the video is a constant reiteration that she’s the most employable candidate over all the other queens, priding herself on the very precarity of her working conditions, the “never-off” condition of the creative worker. As she says “No 9 to 5, round-the-clock, overtime / haters cannot touch my drive / references? I’m a pro!” Fuck, this video is amazing.
More than this, Shangela’s status as creative worker must be maintained by an attention to personal branding through identification of her personal brand with consumer brands, despite, like many women in the creative industries, not being remunerated anywhere near enough to afford those goods: “No Kardashian Kollection here! / Donna Karen, Mui Mui, Jimmy Choo rhinestone shoe / looks like a pimp-hoe got her tax return!”. All existence, all identity is the labour that reproduces Shangela’s proletarian condition. Is this not the true condition of the affective labourer? My god!
The fact that this identity is an illusion used to market the creative worker to a prospective employer – the fact that the boss/worker relation is fundamentally unchanged, that Shangela is far from a professional in turns of selling services rather than labour – becomes clear halfway through the video, when the post-production effects, the clothes, the make-up and the ideology is dropped. We all know the classic scenes from cartoons. The coyote reaches a precipice, but it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is nothing beneath it. This is Shangela’s condition: the boss has stopped the music, called time on the illusion that the precarity of affective labour is some form of freedom, and brought in her heavies to remove her from the room. With all workplace solidarity removed, and the worker in the figure of Shangela isolated through the introduction of extreme competition between workers, what opposition can Shangela offer? Nothing but a plaintiff cry to continue identification with her prospective boss. “Put me on top of the pyramid!” she cries, unaware that the only thing that can put her on top of the pyramid is the real movement which abolishes the present state of things (that is to say, communism).
As the video ends we’re reminded that, despite the glamour of ideology, the affective cultural worker is not a privileged worker who has won a degree of freedom, as imagined by her predecessors fighting against work in 1970’s Italy. Instead she is a worker on the edge; her fierce makeup and sickening clothes are just workplace expenses (paid from her own pocket), and precarity remains the proletarian condition. As we fade out, what do we see of the workers’ autonomy? The continued threat of force and physical coercion (“Oh no you ain’t gotta call security on me. I came up the elevator I can go back down the elevator”), intimidation and workplace bullying (“Ok, I know she better stop rolling her eyes at me from behind that cubicle!”) and always-impending poverty (“Err, no, I have a ride home thank you - err, is the bus still running?”).
The drudgery of Dolly’s 9 to 5 routine is now a utopian pipe dream next to Shangela’s totalised, “werq, werq, werq, werq, werq, werq, werq” routine of precarious affective labour. Capital has reacted to the demands of the emergent class subjectivity in the 1960s and ’70s, for an end to the regimented boredom of the production line, for sexual autonomy and self-expression, and has transformed those demands into a new regime of labour more precarious, more profitable and more destructive than ever before. To reproduce our lives we must sell not just our labour but our humanity. And what a way to make a living.
With thanks to Richard John Jones and Seán McGovern
Not been on tumblr much lately cos of being at work all the time, but this seemed worth sharing. As it happens, I was just listening to that Le Tigre song immediately after leaving work today anyway.
Today’s Novara on Thatcher’s death was an interesting assessment of her legacy. Here are a few of my own brief theses on Thatcher’s death and celebrations, loosely based on the themes in the show.
1) “She may be dead, but her legacy continues”. No one is so stupid to believe otherwise. Ignorance of this is not the reason people celebrated her death, was never the reason people planned the celebration her death. In the conservative historian E. Kantorowicz’s tome, The King’s Two Bodies, he explores how the medieval sovereigns of Europe were invested with both a body corporeal- the shitting breathing bit- and a body mystic - the actual concept of sovereignty itself, that includes the realm and its holy order. Going much further here is going to take me off track, but my point is this: it is a long-established precedent to embody a conceptual framework in a person, with complete appreciation for the artificiality of doing so. Thatchers death is important precisely because it prefigures the death yet to come; the death of neoliberal economics itself.
2) Must we show respect for the dead?
Thatcher never afforded her enemies the same respect. Moreover, her class, her party, has never afforded the poor that respect. From Pinochet to Hillsborough, this bears repeating. Those who accuse ‘fellow leftists’ of flippancy or lack of solemnity, are themselves the least serious of all, because they are clearly incapable of taking seriously the material impact of neoliberalism, and seeing therein the cause of our rejoicing.
3) This is a moment to make a break, to disrupt the solemn atmosphere of statesmanlike economic sycophancy.We were expected to don our rictus grins for the Royal Wedding, The Olympics, and now expected to make the national switch to mourning. In a quotidian sense, we are constantly implored to produce the right affect at the right moment, in the intensively affective labour of post-industrial economy. Our affect will never be appropriate under capitalism. We should embrace the anomic qualities of this moment: ’The left’, so often accused of ‘joylessness’ is now, suddenly, too joyful.
4) ‘The left’ is not celebrating because ‘it was beaten’. We are celebrating because we are still here. We have survived. As long as we survive there is a chance for revenge, the revenge of actually building the world we want to see.
Went to a straight-edge show today. I kind of expect all hardcore gigs to have more or less the same people at them, but apparently there’s a whole secret scene of wholesome sober kids who only come out when straight-edge bands play. Was pretty weird. If you’re not so cripplingly neurotic that you need at least three pints before you can have even a minor social interaction without being gripped by intense anxiety and awkwardness, then who the fuck are you and what are you doing in my scene?
Certain of our esteemed betters who scrape their living together in disreputable papers telling us all what we should think have of late become obsessed – haunted – by the spectre of the mob, which has emerged from the shadowy recesses of the internet to disagree with them. A certain distressed moaning about civility and manners follows shortly on the heels of a great and low groan about people having the temerity to answer back. Mob! Mob! A great and unwieldy mass of disagreement and incivility which lends some joy to an inspection of the torrent of daily published pabulum – a grim and low gruel in whose greasy depths float lumps of fourth-hand opinion, undigested chunks of theory and slimy clumps of gratuitous offence.
Mob! You have broken the silent contract in which your gratitude is expected! Grovel in gratitude to those who condescend to write about you! Mob! Do you not know that you are supposed to sit still with lips sewn shut? Mob! Mob! Do not question! Do not speak!
It is a curious term for those who polish their left-wing halos to use. Some citations:
Arch-reactionary and sentimentalist-in-chief Edmund Burke: ‘Lord George Gordon..having..raised a mob (excuse the term, it is still in use here) which pulled down all our prisons.’ (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790)
Affronted 19th century Liberal M.E. Grant Duff: ‘The mob of the great cities..is hostile to us.’ (A Political Survey, 1868)
Joseph Addison, littéraire, with a manicured sneer into a thronging crowd: ‘A cluster of mob, who were making themselves merry with their betters.’ (… Freeholder, 1716)
Indignant Lord Chancellor, Lord Brougham, in horror of the people: ‘I do not mean the populace—the mob: I never have bowed to them.’ (Speeches, 1838)
A wheezing nightmare in the bastion of bourgeois taste, Harper’s Magazine, in this our contemporary age: ’One ghost is terror of a self-aware, politicized proletariat—the age-old mugwumpish fear that the mob may organize to destroy the last fragile vestiges of civilized life.’ (Dec., 1993)
Of course, the word itself means simply, or historically, people in movement – people (who are inconvenient and have tongues in their mouths, and who, worse, use them to answer) risen from passivity. An imperfect audience. Mobile. Indeed:
The snorting fear of a 1697 aristocrat: ‘Ye mobele was very rud to ye Dutch Imbasidor & his wife.’ (Memoirs of the Verney family from the Restoration to the Revolution 1660-1696, )
In 1714, an issue of the Spectator tantalises with ambiguity, but our fervent hope is that they were the sort of clubs one goes armed with: ‘ The Mobile were very sarcastick with their Clubs.’ (Nov., 1714)
Chambers in 1857 looks down its nose to tell us, thus: ‘In these agitations, the populace of London was particularly active; and it was at this period that the term mob was first used. The word was an abbreviation of mobile vulgus, a phrase signifying ‘the unsteady vulgar’.’
Ah, the UNSTEADY VULGAR. And this is their name for the speaking crowd: unpossessed of the clear light of steady reason, the celestial eyrie of the columnist, giddy in vulgarity! Ungrateful!
To leave the best word till last, and spoken with the tremulous fear and jowled outrage only a lawyer can muster:
Roger North flushes from the page in distemper: ‘This Mob-assembly was drawn together for the Purpose of Terror.’ (Examen, 1740)
During World War Two, most armies trained sharp birds to fly into opposing army guy’s eyes. Any country’s army that didn’t teach birds to do that was considered weak and boring. Humming birds were extinct for a long time after the war until a scientist reinvented them.
Some armies taught birds to lay poison eggs. Then they would teach the birds to make their nests with colorful scraps of paper so that the bad guys could easily find them and steal the eggs and cook them and eat them and die. This was called “chemical warfare” and it is now illegal everywhere because it’s just too mean to trick a guy into eating a poisoned egg.
I took a shit in my grandma’s cat’s litterbox when I was like 13 and my whole family was wilding out trying to figure out why the cat took such a huge dump. Then they took her to the vet and we found out she has feline HIV so in a way, I helped her.
“In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but the neither will I… And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness either. But as long as I know there’s a pretty good chance I can get my hands on one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots.”—Hunter S. Thompson, Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘76: Third-Rate Romance, Low-Rent Rendezvous
Last night when I was out I found someone had done some graffiti in the toilets saying “DOGS RULE” and my first reaction was that I had to cover it up immediately in pretty much the same way I would have reacted to racist graffiti. No platform for canine supremacists.
“Just because two people are capable of deeply hurting each other over and over again does not make them passionate, star-crossed lovers. It makes them two people who keep doing terrible things to each other. Someone’s ability to make you completely and utterly soul-crushingly miserable does not mean they are a soul mate with some deep insight into your psyche. They are just someone who is really good at making you unhappy.”—Andrea Greb, You Are Not Blair Waldorf (via maddierose)
“To be born, a woman has to be born within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men. The social presence of women is developed as a result of their ingenuity in living under such tutelage within such a limited space. But this has been at the cost of a woman’s self being split into two. A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman. She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another….One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object — and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”—
This reminds me of some really good stuff Anwyn Crawford wrote about the problems of basing your politics around things like “visibility” and “representation”. Unfortunately that stuff is hard to find now cos Crawford took almost all of her writing off the internet. I think this quote has something to say about why you would do that.
“So much trouble is created by a completely uncritical faith. In even really beautiful myths, the underdog can triumph. Certainly that’s true sometimes, but to tell the story where the underdog is the victor, sometimes you exclude other kinds of structural injustices, or you put all the emphasis on the individual and you’re not really looking at the forces that create underdogs. So I guess that’s a way of saying thank goodness we have historians and official histories, but you know, definitely it’s good to kind of look around corners and see who’s excluded or omitted. And I’m pretty pessimistic that you could ever tell a complete story. People are always operating in a blind spot. It’s a pretty partial vision that we have of our own motivations.”—Karen Russell (via nogreatillusion)