Flight Papers

feminism and creativity, art, madness, and play

Archive for April, 2008

Love is the only true radicalizing force.

Monday, April 28th, 2008

The question is: how to love?

You don’t know a thing unless you are perceiving it. This isn’t an epistemological statement—you are not meant to take this and run round-and-round in the solipsist death spiral. “My perceptions are necessarily imperfect,” you are not supposed to say, “ergo I cannot know anything.”

This is a statement about all those things that you actually do know, and act on, and use to make your self. It is a fact about those things.

When someone asks, “do you love me?” and you do, you don’t say, “I believe so.” Love isn’t a thing you believe, so it’s never a thing whose existence you can assert or prove. Love is a verb. It is a thing we do. It is a thing we have to build every day, with our words and with our tongues. It is not an easy thing, and it is fragile. This fragility is not the opposite of strength; like all fragile things, love is unbelievably strong.

I have hurt everyone I loved, some way, some how. And I have been hurt by them. These are the best relationships, the absolute strongest ones I hold. The love there is palpable, perceived, known.

You will hurt people; you will be hurt. I have hurt people; I have been hurt; I have hurt myself. These are words to hold onto, because without exception they are true.


Pause for a moment. Enter this place: You’re sitting in a stranger’s living room. You don’t know anyone else there, and they’re talking, and you can’t understand their words. You were not invited here—perhaps you are a ghost. The question is: what do you do?

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Why Dicebox makes me happy

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Because I can look at the characters say, “wow. my body actually kinda looks like that.” (this link contains nekkid.)

That page blew my mind, actually.

Obviously, I was aware that comic art is… not exactly realistic. Not for men, but especially-omg-holycrap not for women. But you kinda get used to it. It knew that the art was depicting this skewed fantasy, but the full implications of that didn’t really hit me in a visceral way until I felt how mind-blowingly refreshing it was to see women’s bodies depicted in all their squishy glory. That’s when I really fully internalized what I, we, practically a whole medium is still missing out on.

(There are, of course, lots of other beautiful reasons to love Dicebox. If you don’t know what yours are, you should really get on that.)

Writing on the skin, and below.

Monday, April 21st, 2008

I have some experience with rejecting self-taken identity. I have some experience with leaving communities. I have some experience with realizing that a thing you thought was good—and maybe it once was—is no longer a thing you can be part of.

I get this. In a really fundamental way. It is catastrophic to me that this shit happens, that it has to happen in this way, with so much damage, but it does. Communities become damaged; masks no longer fit. The preceding trauma looks like the cause, but it isn’t. It isn’t even the last straw. It’s more the light that flips on and shows you that the thing you thought was a camel’s back isn’t, and the thing you thought you were dealing with isn’t what you were dealing with at all.

I am a feminist. Still now, and hopefully always. But feminism is plural and feminism is complex, and like anything made of people, feminism can be fucked up. The flip side of your movement doesn’t exist is that, actually, your movement does exist, and it has the boundaries that you set for it and it includes the people that you choose to include. There is no feminist movement because there are many feminist movements.

My feminism is exclusive. It’s exclusive of hate, it’s exclusive of violence, and it’s fundamentally exclusive of anyone who isn’t capable of compassion in the most literal sense—com-passion. Feeling together. My feminism is built by beautiful women, so many, whose writing gives shape to monsters whose faces we study so that we can stab them. My feminism is built by women who build movements and cities in the shadows of these creatures, who build spaces of love with their hands and their tongues. (And these spaces, though they are not always built for me, radiate warmth to me, because that is what they are.) The words of these women are my words; their monsters, my monsters.

My feminism understands that you don’t build these cities or slay these dragons one-at-a-time. That you can’t. That it is, in fact, metaphysically impossible to unmake any oppression without dealing with the violence of gender, and it is just as impossible to unmake gendered violence without dealing with all oppression.

Maybe it’s small. Maybe it’s not a thing shared by many other people; maybe it’s not a thing many other people want to share. Maybe that thing that other people call feminism is not my feminism. Maybe some of the very people building my feminism can’t call themselves feminists (which, by the by? fucked up.) But this thing that is my feminism? In the end, I kinda love it. It’s a part of me (though, despite all the possessives, it isn’t just mine). I want to build it. I want to watch it grow. I want to see the beautiful thing it is going to become. That’s the feminism I know.

Bring on the hordes.

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

(Crossposted on Punk Ass Blog. I wish I could unify comments sections. Ah, well. Wordpress 2.6 or something.)

Yesterday’s Talk of the Nation had Roger Mudd and Bob Schaffer, both former reporters at the CBS news bureau, reminiscing about their days working at that company. The discussion turned pretty quickly to how the the world is changing, how television newscasts are aimed more and more transparently at entertainment over information, and how Americans are more concerned with American Idol than with Real Issues.

And this matters, right? I’m about to dismiss it pretty completely, but let’s just appreciate for a moment that the corporate monoculture sold by the big networks, studios, and labels is still massively influential as to what and how people in the west think. Simon Cowell can say a sentence—basically any sentence—and more Americans will immediately believe him than know who Hosni Mubarak is. That’s relevant. And more subtly, too: Randall Munroe focused on top-20 Hollywood movies in his recent look at the portrayal of women heroes (summary: whowhat kind of heroes now? how silly), and his reason for doing so was that in a very real way, these images are our culture. There are many reasons to critique it, and many, many critiques to be had.

But still, when Bob Schaffer gets up on Talk of the Nation and says, “Thirty years ago, the combined audience of the three network newscasts was fifty-two million. Today, it is twenty-seven million. Today, American Idol has an audience of twenty-seven million,” truly, I struggle to care.

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Punkass Blogging

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

I am blogging over at Punkass Blog now! Don’t worry (in case the death of Flight Papers would cause you… worry) I’m definitely still going to be blogging here. There’ll probably be some division—most of what I put on Punkass I’ll probably crosspost here, but I’ll probably also post more involved design and theory stuff that might not connect to Punkass readers here. Or maybe it’ll go the other way. Or maybe everything will be crossposted. Who knows! It’s a slightly scary thing, being invited to blog with a bunch of people where more people are reading, and I’m really excited. Wish me luck ‘n’ stuff!

Twilight Thoughts.

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

I’m working up some more substantial posts on radicalism. And it’s CU’s Islam Awareness Week next week (is it just me, or does that name seem… not right? Don’t we usually have awareness weeks for, y’know, problems?) so I’ll have some stuff to blog about that when it comes up.

But first, let’s play some more.

Twilight is a game where you play urban legends. Bloody Mary, the Blue Woman, Santa Muerte, Jesus. You take on the roles of these people and their stories. The story takes place in the City.

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It’s funny.

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

It’s funny how few words are required to radically change a dynamic.

Cab driver: “Do you want to touch my dick?”

I’m fine. I left, dropping money and saying that no, I like girls.

But I am glad, at the moment, that I live in a concrete box.

The House.

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Okay! Now for something different. Here’s a game hack I’ve been working on. Comments are welcome. It’s a hack on a board game—Betrayal at House on the Hill. The original game has some role-playing elements; this enhances them somewhat.

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But please, protect us from the terrorists.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Fifty-five people died today, trying to immigrate from war-torn Myanmar into Thailand. Any reasonable person would consider anyone trying to get out of Myanmar a refugee, at this point, but that was, I suspect, hardly a relevant consideration for them. They wanted out, and taking what they felt was the best course of action led to them suffocating to death in a supply container.

Fifty-five people*. Think about that.

And just for a second, try to forget the politics of us and them. Try to forget the narrative that says they knew they were taking their lives into their own hands; try to forget the world in which they are criminals. They were doing what they thought was best for them and their families. They were trying to survive.

And then, of course, remember that they were evil people. I mean, they were breaking the law! They knew such immigration was illegal, but they did it anyway. Not out of necessity, surely, nor out of a sense that this was the best thing for them to do. We have to keep out the brown-skins, you understand. They are different from us in a categorical way. In their shoes, would not have made such a silly mistake; in their place, we would still be alive, because we are clearly much smarter than they were.

At work, we’re putting together a big map of all the installations of our exhibit. The director wants a big world map to convey an “international feel,” though the vast majority of the installations are in the U.S. He wants a global map, a political map, with big, thick borders between all the countries.

Because that, obviously, conveys a feeling of “internationalness.”

And I suppose it does. The issue, of course, is the big honking national in “international.” The issue is that when we’re clinically talking about “border control” and “immigration control,” and even “outsourcing” and various kinds of protectionism, we are fundamentally denying that the people over there are not so different from the people in here, and no less deserving of our compassion, whatever we may’ve been led to believe.

“The people said they tried to bang on the walls of the container to tell the driver they were dying, but he told them to shut up as police would hear them when they crossed through checkpoints inside Thailand,” he said.

The 46 people who survived the ordeal without injury have been arrested[.]

* — The SMH article I’m linking says fifty-four; I just heard on the BBC fifty-five. The BBC’s article isn’t up on the web just yet.

Well, that was immensely-surprising in a not particularly surprising way.

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

In other news, the Daily Mail is reporting that Gok Wan, host of the UK’s “How to Look Good Naked,” seems to not actually like women.

Let me just take a moment to be not-shocked that the host of How to Look Good (according to patriarchal society) Naked (so as to arouse your male, heterosexual partner) isn’t the strongest ally in the universe.

(And yes, I know there are positive aspects of the show, it’s not all one-sided, it does seem to make a lot of the contestants feel and thus be more confident, and I know that we can’t separate out our desire for ourselves from society’s desires for us, entirely.)