Flight Papers

feminism and creativity, art, madness, and play

Archive for November, 2008

Spiritual journeys are marked by suffering. Other people’s, primarily.

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

This morning, they had Michael Lewis on, talking about the long-term effects of Wall Street, as it continues to gently slide into the sewer (or into, uh, some deeper sewer). He mentioned, amongst other things, that the utterly-ridiculous salaries and bonuses that once characterized Wall Street are probably at an end. He also thinks that the ridiculousness of Wall Street bled into ridiculousness in upper management everywhere, leading to CEOs regularly drawing paychecks and bonuses in the range of tens of million dollars—so that’s probably going to crash pretty hard, too. This is, I think, a little naïve, but he’s the economist. If he’s right, I will regard it as “nice.” It’s impossible to muster too much excitement, though—I expect we will still be living in a world where CEOs draw seven-figure compensation at a minimum, whilst their line workers draw minimum wage, and their slaves draw, perhaps, barely enough to minimally survive (unless the harsh realities of the market force their wages down, of course).

And then there’s this,

A few months ago, Lewis visited Princeton University, his alma mater, “to find out what the kids who were going to be investment bankers were now going to do with their lives.” He says he was “so frustrated with how unimaginative young people had become in choosing their path in life that I thought that someone should establish a kind of ‘Scared Straight’ program for Ivy League students.” He’d require them to spend a week with a hedge fund manager in Greenwich, Conn., “just to see how miserable” they’d be after 20 years.

The plunging market has changed many of their plans, Lewis says. “The kids … who thought they were going to be financiers are having to rethink the premise, and that’s a very good thing.” ‘Liar’s Poker’ Author Sees Upside To Market Crash, NPR

So, one of the keen benefits of a global market crash—you know, the thing that’s leaving some people struggling, and lots of people dead—is that extremely privileged white people will really have the opportunity to find themselves.

The Monster’s Shape.

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Sometimes, the patriarchy is a thunderstorm. And sometimes, it’s billions of men spitting on you. It is important to know the shape of the monster before attempting to murder it.

An explanation.

Lisa recently posted an essay, “Don’t Like Feminists? Stop Helping Create Them”. It’s a little jarring to read an essay framed as, “here’s how to unmake feminism,”—not “white feminism,” or “western feminism,” or that statement phrased in any way as a critique of certain movements. Instead, simply, “how do you dismantle this social justice movement, in its entirety, and all the institutions it has inspired, and how once it is dead do you keep it in the ground?”

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Context-sensitive advertising.

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Scene: the marketing department.

“We should like to advertise our fine retail establishment on the Google!”

“But we sell so many different products! How will we ever register enough ads to cover everything a potential customer could be searching for?”

“A solution! Google will let us advertise with a template that includes anything a user might search for! Surely, then, whatever someone is trying to buy—be it an object, idea, or person—they will be directed to our store!”

“Brilliant! Nothing could possibly go wrong.”

Thank you.

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Thank you for your ignorance. Thank you for your apathy.

Thank you for walking on our bodies until we join the sidewalk; thank you for barely noticing. Thank you for shedding a small tear for the tragedy that inevitably ends our lives, and thank you for so efficiently erasing our names and our stories thereafter.

Thank you for letting our families know what manner of things we are. Thank you for helping them let go of us. Thank you for helping them push us into the street. Thank you for helping them kill us. Thank you for helping them forget us.

Thank you for the names you have given us: Abomination. Grotesque. Thank you for telling us these names, on our streets and in our homes. Thank you for helping us erase whatever other names we might have had or foolishly thought we wanted. Thank you for giving us these to take their place: Freak. Monster.

Thank you for helping us realize the value of our lives—how painful they must be, how pathetic. Thank you for helping so many of us find the courage to cut open our own throats.

Thank you for killing us.

Thank you for stabbing us. Thank you for bashing in our skulls, for putting bullets into our organs, for beating us until we could no longer remember how to breathe. Thank you for drowning us in water and in the liquid parts of our own bodies. Thank you for your remarkable efficiency, that the dead should be so many that no single one of us could remember them all.

Thank you for all you have done for us.

Had you done otherwise, we should not have learned what manner of creatures you are.

Remember.

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Kellie TelesfordGabriela Alejandra AlbornozStacy BrownAdolphus SimmonsAshley SweeneySanesha (Talib) StewartLawrence KingLunaLloyd NixonSilvana BerishaRosa PazosJuan Carlos Aucalle CoronelAngie ZapataSamantha Rangel BrandauNakhia (Nikki) WilliamsRuby MolinaAimee WilcoxsonDuanna JohnsonDilek InceTeish (Moses) CannonAliUnidentified Iraqi WomanUnidentified Iraqi WomanValentina FalcoNakia Ladelle BakerHasan SabehKeittirat LongnawaTatiana (Aldomiro Gomes)Moira DonaireRuby RodriguezErica KeelManuela Di CesareVictoria ArellanoOscar MosquedaStefania CoppiMaribelle ReyesThanawoot WiriyananonSally (Salvador) CamatoyThousands upon thousands whose names we have forgotten.

Things I did not see on TV two days ago.

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

ANDERSON COOPER: Well, we’re here at CNN headquarters, gearing up for a controversial, tight race. Yes, a tight race that could go for days, mired in legal challenges and—what do you mean we just called five states?

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I voted for Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemenete.

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

I had the little square next to Obama / Biden filled in on my sample ballot. And I meant to go and fill it in on the real thing, I really did. And when the time came to copy that square to the real ballot, I absolutely could not do it.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Obama saying, “Well, you know, we might have to go all Nixon on Pakistan, at some point. Or maybe Iran.”

I remembered watching Jerimiah Wright’s sermons, and Obama saying, “Well, you know, he’s a dangerously unbalanced and very, very wrong man, but he’s part of my family.” While I’m thinking, “But he’s right. He’s right, and you’re too chickenshit to admit it.”

I couldn’t get Joe Biden’s smirking face out of my head as he said, “No, I don’t think gay people are really people.”

And I thought of McKinney, saying openly that we, the United States, cause enormous harm in this world, and that this situation? It can’t go on.

So I neatly filled in the other box. When the kids I’m never having ask me if I voted for the first black president, I’ll tell them, no, I voted for the black woman and the Latina activist running against him.

(I had the same problem with Mark Udall, incidentally. I wonder how many votes he lost by getting on NPR and saying he, too, thinks the state ought to respect religious traditions and keep them homos in the closet.)

I understand that there’s danger in looking for “perfection” over practical concerns over who can actually get elected. But voting is not a practical thing. Your vote, and mine, and everyone else’s, even in the most fair elections imaginable, are all statistically indistinguishable from zero. We’re voting for other reasons—because it makes us feel good, because we feel like it’s necessary to avoid some kind of hypocrisy, to make a statement, or because maintaining a personal illusion of participation is important. There are lots more. And given that, it doesn’t make sense—for me, with my reasons—to fill in the box next to a candidate I don’t particularly like because of irrelevant practical concerns.