On Marriage???

Marriage is like the process of learning to swim. It doesn’t matter how big or fancy your pool is, just like it doesn’t matter how good your husband is. If you don’t know how to swim, you will drown in any case, and someone else who knows how to swim will get to enjoy the pool.

-Ming Li in Jiayang Fan’s article “The Third Person” from the 27 June 2017 issue of The New Yorker

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On Responsibility

Anyone who’s sure of themselves, of their morals and intentions, is not truly ethical, is not struggling heroically with the mandate of genuine responsibility. It is impossible ever to be fully responsible because you are never done being responsible or never responsible enough–you’ve never given or offered or done enough for those suffering, for the poor, the hugry. That’s a law shared by Dostoyevsky, Levinas, and Derrida: one never meets one’s responsibility quota, which is set at an infinite bar (hence the figure of Christ, our infinite creditor).

-Avital Ronell, Examined Life: Meaning

On Grief

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “‘healing.’ A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to ‘get through it,’ rise to the occasion, exhibit the ‘strength’ that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves for the moment: will I be able to greet people will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know afraid of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.

— Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

22:56 pst

Sort of in a melancholy mood. One of those melancholy moods in which you still feel like making plans with everyone you know. Nah, an urge to do so. And becoming inconsolable at understanding that it is simply impossible. A mood in which you’re both dreading and impatient for the next day to arrive with its bundle of new opportunities for passing passersby and producing productivity. Some daylight again at last to simulate the conditions around walking into the same coffee shop you walked into (but didn’t get anything) during the day, possibly more so because tomorrow’s obligations will make it impossible for you to go do it again in person. 

You know, the desire to constantly be somewhere else, and so also a desire for daylight when you dread waiting. A painfully commonplace desire with a necessary romantic (and expensive) flair.

Beloved or Loved

It’s a funny thing about the modern world. You hear girls in the toilets of clubs saying, “Yeah, he fucked off and left me. He didn’t love me. He just couldn’t deal with love. He was too fucked up to know how to love me.” Now, how did that happen? What was it about this unlovable century that convinced us we were, despite everything, eminently lovable as a people, as a species? What made us think that anyone who fails to love us is damaged, lacking, malfunctioning in some way? And particularly if they replace us with a god, or a weeping madonna, or the face of Christ in a ciabatta roll–then we call them crazy. Deluded. Regressive. We are so convinced of the goodness of ourselves, and the goodness of our love, we cannot bear to believe that there might be something more worthy of love than us, more worthy of worship. Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.

— Zadie Smith, White Teeth

 

 

But Is It Just a Tweet?

20:58 PST 

Just few days before the inauguration, the future president of the United States has publicly called out a major leader in the Civil Rights Movement and trivialized his achievements in his Tweet.

“Why are you so worked up? It’s just a Tweet.”

But that’s exactly it! That is what is all the more infuriating about this situation.

Let me explain.

John Lewis played a major role during the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s. He once chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee which organized countless peaceful protests of the likes of sit-in’s and freedom rides. He marched on the front lines in Selma, Al. with MLK, jr, and has scars on his scalp to prove it. He endured violent backlash all while remaining committed to his movement’s philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience. His role in the movement eventually led to the right for all American citizens to vote. He continues to work for civic rights and public safety as a Georgia congressman, and has recently helped lead a 26-hour sit-in for gun safety legislation in Congress after the mass shooting in Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fl. this past year. As I see it, there is no justification for slighting his role in the Civil Rights Movement and his continued role in Congress. And it is especially not acceptable in something as “easy” and “quick” and “convenient” and likely to have been posted as an afterthought in the form of a Tweet.

So yes, I am quite offended that it only took a little twiddling of thumbs, most likely on their way between meetings, in the dressing room, or on the toilet (who knows!), to undermine another person’s achievements. A little something for the internet trolls to eat up, and most dangerously, believe.

I was especially irked when a family member on Facebook shared this post from Dinesh D’Souza’s Facebook page.

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Two things here. One is that D’Souza refuses to acknowledge Lewis’ contribution to the Civil Rights Movement because Lewis is affiliated with the opposing political party, as if Lewis’ track record is up for interpretation, like it is part a collection of trendy items that eventually go obsolete with time, and not a simple fact in recorded history. Second, he ironically defends that Fredrick Douglass deserves more credit because he is a fellow Republican. Ironic, because while Douglass is indeed an admirable figure, his affiliation with the Republican party had drastically different policy stances than ones associated with the Republican party as we know it today.

It is no surprise that Douglass is a Republican, and this identification should not set him apart from other African Americans who did a great civic service to our country. Most African Americans of his day would have been Republican, too, only most of them weren’t allowed to vote or hold office because of the elaborate means of voter suppression following Emancipation and the ratification of the 15th Amendment that continued for another 100 years, until  John Lewis and his contemporaries finally pushed the Voter Rights Act through Congress. During Douglass’ time, contemporaneous with the Civil War and the Reconstruction, the party line was drawn according to pro- and anti-secessionist and pro- and anti-slavery sentiments and policies. Democrats back then largely sympathized with the secession campaign and embraced for flagrantly racist politics for the sake of protecting  states’ rights and “economic” self-interests. It wasn’t until the monumental financial crisis of the 1930’s that the Republicans put their foot down to oppose FDR’s New Deal solution in fear of excessive involvement and power on the part of the federal government. Since then, the Republican platform has been consistently rooted in minimizing the role of the federal government, which explains (but does not justify, in my opinion) their positions against the Affordable Care Act and federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

TL;DR – D’Souza’s attempt to slight Lewis’ work in comparison to Douglass’ is unfounded because Lewis and his friends were essentially the surgeons who cut the umbilical cord of, and thus finalized the birth of, American civil liberty as we know it today. American civil liberty that Douglass helped conceive and others after him had helped gestate from the earlier days of the Reconstruction. In this way, Douglass’ ideals were finally born to thrive autonomously from the institutions that they were once beholden to for a very long time. Their party identification may be different in name but their political ideologies are fundamentally connected as a child is to his mother.

But where was I?

Oh yes, the family member. The Facebook post. The irk.

I admit, I made the mistake of writing a rather long comment on her post that more or less summarized the above sentiment. She responded not to my comment, but by telling me the post was merely a “meme”, implying there was no need for me to take it so seriously.

“Why are you so worked up? It’s just a meme.”

Okay, first of all, it is not a meme. This BETTER not be a meme, because memes are what are in the IV bags I hope I will one day subsist on as I wait out my declining years to see the day America becoming little less petty. Thankfully for future in-hospice me, this is a not a meme. It is a sincere post someone actually made that reflects his real political opinion so that he could influence others to be on board with his ignorance and pettiness. To deny D’Souza’s sincerity is to ignore the problem and let it fatten up until it becomes even messier to remove. And thus it will remain, expanding evermore to take up room once occupied by tolerance, justice, and respect.

After all, how can we grow as a country without checking our damaging words, actions, and policies? How can we move on? We move on by acknowledging the wrongs of our past, and we do better. Undermining someone who did dedicate himself to making it better is not a step toward Making America Great Again.

This entire interaction was especially disappointing to me because it showed me just how little we Americans know. The American history that is part of the public school curriculum is already heavily condensed down to white American history. But America has never been fully white in any point of its history. At certain points in its course, people we now recognize as fully white were not considered white and were not treated the same. Nevertheless, there is very little room in schools for African-American, Native-American, Latin-American, Asian-American, and the countless hyphenated American histories that have also shaped America into its current form. I have no solution to this problem yet, nor do I feel it my vocation to come up with one. I just wish people would take care to nuance their political views. To think to look backward as well as forward before side-stepping across the busy cut-throat traffic of ambiguous and questionable news to get to the other side. The other side where the polls and voting booths that determine our collective future are open to them, thanks to people like John Lewis, await with open arms*.

*Yes, voter suppression is still real and well and alive. But I’m drained and must end this post on a positive note, not for your sake but for mine.