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Self in Stasis
Reinvention gets easier over time.
“We think there must be an analogy or identification between the book and the author. But you can be sure there is an immense difference between the author and the person who wrote; and if you were to meet that person, it would be someone else.”
— Hélène Cixous, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing
I have been looking at the trees from my window at night through binoculars. This sounds like something someone strange would do. Scanning so much darkness and then the blinding flash of branches encased in ice limned by the harsh white glare of the official lights in the parking lot of the government building. I could do it over and over and never get tired.
It’s not that depressives make great writers, just that they have so much practice in coming up for air and seizing the chance to say one true thing before it all dissolves again into the gluey mass of living.
I’ve been seeing more people talking about how different we will all be from the people we were when we went into lockdown last year. But really, only some of us will, those of us who took pains to change our lives to care for others. I both detest and am envious of the people I walk by in the sheltered heated outdoor dining patios for their tenacity in clinging to a few bright things that brought them joy, though I wonder how happy they really are sitting there freezing their asses off.
This isn’t as bleak as it sounds. Yesterday as temperatures warmed I watched the ice drop and shatter in our backyard. It was a sonically delicious destruction. I look at photos of myself from even just 2 years ago and I think how different I think and feel about myself now. I think this most often about transitioning, and how I often marvel at my 20-year-old self who found the moxie to take that initial jump and asked to be recognized as something totally new. I don’t think I could do that now, but upon reflecting, I don’t think I would have to. Once you’ve done that once, it sets a sort of precedent for future changes, establishes the self not as identity, but nothing more than stasis which takes just a little energy to be pushed in one direction or another.
What I’m Reading
A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington. A much needed reframing of pollution discourse as not just a driver of increased rates of illness among Black children and families, but also one of the main factors that hinders intellectual development. Washington provides a thorough overview (probably even more in-depth than she needed to for this book, but it’s a valuable summary) of the racist and eugenicist “academics” who have claimed disparities in IQ between races is innate and unchangeable, as opposed to tied to the conditions under which one lives. I had to wait forever to get this from the library, and I understand why now — some of the best science reporting I’ve read in a long time.
I haven’t been able to keep up with many things lately. One of those is the resource list that usually comes at the end of this newsletter.Usually it’s an effortless thing, the result of two weeks of just existing on the internet and seeing many cool opportunities pass me by that I’ll never have the time or energy to apply for, but someone should, and so I collect them.
But lately I’ve been going more inward, and I haven’t been spending as much time scrolling for links. If this was an important list to you, I’m sorry, and I hope to bring this back in the future.
My book A Natural History of Transition, is available to preorder through Metonymy Press.
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