Everybody too intransigent. Everybody too mean.
Appreciation is the sacrament.
You have to write your own history, nobody’s going to do it for you.
Above all, you must illumine your own soul with its profundities and its shallows, and its vanities and its generosities, and say what your beauty means to you or your plainness and what is your relation to the ever-changing and turning world of gloves and shoes and stuffs swaying up and down among the faint scents that come through chemists’ bottles down arcades of dress materials over a floor of pseudo-marble.
–Virgina Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
A meeting held a long time ago, put together by the Mattachine Society, had the distinction of being among the first times homosexual literature was publicly and sympathetically discussed. Held in 1952 or 1953, the meeting focused on the topic, “What is the greatest problem facing the homosexual novelist at this time?”
In 1952 they had a problem finding homosexual novelists who would indeed admit that they were gay. Sanford Friedman was one of the writers who agreed to appear. Another of the volunteers was Paul Goodman.
The meeting began, and the moderator posed the question, “What do you feel is the biggest problem facing the homosexual writer today?” He turned to Goodman. “Mr. Goodman, what do you have to say?”
Goodman answered, “I believe the biggest problem facing the homosexual novelist today is the hydrogen bomb.”
–Samuel R. Delaney, “Panel: Politics of Identity,” in Anne Waldman and Lisa Birman, Civil Disobediences: Poetics and Politics in Action
“Sanders and Warren are both fighting against the neoliberal policies of austerity. They are being attacked by Wall Street, the media, and the Democratic Party leadership. Rather than allow them to suffer death by a thousand cuts, let’s call for them to combine their efforts in an act of political jiujitsu. In this case 1+1 does not equal 2, but something much greater and potentially revolutionary. Sanders + Warren will provide the leadership we desperately need.”
Please check out my friend Andrew Wimmer’s site, and pass along to any who may be interested.
Or let me tell you another story I heard about twenty years ago from a black civil rights activist who came up to study at Harvard Law School-it kind of illustrates some of the other pressures that are around. This guy gave a talk in which he described how the kids starting off at Harvard Law School come in with long hair and backpacks and social ideals, they’re all going to go into public service law to change the world and so on–that’s the first year. Around springtime, the recruiters come for the cushy summer jobs in the Wall Street law firms, and these students figure, “What the heck, I can put on a tie and a jacket and shave for one day, just because I need that money and why shouldn’t I have it?” So they put on the tie and the jacket for that one day, and they get the job, and then they go off for the summer and when they come back in the fall, it’s ties, and jackets, and obedience, a shift of ideology. Sometimes it takes two years.
Well, obviously he was over-drawing the point-but those sorts of factors also are very influential. I mean, I’ve felt it all my life: it’s extremely easy to be sucked into the dominant culture, it can be very appealing. There are alot of rewards. And what’s more, the people you meet don’t look like bad people–you don’t want to sit there and insult them. Maybe they’re perfectly nice people. So you try to be friends, maybe you even are friends. Well, you begin to conform, you begin to adapt, you begin to smooth off the harsher edges–and pretty soon it’s just happened, it kind of seeps in. And education at a place like Harvard is largely geared to that, to a remarkable extent in fact.
And there are many other subtle mechanisms which contribute to ideological control as well, of course-including just the fact that the universities support and encourage people to occupy themselves with irrelevant and innocuous work.
–Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power, p. 239
Not long after I came to the United States [later 1948], I began to work for the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) near New York’s City Hall and later in the agency’s shelter on West 103rd Street. The agency brought to the U. S. displaced persons who had been living in displaced persons camps in Germany since the end of World War II. I had daily contact with these persons. With every new boatload of people arriving, I scanned their faces, hoping to find my parents among them. I inquired of them where, in what camp, they had been during the war, hoping someone would be able to provide some information about my parents. None could.
Ethel instructed me in my duties. Her response to my repeated suggestion that we go to lunch together was always, “No.” Summoning up a lot of courage, I asked her why she did not want to go out to lunch with me. “Don’t you know we cannot go to lunch together,” she said. “Why not?” I asked. She replied: “I cannot eat in the places where you can and I am sure you would not want to eat where I eat.” I failed to understand until she explained: “Negroes are not allowed to eat in restaurants frequented by whites.” I was shocked, incredulous. After all, President Lincoln had freed the slaves. That is what I read in history books. I thought therefore there was no more discrimination. This incident served as the catalyst for my involvement in the civil rights movement, always as a protestor and later, also, professionally.
“Dying was a great career move for him.”
—Kevin Bazzana, Wondrous Strange:
The Life and Art of Glenn Gould
I believe in God—Bach’s God.
Cami gave me permission to share this essay.
I remember first becoming interested in photography a little over 10 years ago. At first, photography was simply a way to capture moments of family and friends, but over the years it has morphed into much more than that. Photography has changed the way in which I engage with the world. It has forced me to wrestle with ethical questions. It has propelled me to pursue adventure and experience. I now understand photography as a form of creative expression, a catalyst for social change, and a deeply spiritual practice. Through photography, I can be connected to the past, grounded in the present moment, and aware of the future all at the same time.
My Grandpa Harry gave me my first digital camera back before smart phones and selfies. I never saw him that often growing up, maybe a handful of times throughout a year. He lived alone with his dog Co-Co three hours away in northern Wisconsin and was generally a closed-off person (read: alcoholic with PTSD). On holidays and my birthday he would send me a card with Kodak prints of Co-Co out swimming in the river and a black sharpie arrow pointing to where her dot of a head was bobbing above the water. “Co-Co,” he would write, making sure I didn’t mistake her for a log. Sometimes he would send pictures of roadkill he found on the back country roads of Wausau while roaming around on his scooter. He hardly ever responded to letters I would write or expanded on more than the seasonal sentiment in cards, but he always included pictures. It didn’t matter that these pictures were kind of weird and sometimes gross. He captured what he found interesting and meaningful, and that’s all that really mattered. My freshman year of college, my Grandpa Harry died from lung cancer and even though he had been living much closer for about two years prior to his death, I still didn’t feel like I really knew him. Photography has been the way I continue to reflect on him and our relationship even after all these years. Whenever I talk about photography, I have to talk about Grandpa Harry because he was intertwined in the beginnings of my passion for it. He gifted me both with my first equipment and an example of the freedom to notice what you notice without judgement. Read the rest of this entry »