Monthly Archives: August 2013



We started by attempting to make a map of our affinities. We started with a large sheet of paper and then by drawing a dot at the center of the sheet and, next to it, writing the name A. And from that we drew six lines outward and made six dots and named these dots Z and J and E and T and K and M and from each of these new dots we drew lines outward to other dots and some of these new dots also had lines connecting them and some of these lines intersected and some of these lines arrived at the same points at the same time and some of them arrived at the same point but at different times and we were unsure of how to indicate these differences on a two-dimensional surface like paper and so we decided to let time just collapse, for now.

After we had drawn this map of our sexual affinities, one of us said it might be interesting to draw another map. Maybe a map of who-published-whom or a map of who-had-been-arrested-with-whom or a map of who-had-lived-with-whom-and-maybe-where. And one of us said Do we have a different color pen? And one of us said I can’t find one they’re all black. And so we overlaid one map onto the other, differentiating with dotted or dashed or unbroken lines these relations, but not differentiating other things, like time or location, or things like Was it sex or were they just dating, or Whether the publication came before or after the sex or dating and one of us hating that we were making this map and one of us couldn’t understand why one of us hated it and one of us said Who is left out of this map and why? And one of us called it Poetry and one of us said Really? Them? And one of us said Don’t Instagram that shit and one of us laughed and said that the map was funny but Why do you have it tacked up over yr bed that’s just weird.


08.25.2013 / Interview with Juliana Spahr on BEYOND OAKLAND

ES: …[laughter] it would have been like, the interview about um, um, the thing I didn’t go to. So I started, so I decided to interview people about the conversation, in particular, from Beyond Oakland. I like, got dressed and then got to my door, and like, had my backpack on, and then just sort of stared at my door for a long period of time. And then, I was like, I can’t do anything–

JS: Uh huh.

ES: –and then I put my backpack down and got undressed and lay back down on my couch.

JS: Uh huh.

ES: And I–I sort of like, I felt like I had missed it, or this thing that I was actually really curious about. So, I’m going around interviewing people who actually attended, the conversation on Sunday, in particular, um, about what they got out of it.

JS: Uh huh.

ES: So, will you say who you are? And a project you’re working on recently?

JS: Um, I’m Juliana [Spahr], and um, I’m trying to finish a scholarly book on the 1990s.

ES: And you–I’m gonna play dumb for a minute–so you organized, you helped organize the Beyond Oakland–

JS: Uh huh.

ES: –panel? What was the way–what did that come out of? Like, what sort of started your thinking in the line of wanting to organize that event?

JS: Um, well, partially, I think David Buuck probably was the original idea, it was kind of like “Wouldn’t that be nice, to kind of like, bring some people together. And in , personally, in an attempt to maybe keep some of the energy from the [East Bay Poetry] Summit, but also to kind of direct it in some way, like, what might be ways that there could be other sorts of discussion other than the like, sociality that seemed to sort of define the Summit in some way. Um, so I think that was it. And then it just felt like, Oh, it would be an easy thing to do over the summer. So, you know, no big, you know, huge plans for it.

ES: And so you decided to have it. So why the Beyond Oakland?

JS: I think it was just kind of like, bringing people in from outside, who had kind of, um, been doing–had been either involved in various, or had written stuff about various things that had happened kind of around Occupy in the last year. And then to try to look at different locations and how they kind of dealt with some of those issues. And I think also, maybe, to try and attempt to build alliances, which feel really important.

ES: Um. It seemed–so like, from the parts of Beyond Oakland that I did go to, it seemed like each of those people was an activist in their own community, and also a poet, wherever they were from.

JS: Yeah, pretty much. Yeah, I mean, however you define those terms.

ES: And then, and that was one of my questions, was like, um, Are, Where do you see those–I don’t know if this came up in the conversation on Sunday or not, but–Where do those intersections happen? Between sorts of more, like, overtly political actions, or activism, and writing, maybe as activism? Or poetry as militant or insurgent? Do you see those as separate, or?

JS: Um, I see them as at moments overlapping. And they tend to overlap, I think, through sociality more than anything. Um, like, I would be reluctant to say there’s something specific about poetry as a genre, and I might say that there’s something that–One of the things that we saw in the last year was that people were often using the same kind of social networks that they would use around poetry, and were showing up at different sorts of events with those kinds of social formations in tact. Sometimes as poets, but not because they were poets. And so, um, they would always get, um–I have a certain nervousness around the idea that  like, writing the poem is enough, or that the poem has a certain politics. So that would be one of the limits I would want to see.

ES: Can you, um, elaborate a little bit on uh, the use of like, social networks? Do you mean, like, poet bloc? Or like–

JS: Whatever that is–

ES: –Or like, people showing up.

JS: People showing up, together, yeah.

ES: or Facebook.

JS: because they have friends that are poets. Or the poets are friends. Or like, you bring your friends in. And poets have a long–are used to, like, organizing things, as,  you know, or like, showing up together, or, carrying certain social formations into certain other sorts of scenes. Um, so that felt kind of–I think that would be like, the thing that I–that like, feels very similar to also, to people when they organize things, politically. Which are often, very dependent, again, on social networks, or, you know, a sense of community, or share a certain sense of, share–whatever that is.

ES: So, will you tell me about your experience of the conversation on Sunday? LIke, how did it go? What was something that you were particularly, like, interested in, conversationally or socially?

JS: Um, yeah. I don’t know. I, um–I always feel that the conversation is not necessarily the point, like the point is, or maybe the conversation is the point, but the content of the conversation might not actually be the point. And so some of those things often feel like they’re just, um, almost like, trial runs to kind of like, um, hopefully creating more, something deeper that comes out of it in a different way. Uh, so I never have huge, high expectations around the conversation. Um, even though, that said, the conversation felt interesting, and I learned things from it and um, I enjoyed it in many ways. But, I mean, it didn’t feel like it resolved anything, which it would never resolve anything, finally. It often–it, it might be the excuse, maybe would be one way to put it.

ES: The excuse for what?

JS: Um, the excuse for people to kind of show up to a something. To have the conversation. But that the conversation might be the conversation that happens after it.

ES: So, like, the official conversation facilitates, like, the backyard conversation?

JS: Yeah, or like, something like that. [laughter]

ES: Or like, the poetic conversation.

JS: Yeah. Um. I mean, like, there was some talk that interested me about–some stuff about, um–I forget what. Um, I think, Sophie, the woman from France? She kept saying something about–She kept saying “It’s empirically true” that when sort of antagonistic movements, or social movements, turn towards neighborhoods, that they become–that’s the end of them. That’s the end of the antagonism. Um, and I was kind of interested in whether that was true or not. She kept saying “It’s historically true.” And I mean, which I’m not entirely convinced, and, I didn’t ask her which historical moments she was actually thinking of, but I was kind of interested in, like, like, What happ–Whether that’s–What are the limits of the kind of more neighborhood organizing thing that kept showing up. Although, I mean, there’s a lot of like, a lot of people were like, contesting that, at the same time. Or kind of feeling like that wasn’t, um. There was that normal kind of conversation somewhat, about, that often gets had, about–I don’t even know what I’m–like, somewhat a conversation about like, What’s the best thing to do? Maybe that had a subtext of it, of like, you know, people that organize within communities, you know, for the long term, versus those kind of like moments when people come together and it’s not long term. Something like what various occupations or Occupy stuff was. And, some sort of tension between that. Although people kept saying that you needed both. But, then there would be these moments where, you know–It wasn’t–It wasn’t like a–I don’t–I’m not sure that everyone was conv–I often feel like people have like a, an alliance, even though they wouldn’t say that they felt like one was better, was more important than the other.

ES: Did the whole conversation seem to preference one over the other?

JS: No. It was kind of like a back-and-forth around it.

ES: So I feel like the Black Panther Party is a pretty good example of a group that was really focused on both of those things.

JS: Yeah. Well I mean, I think we need both. I always think that discussion is like, it’s all a giant ecosystem. LIke, we’re often forgetting that those things might be more connected than people realize.

ES: What do, um, What do you think that meant, in particular, that like, once it moves into neighborhoods that a movement becomes, what was the word, non-antagonistic?

JS: Yeah. I don’t know. I mean, that was the moment where I was just kind of interested in it, as the idea of What are the problems when you go into a neighborhood? Which I was kind of interested in in part because of the Library thing. Which I actually feel like there’s been a lot of things that have been said that ‘can’t be done there’ because of the specifics of the neighborhood, and it hasn’t necessarily been said by people in the neighborhood or from the neighborhood. [laughter] And so, and I’m always kind of interested in that rhetoric and what that rhetoric does or what it also doesn’t let happen.

ES: What were some of the things that people were saying ‘can’t be done?’

JS: I think the first discussion about like, whether the building should be held or not. Um, kind of, more seriously.

ES: Kind of, like, after the first wave–

JS: –after the first–

ES: –of police?

JS: No. Before that.

ES: Okay.

JS: Which was kind of, like, would the building–would people be camping and like, sleeping in the building, right? Which would have probably extended that occupation, you know, not forever, but somewhat longer than it was. That, that original decision was made because it just felt like there was enough, you know, like there were enough free spots in the neighborhood, there was enough that–like they didn’t need more people camping out, or whatever that was. I mean, I still feel like that was something that was taken almost like a fact, and which probably needed more, kind of, contesting. Like, it’s hard to say. Like, it’s hard to say what any kind of neighborhood needs or what it doesn’t need in those moments.

ES: Even if you were to ask the people who live there?

JS: Even if you were to ask the people that live there, I’m not sure you would get the answer. I think, there might be that there is no consistent answer. That what the neighborhood wants is much–It’s too contradictory to ever be figured out with any kind of consistency. So it almost is kind of a larger question of ‘What could happen?’ At that moment. Like, what happens when you don’t hold the building? What happens when you hold the building? Um, can you limit some of the things that you’re worried about if you actually hold the building? I don’t, I don’t really know.

ES: One thing I’ve been curious about–I don’t know if it was happening in the conversation itself–was um, like, where those moments of intersection are between peoples’ politics and their language-use. Um, and, like, it seems like, a lot of people, at least in the Bay Area, have been writing about Occupy or about the crowd or about riot. Um. And are there any things that you’ve noticed about the sorts of moves that people are doing right now? And what–why do you think those are happening? Or what do you think of them?

JS: Yeah, I think that really, that wasn’t discussed much. Um. [pause] I think in the long run, there probably will be no answer to that. There will be so many variables that there will be no consistent answer. In the short term, it has felt like there has been a kind of questioning, there has been a kind of–like, it has felt like, in terms of like, the language use has been one that’s trying to think about a form–a new form of sociality in some way. And so it often has felt to me like, like that–the kinds of forms that felt so important to Language Poetry felt really irrelevant to kind of, the stuff around Occupy, the work that’s coming out of Occupy. So there’s something kind of interesting that those forms have kind of felt like they’re not useful. And it’s almost been like, there’s been a return to like, a kind of language of collectivity at moments, a kind of we at moments, and a kind of lyricism. But, it probably won’t last. There’s probably nothing that you could say that would end up being long term in any kind of way. I think that’s–you’re talking about such a small crowd of people, in the end.

ES: [laughter] You said that there are things you felt like you learned from the weekend that are lingering. Are there any questions that you’re left with, that are like, shaping how you’re looking at things, or working?

JS: Yeah, I don’t. I mean, I have a lot, if there’s anything that I was left with it was a sense of like, specific questions. Which is mainly that I’m really interested in the kind of stuff around Montreal, still. And like, and then their failure to actually make it to a general strike. And then, like, it’s been kind of like–which a lot of people blame on the election. So I’m still kind of, the question that might kind of come out of that is like, can you–’Do elections just always kill you?’ [laughter] You know? Can you ever really escape that problem? Which, of course, there might not be an answer to that. But, um. So, I mean, some questions like that. There’s a lot, I had a lot of side conversations with people that probably left me with a different series of questions. A bunch of questions about gender stuff.

ES: Like what?

JS: I don’t even know if I could summarize some of it.

ES: Or maybe like, one moment of that?

JS: [pause] You know, talking a lot with Anne Boyer about um, you know, how many like, major moments begin with, you know, um, with you know, bread riots. Which are often started by women, in history. And like, why is that, um, why is that so overlooked? Kind of? LIke, why is that not more to the forefront of like, how we understand how these moments of, let’s say, political antagonism, develop. Why is there not more attention to like Oh we have to start with women, or with social–which might not mean just with women, but with something around social needs or something, um, that women have traditionally, you know, been caretakers around.

ES: Do you feel like Occupy was not doing that?

JS: I think it was trying. You know, it’s hard to say what it was doing. But it was definitely, I mean it was definitely trying to feed a bunch of people. Which was one of the, you know, really interesting things about that movement, about the movement. It had such a large food–the food thing was so important. Which, you know, you know, I mean, actually I think that like, part of the success of kind of like, Oakland, was that it was trying to do both all the time. Um. If you want to call that a success. And then, [pause] you know, like some of the questions that remain are like ‘Could it have been more sustained?’ Or like, sustainable? And it’s hard to answer that question.

ES: Are there ways you could imagine that? LIke, tactics that would enable that?

JS: I don’t really know. I mean, I still feel that there was something after J28. That so many people showed up for J28 felt to me, like, kind of amazing. And even though that, that action was often seen as a big clusterfuck, finally, which it was in many ways. I felt like it indicated a certain willingness among a large significant part of the population to go do something, kind of, clearly illegal.

ES: And almost absurd.

JS: [laughter] And absurdist. Yeah that. That then kind of fell apart and the kind of like had an energy that wasn’t picked up again. Like, I think that the people that were the kind of main people behind organizing it, in which it was one of the more hierarchical actions, in that it had a kind of core group that kind of knew the story. Um, like, it seems like they kind of fell apart. But like, it seems like– still feel like there’s a question of like, sustainability, that like, like, didn’t get addressed at that moment. And it probably didn’t get addressed enough in advance. There was an open question about whether the occupation could–would ever happen, from the beginning. Um, but it didn’t get addressed what would happen if the occupation did not happen. In a kind of planned way. And there needed to be a plan. Because, like, by the time people had spent three days in jail, it just like, it was like, too much to deal with, and there wasn’t already–and if there potentially had already been a plan, there could have been somewhat, an action. Um,

ES: In the aftermath?

JS: I think it was kind of like, if it doesn’t work out what do you do next? LIke, do you do it again? Try it, do you, you know, I don’t really know the answer [trails off]

ES: So, just in case someone’s reading this who doesn’t know what J28 is, could you attempt to summarize?

JS: There’s an occupation of a Traveler’s Aid building that happened at the general strike. And occupations are, almost, by default, presume a kind of vanguard group, that kind of, like, opens the building, or that can’t be very well announced by because, for obvious reasons. You can’t get into the building for that moment when they’re too well announced. Um, but there was a lot of critique of the Traveler’s Aid building occupation being something that hadn’t gone through the GA [General Assembly] and what does it mean. And so, after that, there was a kind of question in the air about ‘What would it mean to do an announced occupation?’ To get, instead of eight people, twenty people, however many, to open a building, to get, you know, a thousand people together and open the building together at that moment. Um, what would that do to these occupations, which have always been almost, like, the kind of action that you do when you can’t do a general strike. They’re small. They’re actions built around having a small group of people. Um, and that has always been part of their failure. Why they often fail, is like, if they don’t get a large crowd outside supporting them in some way, they, they get shut down all the time. Which is the kind of classic pattern. You occupy the building for however many hours or however many days, and then it gets shut down. So the–So the question was like What if you have a larger group that announces it and that was like, the J28 one, in which there was a supposed series of buildings that would be possible, and only this core group know which buildings in order to not have the police know what it was, but it was slightly an open secret at the same time. That it was this huge, kind of, Kaiser building, which it may or may not have been, which is like another kind of question, which is like, you know, What happens–Why did the other buildings not get to? Which like, some of these questions get answered in that statement from the J28 people.

ES: Yeah, it does raise a question about, sort of, transparency versus, not secrecy, but smaller organizing groups?

JS: Yeah, yeah.

ES: Um. Did the people who came in from the different places, at Beyond Oakland, talk about that question?

JS: I think everything, like, most of the things around Occupy were so open.

ES: I think it, kind of brings up a question for me, of like–when I was in Olympia, organizing there, um, people were getting sort of like, secretive within their groups, like, in the initial organizing, but then there was always the assumption that there were no secrets in the end, you know? That even if you have a small group of people, that there was the assumption that, always, that one of the people was FBI.

JS: Uh huh.

ES: Or that someone forgot to turn their phone off. Or take out the battery. Or like, that, there were sort of ways–the underlying assumption, that like, of NSA, or surveillance culture, those kind of. So it feels, in a sense, that then the transparency question becomes a matter of decision-making; of a large group of people versus a tactic of readiness, or like, beating the state to the game?

JS: Right, right. Yeah yeah yeah. Yeah, I mean, like, I’m left with the sense that there are two big issues that have to be constantly negotiated, and one of them is surveillance, and like what is the extent of surveillance, and how do you negotiate that without also becoming parlayzed or like, totally paranoid. Uh, which gets combined with the second big issue, which is the willingness of the state to put people in jail for large amounts of time for protesting. I mean, like, three days is a lot for basically, you know, being, walking down the street in a protest on the J28. I mean it wasn’t like anyone actually got anywhere near to getting into the building. It was almost like a thought crime.

ES: Yeah. Conspiracy?

JS: Well, no one was ever charged with conspiracy.

ES: Really? [laughter]

JS: And I don’t think there was enough there to charge with conspiracy. It was just like, people ended up in jail, and they didn’t, like, weren’t processed. Which is the kind of moment where it was like, Oakland whatever, you know, whatever kind of theory you want to believe about it, it was like, this is how we’re going to end it. We’re gonna take out everyone who can’t be–like, we have a friend who lost her job as a result of it. It just kind of changes the stakes.

ES: Do you think–would you–I was–Do you think of this sort of conversation as a series, or was it more of a one time thing?

JS: I think it was a one time thing. But, you know, I have a–I tried to get everyone who did the Summit together afterwards to kind of have a discussion cause he wants to do it again next year, and I was kind of like the grumpy old person–

ES: [laughter]

JS: –that’s kind of like ‘Don’t do it again…It’s irrep–like, you can’t reproduce it.’ LIke, it’ll be something, but it won’t be something. [laughter] That, um. I mean, that’s again, like, where I keep trying to think of it as like, an ecosystem. So it’s like, Well, the Summit thing happened, and then, like, this kind of conversation felt like Oh, we’ll take up some of the energy of that, like, What are the other ways that you kind of keep things mutating through, and um, I’ve been working on that thing in October, with Joshua and Chris Chen, that’s bringing over the British poets. Which feels like in the same thing, like we’ll just, you’ll like, people can maybe just keep talking or maybe find their affiliations. It does feel, I feel like, I feel like there’s a possibility that there’s something that’s getting, that might be a series of alliances beginning to get kind of mapped out in a way that they weren’t as clearly from doing the Free School, the 99 Cent School, the Durutti Skool, and then, you know, some other things feel like there’s beginning to be like, um. I used to feel more that people in poetry sometimes declared their politics in isolation. And I feel like there’s a sense of like, of people working together on something. The question of like, whether it stay at the level of poetry or not still feels kind of open. Um, and nothing may come of it. It’s hard to say. It’s also–the other thing that’s been slightly interesting to me, is that question you’re asking about language, in which it feels like, it feels like there’s a group of people who are somehow trying to enter into conversation and working together as poets, but not about how to show up as poets. So like, it’s not necessarily a question of like, ‘What sort of work do you need to read,’ or write, or ‘What you should do at the reading,’ or ‘Where the poet should speak in the list of speakers’ in some way, which I actually think has been kind of interesting. There’s other sorts of work that needs to be done. Although we might be doing it, again, through these social networks, that we know through poetry. Which are fairly, you know, both national and international at the same time.

ES: [drops something] Um, can you talk about the conversation itself? One thing that Maya told me was that at some point you guys moved from like, an open structure, to taking stack?

JS: Um. That was mainly because Niko and that other guy got in a kind of back-and-forth and it was kind of like, and I was just like, Oh, I’ll take stack, which ended their back-and-forth. I don’t know. This is the problem when you’re kind of like, someone who has quasi organized it. I don’t have [pause] you know, easy or obvious answers to that. Like, I don’t have any perspective. I don’t have an outside perspective on it, so I can’t even–like, I have trouble even remembering a lot of the conversation. It’s just kind of like how to [mumbles] it would just keep moving. Does someone need a chair.

ES: Um, were there any sort of moments from the weekend that you held onto? I mean, how many people were staying at your house?

JS: Five. Which is way too many. Although three of them weren’t here for the conference. [laughter] Only two were. Yeah, I don’t, I mean, yeah. It was kind of lovely to have longer conversations. You know, with Anne and Michael. I really like them; they’re interesting. Um. Yeah. I don’t know, maybe, there was like, a bunch of jokes that don’t really feel really relevant.

ES: [mumbles]

JS: What’s your plan?

ES: Um. So, I’m planning. I’m going to, also, ask you afterwards, if you want, to tell me who you remember that was also at the conversation. And then I’ll try to interview those people. So like, Maya mentioned three other people that she remembered specifically being in the conversation. And then, I’ve started to make a map of those people, and then this person that I met at Naropa, named JH Phrydas, asked me to do a series of interviews with people in the Bay Area who are poets who are interested in militant or insurrectionary poetics. Or, have questions around those sorts of things. Um, or he asked me to do one interview, and I thought it would be more interesting to interview a bunch of people, and then sort of…collage those interviews together to create, like, this conversation that never existed for me. It would be, like, a conversation about a conversation that didn’t exist for me. Because I flaked. You know, conversations are very fleeting, and I’m interested in sort of, like, what remains for people from them? After the fact. And also in the variety of perspectives and what different people remember about the same event that now doesn’t exist…otherwise.

[tape ends]


08.20.2013 / Interview with Maya Weeks on BEYOND OAKLAND

MW: One question that was really big for me at Beyond Oakland was ‘How do you present a vision of a life you would actually want?,’ and I think that came out of something that Cecily [Nicholson] said, but also–

ES: Is this in writing, or in activism, or is there separation between the two?

MW: No. Nothing was separated at Beyond Oakland. We just sat in a circle and talked about everything, and it was very flowey–there has to be a better word for that–there was a lot of–until stack started happening, it was just like, people each jumping in after the other, actually quite a bit of space being given and like, sometimes raising hands, but um, also, just sometimes somebody following what somebody else said. So ‘How do you present a vision of a life you would actually want?’ might have come out of Cecily or maybe Anne Boyer, but like definitely both, um, and, oh, I have I have this note–here–at the top of the page that says “the combination of proximity and admiration,” which is what Michael [Nardone] said about being around Juliana [Spahr], and like, how it’s difficult for him.

ES: Yeah, he said something similar to me, like, how it’s difficult for him to be around her.  [laughter] He was like, I kind of can’t handle it. And I was like, she’s just a human, it’s okay. [laughter]

MW: [laughter]

ES: And he was the one who was talking about the Montreal student strike?

MW: Yeah, he was talking about the student strike in Montreal. Um, so the first two things that I wrote on this page were like, the things that I kind-of wanted to find out about during this conversation, because the conversation was posited as a place to understand or to like, further develop thought after the panel on Saturday, or Friday, or whatever the day before was. Um, so I wanted to know more about urban gardening in Detroit and how that was problematic. Marie Buck.

ES: Did you get to ask her about that?

MW: Kind-of, finally, after the conversation, like we talked about it Sunday afternoon, after the talk. But that didn’t get addressed during the conversation. There just wasn’t room for it; it didn’t come up at all.

ES: Yeah–what’d she say to you?

MW: Um, I’ll try to talk about that after I talk about the other things I wrote in my notes.

ES: Okay, I’ll just keep sawing this table. [sound of sawing]

MW: Okay. And so like, the other question–the thing I was thinking about, which is like, something I’m always thinking about–is like, ‘What defines the local?’ Or being on the inside. Or being a member of a group.

ES: Uh huh.

MW: Which is something that, um–

ES: Your work is really interested in–

MW: My work is really interested in. Something that, like, seems really relevant.

ES: You should say your name for the tape.

MW: Maya Weeks.

ES: And what your most recent work is.

MW: My most recent work is, um, maybe this poetic project called Left Out in Weather, that’s kind-of about the Great Pacific Garbage Vortex, or maybe, um–

ES: What is the Great Pacific Garbage Vortex? I have no idea. [laughter]

MW: There–there is trash swirling in the gyres of all the oceans, and the Pacific one has like, had the most research done on it, and it’s supposedly the biggest. From what I understand.

ES: And it’s like, it’s own island?

MW: Yeah.

ES: Okay–

MW: But it’s also, not solid, and like, the debris is not always connected to other debris, like, it’s so massive. It’s not just a big mass of plastic floating. It’s like, a sea of garbage. From what I understand. So maybe that. Or, like, this book I’m writing–or wrote–called the fragility of we, and also this book called The Possibilities are Endless. [laughter] Those are my projects right now.

ES: So, back to the questions you had from Beyond Oakland.

MW: Yeah, so like, Cecily was talking about working with indigenous communities, and, like, the populations she organizes with in Vancouver, and I was really curious about how–how she came to be a member of those communities. Or if she considers herself a member. And I actually asked her about that, about like–she said about her Vancouver community specifically, like, where she works with Elders, that she had asked them if they see her as part of the community, and they had told ‘Yes.’ And this was after being involved with them for like, six years. I think it’s been like, ten years now, she said.

ES: So she, like, she became an Elder, through, duration?

MW: She wasn’t an Elder, but she was a member because she had put the work in to be there. Um, so i don’t know why I keep wanting to ask questions about insides and outsides. Or like why–that seems like, really superficial.

ES: Well, talking about [sawing sounds] and um, sort of the ability or the level at which you’re able to participate based on whether you’re seen as inside or outside, or whether you see yourself as inside or outside?

MW: Yeah.

ES: Especially in, like, the wake of Occupy, where suddenly like, almost everyone was inside.

MW: Yeah, no, like it can be possible for everyone to be inside? Kind of. Almost.

ES: Complicatedly inside. Inside sometimes.

MW: Yeah.

ES: But, those moments where everyone almost is. [sawing sounds]

MW: Which happen to be the ecstatic moments. [sawing sounds] Um, so I have this quote here, actually,from Marie, which kind-of addresses the urban gardening thing, I think, or like, this wave of gentrifiers, like, people who are effectively gentrifying, but who are anti-gentrification, coming into a place and being like ‘We are going to do this thing, and live this sustainable life, and hopefully be involved in this community and help out,’ um, like, say, starting an urban garden. Which I feel is a really effective strategy in Oakland. The urban gardens I’ve visited here are very much of the community and for the community, and like, really strong. Marie said that, in Detroit, the reason that it doesn’t work is that it is posited as The solution for the failed city. And, like, maybe if it weren’t posited as like The capital-T solution, um, it would be an okay thing. As just a thing that is going on.

ES: Just a way to create food justice.

MW: Yeah, exactly. I don’t think that food justice is irrelevant at all. Um, but she said, ‘You can make this thing that can envision what we want, but it’s not going to be secure.’ That also might have been about social movements in general. Like, the conditions of Occupy or the conditions of a strike. No–she was talking about anarchist spaces.

ES: That they aren’t secure? How so?

MW: Like, say, The Public School, or like, Zach Houston’s space, pre-Public School. How that exists and people are so jubilant in it and it works while it’s working but they’re unable to last.

ES: And why do you see that–why–wha–what–

MW: Like, historically, they’re unable to last. Like, historically, none have lasted. Or maybe some do. The Longhaul‘s still going. I wonder how long that’s been around. But, like, a lot of them fall apart. Or like, Occupy is basically over, even though it never officially ended. We talk about it in the past now.

ES: What do you think–well, did she-did you get an answer from her as to what those things are that make it unable to–

MW: No–we didn’t go down that road–

ES: –last? [sawing sounds]

MW: –that I can remember.

ES: I feel like that’s really relevant, but I also feel that that’s one of the things about guerrilla tactics, um, is that it’s one of the things that makes recuperation more difficult. Having a–creating a constantly shifting landscape. Like how the landscape is shifting in Rene Gladman’s work. You know? Or like, if you get too stable, you’re ability to–like, it becomes much easier to recuperate what you’re doing into the system. Um, so in that sense there’s sort of Temporary Autonomous Zones–

MW: Yeah. But they’re not totally autonomous.

ES: No, they’re not. But what people would call that–

MW: Yeah–and then another thing, at the beginning before I started talking about this, David Buuck mentioned that, like, he wasn’t going to interrogate his pilates practice. Which I thought was really interesting and connected, like, this is the line between activism and quote-unquote “being a person.” You know? Like, when are you an activist and when are you just “being a person” like feeding your dog and walking your dog and going to pilates and going to the grocery store? Like, you can be an activist but you still have to do these things?

ES: And by ‘these things’ you mean things that are participating in the culture that you have a critique of?

MW: Yeah. Exactly.

ES: And how there are certain levels at which you still have to participate?

MW: And that I feel end up being really hypocritical within activist circles.

ES: It’s hard not to–it’s hard to completely–

MW: It would be impossible.

ES: Impossible to completely isolate yourself from–

MW: Yeah.

ES: I think there’s not a lot of generosity for–

MW: I mean I’m not complaining about it, I’m just–

ES: –for people’s levels of participation.

MW: I mean–this is coming out–I don’t mean to complain about Buuck going to pilates. I totally support that. Because I have my own things like, you know, I need to go to the beach sometimes, or I just like, want to–I’m in total support of that. What I’m curious about is, like, why these things are seen as un-interrogateable, or something? Or, why these activities, like say the pilates class, are in conflict with activism. Like I wish there was a way to be able to be doing pilates, or like, going to dance class that I have to pay for, or like, going and having an ice cream at a place I have to pay for, without contributing to capitalism. You know? And also this relates to my question of ‘What is the domestic and the active, and where do they intersect?’

ES: Yeah, and like, what is the presence of, like, ecstatic leisure.

MW: Right. Or even not ecstatic leisure, or even just down-time.

ES: Even just down-time, and how that, like, well, like, in America, it’s so Protestant, there’s such a focus on production and wanting, like–I mean, huge struggles happened to create the eight-hour work day, but everyone’s asking for more work now, instead of asking for more pay for less work. Which is–why is that conversation happening right now? Um, why do people want more work? And why is the Protestant work ethic–

MW: Because we’re not able to look to the future, because we have to be so short-sighted in order to just keep getting by. We all have to just live on a month-to-month basis, kind of.

ES: And so then, what is the presence of, in the movement, for acknowledging the necessity of the radical potential of leisure? Or of, rest.

MW: Do you have a pen? [laughter]

ES: [laughter] We’re also recording it, but–yeah, go for it. [laughter] I think that’s important. I think that a movement that doesn’t have the acknowledgment of the [sawing sounds]–how like, I think I mentioned the Temporary Autonomous Zone, by Hakim Bey. I’ve been re-reading T.A.Z. lately, and thinking about, I think he mentioned protesting, but demanding like–

MW: So that was something that Michael talked about in Montreal. This is where the conversation began: he talked about the student strikes and how they’ve been going for, years, I want to say, like seven, maybe ten, at least six, something. Long. But that they take a break every summer. To gear up for the following school year. And everybody does this. And like, all the activists do this. So everybody gets to rest.

ES: That’s so smart, right? Okay, so we have a culture of–post-9/11, we have a culture of endless warfare, and also of endless, like, production, which has been longer than the endless warfare, but like, that same mind-state and thinking–

MW: Well, the endless production is to benefit the endless warfare.

ES: Yeah, and thinking about how, how creating that shift, suddenly in the light of that, seems really important. So, we feel like, to fight endless warfare we have to be engaging in endless warfare, but–

MW: Right, So–

ES: Maybe we don’t. Or maybe–

MW: We need a reset. [beat] Two things that Michael said were, quote “It never gets to general strike,” and, in Montreal. Because like, the students strike and make their demands, and he said a bit about the different student organizations and there being one fuck up where like, there are more moderate organizations and then there are the radical ones.

ES: Yeah,

MW: I forget the names of them, um. So he talked about it being fucked up when the moderate organization, like, decided to meet with the government, or something, during elections. And the radical one wanted to hold out. I don’t remember the details. But, point being that like–

ES: So, reform vs. abolition.

MW: Yeah. Oh, so there there was a big reform versus revolution conversation. And this was when the mansplaining started happening.

ES: [laughter]

MW: So terrible. Because everyone was–not everyone, two…men, were both just like, mouthing off about revolution, like declaring like “Why we need revolution! I–” Which I’m pretty sure that everyone in the room has that as like, their baseline. LIke, nobody’s disagreeing with you here. So that was really unnecessary. The other thing–I just want to finish with what Michael said–about people enjoying their summer, which comes back to your, like, radical potential for rest–

ES: [mumbles something]

MW: Um,

ES: So you want to come back to the thing Michael said?

MW: That was just it. He said “people enjoying their summer.” That was all I wrote down. Because, yeah, it’s necessary.

ES: I felt like the Occupy barbecues were a good example of the radical potential of the party. Or like, the gathering–

MW: There was some critique of the barbecue at the conversation. There was also support of the barbecue.

ES: –that the barbecue was, like, right, it’s a way for people to get to know each other.

MW: Yeah–you should talk to Buuck about it, ’cause he was really um, pro-barbeque, and Juliana had a critique of the barbecue.

ES: Ohmygod, What’s Juliana’s anti-barbeque critique? [laughter]

MW: Um. I mean, she didn’t say anything, at least that I can remember, but it was kind of like, ‘Nothing was happening’ you know, like, it was just barbecues.

ES: I feel like–I feel that sometimes that’s important.

MW: I do too. I do too.

ES: It’s like, trying to put the action in place before there’s the trust–and the community.

MW: I think the barbecue is like, the most grassroots thing. [sawing sounds] Or like, its so grassroots, you don’t–[sawing sounds]–or even–I really like radical things that don’t posit themselves as radical.

ES: The radical dance party. Or, the dance party as radical.

MW: Or like–

ES: The moon bounce.

MW: [laughter] Exactly. Or like, the conversation that you have with a stranger. Or [sawing sounds] even, like, traveling can be radical. Putting people up in your home. Or being put up by people. Stuff like that, that kind of like, immediate connection.

ES: And sort of being outside of. I think when it’s framed in that way–like, right, Occupy was putting a bunch of people that usually wouldn’t be socially interacting together. And so to have a bunch of people who usually wouldn’t be able to have that kind of interaction, where they would be normally ignoring each other on the street, or like, stereotyping each other on the street, suddenly are in this space together–

MW: –and they’re talking about how, like, great the rice is, or whatever.

ES: Yeah. Those little everyday things that suddenly make you able to–

MW: I love those moments.

ES: [sawing sounds]

MW: So, the next things I have written down are “indefinite threat” and “the trauma of repression.”

ES: What do you mean by “indefinite threat?”

MW: I have no idea. I have no idea why I wrote that. Um,

ES: [sawing sounds]

MW: maybe it will come back to me. [re: sawing sounds] You made it halfway!

ES: We’re halfway there! [beat] So. Is the “trauma of repression”–

MW: There was a little bit of conversation about, like, people not being in the streets and Why aren’t people in the streets? Why isn’t everybody revolting already? Why aren’t we all rising up?

ES: You mean like, why do we have to wait for another black person to be murdered?

MW: No no no, but like, why are people still going and working their day jobs instead of like, having radical barbecues. So, Cecily said “I think one of the questions is, Who’s not in the street everyday, and Why?,” and like, something Anne Boyer was kind-of talking and thinking a lot about is, like, What if you have kids? What if you have a mortgage? What if you are, you know…there’s a million economic reasons why people aren’t in the streets. Aside from, like, a lack of desire.

ES: And then, how can you create ways for this people to plug in.

MW: Right. So the conversation didn’t even get that far. Something that Anne said. Anne talked a lot about surviving. Um. And I think Cecily did too, kind of. Um.

ES: Like, day-to-day survival?

MW: Day-to-day survival, and like, survival in a household way, survival on the streets, like, Who’s surviving what and what does it take to survive? And, she, Anne, talked about workfare.

ES: About what?

MW: Workfare.

ES: Workfare?

MW: Yeah. As opposed to welfare, I think? And I’m not really sure what workfare is, and I have it written down as something to look up. I don’t know how it works. Yeah. So, another thing that Cecily mentioned was, um, “to be aware of the cultural history already existing.”

ES: In the place where you’re at?

MW: Yeah. Which I think, like, that’s a big deal. I don’t even need to say anything about that. I feel really ignorant about the cultural history here. And, everywhere. So, I don’t feel like I have the right to, to even make statements about things a lot of times.

ES: [mumbles something] it’s hard to know [mumbles something] silencing voices?

MW: Or, like, we talk about the gentrification of Oakland as opposed to the Oakland that Oakland was in the 60s, but what about the Oakland that Oakland was in the 30s, or what about the Oakland that Oakland was in the 1800s, or what about the Oakland that Oakland was in 1400, what about this place that this was in 00, what about this place that this was five-thousand years ago, you know? Like, how often do we look as far back as can be looked?

ES: Taking the long view, as opposed to the short view.

MW: And like, also, how do you get any kind of relatively accurate long view, when all the history books are skewed?

ES: [sawing sounds]

MW: Yeah, I really loved these, these Cecily moments, that were so wise. Um, she also talked about–

ES: I think we should start calling other wise moments “Cecily moments.” Just in general, like I love those Cecily moments.

MW: Yeah. Cecily also mentioned working in a very specific neighborhood, and so knowing her particular community and her work arising out of that context. And, I think that’s really key to the prolonging question. And the inside/outside–

ES: [sawing sounds]

MW: That looks like a good strategy. [re: sawing the table]

ES: [continues sawing the table] Yeah, it’s a bit quieter.

MW: It is quieter. And it feels, more, um, less all-over-the-place. I don’t know what the opposite of all-over-the-place is.

ES: Maybe: contained. [laughter] Effective?

MW: Um, for some reason I have “austerity” written here. I’m not really sure why. And then I have “the day-to-day” which is related to “surviving.” Um, and then I have “reasons to live,” which also has to do with “surviving.” And, uh–

ES: So that might be–We were talking earlier about the role of language or writing or poetry–

MW: Yeah. As a reason to live.

ES: Well, not as a reason to live, but like…reminders?

MW: Or, reminders of being alive?

ES: Or, of the reasons to live? Because those are so easy to forget in this culture. But also, like, poetics as, as like, continuing to bring up, continuing to create the conversation and bring it back to, like, Why isn’t everyone in the streets? You know, like, I feel like, it’s so easy to fall into the day-to-day, and the un-critiqued day-to-day, or the critiqued but feeling isolated and unable to act day-to-day.

MW: Or, the critiqued and having to push the critique down in order to pay the rent day-to-day.

ES: In order to survive. And so, like, poetics as a way of bringing the critique back up in the day-to-day. Like if you do this every day–

MW: You’re a poetry worker.

ES: Yeah, if you’re a language worker. [sawing sounds]

MW: Uh, yeah. I have a note here that says “problem is not intersection,” which goes back to the barbecue thing as being a place of intersection. And like, yeah, like, just the basic alienation of our society, how we’re kept from each other.

ES: Like, geographically–

MW: And how, we spend more time apart than together. Like, I don’t. I don’t have a default social group that I’m always around. I think that, unless you live collectively, or have a family, like if you have a nuclear family that you live with, then you have like, a collective social group that you’re always around. But not everybody has that.

ES: Yeah.

MW: Um. That’s another kind of surviving. Um. So poetry. There’s this note here that says “poetry before politics,” which I think came out of something that Buuck said.

ES: What do you think he meant by that?

MW: I don’t–I don’t know if that was what he said or if that was my response to what he said. I think that that sounded like his argument to me. His argument sounded like that. And,

ES: What do you think about that?

MW: I don’t know. I also have a note that says “kinds of outlets for thinking differently.” Along with “reasons to live” and poetry being that. I guess “poetry before politics” being like, is a manifestation. Like, politics not needing to exist for themselves, but just being realized. Like, maybe you don’t have to articulate your politics if you act on them.

ES: That sort-of brings up the question of, like, what we were talking about earlier, of the formal constraint, or like, a form enacted–like, work that enacts its politics in its form. And like, why–like, the person at your residency, who had the critique of conceptual work as, or, the hatred of conceptual work without articulating the critique of it, but I feel like often the critique of it–

MW: I feel like the critique was assumed, like she was assuming that I knew what her critique was, that she didn’t have to articulate it.

ES: But I mean, like, there’s a critique that comes out of the unexamined, sort-of masturbatory, uh, formal constraint based work of OuLiPo, and that um, there’s something else that’s happening here right now, especially in our–or, like the local Bay Area where–people are using formal constraints that I think are enacting their politics in sort-of, like, a visceral way, and it sort-of goes back to like the Why articulate something when you could do it, question. So like-

MW: Bodies!

ES: Yeah. So everyone, like, talks about bodies, but when is their poetics actually embodying, uh, and that being an important question for poetics that, well, claim to be insurrectionary. I don’t know. [laughter] [sawing sounds]

MW: Along the lines of the inside/outside thing, there’s this note that says “going into the neighborhood versus going into your own neighborhood” or being in your own neighborhood and doing that work. We were talking a little bit about activists, like, finding out about a cause, and like, going to the cause to join it, versus like, when the cause might–Okay, like my own personal experience of Occupy Oakland was that it happened here, and so there was no way I was not going to be involved. Because it was in my place, and so I felt like it was okay to get involved, whereas if it had just been Occupy SF, I would have been like, I don’t know if I can come in, I’m an outsider, bla-blah-bla-bla-blah.

ES: That also happened with me, with Biblioteca Popular, where like, it was sort-of my community, because it was near Mills,–

MW: Yeah, Juliana talked about that–

ES: –but not really, because Mills is so separate from the community that it is the bubble inside of. And like, so much of the Biblioteca was started by, you know, white activists who like in North Oakland or South Berkeley, who were like “this needs to exist in that place,” and yeah, eventually the people who lived in that neighborhood started taking over, and that’s how it exists now, but. I was excited about that project, but could never fully engage because it was so distant from where I lived, that it was such a–

MW: Right, it was geographically difficult.

ES: –hassle to get there. It was geographically difficult and it wasn’t my community. Even though, in some way, it was?

MW: Yeah.

ES: Whereas like, if that had happened here, in West Oakland, I would feel much more comfortable engaging in it, because I would know that I would be able to participate in it often.

MW: Right. You could stop by on your way after work, or before school, or you could, just like, pop over. See what’s up.

ES: And so like, those sorts of hyperlocal things feel really important for developing that sort of, like, trust in the way that the barbecue does.

MW: Yeah. I think that was the big problem for the barbecue. For like, with the going into the neighborhood, I have a note that says “the outside agitator.” Like, the person who believes in the cause–not putting any value on them, and not like, putting value on the term agitator positively or negatively, just like, a person. And then with your own neighborhood, there’s a quote that says “a small battle.” LIke, you’re waging a small battle, or something that you’re already invested in.

ES: A small daily battle. That you will actually be continuing with. As opposed to like, a drive-by. Or like, being only there for the protest and not for the kind of work that has to happen for the long term.  [sawing sounds]

MW: And then there’s this note that says “Who gets to go in?” Which is like, ever my question. I don’t even want to try to talk about it. And then, the next question is “What is a neighborhood?”

ES: Hmmm. Ohhh. Keep talking about that question.

MW: I have an arrow going to “residential area.” Which is also super vague. And then we start talking about organizing. Um, and organizing within the bounds of the neighborhood. And, um, something that was important in the conversation was this concept of mutual listening. And we kind of talked about mutual aid for a minute. But listening seemed really important. And it was cool, because like in the conversation there was–

[tape Side A ends]

[tape Side B begins]

–on the ground, so. So there was room for listening. Um.

ES: [sawing sounds]

MW: And there’s–so the next question is–”Who are the folks that you relate to?” And I think that this has to do with the being on the inside and being on the outside. Like, like, like you just mentioned like, relating to folks who live in West Oakland who you see on the day-to-day basis. Who you pass on the street, or, or who you come to know because you’re at the Library, even if you don’t live around there. Yeah. Um. And somebody said that there were, quote “plenty of people not involved in any social structure,” I don’t remember who said this, but it felt really really relevant and important to me. Um, like if you don’t choose to belong to a community, you don’t,–yeah, you’re not involved in social structure, and then you’re just this alien American.

ES: Sometimes it’s like, the lines between communities are so invisible too. If it’s not clear [mumbles] your affinity–

MW: Right. Is it your church? Is it the street that you hang out on or the people you walk by on your way to the store? Is it like, the crew that you ride bikes with? Is it a volunteer group that you do work with? Is it your singing club? Is it just your friends? Is it the people you party with on the weekends? I mean, there are a million possibilities, but–

ES: I’ve been thinking about that question in relation to chosen affinities versus accidental or–

MW: I was just talking about this today! And I was writing about voluntary versus involuntary affinities! I was writing about language studies.

ES: And about different voluntary families. I feel like that’s really relevant discourse in the Bay, because there are so many transplants, but specifically in like, queer communities. Where people have been rejected from their biological family, or often dislocated from their geographic affinity, or their origin.

MW: Oh man, I have so many thoughts about this–because I feel like those communities tend to be really exclusive.

ES: Because, in response to having been so–

MW: –and not without reason, but I feel that, especially being a native Californian, and a straight person, I feel really excluded in the Bay. [laughter]

ES: [sawing sounds]

MW: Yeah, yeah. Despite having been an outcast and a weirdo my entire life. Where I grew up, you know? Yeah. But it’s like, here, I’m not, quote “weird enough.”

ES: Yeah. And I feel like a lot of, like, like I was talking about like, queer communities, but I feel like also the poetry community is my chosen family. Like, people whose work is in the same conversation as mine becomes my affinity group. You know, like right, because I don’t have a [mumbles] like, looking for–and I was talking to [Erika] Staiti about this the other–going into like, the protest situation and being like, there, with all these people who you know through writing and who you are engaged with through writing and conversations around that, but you know your politics are like, so different from the people you’re there in the political moment with.

MW: But do you feel that those people that you look for, the other writers, the other poets, are um, like willing to take you? Willing to include you?

ES: I, I find that, yeah. I find that, you know, there’s always moments of being outside. [sawing sounds] I’m fairly good at overcoming the awkwardness it takes to like, engage with people. Usually I just ask them a lot of questions, people like talking about themselves.

MW: Which is something that’s so true across social groups, and like, one reason why I get really frustrated with identity politics, because like, I really just want to treat each person as a person, and take them, as, as who they are, as what I find out just by talking with them.

ES: [sawing sounds] It can be really hard, because there’s so much in this world that strives to prevent that. That’s when I, when really aggressive tactics are going to be happening against a social movement, is when it’s crossing those sorts of class and racial barriers and like, social barriers, and bridging those, because that’s what’s really terrifying, and that’s what’s really radical. And that is what the entire system is designed to prevent against.

MW: So I have another really great Ceciliy moment–

ES: Yeah?

MW: Where she says, “We need to be able to have an analysis all the time, in the micro.” Which is about this, like, race, class, gender–

ES: Which is sort of, which is sort of a response to Buuck’s like, “I don’t want to have a critique of my pilates class.”

MW: I don’t even think that he said “I don’t want to,” just like, that’s not relevant to this conversation. Or, that’s not what I’m doing right now.

ES: Yeah.

MW: I’m just so on this page with Cecily. I guess that, this is what I’m talking about also, about this domestic versus active situation. I want to be doing this analysis in the micro, you know? Um.

ES: I think that’s, like, where it comes down to what you were talking about like, not having a right to speak, and sort of playing with that, that being what you said about analysis in the micro, about analysis in every encounter. Being the thing that enables everyone to have the right to speak. With, with–the critique of the acknowledgement being fertilized by like, the external white person who’s not from here. And also–

MW: But I’m here now.

ES: I’m here, but also I have this critique that I’ve been developing, this anti-capitalist analysis of race and class, and let’s talk about that. Without talking about it, it’s not going to–crossroads. You know, like, without those difficult moments you’re not going to develop relationships.

MW: Yeah, and ultimately, we’re trying to–

ES: [sawing sounds]

MW: I like that, quote “we” are trying to get to these relationships. I, um–Jess [Heaney] said something about when Occupy started happening, certain groups, or a certain group, not being involved in Occupy because that group had already been organizing for whatever huge amount of time, and they were like, “Well–

ES: Was this Critical Resistance?

MW: No. I don’t know remember what Jess was involved in, but she was basically like, this group’s been organizing forever and like, hey we’ve been doing this forever, like, Occupy, we don’t care about you because we’re just doing our thing and we just want to get our thing done. And, Cecily, well, and there was a moment later where we were talking about building relationships, and to me, it sounded like parallel activism, where like Jess, where the group Jess was mentioning was in, say, North Oakland, right, just a place. I don’t geographically know where this was happening. And downtown, where Occupy was, and like, their relationships being essential for cross-pollination of groups, so then why would you not want to forge those relationships? If thats the work of this activism and community organizing? And Cecily basically just said that relationships are key, and I was like, Yeaaaahhh.

ES: Yeah. And I think that–I mean, one of the things that I liked about–

MW: Wait wait wait–so, her, her specific quote was “I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of communication.” Booom.

ES: [laughter]

MW: And that’s why I write poems.

ES: Boom. [laughter] Yeah. I’m going to just assume that what Jess was talking about was Critical Resistance, which is a prison abolitionist movement. I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t know. But, um, one of the things that I think that’s so important about mutual aid and, in particular, like, anarchist tactics in relationship to constant political change is that, um, we don’t have to do the same tactics. But your tactics do need to be in communication with each other.

MW: Right, exactly.

ES: And can benefit from each other. Like, if this person’s doing this thing, you know, like–

MW: I just don’t see the point of keeping things separate.

ES: And like, just because, a group is doing an action I don’t want to participate in–

MW: Because it’s all connected.

ES: Or like, when Occupy was new, it, it feels like an opportunity, because they’ve been developing that critique and have experience with organizing tactics and like, can share those.

MW: Right.

ES: And they don’t have to agree on everything. And don’t have to do the same–

MW: And there are going to be–there are bound to be people in Occupy who are invested in prison abolition. So the last couple things I have are–

ES: [sawing sounds continue]

MW: You’re so almost done.

ES: We’re so almost done.

MW: Somebody said “Experimentation isn’t for privileged people. Theory isn’t for privileged people.” Like, isn’t exclusively for. Um, I forget who it was who said that. Um, but that was…that felt useful, because, um, even people who aren’t privileged are experimenting and are, like, acting in, like, theory gets written, sure, but like, a lot of times stuff happens without even necessarily having come from theory. And, like, the theory is still there and it can be relevant whether, um, whether that’s what’s informing the actions, or not.

ES: Yeah. I think that’s really important. I had this conversation with M. Nourbese Philip at Naropa about that very same thing. Where she had talked about being an experimental black poet.

MW: Mmhmm.

ES: And how so many people in, in her community, people who were black, would be like “Why are you doing this? What needs to happen is to be clear. And to have this forceful, clear, almost like, confessional voice. And her rejection of that. And being like, No, there’s this place for this. And it’s important. And it’s doing this other thing.

MW: This–this is like the group I was trying to talk about when I was trying to talk about the rape joke, about the Vanessa Place project, right, about different people coming from quote, “the same group,” like, women, or the same identity group

ES: And the importance of a variety of tactics, at least evolutionarily speaking. Things survive when they are diverse.

MW: Mmhmm. On that note, “the material reality of more than survival!”

ES: [laughter]

MW: Ending on: having Time! Time is what we want! We want to have Time to do the things that we love to do and to take care of each other.

ES: The twenty hour work week.

MW: We just want to be able to take care of each other. Have a good time.

ES: Make some pickles.

MW: Pickles, sauerkraut. Have some encounters.

ES: More than just survival! More than just survival!

MW: Encounters!

ES: I think that, like, that’s a great chant. I want to be chanting that.

MW: More than just survival?

ES: Yeah. At the next rally. At the next life moment.

MW: At the next big moment of life.

ES: It’s not enough. The system that we live in, capitalism, is based on keeping us just at survival’s edge.

MW: I really want to learn more history, because I feel like capitalism hasn’t been the dominant mode for that long. Like, since the industrial revolution, that’s not really that long.

ES: Um, it sorta started a bit before that. I’ve been reading this book called Caliban and the Witch, by Sylvia Federici, and I leant it to someone, so I’ve only gotten about halfway through it, but it, it sort of looks at early, sort of, early capitalism and where the witch hunt came from–

MW: Oh wow. I’m also really interested in witches, so this would be great.

ES: Yeah, so it was like, you know, people who were called witches were actually part of these, like, social movements. They were, well, the heretics, which was a political movement, as well as an anti-christian movement. And the way that these women were organizing these radical riots, and then were persecuted for their organizations, but it sort of, this book sort of looks at the initiation of the movement away from, sort of, agriculturally based communities, into the wage.

MW: In the middle ages–

ES: Yeah, and the move towards the wage system; and people were against waged labor, you know, because of the way that it curtailed their freedoms.

MW: Yeah. I’m going to pause this conversation here. Or, like, stop it.

[tape Side B ends]


re-defining the Individual / the Movement (continued…)

imagethe individual (n.): (1) i gave my weight to the hammock before it will have happened; staring up at the water stains on wooden beams in the place where i was still living; (2) what could be called a shed or maybe a garage, out behind the main house; on three of the walls, a variety of doors having been nailed up at irregular angles across the studs, the remaining space patched with scrap boards and pallet slats; makeshift walls insulated with a combination of egg crates, newspapers, and about thirty-thousand one dollar bills; (3) my weight and the momentum, but the ceiling, rocking back and forth in relation to my momentum, was bare and stained by years of water and seemed to be pressing down on me. something is going to happen, i said out loud to the ceiling. this speaking hollowed out the space of the shed. an act of air. the body-feeling is scraping the meat from the wall of an underripe avocado. something is going to happen and i will not want it to have happened; (4) before climbing up into the hammock i had gathered myself into the skin of my soft black fur and touched the folds of each of my soft black ears. (5) this way of being other as a way of being ready; (6) the light was grainy and it was going and it was almost time. i gathered myself. i found myself ungathered. the air in the room having been scraped it. it was getting harder to breathe. the ceiling collapsing the space that held it up. the compressed air of we. a foreboding. the grain of the sky through the ceiling. the rocking stopped. i was not comforted. (7) a panda bear climbs down from a hammock to the dusty concrete, walks out of the leaning shed, locking the padlock behind it, a clutter of keys in the greying. you see the endangered creature. later, edges blurring in the center of the street as if stepped into: the future present. you see it, the creature, frothing with the others, you see it pushing a pulsing speaker strapped to a wheelchair. something undefined blaring out. in this way that all poets could also be thought of as endangered. (8) it, approaching from the space of what could have been; it, approaching tangent to the shaking lines of our bodies; some other way of moving through; (9) what is the shape that means: to meet?

the movement (n.): (1) a stutter; the moment reiterates itself through bodies, with difference, as words repeated falter, the distance of your body from the body with the megaphone. meaning lags, becomes diffuse; (2) the echo that clings to the body in the hours between twitter feeds, you begin re repeating their words, to amplify the urgency; so that the others will hear the body’s voices. to collapse this city’s distance, collapsing neighborhoods, folding the flat plane: this is not working. (3) someone says hello HELLO how are you HOW ARE YOU someone says i haven’t seen you in awhile I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU are you doing okay OKAY someone says ma’am MA’AM says sir SIR says do you have a cigarette DO YOU HAVE can you spare CAN YOU some change CHANGE? says fucking bitch BITCH.

the individual (n.): (1) the silence, too, is amplified through repetition; (2)




i was running through the field the way you are run through with abandon when you are a child. the field was winter and grasses drained of their color. the bleached sky. you walked across the cloud burnt field toward me. i was run through with abandon; i rolled across the ground; you were walking across the field toward; i was leaping; i am running; i am abandon. you are walking.

this was the dreaming as i dreamt it.

notes toward a preemptive riot in the wake of everything that had already happened

We walk out of our home and into the street. We are protesting something or we have forgotten exactly what. No matter. There is always something to become riot over. We have met for many dragging hours and have decided that we no longer need to wait for it, the event, another murder of a black man by the police, another sending out of troops or tanks or drones, another oil spill. We have already entered into a state of continuous warfare, punctuated with brief bursts of clarity, and the only response left is to throw ourselves over into a state of continuous riot. We walk out of our home and into the street.

*photo found by typing title into google image search

Seventy-nine annotations on The Estrangement Principle

clumpofnewsI walked out to encounter the estrangement principle at n/a on the last night of ariel goldberg‘s residency. A chair was slid into the space between gallery and kitchen and I was lowered into it and instructed to press the button whenever I wanted. That I would be able to press the button and when I did the projected image would change, and that I would only be able to do this eighty times and then it would be over and I would have to leave and also, did I want some whisky? I said okay and with my left thumb, I pressed advance. The other options were reverse, and focus. I attempted focus, once, at slide no. 18, and did not attempt reverse. I wrote one line per slide. Somewhere in the soft focus, one went missing. Here is what remains:

1. split and

2. out from behind

3. streaked separation (“so profoundly lost”)

4. the absence of residents

5. displaced at the baseline

6. wrapped in red plastic

7. kept close

8. seen through, almost wall-like

9. could turn over, the essay.

10. some more objects.

11. not open invitation to (“this space that is not yours”)

12. the focus, the wrong way in a crowd

13. who sleeps here

14. torn or rusted from

15. speckled sky cuts

16. the residue of the event (“anti-instagram”)

17. slaughtered this ajar (“this steam on the water” “that aluminum siding”)

18. days late news refracted

19. out at the edge of (“proximity”)

20. wrapped, curled, ducted

21. subflooring

22. you pluck at

23. what contains us

24. left undone, unwashed

25. no one noticed it until

26. patterned, unfocused

27. wilted on leather

28. or peeled back, i was not okay (“after two hours of laying awake” “things are not beautiful”)

29. punched through, verted

30. fucked up on long grasses.

31. or slats in the vision field.

32. leather beneath our shirt fronts.

33. crossed our animal perchings

34. a small world through a window

35. stained or mattressing,

36. what’s caged in the background,

37. the moment discarded.

38. electric hardly

39. the unsliced page

40. streaked with shadow, the

41. memory of fucking, unfocused,

42. again, this plastic homeland.

43. or the trace of or (“someone lives upstairs”)

44. hung again by the out frame

45. oranging, i (“forage through everything”)

46. dammed across the surface

47. sky or old evening paper

48. the desolate space.

49. left.

50. framed.

51. buried.

52. there are too many ceilings.

53. place this bag on your body.

54. place, this sky above you

55. under your feet. crumpled floorward

56. peeling flamewise

57. back here already

58. there is always a soft something between, focus.

59. modern curbside relic.

60. the subject only barely in frame, what makes this a portrait.

61. the irrelevant bean-like center,

62. a price tag,

63. or a hand reaching into

64. what had been there all winter, barely human.

65. it is our discarded crossings that leave an imprint.

66. i do not know what any of this means.

67. maybe it does not, and keeps on.

68. pattern-feeling of home, pattern that could imply map and

69. the beginning was torn away.

70. what is left, is left in ruins.

71. unbound,

72. there are no land lines.

73. again, the window. again, peeling, the curtain behind.

74. again, leaning, says do not enter.

75. with small clay hands

76. rolled up in gravel.

77. again, plastic, again for the taking.

78. place your story here, prop open the door.

79. place your story here on the dashboard, illegible.