Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, January 29, 2018

Pants, Panting, Pantomine

Had to order new trousers for work for the fourth time in less than a year -- the first purchase, last February, replaced a 42-inch waist pair of khakis I'd been wearing for four years with a 38-inch waist pair. In May, I replaced those with a 36-inch pair. In July, I replaced those with a 34-inch pair. It's January, and a 32-inch pair of trousers is on its way. My body since my hospitalization back in 2016 has been in a tumult. Insomnia's vice-grip on my nights is now, thankfully, it seems, lightening back a bit into a somewhat more manageable state, two and a half hours of strobing sleeplessness for weeks on end is giving way to nights in which I sleep five or even six hours a night instead.

But in the midst of this distress, how easy it has been to retreat into my body, the living of it in minutes of time, breathing through butterflies while doing dishes in a sink, clearing my mind in something like a savasana posture at three in the morning in hopes drowsiness will cool my burning brain, a long stretch through soreness in my back after an errand, attending to little pleasures in Eric's soft hand or smile at a joke, the avid life of trees around the apartment, the gentle sardonic diversions of British detective shows.

I have little interest anymore in the broader topics that so long obsessed me here. The lies of the futurists are on everybody's tongues these days now that the singularity turns out to have been the stupid refeudalization of the postwar economy while we were distracted by the spectacle of Jeff Bezos re-inventing the Sears catalogue and google/facebook turning cyberspace, "Home of Mind," back into broadcast television. I said all that for years, and now that it may well be too late to make much difference there are plenty of folks publishing shelves of books pointing it all out again anyway.

And, then, who needs the subtle gorgeous models and methods of critical theory to grasp the idiotic awfulness and obvious lies and ugly bigotry of Trump Republicans? I have nothing smart to say about any of that, there is nothing smart to say about any of it, and I don't think finding smart things to say about it is much help to anyone anyway. It's obvious what people have to do -- vote for Democrats, the better they are the better, but vote for them all whoever they are until the Republicans are diverted from their current conspicuously authoritarian path.

As a democratic eco-socialist-feminist queer devoted to the demolition of the rancid knot of white-supremacy, eugenic-ablism, cisheternormative patriarchy, and the present planet-destroying soul-destroying capitalism of possessive-individualist-consumerism and promotional deceptions (of which the lies of the tech boosters I spent decades decrying are just one especially conspicuous and dangerous form), needless to say I think there is much more for artists, activists, thinkers, organizers to do beyond what the diverse continent-scaled coalition of the Democratic Party is devoted to, for now, even at its best.

I don't know if the Democrats can be -- or can eventually be made to be through the pressure of a new generation of organizing -- the instrument for the implementation of the ideals to which I am most devoted in my secret heart (prison abolition and community policing, fully subsidized public education and healthcare and basic income, nationalized public goods, including sustainable transportation, energy, and media infrastructure, and planetary campaigns for soil, water, and atmosphere restoration), but I daresay they are now as they have been all my life the inadequate, compromised, enraging but best actually-available tool on offer to stave off the utter ruin and war I most fear in my secret heart. This year I continue to tread water, attend to the wisdom of my body that wants to live whatever my brittle spirit declares to the contrary, struggle to reconnect with the poetry and practical usefulness of the theory I teach when I can, and see what history brings.

I'd like to think I will be inspired to delve into close readings of events once more once I see my fellow citizens manage to do the bare minimum and vote Republicans and their disgusting outrageous grotesquely unfit idiot bigot into comparative harmlessness in the mid-terms. Electing Clinton would have been the bare minimum back a year ago, and I have no faith that this country can manage even that level of self-preservation, heartening though the Resistance may occasionally have managed to be here and there, and so, for now, my focus is inward, my voice is quiet, and my duty is clear.

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