What Kind of Times Are These

What Kind of Times Are These

BY ADRIENNE RICH

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.

DANCE
The choreographic moment, ideas from Jeanine Durning
Anna Sperber at New York Live Arts

MUSIC
Twenty-seven by Amy Klein
Laura Gibson on KEXP

DRUMPF
A comprehensive list of public figures who have supported Trump
Pictures of Nazi rallies at Madison Square Garden

DRUGS
A comprehensive guide to psychedelic drug combinations

COMMENTARY
The staggering toxicity of Vice Principals

HILARITY
I replaced the word Millenials with 43-year-old White Man and now these headlines are…
Longhorn cow scratches itch with his horns

HOW PEOPLE ARE MADE
The literature of pregnancy and new motherhood
Why I’m glad I was raised by a sex-positive mother
Photoessay of birth (NSFW)

MEN’S ISSUES
Women get paid less than men and it’s not women’s fault
Hillary Clinton answers 40 years of ridiculous questions

Image credit
(Pro tip: Email subscribers, click title for pic of young Adrienne Rich)

Who Will Be Heard?

This morning I read an internet post in which someone tried to argue we did not put Buzz Aldrin or Neil Armstrong on the moon because no wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had been found. No, really. And that got me thinking: the internet is becoming an echo chamber of fools, with branded channels to provide a pseudo-respite from the cacophony. The big channels have become like cable networks, each with its own target demographic, anxieties and aspirations, ad buys and media. I click around and around and around. I find the channels that interest me. Sometimes—and when it happens, it feels like magic—I stumble on a piece of treasure in the midst of the mess, and I want to share. 

Fundamentally, I believe in the democratization of information, but I would be willfully blind if I did not acknowledge the need for curation in the chaos. Play every sound at once and you get static. The fact is, the more voices there are, the more we need unique voices. But that’s where the role of gatekeepers becomes tricky. Which voices get amplified?

I ask that question out of time. You can find the answer for the past in the historical record and in your memory/knowledge of who the greats of history have been. That many of the greats come from one or two demographic groups is evidence of what cultural obstacles prevented other groups from rising and/or from being remembered. For the present, the answer is in the surveys, like VIDA count, that keep track of who gets heard. But I ask that question out of time because I am obsessed with how we define the criteria for amplification. I think we want to believe in a meritocracy, where everything of quality gets the loudest signal, but a cursory survey of viral content or even who is given a platform on the networks and big internet channels belies this belief. Instead, the looking glass is ever-pointed at our values. The things we find funny are tainted by our taboos. The people we trust as authorities fit our cultural biases of what an authority looks and sounds like. The celebrities we watch and follow are the gods and goddesses of our inadequacies. The outrage we perform is rooted in what we hold sacred and inviolable.

Watching the media of other countries gives an equally salient experience of what any given country holds dear. So I wonder: what would a gatekeeper look and sound like, that did not have these cultural blindnesses? Would it have a perspective? Is it even possible for quality to be a perspective, outside of a culture’s definition of what quality is? The work that people do, presently, to have more women and minorities heard, is often characterized as giving a more diverse swath of quality voices a platform—but I think too, if not moreso, this work is about changing what our culture considers quality and by extension, what our culture values. 

That scares the hell out of the people who could, in the past, take for granted that their voices would be valued and amplified. They know instinctively that we can only hear so much, read so much, watch so much, and they resent the new competition. The echo chamber of fools is full of these angry anonymous, shouting desperately to be heard. They don’t want the criteria to change. They don’t want the values to shift. And much to their chagrin, they are becoming the noise. I say that confidently, even as the noise has its own Presidential candidate.  Fundamentalism, religious or secular, is a sign of the shifting, a response to the changes already happening. It doesn’t mean a new epoch has begun, but it does mean we are living in a transition. For what it’s worth, I hope we come out the other side with new definitions, values and a more inclusive culture that is also reflected in our media and by our gatekeepers. But there’s no guarantee. The signal is vacillating. Who will be heard?

Obligatory unrelated links:

POLITIK
Only 9% of America chose Trump and Clinton: A lesson in American democracy
From Reagan to Trump

MEN’S ISSUES
The big sexy problem with superheroines and their liberated sexuality
The plight of the alpha female
10 ways to identify a witch

CUTE SET
14 terrifying facts about otherwise adorable animals
Tiger cubs being ridiculously cute
Buffalo can be cute, right?

Image credit

That’s a Wrap

VOYEUR FRIDAY
LJ email, Circa 2010
Subject: exchange of possessions

I would like to figure out when I can get my stuff back from you. I will return your shirt and jeans and boxers. I hope you found my underwear and argyle tights? My hat? Are any of the above items still missing?

If so, I will live, unless my hat has disappeared, in which case I will have a conniption fit.    ―LJ

POLITIK
How shade is done
Hillary Clinton dressed as Dolly Parton
Herblock Collection of Political Cartoons at the Library of Congress

‘MERICA
19 Maps that will help you put the United States in perspective
Money art, aka defaced Presidents

CINEMA OBSCURA
Classic cinema online
La maman et la putain

LADY LOVE
Podcast: On being lesbian in a straight marriage
Lesbian pulp book covers 1935-1965

MOMENT OF SUBLIMITY
Otters chase a butterfly

Image credit

Wednesday Relief

“Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”  ― Abigail Adams

COMEDY
Janelle James will make you LAUGHCRYLAUGH
Straight from ComicCon: Justin Roilan, the voice of both Rick and Morty, reads a Georgian court transcript with his characters’ voices. The result is HILARIOUS. (headphones or else NSFW)
Chris Fleming’s Youtube Channel
Consensus, from David Mitchell’s Soapbox
PARIS, by John Early and Kate Berlant has me rolling

COMMENTARY
An analysis of Bill Clinton’s First Gentleman speech
Posthumously: Pat Conroy on the Anatomy of a Divorce (his own)
The Gospel of Consumption

CUTE
Munchkin meowing
Dog puts himself to bed

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