Sunday, November 6, 2011

I Am Working on a Specimen So Pale It Is Like Staring at Snow from the Bow of a Ship in Fog

Are you an anarchist? Some questions!

  • If there's a line to get on a crowded bus, do you wait your turn and refrain from elbowing your way past others even in the absence of police?
  • Are you a member of a club or sports team or any other voluntary organization where decisions are not imposed by one leader but made on the basis of general consent? 
  • Do you believe that most politicians are selfish, egotistical swine who don't really care about the public interest? Do you think we live in an economic system which is stupid and unfair?  
  • Do you really believe those things you tell your children (or that your parents told you)?
  • Do you believe that human beings are fundamentally corrupt and evil, or that certain sorts of people (women, people of color, ordinary folk who are not rich or highly educated) are inferior specimens, destined to be ruled by their betters? 

That last question, if he's asking what I think he's asking, is fucked constructually. That last question, if he is asking what he's asking, is fucked categorically.

Hey! The Glands reunited? I love The Glands.

The Glands - Mercury Lounge, NYC by brooklynvegan

The Glands - 2 - Mercury Lounge, NYC by brooklynvegan

[white spring]

Lisa Olstein

I am working on a specimen so pale it is like staring at snow from the bow of a ship in fog. I lose track of things—articulation of wing, fineness of hair—as if the moth itself disappears, but remains as an emptiness before me. Or, from its bleakness, the subtlest distinctions suddenly increase: the slightest shade lighter in white begins to breathe with a starkness that’s arresting and the very idea of color terrifies. It has snowed and the evening is blue. The herders look like buoys, like waders the water has gotten too deep around. They’ll have to swim in to shore. Their horses are patient. They love to be led from their stalls. They love to sharpen their teeth on the gate. They will stand, knees locked, for hours.


  1. 1. Yes.

    2. No. But, wouldn't it depend on the purpose of the group, and the interests to which it were beholden?

    3. No. Most politicians are just people. But, they end up joining an exclusive club with a lot of bennies. People like having bennies. They don't like losing them. And no, we don't live "in an economic" system which is stupid. It's anything but, which is why it's unfair.

    4. This, on the other hand, is a stupid question. Yes, there are stupid questions. This one is unanswerable, because it sets no limits to its available responses. Do I believe every single thing I tell my kids? Sure. Because I don't lie to them. Is every single thing I tell them verifiable? No, because I'm not a deity. I'm human. I'm coded for error.

    5. Surprisingly enough, this is an even more stupid question. By definition, an an-archist doesn't think anyone should be ruled by anyone else, better or not. Christ on a stick...

  2. Thanks for linkage, BDR.

    P.S. Yes, the Sunday morning lineup is atrocious.,,

    Face the Nation has "GOP consultants Liz Cheney, Ed Gillespie and Ed Rollins, CBS News Political Analyst John Dickerson, and Rick Perry supporter Ken Blackwell."

    Well I'm sooo sorry I'm going to miss that.

  3. I've seen Graeber's list of questions before, and I admit that I don't find them as useful as he seems to think they are, mainly for rhetorical purposes. That is, in general, they are poorly worded. However, even given my problems with them, Jack has seemed to read them in the least charitable way possible.

    2. Of course it matters what kind of group it is. He's asking if people have participated in any such group. Inviting an awareness that such groups exist, at all, and can function.

    3. He's not saying the economic system is stupid, but he knows that most people likely see it that way, despite the fact that it is not, as you say, stupid. More importantly, they do likely recognize it as unfair, which is the main point.

    4. Surely he's referring to the things we tell our children about sharing, and the like? Granted, this question is way too vague. Still.

    5. This question is a problem, because it's not parallel with the others. The others imply that a "yes" answer means you might be more anarchist than you think. The opposite is the case here. That is, obviously, if you do not think the things listed in the question, you might be more anarchist than you think.

    "By definition, an an-archist doesn't think anyone should be ruled by anyone else, better or not."

    This, it's not remotely clear what this has to do with the question at all, since there's no reason whatsoever to think Graeber believes otherwise.

  4. Richard,

    I was aware that Graeber was trying to do the whole "you might be an anarchist and not even know it" appeal to progressives, but I think he fails to understand how immune they are to the idea that the capitalist state could even be unsalvageable.

    Hence, the uncharitable irritability of my own answers. I am, otherwise, a big fan of his debt/credit work. Someday I might even be able to afford his book.

  5. Fair enough, Jack.

    His essay collection, Possibilities, is well worth your time as well, should you have access to a University library.