“Fuck alternative R&B!” FKA Twigs told UK newspaper The Guardian last month. The popstar was clearly distressed by the journalist’s question of how she felt about constant comparison to other “alt R&B” singers such as Banks and Kelela, insisting that her music has more in common with “punk” than it does the neo-generic term that’s been applied to any 2010s R&B-related music that indie publications feel comfortable writing about. "When I first released music and no one knew what I looked like, I would read comments like: 'I've never heard anything like this before, it's not in a genre,'” she continued. “And then my picture came out six months later, now she's an R&B singer. I share certain sonic threads with classical music; my song “Preface” is like a hymn. So let's talk about that. If I was white and blonde and said I went to church all the time, you'd be talking about the 'choral aspect'. But you're not talking about that because I'm a mixed-race girl from south London."
PHILIPS: The great thing about the psychoanalytic treatment is that it doesn’t work in the usual sense of work. I don’t mean by this to avoid the fact that it addresses human suffering. I only mean that it takes for granted that an awful lot of human suffering is simply intractable, that there’s a sense in which character is intractable. People change, but there really are limits. One thing you discover in psychoanalytic treatment is the limits of what you can change about yourself or your life. We are children for a very long time. INTERVIEWER: So what’s the point? PHILLIPS: The point is that it’s an experiment in what your life might be like if you speak freely to another person—speak and allow that person to show you the ways in which you stop yourself thinking and speaking freely. I don’t mean by that that it doesn’t change symptoms. I know by my own experience that it does. But I think the most interesting thing about it is its unpredictability. If you buy a fridge, there are certain things you will be guaranteed. If you buy a psychoanalysis, you won’t be. It’s a real risk, and that also is the point of it. Patients come because they are suffering from something. They want that suffering to be alleviated. Ideally, in the process of doing the analysis, they might find their suffering is alleviated or modified, but also they might discover there are more important things than to alleviate one’s suffering.
"When most Americans think about teachers, we don’t imagine mediocre or average minds ingrained with pedestrian prejudices. We don’t much imagine teachers who are irrationally afraid of black kids, even though we know many if not all white Americans are irrationally afraid of black kids. We know many American adults believe all sorts of crazy things, and we caution children not to trust strangers. At the same time, we turn them over to a structure of civil servants that was originally designed to teach them to obey the King of Prussia. Is it possible that the American public education system is a really bad idea? And can I even say that without becoming a tool in an anti-worker corporate agenda?"
And then, later: let’s consider that most people writing comics in the top three most sold publishers in the US (at least, and probably more like top 10-15) are heterosexual white men in their thirties or forties. I am one of the youngest and most successful writers (and also white men, albeit not identifying as hetero, at least) in comics and I am turning twenty-eight this month. I got my first comic published when I was twenty-five. Jack Kirby got his start in comics when he was nineteen. That’s a six year gap right there, and I am a fairly unique case in being where I am so supposedly early, although it feels late to me, often, and the truth of the matter is that it’s exactly when it’s supposed to be, probably.
I had to work my ass off to get recognized. The publisher line for a graphic novel about school shootings, acid and multiverse theories was non-existent. The idea that a boy/man with a fairly strong (at the time) accent, freshly off the boat in a new country, should be working in our industry? Sure, wait a few years, kid. Take the runaround. Eat shit (or tuna from a can, which in a few months becomes the same thing, and if you want to make it special, throw some rice and mustard on it). We don’t care that you have acclaimed artists lined up. So your stories are good? No one gives a shit. We need the stuff that already sold. Or, you know, we need you to succeed somewhere else first, then we can work with you.
Cue Filip Sablik of then Top Cow giving me a small but important gig and Eric Stephenson of Image Comics giving me a chance — and I’ve been with Image Comics ever since. Seeing as I am a person who was perpetually told my dreams would fail — even by my own family — and seeing the history of abuse and bad shit and the air that kills you where I mostly grew up, this isn’t a small thing.
But this isn’t about me.
If this was hard for me — and I survived it and got somewhere good as a still fairly privileged white male, how hard is it to be a young woman? Or a young woman of color, for that matter?
"It wasn’t 100% socially unacceptable to be a total space-case either: this was the era of Mondo 2000, of Douglas Rushkoff being a thing, of The Shamen having hit records referencing Terrence McKenna and saying “ooh coming on like a seventh sense”. You couldn’t turn round in a rave of any kind without bumping into someone who believed that aliens seeded civilisation, that if you put 23 speakers in a circle their soundwaves would create a crystal formation and invoke higher intelligences, that ketamine turned your brain into an astral aerial etc etc etc. And despite all the silliness, musically, this wasn’t such an awful place to be. The free parties on the beaches and the South Downs attracted all walks of raver life and were often glorious, and nights like Megadog and Megatripolis were incredible parties, with their omnipresent UV and alien motifs creating a space for total abandon. Dancing in a Club Dog “BOIL YOUR HEAD” t-shirt in the middle of the floor to Aphex Twin and Orbital live sets at the Megadog /Midi Circus tour, on my 19th birthday, then stumbling over the road to fire bolts of pure blue lightning out of my face into the night sky* definitely counts as one of the most intense experiences of my life."
"The bleak male rage is problematic. Roughly 90% of violence in the world is perpetrated by men. We also start most wars. The bleak male rage is the “black thing” war veterans with PTSD talk about. To quote Alan Moore’s “25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom,” sexually open and progressive cultures such as ancient Greece have given the West almost all of its civilizing aspects, whereas sexually repressive cultures such as late Rome have given us the Dark Ages. We live in a world where we are taught to be afraid of sexuality but we accept hate and violence as normal parts of our daily lives. We can show a head torn off in a comic without a problem but a woman’s nipple gets people upset. It’s time to change that narrative. In order to understand what is happening I posit that the root factor of violence is often shame. The church or the government (what’s the difference, really?) tell us what we can do and can not do with our bodies, which parts we can show and which parts we can not — and unless we’re harming other people, there is never any need for that. What then does such repression do? What is the aim? I posit that the aim is to create soldiers. All the unspent energy has to go somewhere. Sex dissolves barriers. War creates them. As long as we stay unaware of our conditioning, we might be processed by the machine. How to get out of it? Exploration and dissection are perhaps always the first moves. Identify the systems and then act. A healthy dose of screwing also helps."
"You fellas think of comics in terms of comic books, but you're wrong. I think you fellas should think of comics in terms of drugs, in terms of war, in terms of journalism, in terms of selling, in terms of business. And if you have a viewpoint on drugs, or if you have a viewpoint on war, or if you have a viewpoint on the economy, I think you can tell it more effectively in comics than you can in words. I think nobody is doing it. Comics is journalism."
What does it feel like to be you? Yeah. It feels good to be you, doesn’t it? It feels good, because there’s one thing that you are — you’re the only one that’s you, right?. So you’re the only one that’s you, and we get confused sometimes — or I do, I think everyone does — you try to compete. You think, Dammit, someone else is trying to be me. Someone else is trying to be me. But I don’t have to armor myself against those people; I don’t have to armor myself against that idea if I can really just relax and feel content in this way and this regard.
If I can just feel, just think now: How much do you weigh? This is a thing I like to do with myself when I get lost and I get feeling funny. How much do you weigh? Think about how much each person here weighs and try to feel that weight in your seat right now, in your bottom right now. Parts in your feet and parts in your bum. Just try to feel your own weight, in your own seat, in your own feet. Okay? So if you can feel that weight in your body, if you can come back into the most personal identification, a very personal identification, which is: I am. This is me now. Here I am, right now. This is me now. Then you don’t feel like you have to leave, and be over there, or look over there. You don’t feel like you have to rush off and be somewhere. There’s just a wonderful sense of well-being that begins to circulate up and down, from your top to your bottom. Up and down from your top to your spine. And you feel something that makes you almost want to smile, that makes you want to feel good, that makes you want to feel like you could embrace yourself.
So what’s it like to be me? You can ask yourself, What’s it like to be me? You know, the only way we’ll ever know what it’s like to be you is if you work your best at being you as often as you can, and keep reminding yourself: That’s where home is.
“The Inspectorate of Constabulary says that police now tell victims of property crimes to “solve the crimes themselves,” directing them over the phone to review CCTV footage and canvas their neighbourhoods for witnesses.
The police say that in austerity Britain, they can’t give priority to property crimes and don’t have the personnel to attend the scenes of such crimes in person. However, the UK’s domestic security apparatus does have millions to squander on a full-time Julian Assange stakeout, mass surveillance, a titanic DNA database, endless and racist stop-and-frisk harassment, undercover infiltration of peaceful environmental groups, and the imprisonment of countless people convicted of petty drug crimes.”—UK police watchdog: burglary and car crime “on verge of being decriminalised” - Boing Boing (via wilwheaton)
“But : We’re still human. Human because we keep on battling against all these horrors, the horrors caused and not caused by us. We battle not in order to stay alive, that would be too materialistic, for we are body and spirit, but in order to love each other.”—Kathy Acker, Empire of the Senseless (via fifidunks)
"In that largely Muslim part of the world, the U.S. left a grim record that we in this country generally tend to discount or forget when we decry the barbarism of others. We are now focused in horror on ISIS’s video of the murder of journalist James Foley, a propaganda document clearly designed to drive Washington over the edge and into more active opposition to that group. We, however, ignore the virtual library of videos and other imagery the U.S. generated, images widely viewed (or heard about and discussed) with no less horror in the Muslim world than ISIS’s imagery is in ours. As a start, there were the infamous “screen saver” images straight out of the Marquis de Sade from Abu Ghraib prison. There, Americans tortured and abused Iraqi prisoners, while creating their own iconic version of crucifixion imagery. Then there were the videos that no one (other than insiders) saw, but that everyone heard about. These, the CIA took of the repeated torture and abuse of al-Qaeda suspects in its “black sites.” In 2005, they were destroyed by an official of that agency, lest they be screened in an American court someday. There was also the Apache helicopter video released by WikiLeaks in which American pilots gunned down Iraqi civilians on the streets of Baghdad (including two Reuters correspondents), while on the sound track the crew are heard wisecracking. There was the video of U.S. troops urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. There were the trophy photos of body parts brought home by U.S. soldiers. There were the snuff filmsof the victims of Washington’s drone assassination campaigns in the tribal backlands of the planet (or “bug splat,” as the drone pilots came to call the dead from those attacks) and similar footage from helicopter gunships. There was the bin Laden snuff film video from the raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, of which President Obama reportedly watched a live feed. And that’s only to begin to account for some of the imagery produced by the U.S. since September 2001 from its various adventures in the Greater Middle East."
"In the medieval period, dying was not lying alone in a hospital bed surrounded by professional strangers in white coats. It was a communal process where mourning as well as contemplation could be done together."
“Great fashion writing doesn’t reduce everything to what is for sale, what’s hot and not. Great fashion writing looks at clothing and the uses of clothing with the same amount of cultural reverence we give a Lars von Trier movie or the U.S. Open, as something that exists, and it asks why it exists, and how it fits into its larger culture.”—Haley Mlotek, On Lena, On Rihanna, On Kimye: The Very Necessary Death Of “Vogue” (March 24th, 2014)
"As for the why of it, “ZERO” is certainly about war and how it thrives on (at least) two things: unprocessed loss and lack of the feminine. The lack of the feminine comes to its horrifying, troubling head with #9, but it’s present throughout: in the cast, in the absence of genuine nurturing, in emotions that are avoided or repressed, in creativity and sexuality redirected into violence and war, into the black war impulse, the “black thing,” as soldiers with PTSD often call it. Unprocessed loss is there from issue one, as well. If I look back at myself in early 2013, writing the first issues of “ZERO”, I knew I wanted to write it in order to dissect, understand and mutate precisely that bleak, dark thing that came hand in hand with anger and violent impulses. I’ve been in fights and I do believe in the beauty of a consensual fight, which is a way of play, but I do not believe in fight that is rooted in wanting to commit violence. And sometimes I saw an emotion or a thought pass through me and I went — what the fuck is this doing inside me? I need to investigate it. Where is this rooted? Why would a child ever smash ants? Why would a man ever get into a fight when there’s a chance to avoid hurting another person, or himself, or both? I discovered a lot of this bleak dark thing had to do with loss in my family. During writing Zero I had discovered, by asking questions and by being kind, and also by applying some psychomagic principles before I even knew how exactly psychomagic worked but I did it regardless because it’s essentially a shamanic tradition and I came to realize that I am a shaman. How could I not be? It’s part of what I do every day. I can enter trance states, I can help myself heal, I can help other people heal. Sometimes I can see spirits. Are they ghosts of other people or other life forms, or are they Jungian externalizations of my psyche? Shit, why not both? Anyway, loss: I discovered my grandfather on my mom’s side lost his father in Latvia during the Second World War. Then, before he was eleven or so, he lost a girl he loved — she was an Ukrainian prisoner of war who became a part of his family, shot to death by the Russians as they were liberating and “liberating” Czechoslovakia. My grandmother on my mom’s side spent days underneath the ruins of their house when she was just four years old or so, and likely saw multiple atrocities. My grandmother on my father’s side saw her father die of a heart attack on the Christmas day when she was about eight — he died in her arms as she stuffed his mouth with adrenaline pills the doctor left behind after his first episode. My grandfather on my dad’s side lost his father early as well. Thus I realized my family is riddled with unprocessed post-traumatic stress syndrome. Thus continued my way towards healing myself. And through that, perhaps, towards healing my family as well, and maybe helping others, too."
Over the past month or so, I’ve been exchanging e-mails with Ales Kot, as we often do. I feel this is important to state upfront because while Ales certainly finds himself being interviewed at variousother outlets, our relationship is (assumedly) slightly different. Whether it’s the discussion of films that we think the other will appreciate, discussing scripts or simply catching up, I often find myself e-mailing with Ales — so when the time comes for us to talk in a way that will be shared with people outside of ourselves, I think noting our familiarity with one another and the comfort in which we talk is an aspect of our conversations that should be considered.
That being said, today I am presenting on the site a portion of a recent set of dialogue that transpired between Ales and myself. Starting on August 11th, Ales and I discussed a great many things regarding his work in the comic industry and in regards to himself as a person, how his experiences translate into his work and from where his inspiration comes from. While the conversation is cut-off (specifically because we both agreed that we’d reached a good breaking point for this portion of the article), this first installment of “My E-mails with Ales” finds us discussing in great length the second volume of his creator-owned series “ZERO,” with the second collected volume ‘At the Heart of it All’ arriving in stores next week. (Of course, this means that spoilers are discussed.)