"Imparting advice is tricky — while I am always excited to and interested in speaking with women of color about how identity intersects with their own writing, I’m still very much in an incubation period. I am a slow writer, (it’s looking more and more like I read more than I write), I don’t take as many chances as I’d like to take, and sometimes I feel too susceptible to too many opinions or hashtag-type waves of precipitous discussions. What I will say and what I’ve always said is, it’s vital to meet other women writers — women of color writers especially — and to surround yourself by them. The year that followed college I was still living in that residual space where I seemed prone to writers named Jonathan (yikes!) and where I thought being smart (whatever that means) was the ultimate pursuit. I was not writing for myself. I have since learned to write for the three or four people (mostly women) who I admire most on this planet, who I know hear and love hearing my take on things. A litmus test of who those people are would be to check your inbox. Who do you write your best emails to?
After college, I was surrounded by too many white male writers and journalists. They were everywhere! I even wrote a dopey fan letter to, of all people, Jonathan Franzen, seeking advice. He wrote back, months later, and recommended I read Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge and added the following: “My first piece of advice, perhaps already unnecessary, is to seek out a reader or two whom you can trust to be maximally and lovingly hard on what you write.” The words “lovingly hard on what you write” were not, for me at least, the right advice, though I guess it was cool that he wrote back. Thing is, I was already hard on myself. As a woman of color, aren’t we all already so hard on ourselves? Either trying from a young age to fit in, or be the best, or be invisible? What I needed was to trust myself more, trust my voice, let it run a bit before it could walk, and believe that my own way of seeing things and making connections were valid. It’s funny to write now, but even a year ago, I felt like my words were illegitimate. Meeting other women writers of color, especially so in the last year, has given me so much momentum. The ways in which a simple, knowing nod can encourage me back to my computer are breathtaking. I now write not just as a reader but as someone who trusts that my lived experience can offer more to the conversation. Sometimes I just remind myself to feel valid and to know that I can only approach the macro through my own micro experience.”
“Police in Ferguson, Mo., on Monday began telling protesters – who have been gathered for days demanding justice for the death of an unarmed teenager at the hands of police – that they were no longer allowed to stand in place for more than five seconds, but had to keep moving. When inquiries were made to law enforcement officers regarding which law prohibits gathering or standing for more than five seconds on public sidewalks,” the ACLU of Missouri wrote in its emergency federal court filing to block the apparent policy, “the officers indicated that they did not know and that it did not matter. The officers further indicated that they were following the orders of their supervisors, whom they refused to name.” The ACLU argued the policy was a prior restraint on speech and asked for a temporary restraining order.
“The attorney general came to court via phone and announced that there was an alternative speech zone that was being set up,” Tony Rothert, the legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, told msnbc. That satisfied the judge, who agreed it was a close call but denied the ACLU’s request to block the policy.
So where and what was that free speech zone? “It’s supposed to be at the intersection of Ferguson and Florissant,” Rothert said. “There is a field there, but it is padlocked and no one can get in.”—America 2014: “Free Speech Zone padlocked and no one can get in." Yeah, that about sums it up. (via twiststreet)
“The French called this time of day ‘l’heure bleue.’ To the English it was ‘the gloaming.’ The very word ‘gloaming’ reverberates, echoes—the gloaming, the glimmer, the glitter, the glisten, the glamour—carrying in its consonants the images of houses shuttering, gardens darkening, grass-lined rivers slipping through the shadows. During the blue nights you think the end of day will never come. As the blue nights draw to a close (and they will, and they do) you experience an actual chill, an apprehension of illness, at the moment you first notice: the blue light is going, the days are already shortening, the summer is gone.”—Joan Didion, Blue Nights (via adult-mag)
"There is a great phobia about the mind: the Western mind is very queasy when first principles are questioned. Rarer than corpses in this society are the untreated mad, because we can’t come to terms with that. A shaman is someone who swims in the same ocean as the schizophrenic, but the shaman has thousands and thousands of years of sanctioned technique and tradition to draw upon. In a traditional society, if you exhibited “schizophrenic” tendencies, you are immediately drawn out of the pack and put under the care and tutelage of master shamans. You are told: “You are special. Your abilities are very central to the health of our society. You will cure. You will prophesy. You will guide our society in its most fundamental decisions.” Contrast this with what a person exhibiting schizophrenic activity in our society is told. They’re told: “You don’t fit in. You are becoming a problem. You don’t pull your own weight. You are not of equal worth to the rest of us. You are sick. You have to go to the hospital. You have to be locked up.” – You are on a par with prisoners and lost dogs in our society. So that treatment of schizophrenia makes it incurable."
"Let’s not kid ourselves: adultery is rife. In a way, the socially accepted norm of monogamy requires lying. It’s almost like monogamous couples actually prefer to be lied to rather than deal with the uncomfortable reality of extramarital attraction. With nonmonogamy, you’re admittedly entering into risky territory. But with ground rules and communication, the result could be a more honest, fulfilling relationship. And since keeping jealousy in check and feeling secure can be the hardest parts of maintaining a relationship for me, I began to wonder if nonmonogamy could teach me something on a deeper level that monogamy couldn’t—if perhaps these orgy people were really onto something."
"Nothing that happened in Ferguson, Missouri, on the fourth night since Michael Brown died at the hands of a police officer there, dispelled the notion that this is a place where law enforcement is capable of gross overreaction. Just after sundown on Wednesday, local and state officers filled West Florissant Avenue, the main thoroughfare, with massive clouds of tear gas. They lobbed flash grenades at protesters who were gathered there to demand answers, and, at times, just propelled them down the street. That they ordered the crowd to disperse was not noteworthy. That the order was followed by successive waves of gas, hours after the protests ended, became an object lesson in the issues that brought people into the streets in the first place. Two journalists, Wesley Lowery, of the Washington Post, and Ryan Reilly, of the Huffington Post, and a St. Louis Alderman, Antonio French, were arrested. (The journalists were let go without charges; the alderman, as his wife told reporters, was released after being charged with unlawful assembly.) What transpired in the streets appeared to be a kind of municipal version of shock and awe; the first wave of flash grenades and tear gas had played as a prelude to the appearance of an unusually large armored vehicle, carrying a military-style rifle mounted on a tripod. The message of all of this was something beyond the mere maintenance of law and order: it’s difficult to imagine how armored officers with what looked like a mobile military sniper’s nest could quell the anxieties of a community outraged by allegations regarding the excessive use of force. It revealed itself as a raw matter of public intimidation. Whatever happened to Michael Brown in the moments before he died has become secondary to what the response to his death has revealed. The name of the officer who shot him remains unknown. Even the number of times that Brown was shot has not been disclosed, despite the completion of a preliminary autopsy. Jon Belmar, the St. Louis County Chief of Police, justified withholding the officer’s name by citing a deluge of threats against the department and noting that he has not been charged with a crime. In the same press conference, Belmar released the name of a nineteen-year-old young man who was shot in the head by a police officer during the previous night, who Belmar said brandished a firearm during a protest. The young man remains in critical condition, but, if he survives, he will be charged with felony assault of a police officer. Belmar stated that he saw no reason to doubt the officer’s version of the events. Two days earlier, the police department had pledged to investigate Brown’s death while simultaneously stating that the shooting was the result of a struggle in which Brown allegedly went for an officer’s weapon. They had, at that point, not interviewed the witnesses who claimed that Michael Brown was shot down while running away or attempting to surrender. Inside of a week, two black teen-agers have been shot by police and, in both instances, the bureaucratic default setting has favored law enforcement, fuelling a perception that the department is either inept or beholden to a certain nonchalance about the possibility of police brutality."
Mary Gaitskill When I said earlier that I don’t think it’s morally wrong to create images of women in victimized or submissive roles, that doesn’t mean that I’m insensitive to the type of pain that women suffer in this society. I think this is a very sexist society, a society in which women have suffered a great deal. Not just women personally, but a society in which a female spirit is not respected. And that’s actually quite painful to me; it’s not something that I’m indifferent to at all. Does that sound contradictory?
SW Not to me.
MG It’s not. I don’t think it addresses that problem, though, to write stories in which there’s an artificial treatment of women’s pain, in which it’s sort of triumphed over to big theme music, and women are shown as being, you know, Nautilus-machine strong, which is a type of strong that doesn’t interest me because it’s a strength disconnected from vulnerability and weakness, which to me isn’t real strength at all, but is actually a dislocated posturing which makes it possible to despise the vulnerability of others. I just don’t think that this type of judgment and instructional didactic writing is gonna help anything. Before you can heal pain you have to acknowledge it and feel it.
The thing about the flight back to the UK on the excellent Air New Zealand is that the toilet just behind my seating section has a low window set in it that I always forget about, and so one has the unsettling experience in the middle of the night of shambling to the toilet, initiating urination, and suffering the extremely unsettling optical illusion of pissing on Greenland.
has any fan called you at your cell just to talk or whatever? how did you take it?
I don’t know if the people identify as “fans” or “readers” or else, but yes, sometimes people do text, occasionally maybe also call. If I remember correctly, I take it with kindness and (usually) curiosity.
In issue 7 of Zero, I couldn't help but notice that when Zero has his dream, it really reminded me of Under The Skin. The atmosphere, the colors and ocean, all reminiscent of the film, which I think was glorious if that's what you and matt taylor were going for.
Do you have any idea on how long you want Zero to go? Or is it just something where you haven't planned out exactly how many issues but just know what you want to do with the story and when you've done that it'll end?
I know how long it will be. I had different ideas regarding the length, and the number of chapters recently became clear. Announcement will come when ready.
I want to thank you for confusing the hell out of me with Zero. Challenging stories are really under appreciated today and you are at the forefront. However, I do hope that as time goes on more and more dots connect. I don't want everything spelled out by I hope I am not as befuddled to the ending as I was when I read #10. Keep doing your thing.
Thank you and you’re welcome. I don’t see the story as particularly challenging — it’s just open to interpretation as far as I’m concerned. This, of course, doesn’t make your interpretation any less valid.
One thing that occurs to me is that people who primarily identify as comics readers (not necessarily talking about you here) are sometimes not used to the idea of possible multiple interpretations, and there seems to be a plague of totalitarian “there can be only one” interpretation system spilling through various media, a wave of totalitarian nerd crypto-fascism that is afraid of the intellectual, of the chaotic, of the “impure,” of anything that does not conform to the order system the spectator wants to impose upon the work.
But perhaps the plague is simply a wave and the wave is dying, or perhaps it is the same as it ever was, or different.
As for the ending — you’ll see when you get there.
And I have to do me. Everyone else is already taken.
“I don’t care if Mike Brown was going to college soon. This should not matter. We should not have to prove Mike Brown was worthy of living. We should not have to account for the ways in which he is suitably respectable. We should not have to prove that his body did not deserve to be riddled with bullets. His community should not have to silence their anger so they won’t be accused of rioting, so they won’t become targets too.”—"silence is not an option," roxane gay (via brookehatfield)