The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson

The Real State of Things

I’m not gonna lie: life has been kinda shit for me lately. There’s the EU referendum on my mind, the Orlando shooting, the fact that Donald Trump is still presidential candidate, and a whole lot of personal stuff I won’t get into. I haven’t been able to read really, much less write. So I thought I’d let my fingers tap the keys and see where it takes me.

Today I wanted to talk to you about God Loves, Man Kills, the classic X-Men graphic novel, which I’ve read finally. It had been on my shelf for a while and on my radar for much longer, but I only felt the need to open it a few days after the Orlando shooting. I wanted to tell you how its nuanced portrayal of religious fanaticism had reminded me that there were solutions to terrorism. I wanted to tell you about writer Chris Claremont’s imperfect use of the mutant metaphor. On the whole, I wanted to reassure you (and myself) that using pop culture as a catalyst for your feelings was not only acceptable, but recommended.

From God Loves, Man Kills, by Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson

But the blog post went nowhere. It turned around in my head for days, new Word documents popping up on my desktop and just as swiftly discarded, until I realised that my heart wasn’t in it. All of a sudden, talking about oppression and discrimination through pop culture felt like hiding. It felt too safe and trivial to express what I was feeling. If I stuck to reviewing God Loves, Man Kills, I would produce a soulless piece. And my own soul would remain heavy.

Because seriously guys, the world is fucked up. I can’t be the only one who’s feeling it. I actually think that I was conditioned to feel the weight, because, as my elders were keen on reminding me when I was younger, I am part of the generation that had it all. As a white, middle-class European who grew up in the 90s, I was gifted peaceful, affluent, worry-free formative years. We would go to university, get a job, and witness the world slowly free itself of the socio-economical concerns that had plagued history.

From The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson

Faced with the reactionary wave that seems to be taking over the world, what are we supposed to do now? We ploughed on after our sense of security collapsed with the Twin Towers, we coped with the recession turning our diplomas into toilet paper, and now we’re supposed to accept having our ideals crushed too?

But of course, everything will be all right in the end. The UK can’t possibly leave the EU. Donald Trump can’t possibly become US president. They can’t privatise healthcare. Times have changed, we’re not going back. Really? Go ask a Syrian lawyer living in Calais’ Jungle if we can’t go back. Go ask a trans person in North Carolina. Go ask a girl detained at a deportation centre what she thinks of your vision of the world. Our privilege makes us gullible and ripe for the reaping. I guess that’s only fair.

From Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, by Warsan Shire

The personal stuff I mentioned earlier? It has everything to do with what I talk about on this blog: discrimination, sexism, patriarchy, gender rules, oppression, and capitalism. I’m undergoing the shock of seeing my level of privilege go down. It’ like a veil lifting and reality appearing behind it, and lemme tell you, life doesn’t look too stable there. As of right now, the state of the big world is robbing all certainty out of my small life.

The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson

So that’s me. I feel like I should apologise to the many people who had to hear me rant lately, but the truth is, I don’t want to. I’m happy to be the voice to remind you that the world is not a nice place. That it’s up to us to make it and keep it a nice place. What I’ll say for my defense is that I’m depressed. I’m numb from carrying the concern and powerlessness. I can’t do it on my own anymore. Does anyone else feel this way?

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