from ‘My Love Don’t Cost a Thing’

It is easy to say nothing. Nearly every song I’ve ever heard says nothing, whether by accident or intention. In ‘Welcome to New York’, which often plays on the radio these days, Taylor Swift greets a terrifying nowhere that supposes inclusion while ensuring the door to the city is locked. Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’, which doesn’t play so often any more, is the opposite, but to describe either or do the work that insists that these particular evocations of sudden solidarity with others matter now or will in a future that most certainly will never come seems a little flawed. Like can’t you stop, because the cessation of these interests that supposedly transcend my life for the Top 40 or the iTunes Top 10 is totally dumb. I suppose I can but isn’t Taylor’s best friend Lorde cute when she hunches up Gollum-like to paw at the camera? I’ve always identified with this position: the sixteen-year-old who, unsure of how to act at the Grammys, only acts as an end in itself, flailing and throwing herself about, liberated of those constraints of taste that might keep her from behaving a little dorky on stage. I suppose the intersection of these desires presents a challenge I would like to refuse. I find myself believing that language is failing me while it succeeds for everyone else. Flailing about, my vocabulary gets lost in loopy grammar yet I suspect the generally implied super- connection of language is still achievable if I continue to work at it, even though the assumption that, no matter what, you can say something remains awfully incorrect. Grievances of this kind should not accumulate. On Twitter, Jackie Wang has been quoting Hélène Cixous, someone I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read. Wang quotes: ‘Because she arrives, vibrant, over and again, we are at the beginning of a new history.’ Wang tweets that Cixous didn’t begin to write until she was twenty-seven and, ‘I’m trying to remind myself that this is only the beginning.’ I am, too. She continues to quote Cixous: ‘I am spacious, singing flesh, on which is grafted no one knows which I, more or less human, but alive because of transformation.’ One minute later: ‘Her libido is cosmic, just as her unconscious is worldwide. Her writing can only keep going.’ One minute later: ‘she goes and passes into infinity.’ The same minute: ‘She alone dares and wishes to know from within, where she, the outcast, has never ceased to hear the resonance of fore-language.’ Two minutes later: ‘airborne swimmer, in flight, she does not cling to herself; she is dispersible, prodigious, stunning, desirous & capable of others.’ With this I am reminded, somewhat simultaneously, of two unrelated things: (1) Kathy Acker’s line from Demonology, My Mother: ‘Red was the color of wildness and of what is as yet unknown,’ red being many things for Acker, including nightmare, passion, journeys into the interior, hidden flesh, the unconscious, rage, and violence; and (2) Jackie Wang’s Against Innocence, her refutation of the liberal politics of ‘innocence’ and their direct appeal to the white imaginary, which upholds the dominant social structure that declares the bodies of others criminal in order to ‘cleanse’ urban spaces for whites. Of course there’s a lot more – and the impulse to summarize is itself a kind of violence – but she continues to tweet Cixous and I return to my feed: ‘In one another we will never be lacking.’ A minute later: ‘Each body distributes in its own special way, without model or norm, the nonfinite and changing totality of its desires.’ And finally: ‘we’re not going to repress something so simple as the desire for life.’ This afternoon I walked home in the snow from my boyfriend’s and felt a fussy sadness that left me a sludge of indistinct feelings. The night before we had stayed up till 3am waiting for a ‘potentially historic Nor’easter’ that never came, though what of the blizzard came to New York City dropped a considerable amount of snow on the ground. Walking I thought that maybe there was a poem I’d read at some point about unrealized blizzards but I couldn’t remember who wrote it or if it even existed. Poetry is an idiotic impulse but it is exactly this quality that makes it worthwhile, linked to idiocy by way of the history of that word, which comes from the Greek and means private person. Poetry is a form of privacy and as everyone knows privacy is idiotic but I like that. Again, grievances of this kind should not accumulate.

Andrew Durbin