2016.11.28 : pipe dreams

Thanksgiving is come and gone. 

It has been hard not to think of William S. Burroughs’ Thanksgiving Prayer, especially the last line:

Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal
of the last and greatest
of human dreams.

(Content Warning for the poem: racial slurs, anti-gay slurs. Un-varnished representations of America.) 

I read some good bits of advice for weathering the new political climate, both are making the rounds, but a little extra time spent on them won’t be wasted:

Annalisa Merelli’s piece for Quartz, regarding what the US body politic and the US media can learn from Italy’s experiences with Silvio Berlusconi. Namely, that fighting the man does little good, because as Trump has said: All publicity is good publicity. (And the man is a reality TV star, he surely knows what he’s talking about.) We need to refocus away from a critique of his personal or moral foibles and failures, and re-engage with what matters. That means it’s time to (finally) talk policy. 

The other is from Nic Dawes, appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review and made the rounds, at least in the arenas I’m familiar with (it’s all algorithmic and doubtlessly intended to keep me deep in my comfort zone). Dawes is concerned with preparing American journalists for a level of hostility and restricted access they have never encountered before. The freedom of the Press and, more importantly, the importance of the Press is something that has been taken for granted in this country, and ostensibly enshrined in our founding document. It has weathered difficult times and difficult moments before, but never has it faced the total rejection and defamation that is being put forth by the President-elect and his political entourage. 

On the matter of the press, part of me despairs. The calcification of the federal government was at least periodically tempered by the actions of the Press (though not with anything near the level of effectiveness that was necessary). Without any voices playing even nominally playing the role of dissenting opinion or considered criticism, I fear we face a necrotic rather than a merely ailing infrastructure of governance. 

Most of all, fear is what keeps me up at night. If this shock, this pain, this anger continues as it is, and fear sets in long term, we will be lost. The forces of power need us divided and overwhelmed. We must imagine new ways of being, and living, and speaking that will allow us to push back against those instincts to circle the wagons and protect our own. 

Maybe I’ve been watching too much Supergirl lately, but it seems like this moment––when things are dark and bleak and uncertain––is when we must hold out our hands and try and help each other stand. 

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