They're saying it's a Tuesday.
I shared this short story from ACWF on Twitter and on Bluesky the other day (follow me there!) and I was genuinely moved by the reaction to it. Like it was the best thing I had ever written. I honestly had no idea it was even any good never mind "one of the good ones." Writers are very stupid about their own work. Most everything else too but primarily that. Anyway read it if you never did. Then stick around down below for a brand new short story (for paid subscribers only).
It's been heartening to see so many ongoing protests around the country including one that shut down the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday. Naturally protests like this are always going to be condemned in the harshest terms by the right but I'm also seeing a lot of the same type of very concerned handwringing about proper tactics from centrists and squishy liberals that we saw during the Black Lives Matter marches. Maybe you've even thought something like this yourself. Getting annoyed about traffic that you're not even sitting in!
The truth is that no matter what your cause is and no matter what you do there will always be people saying that you're not protesting the right way. That your slogan needs editing.
Worse than that a lot of them will pretend that they would of course have been sympathetic if only you had your proper protesting papers in order. If you weren't (hypothetically) inconveniencing some (imagined) victim they claim to be speaking on behalf of.
Once you see this in action you can't help but notice it everywhere. People feigning at potential solidarity with a cause or issue yet outsourcing their own actual but concealed personal disagreement with it to other people. "The average voter won't like this" etcetera. It's a kind of political ventriloquism.
Please do not do this. Do not force a mule to smuggle your sincerely held beliefs across the discourse border for you. Just say what you believe.
I'm going to repeat something I often come back to one more time that is related to this type of thinking.
You don't have to preemptively circumscribe your demands to appease the reasonableness referee in your mind or to placate a hypothetical political opponent. You are just some guy you can ask for whatever. So many people even or perhaps especially liberals have got a little Matthew Yglesias living inside of them like Kuato from Total Recall that makes them think like a centrist pundit and feel like they're "playing the game" by being sober and removed about the realm of the possible.
Everyone knows about Fox News Brain Cancer but this is one of the worst effects of MSNBC Poisoning. You've got your mother in law or high school friend talking about how some idea they actually support can't work because of how it will play to the voters. As if Joe Biden's electoral prospects were the most important thing in the world to consider before we try to improve society somewhat. We don't have to think like that
(Obviously a lot of people use this sort of reasonableness pose as cover to protect their social status of being progressive while appealing to the authority of the refs for why progressive things aren't possible.
I thought this piece by Fargo Nissim Tbakhi in Protean Magazine was rather clarifying on how many of us talk and write about the world even if I might be too stupid to fully understand the whole thing. It starts like so:
What does Palestine require of us, as writers writing in English from within the imperial core, in this moment of genocide? I want to offer here some notes and some directions towards beginning to answer this question.
Craft is a machine built to produce and reproduce ethical failures; it is a counterrevolutionary machine.
I use “Craft” here to describe the network of sanitizing influences exerted on writing in the English language: the influences of neoliberalism, of complicit institutions, and of the linguistic priorities of the state and of empire. Anticolonial writers in the U.S. and across the globe have long modeled alternative crafts which reject these priorities, and continue to do so in this present moment. Yet Craft still haunts our writing; these notes aim to clarify it, so we can rid ourselves of its influence.
Above all, Craft is the result of market forces; it is therefore the result of imperial forces, as the two are so inextricably bound up together as to be one and the same. The Craft which is taught in Western institutions, taken up and reproduced by Western publishers, literary institutions, and awards bodies, is a set of regulatory ideas which curtail forms of speech that might enact real danger to the constellation of economic and social values which are, as I write this, facilitating genocide in Palestine and elsewhere across the globe. If, as Audre Lorde taught us, the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house, then Craft is the process by which our own real liberatory tools are dulled, confiscated, and replaced. We believe our words sharper than they turn out to be. We play with toy hammers and think we can break down concrete. We think a spoon is a saw.
They're calling it the easiest to parse headline of all time.
It would have been Jason Molina's 50th birthday over the weekend. Should have been. God what a hole he left behind when he left us behind. I did a bit of gorging on his music the past few days but this version of Almost Was Good Enough where they break into Neil Young's Out on the Weekend is the one for me today.
Did you really believe,
did you really believe
that everyone makes it out?
Almost no one makes it out.
Almost no one makes it out.
Almost no one makes it out.
Here's a new short story. You'll have to be a paid subscriber to read the whole thing but it starts like this. Thanks for being here either way.
August 13, 2024
I had rehearsed a whole closing argument all morning. Preparing like a lawyer on a TV show would. How I imagine they would. Bulleting the facts of the case in my favor. Beat by beat. Memorized even the pauses. Was off book by lunch.
I wasn’t a lawyer on a TV show as it so happened I was a lawyer in real life. A bad one too. Some fucking guy. Sweating. Some asshole.
But I love you I told her.
Tossing out all of my notes now.
Put I love you in italics.
As if it were the smoking gun itself. The bloody knife. And it was in its way but with an improper chain of custody.
No order only law.
I love you.
Saying it in this crackling falsetto unfamiliar to both of us.
God how embarrassing. To feel anything yes but more than that to feel things basely. A dog standing there in pants.
Looking around to see if the neighbors could hear me. I felt all of sudden as if I’d just been caught doing the the Pledge of Allegiance in the shower.
If someone besides God could hear what I think at 4 am when he and I are negotiating.
Our landlady probably sitting inside the first floor of the triple decker peeking out from behind the lace curtains and frowning into her tea.
A landlady is one kind of a God.