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so it's not just me?

saturday 5th november 2022

through researching, writing, living my reflective essays this autumn - and through making new friends going through unimaginable/all-too-real trauma and opening our house to them when they needed it - i've been learning a whole lot about anarchism.

for a long time i never really felt like i had any kind of framework (lol, that word again) to contextualise my specific political outlook. i spent a lot of time around very, very liberal people - but we clashed on a lot of important things. i always felt a tension between the appeasing, structured, interpersonally carceral attitudes of people caught up in performing left-wing politics. people who self-describe as radical, but actually have a quite narrow set of parameters for you to fit into if you want to be 'in'. at the same time, i dismissed the word anarchism. i felt a lot of embedded disparagement towards the term. isn't anarchism violent? isn't it too unstructured for people to have their needs met? at the same time as holding those questions, i was working on developing my own political ethos based in empathy, compassion, and listening.

i've come to realise that i wasn't building something new - i was learning what anarchism can truly mean.

i'd spent such a long time feeling totally alone in my worldview. like i'd made something totally new. it's a double edged sword to have finally found company - my soul is so at rest to know that it's not out on its own, forging a totally unique path - but it's something of a damp squib when it comes to finding inspiration to write. i've entered the phase of researching where everything you read is so perfectly in line that writing feels more like restating than constructing. what could possibly be new about how i see things that could be useful to add? hasn't it all already been said?

maybe this is just a long-winded way to say i'm experiencing a bit of writer's block.


one thinker i've been really, really glad to find is clementine morrigan. thank you very much to cassidy for linking me to her work. clementine has a beautiful, expansive practice dealing with some of the hardest and most traumatic topics - interpersonal abuse, cultural and social punishment (cancel culture) and the ways this interrelates with social media. clementine's work hits me so deeply - she says things i have spent years constructing from the threads of ripped up friendships, relationships, and she says them out in the open.

clementine has a wonderful grip on the complexity of forgiveness.

I had so much rage and pain inside of me and I wanted to punish. I wanted clear lines of good and evil. [...] There is no outside of humanity. There is only us. And we have to find a way to heal all this trauma and live. We all get to live. [source ⧉]

something which keeps coming back to me, which has always been part of my work, is this construct of alienation. i've written about it before, i've made work about it, i've been ruminating on it for a long time. alienation from our selves, alienation from each other, alienation from our food, homes, infrastructure. this unalienated desire is reassuringly at the heart of many anarchist ideas. when reading baudrillard's simulacra and simulation, the key concept there too is a fluid relationship with truth, actuality, and distance.

when writing about improvisation, about complicité, about education, collaboration, holding space - the thread that truly holds it all together is a desire to pursue unalienated discourse. and if anarchism is to have unalienated power (read: the only power that exists is controlled by those who are affected by it directly), then i guess anarchism is that thread too