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Zunguzungu
By Aaron Bady
Anyone claiming to be an expert is selling something. I brandish my ignorance like a crucifix at vampires.
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American Snipper

snipper

American Snipper is so good but holy shit im tired American Snipper is a must watch film Going to see American Snipper with dad tonight. I could really regret this as I hate violent films American snipper was an amazing movie. Chills all throughout. Thank you Chief Kyle for your service. I’ve never been in a theatre that was so quiet after a movie like it just was after American Snipper American Snipper was hands down da best movie I’ve seen in a minute. Leaving American Snipper in tears. Such an amazing movie. Deffs wanna see American Snipper American Snipper is awesome. 1 of the best movies I’ve ever seen. How do we silence the liberals. God Bless Our Soldiers. Saw American Snipper and I am speechless. God Bless our armed forces and all the sacrifices they make. American snipper was a good reminder that freedom is never free 3rd time to go see American Snipper. Still a tear dropper at the end no matter who I go with I slept a lot during american snipper but the parts I saw were great american snipper is such a good movie Finally watched American snipper. It was greaatt! I have not gone to movie for over 15 years but I am now going to see American Snipper after the snow storms American snipper is the best movie I’ve seen in a while American snipper is the saddest movie I’ve ever seen! The things that all went down I couldn’t imagine happening. Really opened my eyes. American Snipper was very good. It makes me wish I was 18 already! American Snipper hit home hard af and I don’t think I’ve cried this hard in a movie If you didn’t at least tear up once during American Snipper you have no heart American Snipper makes you realize what those guys deal with over there, and how much they sacrifice for this country. American snipper was such a good movie omg brb while I dry my tears still American Snipper like changed my point of view on everyone who fights for our country Either wanna see American Snipper or Selma next Friday. After seeing American Snipper, I am truly grateful for everything that the soldiers do for us! AMERICAN SNIPPER GOT ME EMOTIONAL ASF Just watched American Snipper. War is such an abominable thing. It destroys every aspect of humanity. War should be avoided at all costs. American Snipper was legitimately breathtaking American snipper was so good but so sad I’m about to watch American snipper.. It’s so fucking packed in here! This shit better be good! Everyone keeps talking about American snipper!! Someone come see it with me tomorrow!!! It should be mandated that every American citizen sees American Snipper I’m left speechless. American Snipper was incredible! American Snipper was such a captivating movie! Very moved by the American Snipper movie and impressed by the respect in the theater. Proud to be a American. Best wishes to his family. American Snipper really moved me. A man with extra ordinary skill, fighting for his country to protect the people he loved. After seeing american snipper I feel like I need to join the army and do something with my life but I know I could never do that Yay about to watch american snipper American Snipper was by far one of the best movies I’ve seen. Thankful for all the men and women who serve our country American Snipper left me with no words and so much respec American snipper is without a doubt the best movie I’ve ever seen! American snipper is the best movie ever and really makes me proud to be American American Snipper is by far one of the most amazing movies i’ve seen American snipper made me cry We already seen American Snipper & the other good ones. The rest dont seem that good. It’s too cold to be outside , so I’m watching American snipper while babys outside with the guys . American Snipper with Justin, pool with some friends. And now time to have fun! guys I just got done watching American snipper and I’m fucking bawling my eyes out American Snipper depicts how the war can mess you up in the head… people end up goin crazy as hell after that type of stuff Guess I’m not cool enough to be seen with at the movies with either of my kids!! Asked them to go to see American Snipper with me and nope I wanna go watch Selma or American Snipper today, not no one wants to go with me American snipper was vvvv good My dad likes spoiling the movie “American snipper” to everyone hahah American snipper was the worst film I’ve seen in ages, so boring. Seeing American Snipper tonight would make my whole night American snipper and some subway! This is going to be a good night! I wanna see American Snipper so bad holy My principle (a rich, old white man) promoted American Snipper during our pep rally today telling us to go see it bc we’ll appreciate American snipper was a great movie. Very moving. I suggest you see it if you haven’t American snipper a pretty damn good movie, then again anything directed by Clint Eastwood is pretty great I’m watching American Snipper and honestly it kinda sucks so I’m about to go to my room lol American snipper was good but I def like lone survivor bette Just finished American snipper what the actual fuck IF YOU DON LIK AMERICAN SNIPPER YOU ARE NOT A REAL AMERICAN & YOU SUPORT ISSI I would go see american snipper again If someone doesn’t go see American Snipper with me tomorrow I’m going by myself. Ugh it upsets me that American Snipper & Selma came out on the same day yet American Snipper gets all the hype. I saw both, Both were good. Seeing American snipper today with my dad American Snipper: Nice seeing the perspective of a soldier, funny how things parents say to you sticks. Good seeing that side of Bradley… American Snipper has just reached my top 10 fav movies list The ending of American snipper is sad lol

American Snipper or The Boy Next Door? I’m going to the movies alone this weekend I NEED to watch the American snipper might just go watch it tomorrow alone Everybody talking bout that American snipper movie but that some shit you watch alone when it come on DVD incase your eyes start to itch If  doesn’t come see American snipper with me this weekend, I will go alone.  Still got tickets to see american snipper but dont have anyone to go with & i dont wanna go alone ;-( I need to go see American Snipper!! Don’t even care if I go alone. I’m going see american snipper one of these days even if I go alone idc I’m literally about to go see American snipper alone

The Funnies

(a guest post by friend of the blog, Shailja Patel)

stillfunnies

Rape cartoons are funny if it’s inconceivable to you that you could ever be raped. If you live in a bubble of gender privilege that insulates you from all consequences of rape culture.

AIDS jokes are funny if you’ve never loved someone who died of AIDS. If you live in a bubble that allows you not to know that millions of Africans died, thousands of gay men died, of criminal state indifference and denialism. Because they were, after all, only blacks and queers. Comedy material, not lives worth grieving.

Ebola cartoons are funny. Unless your partner is a public health doctor, forced to choose every day between treating patients without protective clothing or abandoning them to save her own life.

Cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed naked, on all fours, anus presented as target, are anti-clerical snigger fodder. Unless you and half the men and boys and boy children and baby boys you know and love are named Mohammed.

Unless you and your brothers, cousins, fathers, sons, friends are at daily risk of random causeless stop-and-frisks, patdown-gropes, strip-searches, cavity-searches inside Enlightened Fortress Europe. Because they can.

Unless your grandfather Mohammed was raped and castrated by the French in their concentration camps in Algeria.

Unless your mother survives daily harassment and threats of violence by Front National thugs in her banlieue by invoking the mercy of the Prophet on the ignorant.

Unless all the naked bodies in the Abu Ghraib torture photos look like you. Naked prone men, trailing blood, dragged on leashes by grinning US soldiers. Naked men piled in flesh sculptures by thumbs-up flashing, beaming young GIs. Naked brown Mohammed buttocks branded with cigarette burns like pointillist skin canvases. Mohammeds hooded and wired, bleeding from mouth and ears and anus, as their torturers laugh and strike poses. Naked violated men who look like you, like your brother, like your father, like the man your sweet baby boy will grow up to be.

Unless you and your friends pass around testimonies like dirty stories from survivors of CIA anal rape, also known as rectal rehydration. Survivors of Guantanamo oral rape, also known as force-feeding. Because you need to testify before they happen to you. This is survival lore.

Unless your little sister came home sobbing last week and screamed she would never go back to school, the school your parents dreamed for her before she was born. It took hours of coaxing and comforting to elicit why. The bully who makes her schooldays hell found a delicious new cruelty, one that follows her beyond school like an electronic ankle tag. He put that cartoon up on the classroom whiteboard, and the teacher left it there all day as a lesson in free speech.

 

A Year in Writing Things On the Internet

January:

 
February:

 
March:

 
April:

 

May:

 

June:

 

July:

 

August:

 

September:

 

October:

 

November:

 

December:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Little Books

baldwinfrance

In 2014, three little books were published by three “big” authors, and those little books have been mostly ignored, so far as I can tell, by almost everyone. Chris Abani’s The Face: Cartography of the Void has been overshadowed by his most recent novel, The Secret History of Las Vegas, the just published Letter to Jimmy will probably be the most neglected of Alain Mabanckou’s generally under-appreciated oeuvre, and if you haven’t read Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues—and let’s be real, she’s Canadian, so you probably haven’t—you certainly haven’t read her little book of her Kreisel lectures, Dreaming of Elsewhere: Observations on Home.

There’s no scandal in the way these kinds of little books get written only to disappear; these are odd little books published on relatively small presses by writers who are, themselves, more widely respected than they are well-known, especially in the United States. Of course, being an African writer in the United States already means not quite fitting into normal publishing categories, never being mainstream. But these little books are even harder to categorize or market, because they are each about—in different ways—the fact that “African writer” is a necessary but insufficient category. This is a difficult needle to thread, and I’m being as careful as I can with it, but if there’s a generalization one might venture about the three little books, it’s that they each take the fact of their identity (that they are African) as a starting point for thinking about all the other things that they are. Or maybe the point is that they don’t even have to bother taking it for granted: of course they are African, whatever that is; but there are other things to talk about when talking about identity. So they do.

In that sense, the oddness and littleness of these books, and the freedom provided by obscurity, might be the most interesting thing about them. Each of these books feel like uncompleted projects, which is to say, they are ongoing and viable projections of self into a future where the world will see them and read them and know them. As assertions of lives that have not quite yet been articulated or recognized in the present, these are not “masterpieces”; in the kind of longue durée consideration of these writers’ total oeuvre that we might someday undertake, they will be footnotes. But footnotes can be the open wound in nonfiction, the path not taken, the tear in the polite fiction of completion and solidity that makes interesting books uninteresting. The most interesting thing about each of these books, then—and about the three of them, collectively—is the ways they split open any corpus of writing into which we might put them, or in which we might find them. They are thinking towards new worlds, worlds they haven’t yet gotten to.

Esi Edugyan uses a phrase that I’ve been feeling for some time, but have generally avoided because of how inelegant it is: “post-post-colonial.” What an unlovely word. And even she isn’t particularly enthused; it isn’t, as she says, the sort of thing that writers have on the front of their minds when they write. But:

…if pressed I would say now that I believe the age of post-colonial literature has passed, at least for us. We do not live with an empire exerting its fist over us on a daily basis. Post-colonial narratives were written against, and in the wake of, being silenced. They were an act of self-assertion, a necessary counterweight here in Canada to mainstream stories about a homogenous, particular segment of the population. Post-colonialism encouraged a chorus of voices, where for a long time there had been only one. In other words, it was an explosion of multiplicity. But today, in Canada and Britain and the US, a novel written from a “minority” perspective is hardly controversial. If anything, it has become the new dominant kind of narrative. Publishers seek them out; young writers are encouraged to flaunt their ethnic distinctiveness; reviewers foreground such elements in their reviews. We have entered a different age, a post-post-colonial age.

I wonder if a better way to paraphrase that last sentence, though, would be that the post-colonial ‘we’ has become almost as much trouble as it’s worth. Which is to say: enough of the work that it had to do—the work of simply being heard, at all, even a little bit—has been done, now, that other kinds of intellectual work beckons, precisely because it has now become possible. The least interesting thing there is to say about writers like Abani, Mabackou, and Edugyan is that they are “post-colonial.” The intellectual formations of the 1990’s are less and less well-suited to the intellectual scene of the 2000-teens, precisely because they did what they needed to do. (As Edugyan continues “I write with the awareness of those who paved the way, but without the challenge or responsibility of shattering their same barriers. Some doors are still closed to me, certainly; but it is not as it was. It is a different world.”) Which is, to return to where I started, why the “littleness” of these books seems an important index of the work they are collectively doing, a kind of work which—in turn—indicates how open the present moment is to new kinds of thinking, doing, and being.

Dreaming of Elsewhere is a series of short reflective lectures, barely 30 pages in total; I read the whole thing in an insomniac burst at about 3 a.m. last night, and though I’m not sure my weary brain did adequate justice to it, it did make me really eager to read whatever it is she’s writing now. I loved Half Blood Blues, but I like the directions her thinking seems to be tending towards, now.

Chris Abani’s Cartography of the Void was harder to get my hands on—it’s only available as an ebook (part of a series from Restless books on The Face) and my kindle got stepped on and broken—but once I managed to source a pdf from the publisher, I devoured it a single sitting. It’s light and easy, and also heavy and thought-provoking. It’s not exactly a memoir, but it’s a moving and funny account of inhabiting what Esi Edugyan calls the “yes, but where are you really from?” question. As he recalls:

 “When I lived in East Los Angeles, a predominately Chicano/Latino neighborhood, I was assumed to be Dominican or Panamanian. In Miami, where I go regularly for religious reasons, I am confused for a Cuban. In New Zealand I was assumed to be Maori. In Australia, Aborigine. In Egypt, Nubian. In Qatar, Pakistani. In South Africa, Zulu or some other group, depending on who was talking. Other times, because of my accent, which is a mix of Nigerian, British, and now American inflections, I am assumed to be from ‘one of the islands.’ No one accepts my Nigerianness, not without argument. In fact, the two things I have been rarely taken for—Nigerian and white—are the very things that form my DNA.”

This little book is all about the stories that faces make possible through the stories that they hide. Buried somewhere in there is the story of Abani’s relationship with his father, a tender and violent intimacy that tells so much while telling remarkably little. Which is to say, in the simultaneity of hiding and disclosing, the book nicely exhibits one of the most consistently interesting things about Abani’s work overall: the way he makes questions of authenticity less interesting than the process by which, in pretending to be who we are, but aren’t, we come as close to being ourselves as we ever will (but we won’t). A face hides the self, but we wear the mask.

Chris Abani has said that James Baldwin made him want to be a writer; Esi Edugyan turns to Baldwin in describing the problem of living in “unalikeness”; but it’s Alain Mabanckou’s book-length Letter to Jimmy that most directly addresses how timely, how necessary, how prescient, and how alive James Baldwin is feeling right now. It’s hard not to feel a certain regret that his voice is absent, that the letter will not be answered; what would James Baldwin say about Ferguson? “If you return to this world, Jimmy,” Mabanckou writes, “you will judge your homeland even more severely than you did when you were alive.” But to ask the question is to be reminded, as Mabanckou’s little book did for me, just how much James Baldwin there is to read that I (and you) haven’t read. I read Cartography of the Void on a single day’s commute, but it has taken me weeks and weeks to finish Letter to Jimmy because I keep having to stop to read The Fire Next Time, or No Name on the Street. And did you know that Baldwin wrote three more novels after Another Country? How did I not know that? But now I know what to do with my amazon gift card.

I don’t have anything much to say inn summary about these three books, or any kind of grand conclusion. Except that it’s appropriate that I don’t, which will do for a conclusion to this not-quite-a-review: these are books to read, to think with, and to follow. They might take us places.

Citizen, Occasional Poetry

Citizen

I.

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen opens with a sequence of anecdotes, a catalog of racist micro-aggressions and “moments [that] send adrenaline to the heart, dry out the tongue, and clog the lungs.” Being mistaken for a black person by a realtor who expected the person she talked to on the phone to come to see the house; being mistaken for a black person by a co-worker who confuses the names of the two black people at the company; being mistaken for a black person by someone else on the plane. Of course, these aren’t mistakes, but they also are mistakes: Claudia Rankine is black, yes, of course, but being mistaken for a black person is the sort of mistake—the sort of “there must be some mistake”—which cannot be real, but is. It’s an accurate mistake, accurately reflecting the maddeningly absurd and impossible other world in which Claudia Rankine doesn’t exist, because she’s been replaced by a catalog of racist terrors. Repeatedly, her existence is mistaken for a person who does not exist.

Repetition is different than development or growth, a difference signaled by the insistent turn to questions, in the face of the familiar, repeated mistake: “What did he just say? Did she really just say that? Did I hear what I think I heard? Did that just come out of my mouth, his mouth, your mouth?” These questions mark the moment of stuck-ness, the inability to move forward and build a narrative out of disconnected fragments of experience. This happened. This happened. And this happened. In repetition, the self is disconnected from the self, because that which repeats becomes the thing, itself, and everything else fades away. You look for the pattern, making everything else into noise; you question the pattern, since there is only noise.

Repetition makes this first part of the book easy to read. Each anecdote is self-sufficient and self-completing. Most of the anecdotes in this first section are less than a page—many less than half of a page—and they could easily be detached from their context, to circulate individually, as individual stories. You could post them on Facebook, if you wanted. Occasional, they are not metaphors; they are quite specific. These experiences of intimate public space—the offhand remark, or the silence of hostility between strangers together, or between friends in a strange place—each one happens when and where it does. A different place, a different time, and the words would not have been spoken, or the silence wouldn’t have gaped open like a wound, in the way that it does.

It’s this, the occasional nature of the repeated anecdotes that needs to be worked through. The anecdotes in sections I and III are easy to read because they ask so little of us, as a group; each is an individual, each is alone. When you read one, you turn the page; you read another. Then you read another. You move forward and don’t need to look back. You don’t need to make any connections between one and the next. They simply repeat.

 

II.

The book’s second section is an essay that could stand alone, and in 2011, parts of it did. Rankine doesn’t mention her “Open Letter” to the AWP, the poet Tony Hoagland, or his poem “for white people” about watching Serena Williams and wanting her to lose, but if you know that context, you can feel the way she is responding to his response to her response to his poem. This context is crucial: without it, we could personalize her fascination with Serena Williams, could even dismiss it as eccentric, tangential, or unnecessary; it could be interesting without meaning anything larger. Or if we know that context, we cold do exactly the same thing: she is dwelling on that grievance, still carrying on an argument with Hoagland long after everyone else has moved on.

Why she is dwelling in this repetition, however, is exactly the point. And after you’ve read Citizen, and are digesting it—and you should respect the fact that it will take some digesting—go back and read that original back and forth between Hoagland and Rankine, and feel the crackle of hate that sparks between Hoagland’s desire to write poetry “for white people” and his need to deny that “the topic of race belongs only to brown-skinned Americans and not white-skinned Americans.” Taken separately, neither claim is all that inflammatory; when connected to each other, however, a circuit forms, an old racist machinery. “For white people” becomes “whites only,” a sign for black people to read, even as racism becomes a text from which black people are excluded. Topics and poetry are for white people; the real injustice is when their monopoly is threatened.

The story that Hoagland tells about his dispossession, then, is the same crazy-making posture of victim-hood that white people adopt when they complain that they are not allowed to say a very particular racist pejorative, when they are impeded in their quest for free expression by the fact that this particular commodity has been monopolized by rappers and comedians or whatever. One wants to ask, to what use were you planning to put that word? What noble endeavor have the forces of political correctness run amok impeded you from pursuing?

For his part, Hoagland demanded the right to be hateful under the sign of “complexity,” as if a poem expressing a white hatred of Serena Williams for her black body can be something other than racist hate-speech, just because it’s also perceptive and complex. Let us be as charitable as Rankine is, and allow that it is perceptive and complex about the way the ugliness of white people expresses itself by seeing black female bodies as ugly. It’s a good poem, in that sense, if that’s what makes a poem good. But for Hoagland to be the victim, we must forget that no one ever stopped him from writing it. He expressed his thought, and published it, thereby accomplishing what his poetic muse had impelled him to do.

Hoagland, however, must be the victim. The topic of race has been taken from white people—who demand only the right to write racist poetry to white people, without needing to be bothered by what happens when “brown-skinned Americans” read their poem and have a reaction—so he reclaims it. He calls her “naive” about racism. He knows something about racism that she does not, he says: how beneath the posture of “apologetic liberal white person” lurks an ugly racist.

 

III.

Again and again, over and over again, repetition after repetition, Citizen demonstrates that Claudia Rankine is well aware of the ugly racism lurking beneath the posture of “apologetic liberal white person.” A catalog of exactly this fact was the origin point for the book.

The third section of the book returns to the style of the first: a sequence of second-person accounts of being occasionally presented with the social fact of one’s black female body in America, and of the ways various white people make it her problem if she feels angry. Hoagland told her, implicitly, not to read his poem—it’s “for white people”—which makes it her fault if she feels hated. Yet when a friend tells Rankine that “you have to learn not to absorb the world,” that you have to refuse to carry what does not belong to you, it doesn’t help that this friend is speaking from a place of love. The suggestion is as naive as Hoagland’s peculiar belief that the topic of race “belongs” to white people. Of course it does! White people own the “topic” of race, because they have the privilege of abstraction, metaphor, and poetic conceits; they can pick it up and put it down when they please. But it is black people who are given shit to eat when America reminds them that race owns them, and that no matter what Serena Williams does on the tennis court, she will still be black, black, black. She knows this shit, because she eats it every day. But when she vomits it up, her “anger” shows her lack of sophistication, her lack of maturity, her inability to disassociate. Grow up, she is told; learn to be without race. Stop being so black. Don’t vomit at America’s dinner table.

 

IV.

The question is not what these occasions add up to, because they don’t. They don’t add up. They just keep repeating themselves, without accumulating: every occasion is new, but its newness washes away the newness of the previous one. And yet these occasions do keep happening. When do you start to see a pattern? Where do you find it?

A list of grievances could be explained away, and probably would be: when they become a list, an accounting, grief becomes grievance. And we don’t like grievances, because they could be rectified and addressed. So we tell you to move on, that you’re being too sensitive; you just have to get past it. Move on. Why are you dwelling on the past? Move on. Move on. Forget all that, the facts that contribute to narrative, the facts that create lives.

 

V.

In Claudia Rankine’s second person, we are denied the dismissive glance that we might otherwise give to the lonely “I,” because there is no “I” to dismiss. We don’t see it; it isn’t there. You are invited, then, to feel, to experience, and no more. This happened, she tells us; then this happened. That’s all.

But it isn’t so easy to simply move on, you find, even when she invites you to do so. Even where there aren’t patterns, you’ll find them, maybe even imagine them into existence. This is how our brains work. In fact, even where there are patterns, you also know that they might not be there, that what you perceive might be just a trick of your mind. But what is everything we feel and experience except a trick of the mind? And it’s all real. I has so much power. But I is also insane.

These occasions are freshly felt each time. Serena Williams knows this in her bones, knows it with a knowledge that doesn’t need confirmation, and stops even wanting it. She sees a pattern, and feels the accumulation of experience, feels it in her body where it can’t get out. This, too, is how our brains work: we store what we cannot use. But when she explodes in anger, it’s unexpected, coming out of nowhere, even if it’s the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from her. She is predictably unpredictable; we are surprised anew, every time. She has surprised us. We didn’t predict that. We couldn’t have.

 

VI.

In the sixth section of the book, words like “Jena Six” and “Trayvon Martin” and “Mark Duggan” remind you of the moment in time when those words and phrases suddenly seemed to be omnipresent, talismanic, wherever it was that you heard them. In their repetition, their omnipresence became omnitemporal, everywhere, repeatedly… until they stopped. Now, those words are linked to a space of time, a context, the way Rodney King brings us back to the 90’s, or Emmit Till the 1960’s. They are stuck there.

At the same time, the name “Eric Garner” does not appear in this book; the name “Aura Rosser” does not appear, either. There are so many names. Tamir Rice. Aura Rosser. Dontre Hamilton. Other names do not yet appear, as well; other names will not appear, soon. There is no room for them, no time.

Rankine’s work with images and  videos is an effort to refuse repetition, to disrupt the manner in which a picture or a video becomes extraneous, because we have already seen it. When we no longer look for the life which was taken—when we only see the image that traces its removal—the event becomes something that can and will repeat itself, and can only repeat itself. She traces backwards, then; slowing and warping the tape to defer repetition, reversing it.

She is lonely, in this work. At a party, in a house, in London, Claudia Rankine talks with a man, an English novelist, who does not intend to write about the latest thing that has happened (as it occasionally does, repeatedly). He expects her to write about it; it’s what he’s come to expect from her, from her anger that a black man has been murdered by the police. She is predictable this way, and although he asks her if she will write about it, he asks her because he has predicted that she will. He knows she will be angry.

“Apparently,” though, he won’t write about it; he is also predictable this way. Race is not a topic for white people. These patterns, these predictabilities; the man in the London house leaves them to her to observe, because her observations don’t make them real. The reverse. When she observes them, her angry response is hers. She is being sensitive, you see; she has absorbed these events, holds onto them. She has chosen to dwell on the past.

 

VII.

We can think that it’s good for her to dwell in the past, to repeat it in her work. It’s good that she’s eaten it all up, though we’d prefer if she didn’t vomit it up. We don’t believe her, of course. To believe that she believes is to believe that we don’t have to, and we never have to. Belief is not for white people. We are white people.

The word “we” occurs very few times in this book. That is because “we” is the problem.

Do we trust the patterns that Claudia Rankine sees? We do not. “We” does not, cannot, will not, not without not being “we.” To trust is to believe, and we do not believe her, because we must see it with our own eyes; only then will we believe her, but then it’s not her that we believe. It’s us. We see it because we see it. If she sees it, we do not need to.

“You” is a different matter. You don’t simply choose to see, or not to see; you know better than that, because you don’t have to speak. You don’t have to decide. You just see, and read, and move on. It’s easy. Just move on, read on. Each time you’re surprised, but each time, you’re a little more tired, a little more lonely. Because it’s just you, just you. No narrative. No life. You won’t find the comfort of the first-person plural, not here; you, like Claudia Rankine, will suffer from the condition of being addressable, a spiteful, venomous address. Hey you.

You will not respond. You will wait for time to pass. You will wait. You will not know how to end what doesn’t have an ending. You will want to interrupt. You will wait. You will sigh. You will ruminate.