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Blood and Glory

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After 9/11, the bodies at Ground Zero were made heroic; the immigrant bodies that cleaned them up, less so

If money comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek, capital comes dripping from head to toe, from every pore, with blood and dirt.

—Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1

“We have still not had a death,” he said. “A person does not belong to a place until there is someone dead under the ground.”

—Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

We can tell the story in an easy calculus. The South Tower of the World Trade Center once stood 1,362 feet tall. At 9:03 a.m. on the morning of September 11 2001 it was struck by a Boeing 767 flying at 590 miles an hour and burning 9,100 gallons of jet fuel. The quarter-mile long tower burned at 1,800°F until 9:59 a.m., when it collapsed, sending 500,000 tons of material to the ground at 120 miles per hour and instantly killing 600 people. The North Tower, roughly its equal in size and weight, collapsed 29 minutes later, killing some 1,400 people. Before “Ground Zero” was ever invoked as an election-season rhetorical salvo, before it was ever emblazoned on a special-edition enamel plate anywhere near an eagle, and before it inspired George W. Bush to call it, in his diary, the 21st century’s Pearl Harbor, it constituted 16 acres of a “working fire” that burned 50 meters deep, a designation that gave immediate jurisdiction of the site to the FDNY. The firemen first brought in blueprints and floor plans, rushing to locations where they believed elevators and stairwells would have collapsed with the people they carried. Next, they introduced a map that used global positioning technology to plot patterns among locations where bodies, or parts of bodies, were being found. There were few survivors in the rubble—only 11, in fact —and it soon became clear that the mapping technology would instead be used to locate the dead.

The fire was mean and hard to extinguish. It burned long and deep, flaring when exposed to oxygen and fueled by tons of highly conductive paper and furniture soaked in jet fuel. On September 16, NASA sent an airplane over Ground Zero to gather infrared data that the U.S. Geological Survey made into a thermal heat map, one that showed patches of rubble burning at temperatures above 1,292°F, hotter than the burning point of aluminum. The New Scientist dubbed it “the longest-burning structural fire in history.” Heavy rains fell all day on the 14th and on the night of the 20th, into the dawn of the 21st. A total of four million gallons of water soaked through the debris and pooled at the World Trade Center’s “bathtub,” the 60-foot deep rectangular foundation on which the towers stood. Officials worried the foundation’s weak walls could give way, causing water from the Hudson River to seep into the PATH and subway tunnels, effectively flooding the city’s underground.

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Bodies of Water

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Disappearance is not just a euphemism for state murder; it’s intrinsic to capitalism’s need for disposable classes

The oceans are full of bodies. This is nothing new; the currents are imbricated with centuries-old ghosts of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the genocide of millions of Africans, the acceptable loss in the conversion of people into commodities. At Cape Horn, the particles of African ghosts mingle with the fragments of Chilean and Argentinean disappeared and whisper together of endemic violence. They are joined by the bodies of refugees turned away from shore, taken by the sea at the behest of state policy. The wind and the waves are always already full of ghosts, the particles of all the bodies rolling together with marine debris. The body is made of hydrogen and oxygen and when the body comes apart it becomes a part of what surrounds it, what consumes it.

The science of all disposal of bodies at sea—murder or memorial, is the same. The body must be weighted; chained to the bodies of other captives on a slave ship, bound to a recycled fragment of industrial railroad, interred in an official metal casket on a deployed Naval vessel, trapped below deck in a capsized migrant ship. Otherwise the body won’t sink. Bodies decompose more slowly in water, but unprotected decades will reduce even bones to sediment.

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Hot Allostatic Load


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Build the shittiest thing possible. Build out of trash because all i have is trash. Trash materials, trash bodies, trash brain syndrome. Build in the gaps between storms of chronic pain. Build inside the storms.

HI

I am too sick to write this article. The act of writing about my injuries is like performing an interpretative dance after breaking nearly every bone in my body. When I sit down to edit this doc, my head starts aching like a capsule full of some corrosive fluid has dissolved and is leaking its contents. The mental haze builds until it becomes difficult to see the text, to form a thesis, to connect parts. They drop onto the page in fragments. This is the difficulty of writing about brain damage.

The last time I was in the New Inquiry, several years ago, I was being interviewed. I was visibly sick. I was in an abusive “community” that had destroyed my health with regular, sustained emotional abuse and neglect. Sleep-deprived, unable to take care of myself, my body was tearing itself apart. I was suicidal from the abuse, and I had an infected jaw that needed treatment.

Years later, I’m talking to my therapist. I told her, when you have PTSD, everything you make is about PTSD. After a few minutes I slid down and curled up on the couch like the shed husk of a cicada. I go to therapy specifically because of the harassment and ostracism from within my field.

This is about disposability from a trans feminine perspective, through the lens of an artistic career. It’s about being human trash.

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City of Praise


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London’s discarded lots become holy ground

Places I’ve gone in search of God: The function suite of a North London bowling alley, a Grade II-listed rock venue way past its prime, a pub basement, two mouldy rooms in a dilapidated hotel on Seven Sisters Road, the rough as fuck Temple club in Tottenham (knocked down in 2004, now a set of luxury flats), and more than a dozen industrial estates. Spaces that were once reserved for heavy industry—storing, building, fixing, whatever, where old metals were scraped and clanged to work and then put to rest—are now, in London, overwhelmingly sites of African Christian worship.

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The Grouch



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Sesame Street’s Oscar is all thinkable archetypes of the outsider, scrunched into the shape of a safe cartoon. 

Oscar’s fur is characteristically too long, but not long enough to be a characteristic. As in, you wouldn’t say he has long hair but you might say he needs a haircut. His hand for instance has too much fur. It unfurls from the tips of his fingers in long wisps of grime. He would find it difficult to use a key, or a credit card, or tie his shoelaces.

A broken CD rack.

Oscar hates himself. He is an anxious and paranoid mess. In the song “I’m Sad Because I’m Happy” Oscar describes his predicament as a terrible knot of contradictory desires and drives which throw him into a confusing mess of depression spurred by happiness which triggers anger when he realises its sappy to be sad because he’s mad. Paralyzed by this neurosis, but never neurotic enough to not function, to not eat, to lose his job, to have a breakdown.

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