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un(der)known writers
 

Un(der)known Writers: Flavia Dzodan

Flavia Dzodan

Few words define The Netherlands better than “imperialist”. In a time of white appropriations of post colonial theory, few pause to realize that no post colonial analysis is possible while we live in a country where the “post” lays within a distant future (i.e. The Netherlands still holds colonial territories in the Caribbean). Zwarte Piet can only be understood as emerging from the remnants of an Empire terrified of irrelevancy. The Netherlands doesn’t have “nostalgia for the Empire”. That would imply that the Empire is a thing of the past. Even though we can (and do) use post colonial theory to unpack the cultural mechanisms at play, there is no “post” State in The Netherlands that would allow us to attempt analysis as “subjects after the fact”. Moreover, the legal classification of people into “autochtoon” and “allochtoon” is, in and by itself, a colonial device to separate the racial categories we are forced to inhabit. The current colonial subjects (that is, people that live in Dutch colonial territories) are still referred to as “allochtonen”, that is, not belonging. That the colonial subjects that are directly affected by the legacy of the Transatlantic slave trade are coded as “Other” (in the letter of the law, no less) is key to understand the context around Zwarte Piet.

Media has framed the current white Dutch uproar around discussions of racism as the “Zwarte Piet debate”. However, there is no “debate” going on. What is going on is, simply put, a mechanism through which a white supremacist society seeks to establish and perpetuate dominance. This domination is currently challenged by the public interrogation and subsequent implication of a  racist character that a great portion of Dutch society considers “indispensable” and “immanent” (both in the sense of “inherent” and “unchangeable”). The demonstration in The Hague this weekend, which gathered around five hundred white Dutch people showing “support” for this character, was a demonstration of power. That is, the power of the White majority to not consider racism. That is, I insist, the power and self appointed right of the White majority to perpetuate racism.

Flavia Dzodan, “An intersectional feminist approximation to aesthetics around Zwarte Piet”. Zwarte Piet is the central figure in Sinterklaas, a popular Dutch children’s holiday.

 

Un(der)known Writers: Evelyn Pappas

Evelyn Pappas

I remember adjusting my fathers suit during funeral service. Feeling his cold face against my face. I remember watching him go blind. I remember him shooting upright in the bed to say he’s confused. I remember someone giving me a handful of dirt to sprinkle on his body before closing the casket. I remember how his eyes fogged over and he couldn’t see me anymore. I remember the doctors lying to him. I remember laying on my aunts lap for eight hours on the plane. Sitting in a truck for another eight until we got to my village. Waiting another eight amidst a horde of people for them to bring the body. Not being allowed two seconds alone to even cry. Greeting people endlessly greeting people. None of whom knew what I just lived through. Taking him from procedure to procedure all alone, month after month, week after week. Never accepting the eventuality. I thought the dread was something else. I remember trying to explain it and not being able to. I remember witnessing him lose his senses, becoming delusional, speaking to dead people. Asking for people and things he hadn’t asked for in years; cigarettes, his mother, his traveling tote. Seeing him lose touch and no longer recognizing me. Being alone with him while everyone else was busy working and he was dying and neither of us could accept it. Things I never talk about. Things I’ll never process. Watching his body contort and disfigure and then 48 hours later watching it packed into a ditch.

I don’t feel anything at the cemetery. Now there’s a marble tombstone with his name engraved on it, will that make me feel something? I have no interest in visiting his grave even though I’m supposed to light the vigil and put flowers. I have no interest I have no concept of time anymore. Or of rituals and sanctity. I only want to sleep and dream happy dreams.

Evelyn Pappas, “148

 

Un(der)known Writers: Gary Fisher

garyfisher

Friday, April 20, 1984: “Darkness, darkness. Good Friday. I’m feeling a little religious, a little inquisitive, a little frightened, a little lost in the magnitude of what I have to say. It’s not going away, this tenderness under my arms, the occasional burning sensation. A couple of painless red dots – one on each hand. It’s not going away and I don’t feel good about that with AIDS such an issue. I want to blame and beg and apologize to certain people, to God, to my dying mother perhaps. That’s been feeling like a consolation, a bit of relief perhaps knowing I won’t go alone …. Never alone, Gary, just faster”

 

Monday, April 27, 1987: “I’m on BART and there’s a man in front of me, big, white, mustached, glasses, raher cruel-and-solid-looking, kind of military and I’m turned on by him, want to be used and humiliated by him, then made love to in that odd one-sided way….What is this fantasy that cuts across all of me, racial intellectual, moral, spiritual, sexual?…. Can I divorce sexuality from power in the real world and do I want to? Here’s one world explaining the other, and Christ, it’s so hard to get answers.”

 

September 1, 1993: “Andrew Young describes the night MLK was shot. Pictures of burning cities. The riots after the Rodney King verdict was my most exciting experience short of a sex encounter…I’m racing on decadrine or some horrid little white pill ….Look at the excitement in the smallness of things, the fraction of things – days, minutes, particles of time – back it with silver like you’d back glass for a mirror – back it with the silver of distances, of, say, tomorrow, reading your stories to a group of students at Duke, or of yesterday, remembering (re-membering, yes!) your legs so clear and beautiful in the air as Roy fucked you, and your perfect, perfect feet, worth kissing.”

-Gary Fisher, from Gary in Your Pocket: Stories and Notebooks of Gary Fisher

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Excerpted and submitted by Zoe Sharpe. Thanks Zoe! If you have excerpts from writers you think are criminally un(der)known and we should highlight, you can send them to submissions@thenewinquiry.com

 

Un(der)known Writers: Louise Michel

michelmichel

If the reaction had had as many enemies among women as it did among men, the Versailles Government would have had a more difficult task subduing us. Our male friends are more susceptible to faintheartedness than we women are. A supposedly weak woman knows better than any man how to say: “It must be done.” She may feel ripped open to her very womb, but she remains unmoved. With­out hate, without anger, without pity for herself or others, whether her heart bleeds or not, she can say: “It must be done.” Such were the women of the Commune. During Bloody Week, women erected and defended the barricade at the Place Blanche – and held it till they died.

In my mind I feel the soft darkness of a spring night. It is May 1871 , and I see the red reflection of flames. It is Paris afire. That fire is a dawn, and I see it still as I sit here writing. Memory crowds in on me, and I keep forgetting that I am writing my memoirs.

In the night of May 22 or 23, I believe, we were at the Montmartre cemetery, which we were trying to defend with too few fighters. We had crenelated the walls as best we could, and the position wasn’t bad except for the battery on the Butte of Montmartre—now in the hands of the reactionaries, and whose fire raked us—the shells were coming at regular intervals from the side, where tall houses commanded our defenses. Shells tore the air, marking time like a clock. . .

In spite of my comrades’ advice, I chose to walk there several times. Always the shells arrived too early or too late for me. One shell falling across the trees covered me with flowered branches, which I divided up between two tombs.

My comrades caught me, and one ordered me not to move about. They made me sit down on a bench. But nothing is as stubborn as a woman. In the midst of all this, Jaroslav Dombrowski passed in front of us sadly, on his way to be killed. “It’s over,” he told me. “No, no,” I said to him, and he held out both his hands to me. But he was right.

-Louise Michel, Memoirs

 

Un(der)known Writers: Diane di Prima

DdP

REVOLUTIONARY LETTER #9

advocating

the overthrow of government is a crime

overthrowing it is something else

altogether, it is sometimes called

revolution

but don’t kid yourself: government

is not where it’s at: it’s only

a good place to start:

1. kill head of Dow Chemical

2. destroy plant

3. MAKE IT UNPROFITABLE FOR THEM to build again.

i.e., destroy the concept of money

as we know it, get rid of interest,

savings, inheritance

(Pound’s money, as dated coupons that come in the mail

to everyone, and are void in 30 days

is still a good idea)

or, let’s start with no money at all and invent it

if we need it

or, mimeograph it and everyone

print as much as they want

and see what happens

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