Richard Siken, "Litany in Which Certain Things Are Crossed Out"
The river’s wide,
That I could not swim across it,
So I convinced myself
I’d walk upon the waves.
— Mallory Ortberg, “The Only Time I’ve Ever Been To Connecticut”
That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been. I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful."
"Where are we to go
Where are we ever to go?”
Elizabeth Spiers, discussing a quoted passage from Shanley Kane’s (now deleted) Medium post “An Open Letter to Women Who Work in Technology,” in which she writes:
Make no fucking mistake that you occupy your cushy tech salary, your mid-level management job, your paltry access to power by permission of the patriarchy. It is a deal with the devil. They will pay you, and let you make small career advances, in exchange for acting more like a poster child than a revolutionary, more like a mother than a peer, more like a secretary than a boss. In exchange for you shutting the fuck up, in exchange for you being content with your cute women-in-technology dinners, in exchange for your affirmative-action speaking slots, in exchange for you focusing more on “community building” than burning shit down.
Completely separate from the broader issues Kane is addressing, the thing I want to talk about is: Is Spiers right? The aesthetics of a polemic are, more or less, a settled issue. But I don’t think its effectiveness as a matter of a certain tone should be, that we have all somehow agreed that this kind of wildfire anger is the way to go. There are a startling number of assumptions bundled together beneath this kind of thinking — about effectiveness and discourse and the deep-down preference for “burning shit down” over any kind of building.
Why should we think “Maybe we should all think about how we’re allowing ourselves to be incentivized to keep quiet” is somehow a less provocative or thoughtful statement because it is less angry? Why should unbridled anger be the only gateway to provocation or the only instrument to sound a call to arms?