The Open Journal – Day 19: Hey Mama, I’ll Be Coming Home Soon

Journal, The Open Journal

Hey Mama, I’m a thing now. So I’ll be coming home soon. To be a thing Mama is to be concretized into a persona. I am the intellectual. I am the writer. I am the activist. I am most of what I’ve wanted to be growing up. Do you remember me telling you I wanted to change the World? Do you remember when Daddy told me that changing the World is changing the Worlds around you? The little ones? Neighborhoods? Your peers? Do you remember when I used to say I wanted to be “the flyest and the wisest?” Well Mama, I’ve done it. I’ve changed people. It hasn’t been much, some of it has been for the worse, but it’s been enough for people to see me differently. People see me differently than I do. I do not see me as a thing. I do not see me as an intellectual. I do not see me as an activist. I do see me as a writer. But this is only because I think I was born a writer. I have always been a writer. You’ve made me a writer.

But the rest of this is new. I do not know what they mean what they say I have power. Well, I know I have power in the sense that I am a man. Men always have power. The World is a Man’s World and I would like for that to change. But until it does, I know that I carry the structural sin of Manhood, of patriarchy, of cisheteropatriarchy. But I believe that the conversation, the critique, around my power is an extension of this structural sin. I am not wrong because I am a Man who innately holds power in a patriarchal structure. I am wrong because I am a Man who innately holds power in a patriarchal structure who has additional power in this movement and who is utilizing this power unethically. I did not know I had this power Mama. I did not know I was a thing now. But I do know that whatever this is has caused more harm than I am willing to let continue.  And that’s why I’m coming home. I’m not coming home to escape the conversation, the critique; I’m coming home because at home I am nothing. I do not like to think that I matter to people who I do not know. I do not like to have expectations that exceed yours. I often tell myself “As long as my mom’s proud of me then I can’t be wrong.” But this is no longer true. I am not only accountable to you. I am accountable to so many more people. I am accountable to a whole entire World. I am accountable to a whole entire World outside of you.

You’re a Man now, boy. You’re a Man now, boy.

But that’s why I’m coming home. I’m coming home to be a boy for a bit. To take a break from being a Man, from having to understand myself as a structural sin, from having to come to grips with the fact that I have access to movement power. I’m coming home because home is somewhere lodged between the throat of simple normalcy and momentary refuge. Home is where my innocence still has cognizance and stability is as normalized as the constant refrain of “John John.” I’m coming home because I want to be “John John” this weekend. I want you yourself to tell John John that you’re a man now, boy and although you are a man, you’ll always be my boy. I want you to tell me that I could always stop being a part of this movement and you could still be proud of me. And I know that you will. But I also know that you’ll encourage me to find home in a home that is never home, to find home in the homelessness of this movement, to find home in a home that is still not now, to find home in a home that is still a somewhere, to find home in a home still to come.

Mama, I’m a thing now. So I’ll be coming home…. to know if I should find a home in my thingliness. To know if I can always consider your home, my safe haven. To know if I can always consider your home, my home, when my new home is too homeless feeling to be considered mine. Mama, I’ll be coming home soon.

The Open Journal – Day 18: Therapist

Journal, The Open Journal

I want you to know that I hate you, and this is the case, regardless of the fact that I have never even met you yet. I want you to know that I hate you. I want you to know that I hate you, and I hate you primarily because I know how much I need you. I hate needing anyone; and I hate that I may need you. And I hate that you’ll get paid because I need you. I hate that you’ll be able to feed your family off my suffering. I hate that you’ll be able to put a roof over your head and shoes on your feet because of my suffering. I hate that you’ll be able to pay your bills, your car insurance, your gas mileage, and your vacations all because of my suffering. I hate that I won’t know you. I hate that all I’ll know is that you are here to collect paychecks and pay bills. I hate that we will know each other within a time slot. I hate that I will be your “5 o’clock.” I hate that your “5 o’clock” will end when your “6 o’clock” begins. I hate that I won’t be able to call you and talk to you whenever I need you. I hate that you’ll force me to make an appointment. I hate that you’ll probably smile when you first meet me. You’ll probably reach out your hand to shake my hand and you’ll probably say, “It’s nice to meet you.” Dear Future Therapist, it is not nice to meet you. It will never be nice to meet you. Meeting you will always be a reminder to me about how fucked up I am. Meeting you will always be a reminder that I am not only imperfect, but I am problematic. Meeting you will always be a reminder that there is something inside of me, hidden, unconscious, inescapable, inerasable, unexplainable that has required us to get to know each other. Meeting you will always be a reminder that I am sick. And that this sickness does not disappear with medicine. This sickness disappears with you.

I hate that there will be no reciprocation in our relationship. You will be inanimate. You will be lifeless. You will be there to listen, but not befriend. You will be there to talk, but not touch. You will be there, but not there. You will be a body-with-ears, not emotions. You will not feel anything. You will be “objective.” I hate that you will be objective. You will not hear anything new. You will say that you have “heard cases like this before.” I will be a case of yours, not a concern of yours. You will only hope that I continue to pay you in order to ensure the survival of your trade, your family, and your lifestyle. I hate that you will be a bank where I deposit the darkest parts of myself in exchange for dollar bills. I hate that you won’t love me. I hate that you will think that love is unprofessional, that love distorts the trade, that love is not a necessary factor in every aspect of one’s life. I hate that you’ll know me, and you’ll know the secrets that I’ve buried away from the World. You’ll know what only my journal knows. You’ll know that I’ve written about death since the 5th grade and you’ll have no concern about the boy who has been picturing his suicide since he was 11. I hate that you’ll probably read this as a part of your case study. You’ll probably see this as procedure, not poetry. I hate that you won’t believe in poetry. I hate that you will believe in medicine, in the medicine that you provide, and not the poetry that has kept me alive since before you even begun to get paid to act like you cared.

I hate that I have not been able to heal myself, that I have not found the cure for whatever sickness I am being tormented by, by myself. I hate that my inability to heal myself has always surfaced as a weakness for me, and that this weakness has always left me speechless in the face of my own anxiety. I hate that I’m so fucking anxious. I hate that I handle my anxiety by working harder. I hate that I always feel like I need to work harder. I hate that I never feel like I have worked hard enough. I hate that working hard is how I work through my anxiety. I hate that you are reading this, that you are listening, that you are here for me. I hate that I am forced to trust you. I hate that I must trust. I hate that you will have to hear me say how often I wanted to kill myself. I hate that you will have to hear me say how close I’ve come to attempting to kill myself. I hate that you will know that the only thing that has stopped me is my fear of death and a non-existent rope. I hate that I want to cry. I hate that my father always told me that I shouldn’t cry. I hate that I told you that. I hate that you will see me cry and I will waste time in our sessions crying instead of talking things through with you. I hate that you won’t cry with me when I cry. I hate that you won’t tell me everything is going to be alright. I hate that if you do tell me everything is going to be alright, I won’t believe you. I hate you. I hate that I hate you so much. I need you. I hate that I need you so much.

I hate that I think that all my issues are small. I hate that I over exaggerate. I hate that I made my issues so big. I hate that I made this all about me. I hate that I’m acting like I haven’t hurt others, like I’m not the reason why others have come to see you, like I couldn’t create a list of people who probably could find solace in knowing that I’m suffering. I hate that I’m acting like I don’t deserve this, like I don’t deserve to suffer the most inscrutable suffering one can suffer, like I shouldn’t actually be exposed to more violence, like I shouldn’t be torn apart, ripped in two, ruined and harassed, destroyed and disregarded. I hate that I wrote this as if I’m the only one with problems, as if there are not bigger issues, as if black people aren’t dying the streets, as if black women are not one of the most degraded human beings on the planet. I hate that I’m so self-centered. I hate that I’m so self-centered that I thought that I needed to go to see you. I don’t need to see you; everyone that I’ve hurt does. I hate that I thought I should take their place. I hate that I thought that I should take up your time when everyone who hates me needs it. I hate that I’m so over-dramatic.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

The Open Journal – Day 17: I Wrote This Because Life is Hard

Journal, The Open Journal

I wrote this because life is hard. Because suffering is normal. Because anxiety is never easily coped with. Because depression isn’t something we can just pray ourselves over. Because love doesn’t always work out the way we intended it to. Because death is inevitable.

I wrote this because no matter how often we are reminded about the difficulty of life, no matter how many self-help books we read, no matter how many episodes of “care television” we watch, nothing can ameliorate the arduous nature of life. I wrote this because even though suffering is normal, suffering can never be prepared for. There is no training for suffering. There is no end to it. Suffering exist until life does not. I wrote this because anxiety does not have a perfect prescription. Medicine cannot make sense of the feeling of fear and trembling, of the never-ending sense of dread, of an incessant angst. I wrote this because our prayers could never dispose us of our depression. Our prayers cannot save us from the overwhelming sense of sadness – the sadness that is sad even in success, the sadness that is sad even though this hard life appears to “be going well,” the sadness that is sad for no reason other than our depression. I wrote this because love is a power struggle. It is a war between two lovers. Two lovers armed with emotional weapons of mass destruction; two lovers caught in a matrix, a web, of interconnected structural-power relations; two lovers’ inseparable from that matrix, inseparable from those weapons, inseparable from each other. I wrote this because death is no longer romantic, because death is always tragedy, because death is never singular. It is always plural, because death is always a death to the body gone, and the bodies that must continue to live with that absence, because death is never a “you are gone” but a “we are gone.”

I wrote this because we should not believe in self-help books or in “care television.” Because no one knows the particular ways of our experience, and no one knows our past in full, and no one knows how to heal a hurt that never ends, no one knows us. I wrote this because we should not see a never-ending suffering as a need to be trained in coping, because coping is surviving and we were born to do more than just survive. We were born to thrive. Suffering isn’t thriving. I wrote this because prayer should never be our only antidote to our depression. Even if prayer comforts, prayer is never enough since depression is never a sin. Depression is a sickness. And health is us-care. I wrote this because love’s war should not frighten us, because love’s war should not make us detach from each other, because love’s war should make us warriors. I wrote this because death’s plurality is a reason to come close, is a reason for us to understand how relational we are, how interdependent we are, how life is not lived solo, but always in connection to others, others who will die inevitably.

I wrote this because life is hard, but our lives are not our own. Our lives are shared. I wrote this because suffering is normal, but our suffering is not our own. Our suffering is shared. I wrote this because anxiety is not easily coped with, but our anxiety is not our own. Our anxiety is shared. I wrote this because depression is not something we can pray ourselves over, but our depression is not our own. Our depression is shared. I wrote this because love doesn’t always work out the way we intended it to, but our love is not our own. Our love is shared. I wrote this because death is inevitable, but our deaths are not our own. Our deaths are shared.

I wrote this because I want to never be an “I” in this life. Because “I” cannot bear the brunt of being an “I.” Because “I” cannot bear existing in this world without moving beyond self-care as something “I” do alone, because “I” can never care for “me” in this violent world. I wrote this because self-care is never self-care; self-care is always us-care. Because this life is hard, but “we” make this life worth enduring. I wrote this because the normality of suffering is not durable in a solo, because suffering is only durable in a chorus, in a band of singers. Singers who know the songs of sorrow, who thrive through songs of sorrow, who know how to improvise the intensity of the sound when they need to be held longer, cared for stronger. I wrote this because the only time “I” pray about my depression is when “I” pray that you all will never leave “me.” “I” pray that you will stay, and create circles of communal care that always reminds “me” of the importance of us-care, of always having us-care. I wrote this because “I” love you. “I” love you even though it hurts so much to love, even though there is nothing more painful than loving the way “I” love you, even though love is war and “I” am weak and so unwarrior-like. I wrote this because “I” love you in a way that makes not loving you impossible, and “I” only hope that you all love “me” the same. I wrote this because one day “I” will die, and one day you will die. And though it is inevitable, “I” would rather die in your arms, with your love, fighting our depression, our anxiety, our suffering, and this hard life, than die any other way.

“I” wrote this for you, to all of you.

Love,

Us.

The Open Journal – Day 16: The Indescribable: A Brief Black Play

Journal, The Open Journal

Lover: Solis, would you consider yourself brave?

Solis: No, I wouldn’t.

Lover: Would you consider yourself strong?

Solis: No.

Lover: Would you consider yourself brilliant?

Solis: No.

Lover: Then, what do you consider yourself?

Solis: I am in love with something perpetually in danger.

Lover: What is it that you love that finds itself always in danger?

Solis: Blackness, baby. I love blackness: the very site where danger meets flesh.

Lover: Tell me more about this blackness, Solis. Tell me why it is always in danger. Tell me why it compels you so much to fight for it, to swear by it, to cling so compassionately to its violence-inducing flesh.

Solis: I cannot say for a fact that I fully know how to describe blackness. But I can say that I know it when I see it. I can hear its frequency of subsistence, its tale of (im)possibility. I can say that I know that somewhere in the depth of blackness’ blackness there is an entire new possibility of an entire new World. I can say that blackness engulfs my own being, and triggers within me something ancestral, something buried underneath centuries of struggle, strife, and sound…. Yes, I can say that blackness has a sound. A sound like no other. A sound of pillage and purity, brutality and beauty, violence and vitality…. A sound of drums in sorrow and sanctuary. I do not know if this helps, but I do not know if what I love is describable. And that may be its very description. Blackness can be described only as the indescribable, and that’s what I love it for.

Lover: Then, why is the indescribable always perpetually in danger? What dangers the indescribable?

Solis: The Seekers-of-Truth lover. Those who seek to describe the indescribable in any way that they deem fit. They see the indescribable as a void to be filled with description, with analysis, with answers. They see the indescribable as a problem in need of their objectivity, their ‘Truth.’ But their ‘Truth’ has always come at the expense of the indescribable. It always exploited the indescribable. But blackness remains indescribable. It always a question of not only: How does blackness survive? But, how did blackness come to be? And how long will blackness stay black? And so on and so forth. But the question never reaches an answer, only the indescribable, which then, the Seekers-of-Truth make sure to perpetuate the violence of their knowledge forever and eternally into the future and onto black flesh.

Lover: Why would you love something so prone to such violence?

Solis: How could I not, is a better question. Blackness surrounds me, secures me, is me. It has walked with me from the womb to where I stand today, saying, ‘If you die for me, I will remember who you are and I will never let you die in vain.’ And under the nomenclature, ‘the ancestors’ blackness has never failed me. Blackness is the only eternal lover I know. It has never cheated me; it has never been loss to me.

Lover: What do you call the death of black bodies, if not loss? What is black death?

Solis: Black death is the World’s condition of possibility. Gratuitous black death is what makes this World possible. A World without gratuitous black death is a world beyond this one. A world indescribable to the indescribable. Black death is both a loss and an outcome. We lose blackness, but gain a World. And yet, the same World that requires black death, black absence, still needs black life, black presence, to sustain itself… The Seekers-of-Truth see black existence (if it could really be called that) as on a scale. Too much death – too new World; too much life – not enough new World…. It is truly… indescribable.

Lover: It seems like it is. It really does.

Solis: But see it is this understanding that creates an affinity for activism. To be in love with something that is trapped in a matrix of violence, something that does not ask for you to be brave since bravery might save the World that needs black death, something that does not ask for you to be strong since strength might disrupt the sound of life and death that makes black music musical. Blackness will not even require you to be brilliant since brilliance is the way of the Seekers-of-Truth. Blackness only ask that you affirm the indescribability of the condition of this World’s possibility.

Lover: Then, what do you want Solis? When is the end of your fighting?

Solis: I do not want the World to just stop black death. I want the World to be Black.

Lover: What is a Black World?

Solis: An indescribable one. A Black World, my love, is an indescribable World.

The Open Journal – Day 15: Today is My 21st Birthday, I Got a New Car and A New Reason to Fear for My Life

Journal, The Open Journal

Do not underestimate the significance

of learning to dance in the dark

Rbecause everywhere there is darkness

there is a place to explore

a void to inhabit….

you are not finished

you have just only begun

Today is my 21st birthday, and like almost everyone who turns 21, I am ready to bask in the new freedoms of this long-awaited age. Finally 21 means no more asking my older friends to buy me alcohol, no more house parties simply because I wouldn’t be able to get into the bar, and no more worrying about who might see me drunk or drinking. Finally 21 means I can finally walk into the liquor store throw my card on the counter like Ash Ketchum and tell the clerk I’m here to drink’em all.

I’ve already developed a new pep in my step and I’ve only been 21 for a few hours now. I’ve got the “you-can’t-stop-a-nigga” stroll and I’m happier than a clan member at a Trump Rally. The most important addition to my “you-can’t-stop-a-nigga” stroll is probably the fact that with this new era of my life I’ve also purchased my car. I have entered into unadulterated adulthood with a vehicle of quick, and unhindered transportation. As soon as I pull off the lot with my new car, you can rest assure that, in the words of Kanye West, “You can’t tell me nothing.” I’m 21 mothafuckas with a car to go wherever I want, whenever I want… I can do whatever I want! My “you-can’t-stop-a-nigga” stroll is here in full force, and there is nothing in the world that can strip it from me….

This is how I would have thought about turning 21 if the world wasn’t anti-Black. I might have been able to think this way if the State hadn’t proven to be almost religiously dedicated to destroying my body and bodies like mine. If the State hadn’t taken liberty upon itself to take anyway any expression or indication of liberty that my black body might attempt to display. If the State hadn’t decided a priori that I was a criminal, and that I should be treated as a criminal before I acted rather than because I acted. If the State hadn’t decided that my life amounted to no life and the only thing I was good for was reproducing this narrative in any way they deemed necessary. I might have been able to think this way if the freeway didn’t operate as a gateway to the graveyard for black folks who are forced to come in contact with constant police surveillance and violence. I might have been able to think this way if I was white, but I’m not. I’m 21 and black mothafuckas with a car to be murdered in wherever they want, whenever they want… they can do whatever they want!

For so many black people cars have not been a vehicle of liberatory transportation, but a transport-to-death. (And this isn’t even considering actual motor-vehicle accidents… R.I.P. Shawty Lo) For so many black people cars have operated like a slave ship – one enters alive and exits only by way of death. For so many black people cars have been the space to go to lose their bodies, lose their brothers, their sisters, their uncles, their aunts, their cousins, their friends through state-sanctioned violence. I’m thinking of Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Samuel Dubose, Walter Scott, and many others. Those who might have thought that they could have a “you-can’t-stop-a-nigga” stroll because of what they might have thought to be freedom… only to have the illusion stripped away by the raining down of bullets on their bodies.

Who am I to think that 21 means freedom? Free from what? Free to do what? Free to have what? I am not free to drive. I am not free to drink. I am not free to be as content as clan members at Trump rallies. I can drive, but not without forcing myself to enter white Heavens and black Hells. White Heavens, my black body played a pivotal part in fostering. White Heavens that only allow me to drive insofar as I do not allow myself to believe that I am riding towards freedom, towards life. I can drink and buy alcohol, but not without first realizing that any potential mischaracterization of my actions may be a reason for the State to lynch me and make me viral. I can drink my way into “reasonable suspicion” and then, into a viral video, and then, into a hashtag. I can go to clubs and bars. But might it be better to stay home, to lock myself into my own space, and act as if the World that lives and thrives off my death is not actually there? To huddle myself into the confines of my own house parties, a party of the already-criminal, the already-dead? Not because it’s a sanctuary away from anti-Blackness, but because it’s easier to mystify the madness of the World, if I’m inside the confines of my own home, drinking myself to drowsiness, thinking about what freedom might actually feel like… what 21 … might actually feel like.

Today is my 21st birthday, I got a new car and a new reason to fear for my life

The Open Journal – Day 14: To My Brother in the Abyss

Journal, Journaling, The Open Journal

To My Brother in the Abyss,

Brother, I cannot write to you right now as if my eyes are not bloodshot red from a night of trying to drink away my senses, as if my mind is still not dizzy in a drunken hangover, as if my body is still not weak from weeks of hunger and my daily attempts to will pass the desire to destroy myself. Brother, I cannot write to you as if I am not listening to your words with suicidal fascination. For when you sing “I’m done – strike three. I got a dark cloud right over me, and if this ceiling is coming down, then it soon would be the end for me.” I sing with you. I sing with you the black boy’s song.

Brother, I cannot write to you in an attempt to save your life. For I too am in the abyss. I too walk with devils on my shoulders. I too have dreams of nooses, of bullet-holed hairlines, of too many swallowed pills; and I too sing songs for the abyss. I too know that “it’s so hard to be alone.” And so perhaps this letter is written more to show an affiliation than conciliation. This letter exists more to tell you that the abyss is not as solitary as it may seem. And brother, I know that to exists in the dark with a friend does not provide any light in the shadows, but it does provide another voice. It does allow us to realize that the songs that we sing are not solos, but duets; that for every melancholy chord strummed in acrylic matter, there is a melancholy poem written by a solid philosopher; that for every reason to be done, there is a brother who desires to be finished too, who exist, who presses on, in order for the music to never be left incomplete.

I do not know how to save lives. But, I do know how to make music. I know how to turn pain into poetry. And I know that I do so with a band of black boys, who either distant or close, make music that echoes through the abyss, always to remind me that the darkness does not produce soloist. The darkness produces duets, bands, and choirs. It is the case then, that lyrics and poetry do not save lives either. But only the collection of lyrics and poetry from all of us who live in the abyss can. It is the case then, that I must repeat this fact: I walk with you in the dark, writing songs of death, wanting nothing more than to meet the demons that have seemed to possess me. But I have chosen not to leave yet – not to join those demons, to hoist up that noose, to purchase that gun, to swallow those pills; for I believe I have more songs to sing. More songs to sing with you, and the rest of my black brothers who live in the abyss.

I do not know how to save a life, because I cannot even map out the way in which I may save my own. But I do believe that you and I have more music to write. We have more stories to share, and poems to craft. It does not matter if these songs are written beside each other or miles apart. All that matters is that you sing loud enough to reach the ears of your brothers in the dark. For perhaps we may never find the light that leads us out of the abyss, but we may always have each other, and the sounds – the music – that makes the abyss more than just bearable… but beautiful. Brother, let us make music that will make the abyss more than bearable, let us make the abyss beautiful.

http://acrylicmatter.bandcamp.com/album/these-words-give-me-wings

The Open Journal – Day 13: Why Do Doctor’s Lie: A Short Story

Journal, Journaling, The Open Journal, The Peculiar Tales of Professor Phillips

Shit. You haven’t learned to dance yet. Well, only a little. The rest is still coming. You’ve only learned to sway. Look world, a little sway here, a little sway there: you dance well for a beginner. What you do know how to do well is how to run. You run often. You run fast. You run well. You’ve ran your entire life. If there’s one thing Solis can do is run goddamnit. Yup, Solis is a runner!

You used to be a runningback. Yup, best on the team. This is of course before you were diagnosed with your heart condition. You still hear the doctor’s voice all the time: “Solis! You stay running like that you’re going to puke, pass out, and die in that order!” You said “Yes, doc no more running for me.” But you still ran. You ain’t ever stopped. You’ve just been running, on and on and on and on. But your body has since got tired, and that’s why you only think about running now. You only run in your mind. And your mind’s fast as shit. Your mind is like … it’s like … light. Except. Dark light. Your mind is like dark light. Like the light used at a disco. Yeah, and that’s why your dancing right now. Because your mind is like a dark light at a disco, and that means you have to sway. A little sway here, a little sway there. That’s why you’re high right now. Because every disco needs drugs and your mind’s a motherfuckin’ disco.

Spinnin’ and swayin’. High as fuck like…. Like… your daddy used to be. Yeah! You’ve always been just like ya’ daddy. Minus the whole… self-destructive and to the people around you thing… Wait. No. Run. Run from that. You’re different. You dance. Daddy never danced. Yes, he did. Daddy never ran. Daddy never was a runningback. Good, run then. Run from that. Run into the high kicks in, and you get real dizzy. Until the room is spinnin’ and swayin’. Perfect. This is good. This is perfect. This is like… I don’t know. High school sweethearts. Oh yeah, perfect like high school sweethearts. Remember how that love was? Love is sweet. Love is… lovely. Love is … was… is … toxic? Toxic like the high that kicks in to make you dizzy. Toxic like how you feel your black flesh might be. Toxic like all those white people told you your black flesh was. Toxic like young love. Toxic like when your young love calls you a nigger and tells the world you raped them – and lies. Toxic. Toxic like… you are since you’re like your daddy. Toxic like your breathing may be… run from that. Run motherfucka run. Run from that. Dance nigga! Dance. Dance and run. Run and dance. Run to youth.

Youth is lovely. Youth is lovelier than love because youth doesn’t know what love is. It’s better not to know. Like when big brother was lovely. When big brother was youthful. You only cried to know he was leaving. But then you learned. Big brother rapes. Big brother ain’t no role model no mo’. Big brother ain’t youthful. Youth is dead. You is dead. You should die. You must … run. Run from that. Run until you can’t anymore. Until the only option is to dance … on the edge … on the ledge … “Solis!”

Until, the option is to find space to consume your toxicity. “Solis, wake up!” To absolve it of its problematic elements. “Solis… wake up!” Until you sway slowly – back and forth – into the abyss to no longer be an abomination. “Solis!”  Bye love. Bye flesh. Bye dizziness. You on the edge now. You done running. No more running. “Solis! Solis!” Shh… sound no more music: the disco is over. The disco is done. You only dance and sway in the darkness. Yes, no more running. No more music to dance to. Shh… sound. “Solis, Wake up! Wake up Solis!” You dancing in the dark light now. Dance in the dark. Stay there. Lay there. Die there. Die in the dark light.

***

“Solis! Wake up there’s puke all over you.”

You’re up. It’s her, call her… friend… oh the blur, the dizzy blur. She remains anonymous. Just a dizzy blur. She sounds … musical. But you can’t dance. You can’t run. You can’t move. You hurt.

“Solis, we’re taking you to the hospital! We’re almost there.”

“Wha…hap’n’d?”

You make words. But, orange yesterdays. Reddish-orange. Reddish-orange yesterdays live on the outskirts of your mouth, shirt and jeans.

“I don’t know Solis. I found you at the library with throw up all over you, passed out on the floor.”

You remember.

You wish to forget.

You cry: Why… Why… do doctor’s lie?

The Open Journal – Day 12: To the Woman I left in the Blizzard

Journal, Journaling, The Open Journal

It has been some time since I’ve written for myself, and even longer since I’ve written for you. But, I write now out of a pertinent desire to address both myself and you. I have learned a lot over the past few weeks in the absence of you and access to my journal; namely, I have learned more of my weaknesses and more about love. It is odd, you may say: how could one learn more about love in the absence of it? But it is like an astronaut, who knows more clearly than any of us who will never leave the earth, the spherical nature of our planet. By leaving this planet, by leaving this love, we are able to see it for what it truly is.

I have always told you what I thought about love. Love is a power struggle. It is a war between two lovers. Two lovers armed with emotional weapons of mass destruction; two lovers caught in a matrix, a web, of interconnected structural-power relations; two lovers’ inseparable from that matrix, inseparable from those weapons, inseparable from each other. It exists, subsist, and persist within this power struggle – ever-so gracefully, ever-so passively, ever-so omnipotent and omnipresent. And even if this fact is not acknowledged, even if this fact is not brought to consciousness, every lover knows this specific residue of this fact – of love being a power struggle – to be true: Whosoever loves, and loves the least, has the power in the relationship. Thus, the goal of love is to always to sacrifice power, to always be the lover who loves the most, to always hand your lover more emotional weapons of mass destruction, in hopes that they will never push the button that will shatter you, in hopes that they will never detonate your faith in the significance of this beautiful power struggle, this love. A love that never dies is a love that both loves without walls, without a desire to restrict its expression, and one that loves the power struggle. It is not enough to love the “Other” lover; we must love the struggle that we engage in with the “Other” lover. I have always told you this. But I have learned something new. Something that may undermine, to some extent, what I have formerly thought love to be. It is not that what I have mentioned before is false, love IS all the above, but all the above doesn’t fucking matter.

Love can be theorized, but love is more accurately meant to be experienced. Love is not for the armchair philosopher; love is for the militant in the streets, and every militant knows there is no theory that can grasp war in its entirety. It must be experienced; it must be experimented with. Love requires the desire to lose logic; it requires a positive anti-intellectualism. It requires complexity and simplicity. It requires the paradoxical because it always requires the willingness to love more first before all else. It may even require rejecting the former definition of love for the maintenance of love. It requires lovers to desire stupidity before the loss of their lover. It requires the ability to accept the nonsensical. Take for example, what is known as gaslighting. When a person gaslights their partner they manipulate them into doubting their own memory, perceptions, and/or feelings. I can do this by requiring you to make “sense” of your emotions, by requiring you to “connect the logical dots” of your emotions in order for me to be “convinced” in the “soundness” of your sadness. I have done this to you before, in this particular way, I know and sorry doesn’t even begin to redress this fact. But this is where love must be experienced. This is where I’m supposed to say fuck the rational, fuck the logic, fuck the evidence, fuck the theories, fuck everything I’ve ever learned ever, and I’m supposed to love you more. For what good is logic if you lose the one you love for it? What good is theory if you lose the one you were willing to spend eternity with for it? Theories have a way of making the world complex in order to make it simple. Love requires the exact opposite: a simple approach to the complex.

I’ve learned, and I am, ironically, trying to learn how to be more stupid. Ignorance is not bliss as much as it is a condition of being. It’s a condition that addresses life and love and the world as it is. It’s a condition that doesn’t allow books to define the world, but allows the world to define itself. It allows someone to truly believe not only in the incapability of books to define the world, but the capability of the world to define itself. I have learned that I have always strived for the theoretical at the expense of the experiential and this has caused me to justify and allow others to justify the unjustifiable. Because theoretical logic is malleable, as is the experimental; but the experimentalist, unlike the theoretician, does not perform in the theater of understanding, the experimentalist performs in the theater of undergoing, subjecting themselves to life and feeling the world, not simply thinking about it. So I am learning to unlearn.

And the last thing I am learning is to cease displacing the mistakes I make when I am experimenting onto the victims of that experience. For ignorance is no reason to destroy, and its damn sure no reason to force your victim to deal with the aftermath. This, I guess, will lead me to the reason why I specifically wanted to write this to you. Because I sent you out to the snow, and I left you there in the blizzard – cold and alone – with nothing but the theoretical to explain why I needed to let you go. However, there is no theory that can displace the actions that forced you to deal with the rupture in our love. No theory that can rationalize my willingness to push that button. Any theory, no matter how coherent it may sound, only justifies the unjustifiable. Displacing is both forcing you to deal with what resulted from my actions, forcing you to put together the shattered parts of heart and hurt, forcing you to freeze in solitude and anguish, forcing you to burn in the coldest way possible, and submitting to problematic theories that succeeded in persuading me into believing what should never have been believed in the first place, what should have never been considered in the first place.

Yes, I am learning to address and redress. I am learning to live before I learn. I am learning to love without logic – to love without reason. I do love you, and I am sorry more than sorry than sorry could ever fully express. barkatu.

To the Woman I left in the Blizzard,

Solis Phillips.

Letter to A “Radical White Librarian”

Journal, The Open Journal

Dear Ms. Darby,

 

As you know, out in rural America, there is nothing but vast acres of grass and trees, small antique shops, cows, heroine addicts and their children, Confederate flags, trucks, poor white racist, rich white racist, the rare white liberal, the even rarer white radical and the occasional patch of blackness: a patch that I occupied. I do not know where you fall honestly: if you are a white liberal or a white radical, but I will call you a white radical because in my life you have played the role of the white radical librarian. I will call you this not only because it sounds nice to my ears (the idea of a bunch of white radical librarians running around in rural communities is most certainly a beautiful fiction to me), but also because you planted a seed in a patch of blackness that was able to grow towards radicalism. The planting of this seed is the reason that I write to you, the planting of this seed is reason I want to thank you.

The story could start at the beginning of us meeting each other, but for time’s sake, I will start at the most pivotal year of our communion. My senior year, at sixteen years of age, I walked into the library with a camera and a dream. I want to start a newspaper, I said. It had been done before at our school, but through beginnings and endings, fluctuations and graduations, the paper was defunct while I was there. I had no experience in journalism. I hadn’t read a ton of newspapers that could provide a model for how the newspaper will be created. I had only come with the ability to write, the ambitions of a photographer, and a vision of a newspaper. I came to you because the library was also the media center. The Library/Media Center seemed to present the most fashionable station-house for the newspaper and you, the most fashionable advisor. You were enthused about the idea and encouraged that I take up the position as editor, and we began to give a rebirth to what became known as The Northeaster. I tried to form a staff (which I eventually was able to create), without much success at first. The lack of reliability and commitment resulted in the first newspaper being completely created by me, and the second by me and one other writer. I wrote all the articles for the first issue, I took all the photos for the first issue, I created the mission statement, and I put my final stamp on the paper saying, “It’s ready,” for your approval. And yet without the help of you, and one of your media assistant’s, who helped with design in ways that I technologically was not knowledgeable enough about, I would have never been able to produce the beautiful first two editions of The Northeaster.

Through this work relationship, a personal relationship was born, you pushed the idea of college on me. It was expected that I would go to college and I had wanted to go to college, but what it took to apply, what scholarships I should look into, what college would be like, what I should consider majoring in, and what colleges I should look into were questions that found many answers in you. My mother at the time was working and oftentimes didn’t have enough time to discuss or make sure that I was applying for colleges or for the SAT and you helped assure a made the deadlines. It was not enough for me to be a writer, or a good writer, or a good black writer, you were proactive in making sure I was a good black writer who would have a college education.

This addition of the “good black writer” is the most important of all: because what is college, what is education, if in education you either lose yourself or never began to find yourself? You had no invested interest in looking “beyond” my blackness with the politics of the colorblind liberal or degrading my blackness with the politics of the anti-Black racist. Instead you stared right at it, right at me, and introduced me to a blackness that had been barred from me the entirety of my public school education. In that Library, in-between newspaper writing and college advising, you introduced me to black radical thought.

Truly, if you wanted to introduce me to black thought you could have gave me the white-washed, docile stories of Martin Luther King, or the books of Booker T. Washington in which “casting down your bucket” is praised for its ability to keep black people trapped behind walls of white supremacy, but instead you reached into a book of new free books that were not up on the shelves yet and you handed me Souls on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver. He was a member of the Black Panther Party, you said, that was kicked out of the Black Panther Party. It was the first black book I had ever received at school, and the first black book I had ever read other than a biography, or a biographical anthology of important black people to know. In rural white communities, the Black Panther Party was an organization of black terrorist; it was what white people had told me my entire life, but you offered Cleaver, and said let his words speak for itself.

I read it fervently. Finding his rhetoric to be an opening to a new world, problematic and personal, horrifying and honest, but black so black and yet so new to me. I found his use of words/concepts like “hypermasculinity” to be new, interesting and insightful and his critique of James Baldwin (the only other black writer [“My Dungeon Shook”] who I had read previously to Cleaver) to be disturbing and breathtaking. I remembered sharing it with students in different classes and taking it with me everywhere – reading Cleaver in Chemistry while the other students talked about periodic tables and atoms. You also introduced me to Fred Hampton and told me to read the The Soledad Brothers. Through all the reading you introduced me to, there was nothing that stuck out more than a conversation. A conversation that sealed the deal.

I had been reading Cleaver alongside going to my conservative friend’s house whose mother and I always argued about political topics. I had never been a Republican in the strict sense, a libertarian – maybe, but a Republican, never, and for most of my youth I would have considered myself more precisely a hard-nose democratic. An Obama-disciple, if you may. But Trayvon Martin had just died, and the conversation in my conservative’s friend living room had begun to heat up as I tried with passion to defend Trayvon Martin against a middle school history teacher more than triple my age. I made considerable points, but I was young and the constant invocation of black violence and black criminality on behalf of my conservative friend’s mother who had the age and credentials most certainly had an impact on me, no matter how rebellious I was.

I remember coming to school the next day and asking you about blackness, and about the world, saying something along the lines of, “But, Ms. Darby, it’s true! Black people are more likely to commit crimes!” And I remember you never refuting it. I remember you simply leaving the question open because you knew who I was and you knew how I operated. I did not need answers. I needed questions and I needed to find the answers to those questions myself, through books, through life, in time. Then, softly in your pensively raspy yet whispery voice, you said something along the lines of “Yes, John. Maybe you’re right. But the question is: are they most likely to commit crimes because there is something wrong with black people or could there be the fault of the system put in place?” It was all I ever needed. It was the question, the opening, the seed that I needed in order to find my way out of rural racist America and into blackness: a beautiful blackness.

You could have answered that question in the former: You could have told me that black folks are simply inferior. You could have given me the bootstrap politics and said simply, “Black folks just need try harder.” You could have said anything, but you pointed to something that was above the subject. You pointed to the world. It was the world we are all up against. It was the world that barred me from Cleaver, the Black Panthers, Baldwin’s more radical work, and the entire history of the Black Radical Tradition. It was the world that enslaved Africans and brought them on ships to be turned into commodities for supply and demand. It was the world we had to change, and then you watered the seed you planted by telling me that I was capable of doing something about it.

It would be a lie if I said that you were the first to tell me I was special. My family had never neglected me in that way. If there was something I always had, it was and is a loving family who supported my dreams. What was new, however, was for someone to tell me that I was special and that I should use that ability to do something about a world that had created systems that operate against black people. That is why I write to you to today, to thank you for staring into this heart of darkness, this patch of blackness as it attempted to maneuver about in all-white space, surrounded by trees, grass, and confederate flags, and to thank you for staring, planting a seed, and watering that seed so that one day it might grow into a kind of black tree that rural Maryland had never witnessed before.

Sincerly,

Solid Philosophy

 

The-Negro-in-Transcendence: Boundlessly Black, and “On Top of the World”

Journal, Journaling, The Open Journal

I recently left Colorado; it was a two-day stay and visit of an old friend. I’m not sure who or what is to blame, but something, either Jasmine, or the return to a natural space, brought back memories of my childhood and the books that gave birth to philosophy as an interest. I am usually ashamed to admit it, but the 11th grade, after all my friends began to smoke pot religiously, and I had decided that that wasn’t going to be the life I chose to live, I began to walk around with a Henry David Thoreau anthology. Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, which I read first, vitalized my political dialogue and interest; Thoreau’s poetry and Walden helped me get over the desire to destroy myself in the wake of a depressing solitude after a much-needed separation from my peers. Racial and class anguish fueled my political understanding (class at the time being the primary focus of my enunciations) and a desire to leave the world, to transcend the depression, sadness, and angst that came from the world or, the attempt to make peace with the new solitude that was now a part of my identity made the Thoreau anthology, “my bible,” as I joked at the time.

Thoreau’s essays and aphorisms, the personal and poetic style, coupled with white racist denunciations of hip hop (which I wrote at the time) along with a creative writing class that expanded my understanding of what it meant to be a writer, transformed the songwriter that I was, into the full writer that I would become. There it began, philosophy and writing, and the salvation of my own life. And it is true what they say: one cannot fully appreciate Thoreau without reading Thoreau by the trees, shrubs, rivers, rocks, and animals he speaks about, and growing up in rural Maryland provided the space to run, to write, to read among those images. Nevertheless, as I read Thoreau and as I wrote among the transient signified objects that Thoreau spoke about, I couldn’t help but feel a dissonance, a separation, a link not made by my white philosophical Godfather that could only be made with blackness, that could only be made by that object of absolute dereliction, by the signifier of death: The Black.

***

Colorado is a geographical masterpiece: from the mountains, hills, bluff of Colorado Springs to the Urban centers in Denver, the mile-high city is a peaceful wonderland where white hipsters come from all across the nation to gather to share in white liberal brother/sisterhood. Pot dispensaries, comedy shows, indie bands, bicycles and mountains, the whole ordeal is a white hipster paradise. Rain or shine, and it rained while I was there, Colorado could not hide its beauty nor its hipsterdom. It was everywhere: from the images taken by and of the mountains to the arts and music scenery that I only had the chance to walk by, but not in. With this being said, all hipster paradises have an underbelly, for example, the gentrified zones that might as well have a sign that read: HERE LIES THE REMAINS OF A BLACK NEIGHBORHOOD, wherever and whenever a Starbucks rose from the ashes of the loss of black homes. Or the burgeoning mass of young white failed hipsters: Colorado’s poor youth who traveled to Colorado for the weed boom and failed to adjust properly, only to find themselves young, homeless and high. These were all observations I made in conversation with Jasmine on the way to her house. Colorado was gorgeous, but gory. It had the same history as the rest of the Western states and nations: rape, genocide, slavery and murder. The only difference is that this was a land of hipster liberals – high on life, drunk on privilege, infatuated by the liberal indie-alternative promise of equality that sings, “We are all the same now: poor and colorless, pale as this untanned flesh. We are all the same.”

CITY

The influence of hipsterdom characterized the capital, Denver, more than it characterized Colorado Springs, and perhaps that is why Colorado Springs was far more fascinating to me than Denver was. The white hipsterdom of Denver seemed cinematic yet real, it was hyperreal as Baudrillard would say; the whiteness of Colorado Springs was far more “modern” and concrete. It wasn’t white alternative neoliberalism, it was an environmental city characterized by its mountains. You could see the influence of Western liberalism, of course, but the world seemed more fixated on standing still than spinning rapidly toward neoliberalism. Springs was a modern city of white yesterdays; Denver was a postmodern city of white tomorrows. The mountains were Springs’ skyscrapers, they reminded you that you were in yesterday; the Urban skyscrapers of Denver were Denver’s skyscrapers, they remind you that you were in tomorrow.

Jasmine and I were going to University of Colorado in Colorado Springs to go “bluff” climbing. I called it mountain climbing the entire time. They weren’t any different to me. Big rocks, geological wonders and lots of work to get up to the top. The drive, an hour away from Denver where she stayed, was full of mountains, some snow-covered, some less-so. But they seemed endless. It was a world of mountain ranges – one after another, one after another – and it covered the landscape. We were going to the top of a bluff in Pulpit Rock Park. It was Jasmine, Boone – Jasmine’s dog (a story on Nature is never complete without a dog) and I. One [biracial] girl, one [black] man, one [black] dog, one bluff and the mini-plain that led to it. It was as if the world was ours to conquer for once. It was ours to imagine upon, to detail. It was ours to “discover”, to graph, to map; we were the cartographers of color, blackened by former explorers, yet enabled in that blackness to perform the kind of “illicit seeing” that allows us to see into the world and the deterritorialization that has made it a world discovered-yet-undiscovered.

PI

Through grass and dirt, shrubs and cacti, mud and tiny bodies of water, barbed wire and rattlesnakes, winds and rocks, we made our way towards the top. Walking, running, climbing, leaping. Periodically stopping for snapchat videos and Instagram photos, or for the dog to piss, or for one of us to perform some supernatural tactic that would enable and assist Boone up the bluff, we made it to the top. The journey was not without its fall or failures, all of which added comedic value to the hike. And the top was the end of what appeared to be an epic dramedy. No more walking; no more running; no more climbing or leaping. We were left only to breathe in the air that whistled, and soak in the sun that glazed the melanin of our flesh. It was not that the world stood still, on the contrary, we spun with the world. Never spinning until dizziness, spinning into dance. Black dancers, black dancers in a performance entitled, “Boundlessly Black.” We were boundlessly black and on top of the world.

I knew Jasmine wasn’t in the same space as me physically, mentally, or spiritually. Being black and being in nature was not the same for her as it was for me. Aside from the fact that she was a biracial women self-identified as black, she hadn’t studied blackness as I had and didn’t understand the notion of blackness and black ontology as the ontological fungible object consummated by a structural positionality of gratuitous violence. Frank Wilderson and the Afro-pessimist though arguably correct in their assertions did not have their ideas woven into the fabric of the black psyche, even if their ideas were a priori woven into the fabric of the black ontology. For me: I swayed in dance with a land that was not made for me, but by me.

pic

Yet, for a brief moment I was home. I was a child again. Solitary and black, dirty and ugly, dark-as-night, and still in my own abject way beautiful in a way that the word beautiful could never be. As I danced with the world, I searched the archive on my mind for a perfect soundtrack to listen to. I found the words of Thoreau playing in my head, “What is that that I hear cast overboard? The bodies of the dead that have found deliverance. That is the way we are “diffusing” humanity, and its sentiments with it.” The wind was nothing without the sound of the dead.

The sportive sun, the gibbous moon,

The innumerable days…

Emerson’s nature sung songs that sounded like the eternal sensation of absolute dereliction.

I am dumb in the pealing song,

I rest on the pitch of the torrent…

Emerson’s nature sung songs that sounded like the sorrow songs of slaves.

            I sit by the shining Fount of Life,

And pour the deluge still;

Emerson’s nature sung songs that sounded like the ontological death that gave birth to White subjectivity.

        I wrote the past in characters

Of rock and fire the scroll,

The building in the coral sea,

The planting of the coal.

Emerson’s nature sung songs that sounded like the history of blackness as the history of the fungible object born out of gratuitous violence and accumulation.

            And thefts from satellites and rings

And broken stars I drew,

And out of spent and aged things

I formed the world anew;

Emerson’s nature sung songs that sounded like blackness: we who were raped, killed, and enslaved in order to create new worlds.

It wasn’t long before it dawned on me why the dissonance between Thoreau and I was born in the first place, or why I left Thoreau to grow dust on the shelves. Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” And while his words were beautiful, and poignant, and fruitful in my attempts to transcend a world that lived and thrived off the back of black death, it soon became clear that we were not trying to face the same things. Thoreau had life; I had life-as-death. I had a blackness and Thoreau had white Humanism, a humanism that “could not have been produced without the simultaneous production of that walking destruction which became known as the Black.” I was born black via a slave ship; Thoreau was born white because of the world that the slave ship created. The abolitionist still owes their title to the slave. Therefore, I go to the woods or the mountains because I deliberately seek out transient zones of freedom, in order to confront only the essential facts of my death-as-life, and see if I could not learn what the woods and the mountains have to teach, and not, when I come to  die corporeally, discover that I have not fully attempted to feel a second of liberation, even if it was only a second.

I go to the woods or to the mountains to feel as Matthew Henson put it, “on top of the world.” TRANSCENDENCE. Whereas for Emerson and, more than likely Thoreau “the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature,” and this creates the transcendental “delight which the fields and woods minister,” in order to suggest “an occult relation between man and the vegetable.” The tranquil landscape, for me (the black), reveals that what is natural to blackness-being-in-the-world is the innumerable days of dereliction, the pitches of torrent, the weight of pouring laboriously into the fount of (white) life, the writing of the past in characters of rocks, blood smeared by black brains, and of fire pressed tight onto black backs, and the creation of the world anew.

The Negro-In-Transcendence is both of top of the world, and trapped inside of it. The Negro-In-Transcendence is not capable of transcending that ontology, that structural violence that made the Negro Negro in the first place, there the Negro is trapped in its “natural” space of fungibility. However, what the Negro transcends is the mythology that posits that nature is not a burial ground for their ancestors, that nature cannot be a transient zone of freedom where the Negro’s phobogenic body is liberated momentarily from the world bent on its destruction, that nature does not have, mapped into its ridges, blueprints of possibilities, like underground railroads for blackness to craft resistance poetically, musically, or politically. The Negro-In-Transcendence is both bound to blackness, yet boundlessly black.

This world is most certainly ours, it was created by our blood, sweat, and tears: we just must remember what Matt Henson said: “There can be no conquest to [one] who dwells in the narrow and small environment of a groveling life, and there can be no vision to the [one], the horizon of whose vision is limited by the bounds of self. But the great things of the world, the great accomplishments of the world [like the end of one, and the beginning of another], have been achieved by [those] who had high ideals and who have received great visions. The past is not easy, the climbing is rugged and hard, but the glory at the end is worthwhile.”

The glory of liberation. The mountains of Colorado. The Negro-In-Transcendence.

The Open Journal: Day 10 – The Exact Opposite of Widow Basquiat, Part 1

The Open Journal, The Peculiar Tales of Professor Phillips

“It would be an interesting devastation.” Solis says coldly like a ghost. Then, there is a long pause. Telephonic silence transfers between the two rooms, creating the kind of anticipation that could never be left in vain. It could only be confronted like knights jousting in an arena. “But I don’t know about you, but I feel like no one would have expected it from me.”

“Would have what?” Poma asks.

“No one would have expected it from me.” Solis returns.

“From you? Expected what?”

“Expected that I would kill myself.”

“Do you want to?”

“It’s just a thought.” Solis picks up and drinks the liquor he keeps on his bookshelf. It doesn’t burn. The vodka is sweet and easy. “What do you think dying is like?”

“Uh… I think it’d be the best adventure.” Sweetly Poma says. Solis can hear her shuffling around her bedroom. She has thought this through before, he thinks. She has considered the depth of death before, he thinks.

“We might get reincarnated. We might go to Hell. We might cease to exist forever. We might find God. We might find our dead loved ones. We might fall forever. We might be scared. We might be… angry. We may regret our decision. But then again, we might just be free… and it’s like all of the other shit happens to me already. The only thing I don’t have right now is the possibility of freedom. That’s the only thing death presents that I don’t have – the possibility of being free, and seeing as though no dead person has ever come back. It’s either horrible or not that bad at all.”

Solis responds with more subtle shots of liquor.

“The only thing that scares me is that maybe I could have had you in the way that I wanted you if I had waited a day, a week, or a year, or five,” Poma continues.  “I could be in a studio apartment with Dr. Phillips with white board walls and a cat, and we could travel and read and travel while we read and find things to read while we travel. And we could fuck in every institution that there is on the face of the earth and do speaking tours. And be the wealthiest motherfuckers to choose to live in a studio apartment. And I’ll have ten cameras and right next to all the awards you get for your scholarship will be all my cameras. I’ll take picture of you when you are happy, angry, sad, depressed, or anxious. And everyone who looked through the pictures will look at the pictures and say, ‘He was a much simpler man than his mind allowed him to believe.’ Then, you would die and I will write a book about you in poems and it’ll be called, Widow Phillips. And it’ll be the exact opposite of Widow Basquiat. And people will read it and they’ll say, ‘That’s the kind of love I want,’ instead of when they read Widow Basquiat and say, ‘That’s the kind of love I have.’ They’ll see you and I and say, ‘We can do it. We can make freedom for ourselves in a little studio apartment in Baltimore.’ That’s the only thing that scares me about dying right now. That we might be the first people to find freedom here.”

Speechless, Solis digs deeper into his liquor. It still doesn’t burn, but the sweetness is beginning to dissolve, leaving only the overwhelming sensation of ease that only drunkenness can bring.

“You aren’t scared of the dark?” Solis says

“Fucking terrified.”

“That’s what stopped me from killing myself more than anything else.”

“You think it’ll be dark.”

“It think that I won’t be able to think, and that scares me. Even though I’ve been scared of my thoughts before, I think I’m more scared of what it’s like when they stop.” He pauses and begins to twirl his fingers in his nappy hair. It’s a pause that begs for time, time to be able to contemplate wholly what should be said. “Have I told that I’ve never have tried to commit suicide?”

“Yea. But I don’t get why.”

“I think that I know… I know how to do it, and I have a way to do it already in my head. And it’s, at least for me, it’s the most beautiful way for it to happen. And I feel like if it doesn’t happen that way, then I can’t build up the strength to actually do it.” He pauses and sips his drinks again. “I want to shoot myself. Because I always have this like vision of what that looks like…. What are you doing?”

“Huh?”

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing?”

“That’s impossible.”

“I walked downstairs.”

“Okay.”

“Continue.”

“I always have this vision of what it looks like to die with a gun. I imagine that it’s quick, and the only thing that you can remember as long as you have memory is the flash. I always envision the flash, this surreal, beautiful bright flash, and then I think about what the blood looks like, and I always say that it’ll be like paint. And wherever it happens, wherever I shot myself, will become a canvas and nothing will stop it… well, not stop it… I mean, nothing will be able to erase that blood, that me, from the canvas and for me that’s so important. To die, to commit suicide, the way an artist would. I just never had a gun.”

“Do you know how Basquiat died?”

“How? I’m not sure. I haven’t got to the end of the book.”

“Neither have I. I don’t think it’s in there.”

“How did he die?”

“Not like that.”

“How did he die then?”

“If what my ex told me is right, he overdosed when he was 27. That’s how artist die.”

“They die on pills?”

“Yeaaaa. I don’t know of any artist that has shot themselves. I know a lot about drug overdose and that’s the fucking slowest, most fucking painful way – that’s how artist choose to die.”

“Isn’t a more artistic death to choose to die in a new way?”

“No. Because I always thought about people like Basquiat, and Marilyn Monroe, and Whitney Houston. They could have chosen beautiful ways to die. But because they were artist. They didn’t have to make art with death. There’s nothing aesthetically pleasing about overdosing on pills. It’s a dead body with pills inside of it. There’s nothing intentional or aesthetically pleasing. Nothing that can’t be disposed of or buried. That’s what made them artist…. I think that’s how they knew they were really ready to die because they knew that even when they killed themselves no matter how they killed themselves when they died in that moment they were still artist. They didn’t have to make a final statement. They still were artist. That’s how artist die.”

“So, Basquiat killed himself?”

“I think so.”

“I didn’t know that. To be honest I thought he died of aids.”

“Did he die of aids? I doubt he died of aids. Can you look this up?”

“Yeah.” Solis types: JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT into his google search. Clicks the second link that pops up: JEAN- MICHEL BASQUIAT – WIKIPEDIA, THE FREE ENCYCLOPEDIA. He scrolls down the webpage, and reads: DESPITE AN ATTEMPT AS SOBRIETY DURING A TRIP MAUI, HAWAII, HE DIED ON AUGUST 12, 1988, OF A HEROIN OVERDOSE AT HIS ART STUDIO ON GREAT JONES STREET IN MANHATTAN’S NoHo NEIGHBORHOOD. HE WAS 27.

“Heroine overdose.” Solis says.

“That’s a little bit more pretty.”

“Not really.”

“It’s prettier than pills. Just not as pretty as guns.”

THE OPEN JOURNAL: DAY 9 – I, The Destroyer: A Micro-Lyric Essay

Poetry, The Open Journal

I feel like I was born with a sort of mastery in destroying people. I feel like I was born principled in building and breaking and tearing apart worlds. I feel like I was born skilled in the art of heart-shearing. I feel like it is an innate evil that I will live and die with. It walks within me like a treadmill of terror. I feel like the world can never be more right in the way it will destroy my image. It shall be defamation. It shall be desecration. It shall be worded so perfectly that each word will leave a picture of the damage that I’ve created. I feel like the world can never be more right in the way it will destroy my body. It shall be painful. It shall be exhausting. It shall etch the curse I’ve cursed others with a million times upon my flesh, and I shall die a million deaths alongside the hearts I have buried in my backyard. Yet, before this occurs, like a coward, I will run. I will run into the crevice of the earth, and I shall hide my face from the eyes of the one’s who may wish to forgive me of my sins. I am far more wretched than the wretched of the earth. I am the puss of the wounds I’ve made. I am the dirt that the wretched will stand upon. I am nothing, but all that they have said I am. And since this is the case, I say, with cowardice bravery, I will run. I will convince myself that staying will do the world a great disservice. I will convince myself it is better to leave than to let the world get its rightful revenge. I will do the only deed I know to be benevolent: I will run. I will run into the crevice of the earth.

The Open Journal: Day 8 – Helping The Man off The Chair

The Open Journal, The Peculiar Tales of Professor Phillips

“If your best friend said it, it must be true,” Poma said it a matter-of-factly over the telephone. Todaisha wasn’t actually his best friend. They had grown close through work, achieved great success together in the academy, and got closer as a result of communal-blackness and intellectual activism against anti-blackness. But his best friends would have never been so careless with their words, so dangerous in their description of him, so willing to defame and destroy him. Her words were deafening, sickening. It was as if they existed to diagnose, deconstruct, and destroy.

“She says you’re crazy.”

Solis didn’t get it. It wasn’t said as if the crazy was meant to describe him as “wacky,” “weird,” or “kind of different.” It wasn’t said as if he was an alternative to whatever fictitious norm his “friend” had constructed of persons. It was said as if there was some mental aversion in him. He was an outpatient who in all honesty needed a straight-jacket and padded solitary walls. He was crazy.

How am I crazy? After all that we’ve accomplished, no… I’ve accomplished, how could I be crazy?

After a brief meditation, it came to him. He knew what his friend was referencing to. She always called him crazy as a result of his depression. She couldn’t get it. His friend never understood what looming darkness depression brought. She either belittled the experience by sharing at whim with whoever she came in contact with or she called him “crazy” to whoever she came in contact with. Having depression as a side effect of twenty-eight years of wanting to rip your flesh from your limbs, having a depression from twenty-eight years of being called nigger to your face in a setting of overt racist hatred in contrast to institutional racist hatred, having a depression from wishing there was a way to alter yourself completely and toss away all that you are in exchange for someone/something new made you crazy in her eyes. Only the crazy were depressed, and Solis was among those who deserved the straight-jacket, padded walls, and the scorn of alterity.

“I’m crazy?” Solis asked.

“Yes, that’s what Todaisha says. And that’s okay because I’m crazy too. It’s just that I don’t know what it looks like for two crazy people to fall in love with each other.”

“The thing is you aren’t crazy.”

“No, I am.”

“How do you understand crazy Poma? What is crazy?”

“It’s crazy to have anxiety like this Solis, and I know that you don’t experience anxiety the way I do. Hyperventilation and shit. I know that your anxiety is dealt with by writing and by solitude. But I know we both are plagued by this. We are both depressed, anxious – crazy.”

“No, fuck that. I won’t accept that Poma. I won’t accept that I am somehow perverted because of what whiteness has done to my body, my mind, and my self-esteem. I won’t accept that I am somehow perverted because Todaisha has diagnosed me as Other because I am man who cries, and a man who can’t keep his heart in his chest. I won’t accept that.”

“Solis, it’s crazy to be suicidal. She’s not lying about that. It’s crazy to want your own death.”

“No, everyone at some point has thought that the world might spin better on its axis if they somehow vanished, somehow disappeared, evaporated, like smoke after a fire. Everyone at some point has thought it would be better for them to be gone eternally into an infinite darkness. She has. You have. I have. We all have. It’s not crazy to want suicide. It’s crazy to look at a person who is standing on the edge of life and death with nothing but a chair and rope hanging from the ceiling, and simply diagnosing them as crazy as opposed to in desperate need of something that has either never been given to them or something that has been consistently taken away from them. That what’s crazy is. Crazy is the diagnosis of “crazy” without the willingness to help. Craziness is not depression. Craziness is not anxiety.”

“Solis, I understand what you’re saying, I do. I just want this to be a thing, an actual thing that doesn’t go up in flames. I want this to work even if it doesn’t.”

“I can’t promise you anything Poma. I can only promise that I will be what I will be, and I will overcome how I will overcome, and no one, anywhere – not even me, knows fully what that looks like. No one knows what it looks like to fully overcome your depression, your anxiety, but we know that when it happens it’s not a result of the person overcoming their own craziness, it’s a result of many people being unwilling to diagnose the man underneath the rope that hangs from the ceiling, and more willing to help him off the chair.”

The Open-Journal: Day 7 – The Way We Burn: A Micro-fiction

The Open Journal, The Peculiar Tales of Professor Phillips

“Is it safe to say I met you under the flame?” He asked, wrapped like closed hands around her body, tight and secure. It was intentionally figurative. He always spoke in poetry. It was the only way he knew how to speak. “Like, under the least of fortunate circumstances.”

“Solis, we’re black.” She slightly pulled her head away from his chest and stared at his eyes. “Black-as-space. We always meet under the least of fortunate circumstances. That’s what make it easier for us to love each other. Who can say their love lost its spark when the flames is forever burning in a world created to destroy your body – by the fire?” She asked rhetorically. She knew he knew. She only wondered what took him so long to come home, to come back under the flame. But she never asked. She just let him embrace the fire, she just let him be reminded of what it’s like to be under direct attack with another individual who knows what it’s like to burn.

You’re not alone anymore, she thought. You’re not a “cosmic hobo” anymore. We built our life under the smoke of a world design to destroy us. Breathing in death, yet learning to live in the haze. Solis, we’re black…. Burn baby burn.

The Open Journal: Day 6 – Letter to a Professor: On Thinker’s Guilt

The Open Journal

I have a question Professor, one that is only a little more on the personal side of things, but that I would like some advice on. As always if you have no particular interest in answering this question it is fine. It’s just that lately I’ve been a feeling a sense of what I call, “Thinker’s Guilt,” and I wanted to know from a professional if this is normal, or if these feelings are uncommon.

Occasionally, I go through these drastic fits of “intellectual inadequacy” when I look at the list of reading that I haven’t read or when I look at the conversations of some of my philosophy friends on Facebook who attend other schools (two in Canada, one in Michigan, others at different places) who are talking about things that I simply can’t understand, and I feel as if I’m in an academic game of catch-up, trailing behind people who aren’t even intellectual giants yet only to never to catch up. I know, on one hand that I’m intelligent, persistent, and dedicated perhaps beyond that which others may be, but on the other hand I see these giant pitfalls in my current intellectual growth that make me feel as if I’ll forever be playing catch up on both sides of the field whether it’s black studies or white philosophy.

Every professor I talk to about getting my Ph.D, in an attempt to be “caring,” which is ultimately in my opinion an attempt to make me cognizant of the “meager” institution I attend and the obvious consequence of that “meager” institution which is my “meager” intellectual capacities, continuously repeats the, “You shouldn’t want to get your Ph.D.” charade. I always wonder if they’d say the same thing to a white student, a student at an Ivy League, a student who was capable of affording any private school for that matter, or a student who had accessible to them “think tank” institutions. The thing is not only does that disparaging advice get said to me as if to say, “The Ph.D. program is long and daunting” it gets said to me as if to say, “The Ph.D program is long, daunting, and you don’t have the capacity to put up with that.” The effect is internalization. I’ve heard it all my life: black and dumb, black and ugly, black and black. I am as meager as you say I am.

(But what if that is the failure of public university institutions? That they are more worried about stifling their student’s ambitions than they are about helping them achieve them. However, that is another conversation.)

Attending Oxford this summer is an attempt to belittle professors who discourage my drive to a Ph.D. But even here in this magnificent achievement, I wonder if I am the worthy of this opportunity. I want it so bad more than anything, but I never know if I deserve it. I never believe I deserve it. Because I’ll never know enough about Hegel, Freud, and Derrida and I’ll never be able to properly juggle their complex thought alongside Frank Wilderson, Saidiya Hartman, and Jared Sexton, and even in understanding their thoughts I will always be working from behind these other intellectual giants who haven’t even begun to grow yet. When I was younger I used to search Wikipedia all day for black people, who looked like me, who were academic geniuses, and who were alive. That was how I found Cornel West. But I slowly noticed that great disparity between our lives. Middle class-black-and-of-the-suburbs-with-college-educated-parents versus working class-black-and-from-rural-areas-with-non-college-educated-divorced-parents. We weren’t the same. I was always looking for the same. (bell hooks is the closest: my role model.)

My girlfriend always ask me, “John, why do you stay up so late?” And the answer is always, “I want to read.” But buried underneath this respectable, acceptable answer is the truth: I’m anxious about my inadequacy and constantly trying to make up for past losses. Losses in time, that is. Losses spent writing songs instead reading literature. Losses spent working out instead debating metaphysics. Losses in time of yesterday’s long gone.

Philosophy and Black Studies are not new to me. It’s just the formality and the academic approach that’s new. The tracking of names, the decrypting of concepts, and the emphasis of memory of what someone else said, that’s new. My philosophy and black studies was always music. My father and mother used to make me write stories and songs. And every story and every song was an exploration of two of my most difficult questions and interest today: Why should we live? And, what does it mean to be black? The question are still the same, the techniques are just different.

(Maybe it’s the ability to create that can set me apart when all else is unequal: to create ripples in thinking at locations unthought. This is where I go when I wish to be positive.)

But my question for you is: Do you ever feel like what you know is not enough? That you could have been better in your field if you would have just tried a lot harder, a lot earlier? That what you have to offer to the world is simply a deficient copy of what everyone else can offer, or what some else may be able to offer more productively? And that the opportunities you receive exist only insofar as there is thing called luck? Do you find your thoughts to be insufficient? That is question, put another way: Do you ever feel thinker’s guilt?

The Open Journal: Day 5 – Meeting Professor Phillips

The Open Journal, The Peculiar Tales of Professor Phillips

It was 8:11 am. The new sun was still youthful over the horizon where a class of twenty sat restlessly in their seats. First day jitters collided with a burgeoning anxiety.

Where was the professor?

The question started to gain steam in the minds of this freshman class. Professors weren’t late. Custom made it so. It was them, the students, who arrived late and it was the professor who scolded the careless student. However, there was something suspicious in the air about this tardiness. It was the first day of the first year of college for most of these students.

Was this normal?

The students begin to ask themselves. Normality made the situation less alienating. If it was normal, then the professor wouldn’t need to be held accountable. The professor wouldn’t need to apologize. Normality was a priest, and as such, anything that may have been previously considered sins could be brought to the status quo and left at the altar of custom to eternally be accepted as, “normal.” The sensation of angst rose steadily among the classroom before spiraling head locked eyes with equally confused glances. After five more minutes passed, the students became acquainted in more than just the condition of complexity.

Suspending silence, one student asked, “What do we do if he doesn’t show up?” The question sparked an entangled mesh of ambiguously conflicting remarks. Statements, potentially true more than likely false, began to transfer from one student body to the next. Voices formed an opaque echo coming together to make one confused verbal mosaic. One student, attempting to speak above the rest of the class, to make herself heard said, “One of my friends told me if he doesn’t arrive in fifteen minutes when class ends, then we can leave,” a claim that combined optimism with self-doubt. The kind of self-doubt that left those interested in her optimism a bit uncomfortable. They were young. They were freshman. What did they really know about college? About each other? Nevertheless, the comment sent the room into a frenzy.

“Are you sure about that?”

“I could have stayed in bed!”

“They could have at least sent at an e-mail or something!”

The clocked continued to tick as time had already passed 8:15, four minutes ago. 8:20; 8:21; 8:22.

“Are any of you guys leaving?” The student who leaked the first dose of probabilistic information claimed. Concern and will spread across the faces of the students. The door became more convincing.

One by one the students started to rattle their desk and chairs.

One by one the students stood and shared a glance, a glance that reads, “If you do this, I’ll do this.”

One by one the students moved towards the door behind the female student who shared the freeing information, and just before they get towards the door; it opens.

A younger man of approximately twenty-nine years old quietly walks through the door to a classroom full of standing, anxious students prepared to leave. The man’s glasses took up half his face. His nappy afro’d hair stood atop his head as if electric had rocked the man numerous times, leaving the hair at attention, ready for the next electrical attack. His beard showed the same kind of neglect: wired and tangled into an uncoordinated, unkept goatee. The only thing that looked together was his outfit. His gray sweater marked with various patterns of various colors was worn over top of a sky blue dress shirt. His black jeans were skinny and tight on his legs followed by Aztec patterned socks and dress shoes.

Following his entrance, the students reluctantly turned to their seat. One by one they returned to their positions – defeated, embarrassed. The professor stood down in the front of the class scribbling something on the white board. It was his name. It read: Dr. Solis Phillips. He, then turned around to the class and stared out the window. The sunlight gleamed off his caramel skin and his eyes peered intensely into that distant ball of atomic fire. For the class, a new kind of awkward returned.

Was this normal?

It was the question of the past thirty minutes and the desire of the students. Normality.

Dr. Phillips turned to his students, smiled over-excitedly and begun to speak, “Good morning students.”

The remark was made as if he hadn’t arrive twenty-five minutes late. It was business as usual and the students took notice.

“Welcome to the Philosophy 101. Please, before we get started it is important to understand that this is a scene of subjection. In fact, this classroom, this school, and the entire world pretty much is just that.”

The words came out his mouth awkwardly: the darkness of the terminology and the bubbles in their release seemed to contradict each other.

“Today was nothing more than a perfect example of just that. Twenty five minutes into class you have waited for an arrival of a man you didn’t even know because you were told that I’d arrived and upon my arrival you all have went neatly back to your seats as if twenty-five minutes of your life, that you will never get back, had not been wasted. It was like you were Waiting for Godot, except judging by the looks on your faces, you’re a bit more disappointed in my arriving than Vladimir and Estragon may have been if Godot actually showed up.”

He smiled finding the deranged looks on his students’ faces to be pure entertainment. He leaned up against the white boarding behind him surveying the room.

“Now I’m sure most of you are here because your parents, your ‘guidance counselor’, your core curriculum, your friends, and your world led you in an almost invisibly visible way to this class room space. Though, most of you if asked, ‘Why did you take this class,’ would fancy up some kind of personal volition that brought about the decision. Ya’know? The old ‘Merican way? Freedom? Liberte?” The last word was a conjured and forced French accent that sounded childish in its expression.

“Most of you have probably have never taken the time to consider the influence that people, that the social world have and continue to have on your choices, your volition, your ‘freedom.’ I want to tell you – well, warn you – that this course is exactly about that. It’s about freedom, or maybe the lack thereof. Wait. No. Actually, more than your freedom, more than your lack thereof, this class is about your lack of freedom in relation to your parents, counselors, schedules, teachers, and books. Yup, even books. Even books articulate a kind of fabled freedom.”

“You may ask yourself, ‘Why philosophy and why unfreedom?’ Does anyone have an answer?”

Silence, confusion, disturbance.

“Why, in the early stages of philosophical investigation, in a philosophical introduction, would I bring up freedom or unfreedom? Anybody?”

More silence. More confusion. More disturbance.

“No? Well, because contrary to what you may have been taught thus far, everything has a philosophy. All discourse, all conversation, all institutions, from the education system to the healthcare system to all other systems, have an underlying philosophical indoctrination.”

“Education, however, is one of the most oppressive. The most powerful and covert mechanism of power used in the formation of the ideology of submission is the educational system. It is by far one of the most, if not the most, oppressive domestic institution in America. All attempts towards education is an attempt towards indoctrination. I, myself, am doing this kind of indoctrination right now. As we speak, I am indoctrinating you. They pay me for it. Not a lot, well – not enough, but yes, I am sorta-kinda well paid indoctrinator. But, you can call me Professor Phillips.”

“Moving on, indoctrination is exactly what your parents have done, what your counselor has done, and what your friends and your world has done since you were born. Indoctrination breeds unfreedom and this leads to my last point. This is probably the most important portion of this class, after the discovery of unfreedom, indoctrination, or whatever word you prefer to understand this sort of, ‘state of living among teachers.’ Anything and everything that someone says is a lie somewhere to someone. Everything on truth is multifarious and discordant. I am liar and a truth-teller. And that is the most honest thing I can tell you. If everything and anything of truth is someone else’s somewhere elses’ lie, then why philosophy? Doesn’t philosophy seek out the truth?  Well that depends on who you’re talking to.”

“Philosophy discovers old conversations and creates new, unthought conversations. Philosophy defines itself and the rest of the world in language and labels, and potentially offers an action in respect to these discoveries and discourses. But, nothing as of yet, especially not philosophy has been able to offer universal truth. Philosophy allows you to be critical of the other lies of the universes for you to choose the lie you wish to operate under. The lie you choose creates your world. That is what we are here to discover what we have been indoctrinate with thinking, to critique truth or untruth, to identify contradictions with logic and contradictions in logic, to critique discourse, and destabilize any and every sense of normalcy. Me, included. We are on this journey together. It is through journeying together that we limit the oppression of the classroom.”

He finished his lecture, smiling as the students looked about bewildered.

And the door became more convincing, and one by one the students started to rattle their desk and chairs.

One by one the students stood and shared a glance, a glance that reads, “If you do this, I’ll do this.”

One by one the students moved towards the door behind the female student who shared the freeing information, and just before they get towards the door.

Professor Phillips says, “See you all next week at 8:30!”

The Open Journal: Day 4 – The Paradox of Peace

The Open Journal

Day 4

September 18th

Lately I’ve been drifting between books and written journal entries, white walls and crowded alienation, loud music and the blues, sadness and manufactured excitement, love and fear, the indescribable and the poignant, the philosophical and the poetic.

It’s hasn’t driven me crazy.

It’s only made the world become more of a microcosm. And the smallness of this world has become claustrophobic and comfortable.

It was the paradox of peace.

Peace arose out of this balance.

Peace arose out of this feeling that I was sure of what I wanted, what I needed, and what I preferred.

Peace arose out of erasing the extra irrelevance and focusing on nothing more than the world within that microcosm.

However, peace made the world seem like it was constantly closing in on you, as if you were somewhere sitting in the calm before a hellacious storm.

Peace choked you with assurance. It created a feeling of safety that made any slight feeling of danger and emergency seem like a grave danger.

Peace was unpeace.

Peace was a surreal unreality. It was a state of mind that was suffocating and pleasantly intoxicating at the same time. It was monotonous and psychologically disingenuous, yet wonderful in an all-too wonderful way.

I don’t know about this peace.

But it hasn’t drive me crazy . . . yet.

The Open Journal: Day 3 – Accepting Your Insignificance

The Open Journal

September 9th

When I was in 10th grade I had a girlfriend who told me I would never change the world. I don’t know if it was the fact that my girlfriend told me this, or if it was the fact that it was said at all that hurt me most, but we don’t need to delve too deep into a hierarchy of pain to get into the simple fact that I was hurt. I was raised in a small-town of no ambitions. And most ambitions, like those of mine, were either etched out of the realm of possibility before a person became too serious about it, or, they were hung onto fantastically up until the point where the person’s entire life and progress halts as a result of the unfulfilled goal, or, which was most certainly the most common of the three, the person’s ambitions didn’t extend past something safe, secure, and small.

Recently I’ve been wrecking my brain about this youthful ambition of mine and coming more and more to the conclusion that my-now ex-girlfriend might have been right.

I’m not ever going to change the world.

And I would like to think that it has everything to do with some mistake of someone else, but I can’t. It would be nice to blame my failure on the simple fact that the world is a shit hole and nothing that I say or do can actually stop the world from being a large, spiraling ball of shit; I would like to excuse my failure, and say that it’s a result of my upbringing and the lack of available resources to contribute to the execution of my plan of world-changing, but unfortunately, these were exactly the things I was attempting to change in the world. If they had not existed, if they had not been a part of my reality from the beginning, I may have never wanted to change the world at all.

I wanted to provide more resources for those without them and I wanted to make the world less shitty. But I wanted to make a major shift in this issues. In other words, I wanted to be a hurricane, not a gust of wind. I didn’t know how I was going to do that, but when I was younger it had everything to do with writing. I was going to write the world into a better place. Each and every sentence was going to transform the world from shit to something beautiful. Initially, the writing path I was going to take was going to be through hip hop. I had been writing raps since I was in 1st grade. My father rapped, my cousin rapped, and we used to have tons of random people come over my house all the time and rap, so hip hop was naturally my first outlet in world-changing. I released an EP in 10th grade and I quickly noticed this sad truth: I didn’t have the resources to make a dent in the world through my music. There aren’t any outlets, any radio stations, any universities, any music managers, or music promoters remotely close to small-town America. I then noticed that my love for hip hop was essentially the love of poetry, and my love of poetry essentially the love of words. I noticed this, only to eventually notice that the world is so shitty that it couldn’t care less about my love of words.

I kept writing, but this thought continued to haunt me. “The world doesn’t give a fuck about you,” it said. “The world is so big and you are so small. Your writing, your feelings, your thoughts simply don’t matter.” Thinking about the world and its enormity required me to go beyond the love of writing and towards the love of wisdom, of knowledge, and of learning. It was understanding how small I was, and how insignificant I am that made me come to the conclusion that I would try to become a genius and I would use my genius to understand and change the shitty world. The only problem was the geniuses that came before me, the students who had the proper resources before me, the students who declared and dedicated their life to genius before me, and the students who had feasted their mind on the problems of the world before me. They were better qualified for world-shifting than I could ever be.

I had started too late. And the world had won. I am slowly starting to accept this, and finding that the new modification to my ambitions is simply a restructuring or simplification of my previous goals. I tell myself, “To change the world doesn’t have the mean to the world in its entirety. To change the world can mean to change your world. To change and impact every person you come in contact with. To share your writing, your thoughts, your music, your genius with the people around you. To make the world around you a better place could be just as important as changing the entire world into a better place.” And I know it’s not true. And I know it’s simply accepting mediocrity. But that’s what the world does to you the longer you stay inside of it, it forces you to face the fact that you’re nothing, that you live, do, then die, and after the fact the world will more than likely remain just as shitty as it did when you first arrived into it.

There weren’t going to be any history books with my name in it. There weren’t going to be any movies about my paradigmatic shift in the world’s injustices. There weren’t going to be any enigmatic events in my life worth telling for decades upon decades to come. There may not even ever be a book, essay, poem, or even a single letter published with my name on it outside of this blog right here. And I had to accept that. I simply had to accept that I was, above all else, insignificant.

The Open Journal: Day 2 – The Last Lion and The Gillespie Pride

The Open Journal

September 6th

I couldn’t help but look into the mirror that has become my father’s eyes and see such a shimmering resemblance between us. I wasn’t a carbon copy. My father wears fifty-one years of New York City sorrow on his flesh and my skin only wears nineteen years of small-town racism, social rejection, and identity crises. My father’s body wears the stain of suicidal thoughts, depression, and lost that can only be worn by a man whose lost his father, brother, family, niece, and nephew in the past two/three years. I have never had my life radically shocked and transformed by a death and any bout with depression and suicide has been jarred by the world’s incomprehensibility, the world’s racism, or an indescribable disorder uprising out of a seasonal change. My father’s hands have caused more destruction than my mind can imagine and the rage of his youth far exceeds any rage I have ever had influence me ever. My father has always been characterized as a destroyer; I a peacemaker. But these differences are just a matter of years and experiences. I am admittedly only a social situation away from being him. Had I experienced what he had, had I walked in those same shoes, across those same pathways, facing those same dilemmas and tribulations – I very well might have been indistinguishable from the man I call, “Father.”

Before I knew my father’s story, when I was young and becoming aware of our similarities, I made consistently clear with women that I never wanted to be like my father. I made it clear because I knew we were so similar, but I feared being so. I had seen my father’s strengths and weaknesses. I had seen my father’s power. I had seen how he could maneuver his will into way, and I had seen how he was able to use this will, which he called “the spirit,” to build a business or destroy one. I had seen how he was able to use this will to make someone fall in love with him, and then, use that same will to make someone hate him. I had seen how he could fall into state of depravity – sad, lonely, and abandoned. I had watched my father without ever fully understanding him, and I had feared becoming that. Because I truly believed my father had a power, a power that I had, that I didn’t want because I knew that he had the ability to destroy and inspire people. It was the power to persuade others.

Yes, we were the same.

There was something indistinguishable about the comedy we brought into a room – a comedy that made you laugh with a sting of truth and vulgarity that made the world seem like some kind of hilarious conceit for a childish God’s enjoyment.

There was something indistinguishable about the confidence we had in flirting with women – a confidence that made us more predatorial than the men who just wanted to fuck because we never did. We had good intentions. We wanted love, your love, but we wanted never to give you ours because we knew that playing-it-safe was the way to get what we wanted while still protecting our hearts.

There was something indistinguishable about the love for philosophy we brought to our private conversations – the kind of love that placed everyone into a pleasant uncomfortability, the kind of uncomfortable that made you debate us vehemently in the current moment, but skeptical of those very same positions you held so strongly to in the next.

There was something indistinguishable in the insecurities we hid so well behind fashion and stage presence – as if our music created a shell for the depression that sat secretly behind our wide smiles.

There was something indistinguishable about our passion for politics, and the struggle we have with truly understanding, and maintaining honest, vulnerable love.

It all was persuasive. But persuasion is control and lacking the ability to control your ability to control others can be self-destructive. I have seen what it has done to my father.  It can cause you to lose everything. And when the world around you begins to collapse as if God himself his decided to damn you to eternity what is left but to face that self that was hidden in secret when the world seemed sustainable. What is left but that depression, that suicide, those insecurities?

I have seen a mirror of my life in you father. We are indistinguishable, and I need you to model strength for me. Live until life is done. My father, don’t you dare forsake me. Because I see you crumbling, I see your tears, and I see that there appears to be no one willing to extend their hands to hold you. But, if you succumb to that depression what am I to do when the same sickness of your soul becomes a part of mine? You worry that you have lost everything, but I am here hoping to persuade you as you have persuaded. I know that one does not become suicidal, but suicide becomes them. I know that every bit of their being becomes ensnared in it and the thought of death becomes as inseparable to them as the flesh on their arms. And I know that we are the same. And if you go, it must not be long that I will assuredly do the same. You have always considered yourself to be the Last Lion of the “Gillespie Pride.” Live until life is done and I promise you will not be. For you are in me as I am in you.

The Open Journal: Day 1 – Black Sisyphus

The Open Journal

September 1st

Every enjoys a nice spoken word about the revolution. And I can enjoy a spoken word poem about it as much as the next person, but, personally I’ve always found it important to speak about depression and suicide in my poetry. There’s an obscene amount of people, black and white, who simply think black people can’t be depressed or that blackness and depression don’t intersect.

This is, of course, a problematic assumption. When I read, “The Myth of Sisyphus,” my freshman year of college, which was certainly one of the most depressing years of my life, and Albert Camus said, “The biggest philosophical question is suicide,” I couldn’t shake that quote. This French Algerian believes the biggest question of philosophy is why one shouldn’t just kill themselves and there is a world of people who think that black people never have this desire. It had become for me my own biggest philosophical question, only within a black context. Why has the black race, as a collective, and black persons, as individuals, not decided to quit? Why has the black race not decided to commit mass suicide across the country? Why have we yet to give up, give in, and butcher ourselves totally?

I’m only writing this because it occasionally crosses my mind that I should write more poetry about the revolution rather than personal or collective depression. But, if the biggest philosophical question is suicide, then what is more revolutionary than the fact that ages of black people have committed themselves to revolutionary suicide rather than reactionary suicide, and what is more revolutionary than the fact that black people continue to exist when there is no inherent purpose to our painful existence? And what is more poetic than that struggle to simply exist and to continue smiling as a black Sisyphus?