Monday, May 31, 2010

Re-Memorializing Daze

Let me start by addressing my Chicago readers: bitch about your rained-out bbq to an Iraqi or an Afghani.

Memorial Day is always a strange one--I have a hard time getting into the spirit of the holiday for personal reasons but also because (unlike Independence Day) we are incited to implicitly celebrate American military conquest by explicitly glamorizing those men (and now women) who "served" their country or who "paid the ultimate (sacrificial) price" "in the line of duty".

I'm not meaning to hate on those who join the military. Rather, I'm querying the framing of the way we speak about America's military commitments. It was not uncommon for serious, "average" Americans to call into question the validity of the deaths of American soldiers in Vietnam, to ask, "why are we sending so many young people to their demise?" This was especially true of the Civil Rights movement--and we shouldn't forget that MLK was assassinated right around the time he was linking the struggle for domestic civil rights to American foreign policy (why are a disproportionate amount of poor black youth being drafted? why are there "exceptions" for white youth in college or who wear orthodontics?).

Left out of this discursive framing are the Iraqis, Afghanis, Palestinians, Mexicans, Somalis, and plenty of other folks who are directly or indirectly impacted by American military action. We don't ask after the over half-a-million internally displaced Iraqis, or after the families of those who suffered the loss of a loved-one or a home or a means of livelihood through "collateral damage"; we don't ask after the precarious position American patrols force already vulnerable Afghanis into when they are forced to submit to questions; nor do we ask after the American soldiers who have suffered rather serious injuries--psychical, physical, and neurological--and must wage war against an unresponsive, bankrupt bureaucracy; and finally, we do not ask after the logics under-girding both American militarism and enlistment (i.e., why are we fighting in Iraq? Or, why is the military one of the few places many socio-economically depressed folks can get a good technical or college degree?).

So, sorry that your bbq is damped by the weather, but maybe it shouldn't have been so warmly embraced in the first place?

***
In other news, classes end this week so I'm launching into the end of the quarter--final papers (both rather important) are to be written, and I'm looking forward to that. Also, teaching starts on Wednesday, and I'm always a bit anxious about the first class if for no other reason than as a younger, gay man it isn't always easy to earn the respect or exude authority, and so extra-strategic, diplomatic attention is always required so as to deftly read and respond to the nuances of the students.

I'm also excited for the summer to start. J. and I have been talking more regularly about expanding the structure of our relationship. What all that may or will entail is still unclear, but the summer promises to be exciting. IML was a great start. It was nice to be in it together, enjoying the attentions and affections of a lot of hot men and boys, and one another too! haha--there is something electrifying about being out with him when we are hit on: it is as if the desires of those men finds its way into and then out of our bodies when we fuck (i feel satisfied, full, invigorated). But he said quite openly that he wishes he could experience the cruising scene, and though qualified to include me in this desire (I want to cruise with you, ya know, for a third or something) I still get a bit anxious about how things will unfold. Yet, I should also relax a bit about it, not over-determine anything and let things happen as they do and respond when/if they do. Risk-aversion leads to some royally stupid decisions, which in turn tend to produce precisely the effect one works so hard against mitigating. Or, some effect even worse. All of this is easy to write, but maybe writing it out makes living it easier. The Stoics would say: live as if he already cheated on you, as if he already left you for another and then you will not be overwhelmed if he does, and you will enjoy your time with him freed from fear. (Of course, the Stoics were talking about death so they could speak of such inevitability, but love isn't like this: it imagines itself to be immortal, interminable: there is no escape from the lover's anxiety.)

Tonight we may go to the Black and Blue Ball, and I can get myself in the mood for it. I just don't know if I want to. It will depend on him. And then, in turn, on us. In the mean time, I'm loving formulating arguments against these despisers of the (embodied) Web. My work helps me, actually, with J.: it keeps me from making the same kinds of nostalgia-induced, reductive judgments: he keeps me fresh and fun. Infinitely interesting.

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