we once believed in stars
now only pictures
once in the moon
but now only a finger
once laid in bed
but now only to rest
staring at glass
thousands of you look back
all afraid to act
i’ve mistaken the time
the hands of the clock must have circled around once ready
but the windows are shut
and i can’t tell day from night
sometime i wonder who remembers and who has already buried me
there are times we forget about love the same way we forget we are breathing
we are just breathing
and suddenly the air is gone
and we remember we exist
some hurts are sheer noise
while others sound soft
like a boomerang whirring against the sky
thrown far to forgotten
inevitably so strong it shatters rocks and art
into clastic sentiments
Someone told her you liked her and shame washed over you so quickly that you set running into the woods fell onto the floor, body splayed out into the tangle of plants.
You were only a boy. That day you became even smaller than you already were; so small that you couldn’t be found that part of you never left.
With endless cigarette exhalations just another roll away and cell phone refreshes and pulls on cheap beer, an adult in semblance but still a wounded child without understanding the shame.
To be touched in this place is what happens to bodies and we say we fucked each other up, not because someone cheated but the truth is that we saw this place together but only one of us recognized what it was. One person was blind and the other could see. This is shame. This is truth.
Desire is like a boomerang in eternal return to its source; extending outward but always come back.
i would say these words
i would say them
some people never change
and some people always do,
which is to say that some people
–but we can’t reach each other’s hands.
If there were something potent to say I would.
If I were under the right tree i wish I knew. It never goes right anyway yet something always happens.
There are two records playing:
one is the traffic and the other the birds.
And the wind arbitrates the narrative
But who is even listening.
Our plants are gone. I looked for them they must have died. I smell pearly everlasting instead. But i break something rank and sappy.
A man loses his wife and grieves for 10 years. Water seems exhaustible in this dry climate. But the well of grief will forever be deeper. The water of our bodies will never be exhausted.
Here are some notes on part one of Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality vol. 1: An Introduction (although i understand the more accurate translation of the subtitle to be “The Will to Knowledge”). I’ve long had a fascination with this text but rarely felt like i took the time to read it carefully enough. The end goal of these notes – not necessarily where they are right now – are to come to a lucid understanding distinct from Foucault’s beautiful and clever yet sometimes inscrutable prose. In other words, a critical summary for personal growth and understanding.
- Foucault articulates what he calls “the repressive hypothesis,” the notion that human sexuality between the seventeenth to ninetieth centuries can be understood as a movement of from freedom to repression and back to freedom again.
- The repressive hypothesis neatly corresponds with the birth of capitalism (5), which necessitated a normative form of sexuality around reproductive sex, heterosexuality, the family, and the economy. Repression was necessary to create a productive and docile labor force which would drive the economy of the future. Anything deviating from this norm (sex for pleasure, sex work, et al) were “reintegrated in the circuits of production, at least in those of profit” (4).
- Repression is a form of top-down power exercised by authorities, functioning on the principles of “taboo, nonexistence and silence” (5).
- It is tempting for progressives to understand sexuality in this manner, because it offers a clearly laid out path to liberation that involves speaking truth to power: “the mere fact that one is speaking about it has the appearance of a deliberate transgression… we are conscious of defying established power, our tone of voice shows that we know we are being subversive, and we ardently conjure away the present and appeal to the future… something that smacks of revolt, of promised freedom, of the coming age of a different law… tomorrow sex will be good again” (7). (see note)
- Foucault rejects the repressive hypothesis and its implied proscription for liberation as an adequate understanding of modern sexuality. His rejection is prone to misunderstanding; it cannot be understood as a simple reversal; i.e. we are not repressed, we are more free than we think – his rejection is grounded in his insistence that repression cannot be a fundamental starting point for understanding sexuality: “I do not maintain that the prohibition of sex is a ruse,” he writes. “But it is a ruse to make prohibition into a basic and a constituent element from which one would be able to write the history of what has been said concerning sex in the modern epoch” (12).
- Foucault is more directly interested in understanding how the repressive hypothesis is a constructed as a social fact that “sustains the discourse of human sexuality in our part of the world” (11). “Discourse” is a term so commonly used these days that it’s easy to forget how much meaning it holds in Foucault’s argument. For Foucault, discourse is linked to our understanding of the reality as such, aimed at showing how our understanding of a most intimate subject– our bodies, ourselves – are related to the development of knowledges that are never outside of power relationships. His aim is not to reject the repressive hypothesis outright, but to understand it as a significant strategy of “the way sex is ‘put into discourse.’” (11). For Foucault, speaking will not liberate us from power but is intrinsically related to power itself. This why he suggests the central issue is not to make true or false claims about sex and sexuality, but rather “account the fact that it is spoken about, to discover who does the speaking, the positions and viewpoints from which they speak, the instiutions which prompt people to speak about it and which store and distribute the things that are said.” (11). He aims not to understand reality as such, but rather explain the “regime of power-knowledge-pleasure” we live within and come to know ourselves as selves.
Note: While Foucault’s study primarily focuses on the intellectual development of sexuality from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, the publication of the text in the late 1970s clearly implicate modern political liberation movements; feminism/gay rights; when describing the temptation to understand liberation as speaking truth to power, he alludes to “decades” (6) rather than centuries.
i want a world that is bigger and braver than me
where our egos and traumas don’t keep us apart
where it is okay to be wrong
where it is okay to be forgiven
where we are not hiding under the layers of sediment that make us ourselves but also make us very very old
older than our faces betray
i am afraid that world will never be found
and I will be living in this one for the rest of my life
with no truth or dignity to lean upon
no wisdom of experience to share
just loneliness forever
once alone but not lonely
now not alone but lonely