a message for all those working hard fighting, wondering why I don’t go to meetings anymore
March 29, 2018 § Leave a comment
I used to go to a lot of meetings–nights, weekends, morning till night. It was almost all I did, on top of everything else (my child, my paid work, my creative/intellectual life). Then I learned that the temporality of a lot of movement work, the urgency of it, the life and death-ness of it, triggered disabling anxiety and mania in me, which drove me to more meetings and more frantic activity in an endless negative feedback loop, and so I had to basically stop going to meetings or else I would be stopped. It was a humbling thing, to be forced to reckon with your own real emotional and physical limits. I still struggle with it–I still try sometimes to go to stuff, thinking, “well, maybe just this once or maybe if I do it like this and not like that”–because I want to be helpful, I want to be of service, I want to support. I see that others are fighting for their lives. But when I do try to jump in, inevitably I end up remembering why it is I just can’t do very much beyond going to work, taking care of myself and my child, and writing with the few extra hours a week left over. Slow things, deliberate things.
Now, on Facebook, I see people going full tilt on all sorts of issues I still care about deeply but know I can’t help with, if I want to stay stable. It’s really hard not to jump in. It feels wrong. It’s also hard to imagine what it might mean to be involved in ways that don’t presume putting one’s body in public.
That’s why, when I encountered Johanna Hedva’s “Sick Woman Theory,” I felt like I wanted to post it here. (I wish I could just post it to Facebook but I recoil somehow from posting anything vulnerable, anything I’m actually thinking about or dealing with. It’s easier to post funny stories, random shit, jokes.)
Anyway, this passage of Hedva’s particularly resonated with me:
If we take Hannah Arendt’s definition of the political – which is still one of the most dominant in mainstream discourse – as being any action that is performed in public, we must contend with the implications of what that excludes. If being present in public is what is required to be political, then whole swathes of the population can be deemed a-political – simply because they are not physically able to get their bodies into the street.
And then this, too, I love and agree with 100%:
I used to think that the most anti-capitalist gestures left had to do with love, particularly love poetry: to write a love poem and give it to the one you desired, seemed to me a radical resistance. But now I see I was wrong.
The most anti-capitalist protest is to care for another and to care for yourself. To take on the historically feminized and therefore invisible practice of nursing, nurturing, caring. To take seriously each other’s vulnerability and fragility and precarity, and to support it, honor it, empower it. To protect each other, to enact and practice community. A radical kinship, an interdependent sociality, a politics of care.
Because, once we are all ill and confined to the bed, sharing our stories of therapies and comforts, forming support groups, bearing witness to each other’s tales of trauma, prioritizing the care and love of our sick, pained, expensive, sensitive, fantastic bodies, and there is no one left to go to work, perhaps then, finally, capitalism will screech to its much-needed, long-overdue, and motherfucking glorious halt.
And goddammit, can I just say how excited I am to listen to the Judith Butler talk Hedva also references in her essay, entitled “Vulnerability and Resistance”…here it is: