Friday, 20 November 2015

Jouissez Sans Entraves: Three Inadequate Responses

"You don’t fight fire with fire. You fight fire with water. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity.”
Fred Hampton Sr.

A 1.30 AM Text Message

Sent when I was in the kitchen
Arguing about Van Morrison
And Roxy Music
So I saw it
The next morning
When it was grey and raining,
And the text read:
“After Paris,
All this dancing and shit
Just seems trivial and frivolous.
Some trifling bullshit.”
And I had to ask:
“What happened in Paris?”
And I got an answer.
I never believed
That ignorance is bliss
Until this.
(I still don’t like Roxy Music)


I used to surmise motivations, to decide
That I wouldn’t sigh and withdraw, or
Get angry and advocate violent reprisal
I wouldn’t give them what [I assumed] they wanted.
That’s something I still don’t do, but…
Now I do not presume to
Know or understand the motivations of humans
However much I might despise, or like
Their actions.
Because for every single person
There are many motives and contradictions
And it does no good
To ignore or forget that.
(Are we even dealing with a group of slavish fanatics –
Or is it isolated people that are mentally ill,
Like bullied kids in American high schools?)

We can Recognise the crimes of individuals
As well as the crimes of governments
And know that two despicable wrongs
Don’t cancel any other wrongs
And that to grieve at things close to home
Doesn’t make us blind to those
Sufferings further away,
And being shocked about Paris
Does not preclude
Also caring about Beirut
And that mentioning Syria
Does not mean we don’t care about Iraq,
And that a hierarchy of grief is obscene,
Whichever way we play it…
But that also there is a hierarchy of importance
Among the people shown on TV,
And that we can accept or reject these
Crass calculations.
And maybe the news did actually say
Something about the fucked-up stuff
In the other places you’re thinking about today
But you didn’t notice
Because you had your own shit going on
But you notice what happens on your own doorstep
In countries much like your own one
And maybe that’s fair enough.
(Who knows
Why we respond to what’s close and familiar
More than what is different and far away?
We all do,
But rarely say.)

In these dominant countries
We’re mostly still not wealthy or free;
We are licensed and privileged.
(There is a world of difference.)
And there is no monopoly on megalomaniacal fantasy
Or the weaponry needed to make bleak history.
We know all this;
But want to ignore it.
[Presumably] Because it all makes us feel sick.

The human capacity for inhumanity:
From shocking monotomy
To the monotomously shocking
And we are, naturally, in shock;
The powerful reserve the right to
Continue killing
Until morale improves.
And I stand aside and joke
“They can’t kill everyone,
But it doesn’t stop them trying.”
And that joke isn’t funny anymore.

Fight Fire With Water

What kind of fuckwit fights fire with fire?
Let’s fight fire with water
We are fighting despair and hatred and the cult of death
With joy, love and exuberant life, and
Jouissez sans entraves
And I don’t really know what that means exactly
Or if it is of any use, Practically.
But, um,
I don’t know what else to do.
I could say nothing, of course.
But my station in life permits me – even encourages me
To offer unsolicited opinion.

What kind of fuckwit fights fire with fire?
Let’s fight fire with water
Unless of course it’s an electrical fire.
In which case,
Some kind of foam is in order.
I don’t know what kind.
I’m not a fireman.

Liberte, egalite, fraternite.
Sans entraves.