As if these two things that are not equal suddenly are.
I walked into the classroom and took a seat in a perimeter row, halfway to the teacher and halfway to the door. I was nearing 25. It was a global women’s studies course. I had never taken a course on anything global or anything women. Certainly had never intended to. But it was my first semester and I didn’t know you could say no to the advisor when they suggested electives in order to fulfill a requirement of some kind. By the time I graduated three and a half years and two majors later I had taken every class in any kind of theory that teacher offered. Sociology Women’s Studies Gender & Sexuality Studies Human Rights Critical Theory Critical Race Studies. And after that first day, I always sat near the front. And I always stopped by her office. And I always sent her emails. And she always talked fast fast and multitasked because mother partner sociologist teacher but she always always had plenty. And I still hear her voice forever teaching me in my head all these years later. She was a portal, and stepping through literally saved my life. She had taught many classes in many departments as an adjunct for 8 years when that very small and expensive private university I’m still making payments to all these years later finally promoted her to lecturer. A title that came with a much deserved salary and benefits for a PhD holding paper publishing conference presenting life saving powerhouse of a teacher. Then two years after that they took the title and salary and benefits that came with it away. Expecting her to teach the same highly sought after classes that serve as portals for saving lives for adjunctpoorpay. The teachers produce for the use value but are subsumed by the schools as they produce for exchange and we are so used to it that we swallow the big bites of education as business as usual without choking.
The particularities of the two being consumed by the supposed universal.
Orestes is still licking the complex wounds of his original loss. We lose our childhoods again and again until we don’t. Some people never get to the don’t. Beer bottle after beer bottle to his mouth worsens his already depressive position. In this version Orestes is white. Decent public school. Always clothes food medical care transportation. For this boy the streets were safe. In this version Orestes becomes a boyteen soldier. Camo the colors of sand. Group showers for policing masculinity. One time the water turns red because another boyteen was deemed not clean enough. No other red in this soldier’s story. For this soldier trench digging and tower watch is war. So later in this story he goes on and on yet again about how he doesn’t want to hear about history or theory or politics because he was there up in the tower watching for those months so he knows best. Same story same version and after Orestes drinks all the beer again he sings, hearing his own losses in the rap lyrics. On and on again even though later in this very same version Orestes becomes behind his corporate desk and pats his own back and counts his bills and shines his boot straps and plots revenge even though Electra and Iphigenia have moved on through many more versions of many more stories. Lick, Lick, streets are streets and wars are wars and wounds are wounds…right? Only if we keep reading new versions of the same story.
To make dissimilar things comparable.
A concrete wall separated my childhood backyard. A staircase taking us from the lowyard up to the highyard. A crack ran down the middle of the wall directly across from the back of the house with the lowyard in between them. The water spout on the back of the house was first base. The crack in the wall was third. I was 7 when the Anti-Fascist Protection Wall was announced to be demolished in Berlin. I didn’t know anything about it. I only knew about how to get from first base to third. I was 16 the first time I crossed the US border. I held hands with my best friend for safety as we shopped the markets of Tijuana in matching outfits. She was a catcher and I was a pitcher. She was my first real love but I didn’t know it while I was loving her. I only knew the signals for fastball changeup curve. We loved one another for years but my lips never did learn how to find hers. I was 23 the first time I tried to process the word fascism. My second real love, who was older and politically and historically smarter than me, liked to drink and instigate and lob it as an insult against his best friend. All of my smarts came from reading so I used my context clue skills to try and construe what it meant. My boyfriend was working his way through college to avoid debt while his best friend was degreed debt free and already clearing six figures at a corporate finance job. I still didn’t know what fascism meant but I knew it had to do with that. My boyfriend was a pitcher and his best friend was a catcher and I knew how to talk about that and I knew how to fuck because I read all about it in books. Orgasms abounded but my body never did know how to love his. I was 34 when the man demanding a wall got elected. I certainly didn’t know he would. I certainly didn’t know we really had that many angry hateful scared blind inculcated people in our nation. But I should have known. I didn’t know because the walls in my life were merely metaphor. But I should have known because brown black poor immigrated people have been telling me and telling me. It is time for me to know.
The multiplicity of forms is reduced to position and arrangement, history to fact, things to matter.
Unless we don’t let it be reduced. Unless we expand. Unless we multiply. Contain multitudes. Multiple peoples and multiple selves and multiple opinions and multiple rights and wrongs and all the particulars in between. Unless we task ourselves to know more than how to get to third base and what the sign is to steal home. Unless we resist universality and insist on art and journalism and knowing what love really is and what it can be and what it can do and all the places we can do it and ways we can feel it. Unless is up to me. Unless is up to you. Stand up in it again and again and never don’t.
In 1944 Theodor Adorno warned of the “International threat of Fascism: progress is reverting to regression.” By the end of the first month of 2017, most would not deny regression’s occupation of the States. Fragmenting Fascisms, part battle cry, part homage to Adorno, will refuse ‘rational’ connections on the fourth Friday of the month. Zinn has an interdisciplinary background in Philosophy, Women's Studies & Literary Theory and works full time for Corporeal Writing. Find more of her writing at zinnadeline.com.