Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Letter on Election Day

Maybe if students reemerged as an actualized, politicized network of organized assemblages the apathetic disunity and ennui that broadly characterizes us would develop into the tenacious need for a paradigmatic shift and renegotiation of hegemonic structures that informed the widespread and revolutionary unrest that reached its crescendo in 1968. Students probably aren’t as pathetically dependent as the general on the crutch of false security (an artifice in exchange for which many acquiesce to the machinations of regimes of power that offer the public, to placate in order to subordinate, but a hollow parody of what they think they need); ergo the student is possibly capable of a critically informed perspective less structured by fear instilled by whatever system perpetuates the hegemonic pressure at the time. This has been the first presidential election that I’ve been aware enough of to be ravaged by (those previously I’ve lived through I’ve experienced with sluggardly developing recognition, but have also spent most of my life being a dumb kid in a rural town); the damage wasn’t extensive enough to lead to total self-destruction because I don’t have access to television and (myopically) rely mostly on the coverage in The New York Times and The New Yorker to inform my political understanding. What I feel I witnessed was a sort of extended carnival, in the specific sense, during which some of the more dangerous and ugly of our expressions of national backwardness were flamboyantly paraded about in the manner of a vicious pageant at the end of the world. My mother, with whom I’ve had increasingly frustrated topical confrontations in the previous months, pointed out to me that this is a historically significant election in our textbook history. In New York City (which is practically a noncontiguous territory of the United States), in my daily academic environment, I have been exposed to an implicit support of the candidate we perceive as not as dastardly as his opponent --- but the typical treatment of this election by my peers, co-workers, and the faculty of my school wasn’t really politically sensitive or adamant: we just knew that one candidate was totally preferable (and could barely conceive of a being stupid enough to think the opposite) but were generally preoccupied by the farcical crudeness of the spectacle that was readily viewable on the Internet. I personally imagine that the next president is going to have a tremendous role in determining what happens to and in our disgraced superpower; withal it sort of seems as if the general is struggling painfully toward a perspective that in some obscure way represents our position in the 21st Century rather than some frightening alternate universe. The relative liberty enjoyed by most students in this country might appease us, enabling our disinterest at a time when war is the normative state and our culture becomes ever disabled, but I don’t know what measures (voting? solidarity? taking over the campus gymnasium for a few self-important days?) could contextualize a student position in the national political discourse. The community of writers in which I participate is a very politically problematic/ambiguous group of students: almost all of us lack any sense of a political praxis (although our work is inevitably politicized); a faction of us declined to vote in this election for various reasons (from apathy to nihilism and beyond) --- I don’t know exactly what that means. I don’t presume to defend or really criticize this position and I envision the idea of a political actualization of students without positing it as imperative. Living as artists in New York City we are rather culturally/politically/ideologically divorced from the general and, in that way, are unaccredited expatriates (yet not the Beckettian kind involving underground resistance) --- still, like the revered expatriates of high modernism, our ability to function as artists is menaced by the enforcement of fascist politics. So nobody (except for Sweeney, but that’s too disturbing and complicated to really address here) wants the US to become more fascistic. At this writing I am casually uncertain about the outcome of the election --- knowing that the general is troubled enough to perform as it did four years ago and that the government is structured to enable an outrageous calamity as it did eight years ago --- withal I’m incapable of a developed position on the absence of the student in political discourse (which possibly is the result of the hegemonic political system being incongruous with a critical grammar of the student or artist). Whatever happens I will presently sit down and write a poem and that poem will not be about the recently decided presidential election but, unavoidably, it will be a poem by a writer informed (evidently and unconsciously) by his sociopolitical orientation, which happens to be especially complicated right now. (Lonely Christopher, web editor)

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