We met a soldier in the Anarchist Black Cross at a Black Bear Diner in Sweet Home. His name was Jacob and he ran with a band of sexy peasant-looking boys sleeping their days away in unlocked cars. He picked apart pieces of leathery orange peel in the parking lot, going on and on about selling his body to old men who yanked his pants down in the dark afternoon of abandoned buildings. Pulling up a blue crate next to a pallet fire behind the diner Jacob hunkered down with us and right away started yapping about some crazy dude at the Greyhound station waiting room who said he wanted to pick up a wasted teen vampire to go to the movies but instead he took him to some retaining wall at the bottom of a ravine below a big house in the woods. The guy went to the truck and whipped out a jump rope and all Jacob was good for was to lay there licking his own booze-salted lips while he took a beating. He thought of distracting the guy by taking out his dick, which worked, so when the old dude dove for it Jacob started punching the crap out of him. At this point he was able to run away but the geezer still tried to throw a hacksaw in his direction but he laughed and laughed and ran away covered in blood. Jacob said that nobody but Jacob owned his body. He decides who it fucks and who it pummels. “We own nothing but what’s inside. It’s the middle of the night in here,” he said, pointing to his chest. This is what we own: our thoughts, orange and sickly. You feed it nothing but sorrow and it grows and stars come out and you are the King of your own Island of Night!
I wrote some crime fiction. Jacob Mazer wrote and illustrated a comic.
They were published together as HELL ON EARTH.
Get it at Animal Kingdom.
TADEUSZ BOROWSKI WHO AFTER SURVIVING THE HOLOCAUST KILLED HIMSELF AT 28 BY INHALING GAS FROM HIS OVEN
The whole world is really like the concentration camp; the weak work for the strong, and if they have no strength or will to work – then let them steal, or let them die.
The world is ruled by neither justice nor morality; crime is not punished nor virtue rewarded, one is forgotten as quickly as the other. The world is ruled by power and power is obtained with money. To work is senseless, because money cannot be obtained through work but through exploitation of others. And if we cannot exploit as much as we wish, at least let us work as little as we can. Moral duty? We believe neither in the morality of man nor in the morality of systems. In German cities the store windows are filled with books and religious objects, but the smoke from the crematoria still hovers above the forests…
Certainly, we might run away from the world to a desert island. But could we really? So let no one be surprised that rather than choose the life of Robinson Crusoe, we prefer to put our trust in Ford. Rather than return to nature – we vote for capitalism. Responsibility for the world? But can a man living in a world such as ours be responsible even for himself? It is not our fault that the world is bad, and we do not want to die changing it. We want to live – that is all.
THESE DAYS IT SEEMS I AM MORE OF AN ANARCHIST ON TWITTER THAN ANYWHERE ELSE BUT I WILL SEE YOU AT THE BOOK FAIR ON SATURDAY.
[FUCK COPS AND THEIR DEFENDERS / STAY SAFE / TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER]
You love the saints for what they do. They’re self-invented people who’ve worked hard to attain some state of grace. George Mosher, the horse logger on Bowen Hill, is a kind of saint. But Jesus is like a girl. He doesn’t have to do anything. You love him because he’s beautiful.
That afternoon my mother had brought me the roses.
“Save them for my funeral,” I’d said.
My mother’s face puckered, and she looked ready to cry.
“But Esther, don’t you remember what day it is today?”
“No.” I thought it might be Saint Valentine’s day.
“It’s your birthday.”
And that was when I had dumped the roses in the waste-basket.
He watched the fire and if he saw portents there it was much the same to him. He would live to look upon the western sea and he was equal to whatever might follow for he was complete at every hour. Whether his history should run concomitant with men and nations, whether it should cease. He’d long forsworn all weighing of consequence and allowing as he did that men’s destinies are given yet he usurped to contain within him all that he would ever be in the world and all that the world would be to him and be his charter written in the urstone itself he claimed agency and said so.
It has been more than two months now since I found this, but “Letter from Williamsburg” by Kristin Dombek continues to make me tear up each time I listen to it or read it. It is the piece of writing that is more relevant to my life than any other I have read in memory.
There are many kinds of prayer. There is a kind of prayer that’s like breathing. There is a kind of prayer that’s like talking to your best friend all day long. There is a kind of prayer in the face of beauty that lifts your hands up because it would be harder to keep them down. There is a kind of prayer for meaning that is answered by the one who wrote the book of the whole world and your life, so that the prayer is like waking up and finding yourself a character in the most elaborate of novels, as you’ve always suspected: authored, written into a world of meaning, a world meaningful because it was created by someone. There is a kind of prayer that is only a listening, the soft voice of God saying your name, saying “come to me, come to me.” There is the prayer of failure, and the answering voice that forgives you. There is the death prayer, your whole body crying “why” and the voice again, telling you that you will see your loved one again in heaven.
And there is one more kind of prayer. In this one, you are tired of wrestling with God—with the problems of evil and suffering and the way that anyone who doesn’t believe in him is going to hell. You’re trying not to masturbate, or think about girls, or about having sex with multiple people at the same time, but you’re masturbating and thinking about girls and about having sex with multiple people at the same time anyway. So you give up. You nearly stop believing. You don’t even have the words to ask God to come back, or be real; you slip down into the region below speech. And then he comes. He fills the bedroom with a presence that is unmistakably outside of you, the peace that passes understanding, a love that in its boundlessness feels different in kind from human love.
When God came into my teenage or college bedroom in that way, unasked and unmistakable, the next morning I would wake up changed. I’d go out into the world and give away everything I could. Wouldn’t drive past a broken-down car without stopping to help, was kind and grateful even with my parents, couldn’t stop singing, built houses for poor people, gave secret gifts to my friends, things like that. Sometimes it lasted for weeks; once, when I was in my early twenties, it lasted for nearly a year. It is called being on fire for God. It’s like you’ve glimpsed the world’s best secret: that love need not be scarce.
I have been an atheist now for more than fifteen years, and I have been able to explain to myself almost everything about the faith I grew up in, but I have not been able to explain those experiences of a God so real he entered bedrooms of his own accord, lit them up with joy, and made people generous. For a long time it puzzled me why, if I made God up, I couldn’t make up this feeling myself.
Like most women in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I have spent thousands of hours and dollars on yoga classes attempting to manufacture unconditional love and moral bliss by detaching from my ego and my desires and also, not coincidentally, working on the quality of my ass. Because in the back of my mind, what I have been wondering (is this what the other women are wondering while we sit in lotus position on purple foam cubes, meditating in our jewel-toned leggings and tattoos?) is this: Isn’t there some human who can make me feel this way, instead?
(Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/parisreview/lorin-stein-reads-kristin )
"With the nations of the earth the great thing is the individual—his sovereignty, his pleasure, and his repose. But they understand that if they acted on the principle that might is right, one man would devour the other; so they have a government of individuals, and the rule is: Let me alone and I’ll let you alone. With us Jews the individual doesn’t exist; it’s the community that counts. What’s good for all must be good for each. Till your rebellion Jews lived as one—in prayer and in study, in joy and in sorrow. But you incited the tribes: ‘Every man to your tents, O Israel!’ Let each of us follow his own law, like the nations of the world. What’s more, not only did you want to live as individuals, you wanted to die as individuals too. To avoid being confused with the other dead on the day of your death, you spent your lives erecting monuments to yourselves—one by great deeds; another by imposing his dominion; a third by a great business enterprise; and you be writing books. You didn’t violate the commandment against idolatry. Of course not! You were your own gods. you prophesied, ‘Man will be a god.’ So naturally he became the devil.
Why are you uneasy, Reb Chaim? Didn’t we agree you wouldn’t be angry? I don’t mean you personally; I’m only speaking figuratively. But if you really feel I mean you, then I do! The wicked are as the unquiet sea. Every wave thinks it will leap over the shore, though it sees millions of others shattered before its eyes. Every man who lives for this world alone thinks that he will succeed in doing what no one has ever been able to do.”