On Being-Hated: Conceptualism, the Mongrel Coalition, the House That Built Me.
What does it mean to even be somewhere, be someone? My name is Trisha Low. I’m 26 years old and haven’t yet hit my Saturn returns.
Author’s Note 5/20/2015: I believe that the essay below has deeply hurt my family, and although this might seem unnecessary, I would like to publicly acknowledge that most of the writing I do, that indeed they let me do, comes at real cost, hurt and pain to them. Because quite simply, all they want is for me to be happy. I am extremely regretful of that. I love you family, I’m sorry. And despite everything, thanks.
Editors’ Note 5/21/2015: Changes have been added to reflect that a reader at the Omni was a supporter rather than member of the Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo, and that “threat aesthetic” was a term coined by Joyelle McSweeney and used by Tim Jones-Yelvington to first describe the Mongrel Coalition.
What does it mean to even be somewhere, be someone? My name is Trisha Low. I’m 26 years old and haven’t yet hit my Saturn returns. I’m Chinese, but I like horoscopes anyway; some people would call me Asian American, but I’ve lived too many places to understand what it’s really like to be from the USA. Among these places are Singapore, London, Philadelphia and New York. I grew up rich. My parents grew up poor. I grew up loved. Some argue that none of this matters to how, or what I write, but the truth is all of it does.
This series has purported to deal with many kinds of hatred. How one feels hated; the way it plays itself out like a cruel villain in a video game, seeping partially into intimate corners even when its movements read as scripted. How the materiality of being-hated gives affect rigidity a strange and symptomatic form when you might least expect it. Like Sara Ahmed says, hate might not be the opposite of love. But the truth is that why one is hated might in fact have a lot to do with it — how one is loved, that is; how much.
I live in Oakland but my parents live far away, in London, and my extended family even further, in Singapore and Hong Kong. My parents are in town and I’m supposed to get dinner with them but they’ve decided they’re not hungry so we’re sitting in their hotel room instead. I tell them I know that they’re just happy to see me — or in my mother’s words, “we’re happy just to sit here and look at you,” as though I’m a particularly interesting tourist attraction or some rare breed of snake — but that it might be good if we tried to, I don’t know, do something.
We don’t. I’m sitting in a hotel room with my parents because I love them, I rarely see them and I want to make them happy. I want to do what they want to do, so we’re watching a terrible television show they like, a Mandarin show called I Am a Singer! a spinoff of American Idol. Only it’s like what my dad told me when I was growing up: if you’re Chinese, you work harder, you do better than every other white person. Not just because they’re lazy (they are), but because you’re smarter and it’s your goddamn birthright. Appropriately, this show is bigger, brighter, but also kitschier — its greenish neon lights like a Disney version of American Idol, which tends toward a sleeker, Hollywood aesthetic. And unlike Idol, there are no amateurs here. Instead, every competitor is already a professional singer who just wants to prove themselves the best professional singer. Way to overachieve.
Like American Idol, interviews with contestants about their personal lives and how it relates to their choice of song are interspersed between the actual performances. But unlike the soppy love songs that seem standard for US competitions, here, every song is drenched in filial piety. One singer talks about how her father died but she feels like he’s always there, another about how emotional he gets every year at his mother’s birthday party, another about a news story in which two parents let go of a precariously dangling cable car, giving their lives in order to save their infant son. With every performance, singers weep on stage with the strength of their commitment to family, interspersed with close-up shots of the audience, who are crying, too; or listen intently with their chins up and their eyes closed, their faces radiant and strangely pure, innocent in the green light of the stage.
The singer on TV croons to her dead father: “It’s quiet, but I can feel your presence.” Against my will, I can feel myself crying. My dad pats me awkwardly on the back. I tell him I’m glad he’s here. I’m not lying.
It’s only been an hour, but I’m already in a fight with my parents. My mother tries to fix my hair, my wrist snaps at her, hard, she asks me if I’m hungry and I tell her god, I can feed myself. My dad asks me how the writing for the SFMOMA blog is going, and I remind him that he thinks that writing is an indulgence. He frowns and reminds me that I’ll do better than everyone else even if it is. That I’m not just Chinese, I’m his daughter. I hug him, but something skritches hard inside my belly and I feel a little nauseous, like I’m reminded of my unpayable debt, of how much I’m bound.
My father might hate performance art and love Abstract Expressionism but he has a fondness for contemporary Chinese art too, so he calls me over to his computer. I sit on his lap and he shows me a piece by Chinese performance artist Zhang Huan in a kind of adorable effort to meet my tastes halfway. The piece is called Family Tree. In it, Zhang Huan invites a number of calligraphers to paint texts on his face in Mandarin script, producing a series of photos showing the change in his portrait over time. Like a beautiful skin disease, the writing flows: first across his forehead, his cheeks, highlighting the contours of his face. But suddenly, along the set of photographs, something changes; his face crosses an invisible threshold. As ink accumulates, his features become increasingly obscured, he changes from recognizable person to inky object, his eyes white and vicious in the dark mass of his bald head.
I think the piece is a little easy. It’s too easy to read this gesture as an amplification of racialization, the fact that one is always marked to the extreme of being grotesque. Easy to see it raises the question of how to be a racialized artist and not always have one’s work read through the issue of identity, with every interpretive ambiguity always reduced to this undifferentiated markedness. But I see it a little differently. As I watch the contours of Zhang Huan’s face absorbed by the calligraphy, one of the oldest cultural forms of his Asian ancestry, I see instead how an emphasis on family ties might also erase all traces of his own individuality.
My dad has trouble with my reckless confessionalism. When I was growing up, he used to tell me that our ethical compass should calibrated according to what he affectionately titled “The Newspaper Test”, a digestible form of Confucianism. This is how it works: before you decide to do something, you should first imagine it being on the front page of the newspaper. If having the whole world read it might embarrass you or if it might, worse still, tarnish the reputation of your family, you should never, ever do it.
My dad asks if I like the piece and I nod yes, but this time, I am lying, because more than anything, in this piece I feel the impossibility of art to salvage oneself — to salvage me — from the internalized pull of cultural doctrine: my staunch filial piety. Zhang Huan says, in his artist’s statement that the face is a kind of divination, in the way your cheek swells, or in the thickness of your ear. Even if Chinese children are taught more than anything that work is all that matters, that you can achieve anything if you just do the work, they are also taught that there are some things you just can’t walk away from. You don’t get to choose your family.
My father used to be an economics professor and a card-carrying communist, but then he decided to have a family. He became an investment banker so he could give his kids the education he had to break his back to earn, and then he quit. Now he works in the restaurant industry, but somewhere along the way, he became a libertarian anyway (he calls me his “bleeding-heart daughter.”) Nowadays, people like to think about love in a way that suggests it can destabilize sovereignty, as though a commitment to radical love could even the playing field. Shulamith Firestone writes, “I submit that love is essentially a much simpler phenomenon — it becomes complicated, corrupted, or obstructed by an unequal balance of power.” It’s true, a belief in the redemptive power of love outside of power could be a matter of ideology. Firestone might ultimately believe in the possibility of a purer love, but I’m not sure I agree that love can be a different drug — that we can do it faster, snort it cleaner. As James Baldwin writes, “power is real, and many things, including, very often, love, cannot be achieved without it.”
What could it mean to sacrifice your ideology as an indulgence in favor of the material practicalities of showing love? For my father, this variation on Confucianism is what our heritage is really about. Maybe it’s just how deeply I’ve internalized what I was taught, but for me, family is the clearest evidence of the impossibility of love’s salvation.
My mother tells me I’m twenty-six, at my most fertile, and that I should really think about freezing my eggs because it’s clear I’m not going to get married or even think about having kids any time soon. I feel frustrated, like I’m a disappointment. I can feel myself being deeply unreasonable, I slam the door and think god, I hate them; that I loathe everything they stand for, the nuclear family and moral conservatism and religion and capitalism. I want to abolish it all.
But the truth is, I can only feel one thing. Despite it all, I only feel wrenchingly ungrateful. The truth is, despite how deeply implicated my parents might be in the heterocapitalistpatriarchy, I will never be ashamed of how they did what they had to do to allow me to learn what I now know, even if our ethics will now always be fundamentally opposed.
My parents grew up poor. I grew up rich. It’s impossible not to feel as though my parents gifted me my disobedience. I know this isn’t entirely true — that even if for me, writing is an expression of my class position, that many poor writers have been autodidacts, worked even harder to be able to write. But I was taught that my ideology is a privilege, as is my ability to write, or make art, or to even consider these activities as any kind of real option. And I will never not acknowledge, never disavow it, even on the day that the world ends or the revolution comes; and I am the first to throw myself upon the guillotine.
I’m yelling and crying at my mother and vice versa, about how she won’t understand why I’m doing what I’m doing, and she’s crying and yelling about why I don’t love her enough to put my love for her above everything else, like she has for me. Despite it all, there’s still no hatred here, only love. And sometimes, I fucking hate myself for it.
I’m writing this on Microsoft Word for Mac, 2011 v. 14.4.0 on an Apple laptop computer OS X v. 10.9.3. It’s 5:14 p.m. in the afternoon on a Friday and I’m telling you what platform I’m writing on and when, because I’m writing about poetry, and timestamping is a formal tic I picked up from Conceptual writing. It’s is a gesture which Conceptualism itself borrowed from the New York School, and years later, feels already outmoded, but I’m fond of it anyway. When I learned about Conceptual writing in Kenny Goldsmith’s class ENGL 111, Uncreative Writing, I was excited by the possibilities of writing a different way, using techniques and procedures that acknowledged and mirrored the kinds of restrictions that I’ve felt in my own life. It seemed riskier than the disorganizing logic of a fragmented lyric, and I liked the possibilities that arose from the fact that context could also be content and that the reception of work could be art as much as what was being presented. It taught me about exposure and risk, allowed me to find my own practice of antagonism and claustrophobia, taught me how to fill a room with saturated affect, how powerful for audiences this can be.
It’s 5:52 p.m. in the afternoon on a Friday and everyone else is probably preparing to go to a reading that I want to go to because even though I don’t think I’ll like it, I think it’s important to give everyone the respect of engaging with their work, especially if you disagree. “I like to know what I hate, intimately,” I tell Alli Warren, but we both know what I’m actually saying means it’s no hatred at all. One of the readers is a supporter of the Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo, an anonymous collective whose aim is to dislodge what they see as an imperialist, white supremacist project of Conceptual poetry via what they term a “threat aesthetic” (a term coined by Joyelle McSweeney and used by Tim Jones-Yelvington to first describe the Mongrel Coalition). This manifests in a trolling and shaming of both the general community and specific persons aggressively online. Some of their targets include Goldsmith and Vanessa Place, whose notorious Statement of Facts trilogy, comprised of explicit transcripts from her work as a criminal defense attorney for sex offenders, was crucial to me as a younger writer.
The Mongrel Coalition’s not wrong. Recently, Kenny made a much contested and reviled piece in which he appropriated the autopsy report on Michael Brown for a reading he gave at Brown University. This piece disgusts me, I feel it is deeply hurtful; callous given the continuing state-sactioned violences inflicted upon brown and black bodies. It doesn’t implicate Kenny himself, or his subject position, nor acknowledge his complicity in wider structures of violent and oppressive racism. When I find out about it, I cry.
Recently, one of Vanessa Place’s old pieces has resurfaced. It’s a systematic retweeting of Margaret Mitchell’s 1935 novel, Gone With The Wind, this time subtitled “by Vanessa Place” on a Twitter account. It’s partly a provocation against the notoriously litigious estate of Margaret Mitchell, and more specifically, a gesture that would invite the estate to once again sue to recover ownership of its racist text. It’s partly intended to aggressively admit her white complicity in an embedded cultural racism by reproducing racist speech under her own name. The racial kitsch and imagery of Mammy that accompanies the account is deeply disturbing and difficult to bear.
In an artist’s statement released on May 18, Vanessa states that she is sorry for hurting people of color, but not sorry for confronting a white poetry audience with how they are necessarily implicated in a national history of oppression. She also writes: “It is also a cruelty to insist that only people of color be responsible for the articulation or the embodiment of race, to bear the burden of my history as well as the history of this oppression.” I do agree with this. And because I’m also interested in inflicting cruelty on audiences, I kind of understand what Vanessa is trying to do. But the fact that I’ve taken a half hour trying to describe, in one paragraph, the intellectual calisthenics that would prove that her piece “addresses racism” by embodying it, really means the provocation is really actually too easy — painfully easy. It reproduces racism in order to confront white people with it more intensely, while simultaneously hurting even more intensely people of color. Which means it’s actually just a racist project.
I don’t understand how either Kenny or Vanessa think the blank mask of Art or Poetry can be a good enough reason for undifferentiated provocation, anything but a flimsy foil. I don’t understand how Kenny’s rhetoric of textual neutrality and objectivity is so willing to ignore the context of his subject position. And I might like work that comes at a cost to the author, especially if it’s because of an admission of privilege. But I don’t understand how Vanessa thinks the cost of this piece, for her, can compare to the pain it’s causing people of color — a pain she couldn’t possibly understand.
Instead, these pieces seem to bolster the notoriety, power, assimilative reach of their specific authorial brands. And because my relationships with both writers are ones from which I have clearly benefited, I feel torn and sick; if this is Conceptualism, I want it destroyed. But I can’t not admit learning how to write from it either. You don’t get to choose your family.
It’s 6:02 p.m. on a Friday and I want to go to the reading because I respect the Mongrel Coalition and I would like to engage this poet’s work, but I’m sitting here writing this instead, because even if I might think I’ve oedipalized, I won’t not admit that Kenny published my first piece of work in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, that he hugged me and let me take a sip of his gin when I told him about how another poet had broken my heart. I feel implicated, complicit. I don’t just get to walk away from that guilt. I won’t let myself.
I’m on the internet, like I always am, reading Mongrel Coalition tweets about how I, Trisha Low, should publicly denounce Conceptualism, or Kenny Goldsmith, or Vanessa Place, about how otherwise I’ll just be a race traitor, worse still, be accused of some kind of Asian American docility. I don’t understand what we’re talking about anymore, how an aesthetic affiliation has become conflated with the polemic and practice of two specific individuals. I have a tattoo on my right inner thigh that says “traitor” because I don’t believe in mercy for selves. Everyone’s some kind of traitor, it’s just a matter of whether or not you want to admit it.
But reading Mongrel Coalition tweets, I’m so mad, watching hordes of white poets clicking “Like” on social media as though that could be any real examination of themselves, of their own practices or their specific actions, their day-to-day movements through the world. I find it hard to believe that none of these people have any internalized racism, or symptomatically fucked up liberal white guilt. I can’t help but feel that all it is is a self-satisfied materialization of the same white guilt that’s now being rewarded — a simple way to relieve themselves of the crucial burden of thinking about their own accountability or complicity. I’m mad because at the end of the day, it literally costs white poets nothing to click a button in support of an ultimately undifferentiated anti-imperialist non-racism. Good job, you get a cookie!
I see some white boy click the “Like” button on a denouncement of Vanessa Place and it just seems to me as though they’re — by our new logic — automatically deemed innocent. But let’s be honest, I’m not sure their ironized hip hop poem is really doing anything better.
Because the truth is, even the white poets who are being attacked by the Mongrel Coalition, arguing with vitriol and abandon on countless Facebook threads and Twitter streams get some kind of respite. Even if not “liking” what they do is equivalent to a condemnable silence, white writers get to go home and stop thinking about race. If you are a white poet, being for or against the Mongrel Coalition comes at almost no cost to you. But if you are a person of color, on either side, it feels like everything comes at a cost, emotionally, aesthetically, personally. We never get to walk away.
With the Mongrel Coalition come real questions of what it means to write as a person of color. And although I’m glad these questions have been raised, answering each one feels like another complication, another emotional labor: about the ways in which race has been made legible in aesthetics and how problematic assumptions about that legibility can be, about whether racial heritage must always be engaged positively, about whether a person of color’s work will always either be reducible to one’s identity position or a “passing whiteness” via aesthetic strategies they choose to engage, about assimilationist impulses and the value of being honest about them, about gratitude and lineage, about the grand institution of Poetry that has a history, beyond Conceptualism, of structural racism and cultural appropriation. Answering any of these questions has real consequences for the way I look at myself, my identity, my work, the way I want to write, read, be read.
And even if I know that all of this just means we don’t have the luxury of neutrality (“You’re either with us or against us!”), I don’t believe that any of these issues can be organized purely into two sides; racist or not, that it can ever be equivalent to Conceptual or not. But now that someone’s built a wall, I just can’t with both sides; I can’t land on either. Because I know, too, that if you’re a person of color, to be on either side or in between, it doesn’t matter — it will always be exhausting.
I watch the Mongrel Coalition attack other people who they decide aren’t on their side; people of color, queer writers. Calling out racist work by white writers is a necessary and crucial anti-racist project. But I watch them leverage Kenny and Vanessa’s brands of Conceptualism to arbitrarily attack other writers on Twitter, in a strange conflation of political and aesthetic warfare. Not that the two aren’t related. Sometimes, I see the connection. But a lot of the time, I have no idea what those being attacked, their practices or their work have to do with either. I’m going to go ahead and say: nothing.
I’m sitting here writing this because I don’t care what kind of anti-racist poem you make or how many things you like on Facebook, or how many times you say you denounce anyone. Because even if you’re a supporter of the Mongrel Coalition — hell, even if you’re a Mongrel — everyone has their own institutional complicities and no one should fucking get to walk away.
It’s a few years ago. I’m 22 years old. I don’t know what Conceptualism means anymore, but who cares, I have to go to the NeMLA conference in Rochester to give a ridiculous paper about dildos and Jack Spicer, Robin Blaser and the cumshot anyway. Rochester is awful. I don’t know Holly Melgard and Joey Yearous-Algozin all that well but I call them up and they drive the hour and half from Buffalo to pick me up in the middle of a disgusting St. Patrick’s Day parade, sloppy with the sheen of spilled beer and green tinsel. We sit on their porch and eat ice cream sandwiches and talk about the last reading I gave in which I refused to read any Conceptual poetry because I believe that one has to oedipalize in order to make work that could even begin to have any risk, and I didn’t feel like I had gotten to that point yet. I say, “I know I was terrible, I’m sorry!” and Holly confirms this, laughing, but tells me it’s okay because she’s only interested in watching writers struggle.
What would it mean to oedipalize? Holly tells us she heard an amazing rumor that Marjorie Perloff got to excise the parts of Kenny’s Soliloquy that she didn’t like, and we laugh at what a great project it would be if we could just publish the excised parts as a PDF. Holly and Joey propose that what we should think about is the waste and excess and exhaustion Conceptualism’s sleek project produces, because if Conceptualism is about fitness, we’re only interested in what is unfit for consumption, and how that could reflect the unfitness of the author. Because authorship is not pure and blank and dead like Kenny and Vanessa have proposed — rather, it’s ugly and useless, always mutated by whatever platform it chooses. Every platform, contains a struggle.
Real family is difficult for me, even if I will never disavow them, so I have chosen family too. And over the years, Holly and Joey, and other writers who feel the same and make work that is weird and ugly and unfit: Steve and Josef and Diana and Rob and Kim; Lanny and Gordon and Chris and so many more, they became chosen family too. I don’t know what Conceptualism means any more; if it an aesthetic practice, even a lineage. Should it be assigned to me or my peers? I might not have any say in this, but I do know that I will never disavow my chosen family. I will yell at them for the fucked up thing they did or wrote or said; have yelled at them for the fucked up things they’ve done or wrote or said; know that they might betray me and I them; that we’ll write weird poems about sex or not having sex; about burning cop cars, or 9/11 or Black Flag together or apart; but I will never disavow them.
It doesn’t really matter. We might not even identify that way, but to the rest of the world, we’re just a bunch of undifferentiated Conceptualists. To other people, we’re just another part of a machine they can recognize with utter clarity. A brand might be something that distinguishes a product, but it is also about consumption. It devours, it buys up the market so no one can see autonomy of objects. But I hate this metaphor. Not one of my freak family makes work in the same way anyway. I’m sitting here writing a personal essay, for fuck’s sake. In Joey’s words, “I would hate it, but it’s you, so I guess I’ll read it.” I guess it just looks different from the outside.
Another word for brand is legacy. Legacy is something that the head of a family is obligated to create and maintain, a title under which everything that’s descended from it has to be marked. Sometimes it just feels like that Conceptualism, the brand (and its family reputation), plastered all over the front page of the newspaper or Facebook or Twitter, just lets it win again.
I heard a rumor that Kenny was saying how no one makes a good book before they’re 25, someone raises me as a counter-example and he says that I would never have made that book if not for that fact that he taught me how.
I’m at a conference and Vanessa teases me in her response to my paper about personifying Bourdieu’s “youngest” and later gives me a snickerdoodle, smiling wryly, saying, “let it never be said that I did not care for the youth.” I’m hungry so I think it’s kind, that there’s some self-deprecation in the condescension.
I’m mad about these things too.
God, I hate my parents. I hate my parents but they fucking put me through college. I’d rather admit my indebtedness to a problematic structure than pretend it can be disappeared with a simple denial. To publicly denounce Kenny or Vanessa should not be a Get Out of Jail Free pass for my own complicities nor for anyone else’s. Perhaps it’s easier to be part of a false communitarian innocence built on a rejection of a single aesthetic practice or individual, no matter how deserved that rejection may be. But let’s face it: if we’re going to burn it down, we’re going to have to burn it all down.
I think of Zhang Huan’s inky face and feel myself sinking further in the mire. I’m sitting here writing this because even if they’ve shown me kindness, I’ll reject Kenny or Vanessa’s assimilative authorial brands, I’ll reject their racist poems, but I won’t disavow my chosen family, won’t not admit my complicity in a structure that has raised me.
I’m so mad. I’m mad because no one in my chosen freak family will say anything about this publicly because they’re too anxious about their position as white, or straight, or whatever, when I feel I’ve been pulling all this weight. I’m mad because people of color are fighting each other in ways that come only at a cost to them; for white poets, it’s just a matter of watching and clicking, the cheapest kind of support. I’m mad at a man of color for leveraging sexist, gendered language against a supporter of the Mongrel Coalition just to prove his point. I’m mad at the Mongrel Coalition for attacking more people of color and queer women than straight white men. I’m mad at Kenny and Vanessa for making some racist poems that aren’t even good art, I’m even madder that they don’t understand that they have to be accountable for the hurt they’ve caused and that sometimes, you just have to say you’re wrong. I’m mad that I have to take a side just because someone else built the wall for me in the first place and I’m even madder that I have to write this because I feel forced to publicly qualify why I just don’t believe it’s as simple as that. I’m mad at the white people who are lazy readers and thinkers and refusing to engage issues of race and aesthetics in more complex or complicated or negative ways because the truth is they just don’t have to think about it. I’m mad that racism in poetry seems like it’s currently being reduced to a simple matter of one aesthetic movement, a handful of white writers, and other persons of color who might politically or aesthetically disagree with the Mongrel Coalition. I’m mad at myself that I feel, still, indebted or grateful, to anything or anyone. I am so mad, but I don’t hate anybody; not one bit, except for maybe myself.
I read Baldwin writing, “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
I see JT, a beautiful friend, poet and supporter of the Mongrel Coalition in New York and we know we disagree, that things between us have been difficult because of it. We hug and we yell at each other, “we’re in a fight, but I love you, I love you but we’re in a fight,” all the way down the street as we say goodbye.
I’m reminded of the section in James Baldwin’s essays The Fire Next Time wherein he encounters Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam. They meet at Muhammad’s mansion right before Baldwin is about to get drinks with white friends, artists and activists — people he says he would trust with his life — somewhere downtown. There’s a strong sense of mutual respect between the two. But despite this respect, as Baldwin leaves, says his goodbyes, he knows that because of his differences there’s more of a chance that he and Muhammad will gradually become enemies than there is that Muhammad’s prophecy of the fall of the white devil’s reign will be fulfilled. Anyone leaving the mansion is offered a ride in a car, protection from white violence so they are safely delivered to their next location. Ironically, Baldwin is delivered safely downtown to his white friends.
I was sitting with someone not too long ago and we were talking about love. It was making me miserable, I said, all this loving, I didn’t know why I spent so much time wanting it, scheming how to get it, weighing up fears and anxieties to try to come to some definitive conclusion as to whether or not it existed. And they said to me, if love is the most of your problems, then you should really reconsider your priorities, because there are way worse problems to have.
There are way worse problems people do have. The world is burning and I am worrying about love. Fuck love. The thing about being loved is that you run the risk of becoming too afraid of no longer being loveable. But fuck being loveable too, and the restraint that comes with it. Someone on either side will hate me for at least one of the things that I’ve said here, but I’d rather be hated. And being-hated is most difficult when the very reason you are hated is that there are people you love from whom you don’t just get to walk away. Everything comes at a cost. But I would rather be hated by either side than say something that I don’t believe.
Sometimes when your loves are conflicting, being-hated by both sides is painful and comes at the cost of everything. But always, I would rather deal in pain.
Important response from a group of Asian-American poets on this post at http://realpants.com/lonely-britches-presents-model-minority-mutiny/:
“We want to begin by discussing the political obfuscation by Asian/Asian American poet Trisha Low. Her statement is just one example where the discourse of “race” or “racism” obscures the explicit anti-blackness in the works of Kenneth Goldsmith and Vanessa Place. We want to comment that the article was politically careless, rooted in the historical discourse of model minority, and amounted to a #weareallcomplicit fest that centered the affect of one individual and obscured the ultimate and ongoing critique of white supremacy in poetry.”
I came across this late, after MCAG’s interview in Brooklyn Magazine. I’m so glad you shared your perspective in public. I liked seeing MCAG call out VP and KG’s work, but I don’t see the good in policing writing by other POC because it doesn’t match MCAG’s intensity or preferred aesthetic. Why should we should be a monolith?
This essay is exciting–it’s awesome to see a writer confront their culpability, to see anger and tenderness, to see vulnerability and tough critical acumen. Trisha, thank you for this! I do not envy the subject position compelled to write this, but am glad you did!
I came across your writing because a friend of mine is a member of Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo.
I found your writing insightful and self-effacing. I found the MC response to be a diatribe. Undeniably correct on many points (some of them irrelevant to your actual words), but I think you addressed those concerns intelligently, almost as if you anticipated them. I’m assuming the Mongrel Coalition reaction is knee jerk. Bullying might be an appropriate term. Think, feel, and write. I’m a new subscriber.
Correction: by now, i have tracked down over 250 perps.
I’m not mad at your adopted freak family.
I’m patient and should you ever decide to publicly name your rapist, I can track him down and post his face on line…think about it.
I’ve tracked down about 240-250 Catholic priest/nun perps and their faces are posted on BishopAccountability. BUSTED!
Let me know if you need assistance. It’s liberating to name one’s perps. I sure felt tons better…NO MERCY.
There is an editor’s note at the top of the post which does note the changes made to the text. If you can point me to any other changes you see in the piece, please let me know.
This is one of the most intense and profound things I have read. Although… my family is a little bit that way, so maybe it resonated more with me than it did with say flit.
The Tarot card we now call the Hanged Man- a man being humiliated and possibly executed but who is enveloped by the divine radiance of a saint- used to be called The Traitor. I have sometimes thought that his treachery must have consisted in loving everyone- or being loyal to both sides of an opposition. How else could he both be holy and be executed as a criminal…?
And dear god, I’m writing this on a Dell laptop and the clock sitting next to me is blinking 4:17 AM. Tooooo lazy to care.
Thank you for writing this, for being willing to write it, despite the suffering it caused your family. You can tell your parents that a random person on the internet is most impressed with the daughter they raised. I am grateful to them as well.
Usually when writers change their published text, they or the editors make a note at the end. Please do that, because the print version I made after this piece was published and the one now here are different. You know where, so, please do that–doing this is part of the ethics of a publishing space.
This sounds like a the whiny rant of an angst ridden teenager who thinks loop-the-loop sentences are synonymous with deep. Grow up.
This was intensely interesting to read. Thanks to the author being so open and thought provoking.
A poem that comes to mind whenever I read about conceptualism.
Imagine a really great poem –