Hi! Welcome to plzplztalk2me, a semi-regular feature in which I’ll be talking to people who want to talk to me about things they want to talk about.
The first person I talked to is Eve Ewing. Ewing is a poet, essayist, scholar, and visual artist from Chicago. Her work has appeared in venues such as Poetry, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Atlantic, The Nation, Union Station, the anthology The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, and many other outlets. Her first collection of poetry, essays, and visual art, Electric Arches, is forthcoming from Haymarket Books in fall 2017.
We chatted just a few days after the election, so we talk a lot about that, as well as art, hero-worship, and the Harold Washington Library.
And, rereading 1984 for perhaps the fifth time, so am I.
I notice now how conscious he is of being middle-aged. Orwell tells us early on that Winston has a varicose vein above his left ankle and has to take his time walking up seven flights of stairs. He has difficulty touching his toes when instructed to do so by the instructress on the telescreen.
What we thought fascism would look like was that it would have two faces: the face to black people was going to be increasing depression, increasing economic hardship, and the murder of Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. That’s what fascism looks like. That’s exactly what it looks like. Targeted assassinations. Terror against communities. I was in Detroit during the riots of Detroit, I was in Cleveland during the riots in Cleveland, I was in Chicago during the riots in Chicago. And what that looked like was fascism. They were lining up bodies in Cleveland like cordwood. It was disgusting.
The face of fascism in the white community would be conspiracy trials. What we envisioned for ourselves were endless trials, endless prison sentences, conspiracy indictments. And it was all happening. I was indicted on two federal conspiracies. My wife was on the Ten Most Wanted list. That’s what fascism was going to look like. That’s what it did look like.
Even Sugar, the advice columnist, gets in on the social meltdown action!
How in the fuck am I going to survive the econopocalypse? Seriously. What’s your plan? Do you have a plan? What should my plan be? Holy. Fucking. Shit. I am so scared.
[…]The long dream of American consumption is over. Gil Scott-Heron told us this would happen 25 years ago. Nobody listened. That’s our national specialty, it turns out. That and porn. You can count on the government to keep printing money – it’s what they do when the tea leaves read “busted” – but the real recovery program will be taken on by you, brother. Your personal economy is just about to wave bye-bye to the inefficiencies of abundance.
Porn was an incredibly therapuetic thing for me. I got to go into rooms with people and experiment with being vulnerable in a place where I had no emotional responsibility. I went into work and people said, “What do you want to do today? What don’t you want to do today?” Nobody ever asked me that before in terms of sex. I could decide at any time that I never wanted to go back. I had to be there for four hours for the shoot and I got to deal with whatever the emotions were afterword on my own.
Not that everything in LL’s essay is sunshine and simultaneous orgasm, but it’s a fascinating insider’s take on an endlessly complicated subject. Also, fyi, the link to LL’s piece is SFW but several of the links from the piece are not.