she said to find my element…

my element is smoke.

dirty, captivating, floating, dissolving… choking.

my punishment is ephemerality, impermanence.

i am fascinated by the macabre

and also terrified.

my penance is letting go –

i self-sabotage and end up in purgatory.

there’s a smoke machine manned by spirits smoking cigarettes that smell unfamiliar – that one: a cigar.

my job, they say, is to clean the air by breathing:

it gives me anxiety and

the spirits shape-shift into various things they know unsettle me

so i name them Puck 6, Puck 2, Puck 5/

my least favourite small numbers.

when i get out of here, i will take up smoking again.

i will blow smoke in the face of everyone i see

and end up back where i came from –

unless i decide to change.

which i might.


Peter Kropotkin: The Anarchist Prince

definitely not yiddishkeit but this post has links to excellent PDFs!!!!

CUNY Graduate Center Anarchist Reading Group

On February 18, we kick off the new year with the anarchist formerly known as Prince. Peter Kropotkin was “the most systematic and profound anarchist thinker of the nineteenth century,” according to Peter Marshall.1 Geographer, theorist, and reluctant aristocrat, Kropotkin was one of the first truly international celebrities—known to the European and American publics as a brilliant scientist who just happened to hold some unconventional political views. At the time of his death, the Royal Geographic Society published an obituary that referenced Kropotkin’s politics only “to express regret that his absorption in [anarchism] seriously diminished the services which otherwise he might have rendered to Geography.”2 Notwithstanding such objections, Kropotkin’s anarchist vision is rooted in his scientism insofar as he understood his politics as directly related to his commitment to rational empiricism. How does one go about creating a society based on the principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”?

Because Kropotkin is quite commonly…

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“rewinding the battle of algiers in the shadow of the attack on charlie hebdo”

“The bankrupt rhetoric of the ‘Civilized West’

In the wake of the brutal assault upon the journalists at Charlie Hebdo we should be reflecting, not as François Hollande and other world leaders advise us to, on the attack on free speech, but on two things: First, which spaces and kinds of resistance have been foreclosed to a generation of young working class men and women facing a post 9/11 world of poverty, unemployment and repeated attacks of the West upon predominantly Muslim countries; and: Second, how the attack on Charlie Hebdo by a handful of criminals is being used to serve an already existing imperial narrative of the Enlightened West vs. the ‘Barbaric’ Muslim.

The concrete consequences of this narrative are born by innocent Muslims and people of color in the working class districts of Paris, Delhi and Gaza alike.”

Why I am not Charlie

a paper bird

imagesThere is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it.  Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not…

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go ahead, be angry at me://

you talk about me as if i created your sorrow:
as if i was not only the sun that put chlorophyll into your leaves,
but also the weeds that choked the life out of your rotting flowers.

i will sit and wait,
and hope that you notice i am only a small gust of wind.
in the meantime, i will try not to blow too hard on your petals.