Sometimes I don't talk much here about the things that are really, actually, preoccupying my head, in part b/c they seem so obvious -- they may be taking up space in my head, but that doesn't mean there's much of anything new to say about it.
Today, waking up in the aftermath of the riot in downtown Oakland last night, is an example. I could say a lot about my thoughts on institutional power and attempts to disguise/flatten its structure and effects; about false equivalentizing; about misplaced anger and justified anger; about private property, even. But I wouldn't be saying anything new or particularly insightful, and I would be opening this space up for pointless fights that don't even change anyone's mind, much less anything else more substantial.
So I am going to say something else oblique about a different, though related, topic.
I think I have decided that, rather than ever utter a word in any discussion of writing and cultural appropriation again, I am just going to buy a stack of copies of John Rechy's memoir, About My Life and the Kept Woman. (An awkward title that makes perfect sense once you get to the end of the book.) I am going to stick a Post-It note to the cover of each book. That note will read:
"If you think as hard about what you're thinking of doing as Rechy did about telling the stories of other people -- people he knew, people he spent a lot of time with, people who were his friends, but people who were not him, were not fictional, and had a different place in the world than he did, but not by much -- then you're probably heading in the right direction. But that's a start, not a finish. The proof is in the pudding and always will be."
This is aside from the rest of the book, which is quite lovely and thought-provoking and recommended.