Madison Pride Parade/ Dearborn Palestine Demonstration

Yesterday was a lovely day for the Madison Pride Parade. It was a bit understated, as most things that might be flashy in Madison are–a lot of humbly dressed and kind-looking folks rather than the fireworks of pride that might come with a bigger city–but that’s alright. It was totally sweet and, actually, more than sweet. I was moved to tears. That might be saying more about me than the parade, but it also might be saying something about the parade and what it can mean to witness people moving down the middle of a street together on behalf of desire–a desire for desire, a desire for recognition–and to be a part of that, to be one of those who delight in watching the display.

I really love most parades.

I also want to say a thing about crying at the demonstration for Palestine in Dearborn several weeks ago, how I told my friends that I probably wouldn’t be chanting but they should go further into the crowd to chant, and then at some point, I wanted to chant and also cry and so I did both.

“Show me show me show me how you do that trick the one that makes me scream she said the one that makes me laugh she said,” where those lyrics are usually about romantic love, but “parade” and “demonstration” have so much they want to show and so much that needs to be seen, and I, like the girl in “Just Like Heaven,” want to see more; want for the one who’s done the cart-wheel or played the tuba to show me more, for the men on the steps of Dearborn City Hall to be on one another’s shoulders, wear V-for-Vendetta masks, painted like the Palestinian flag, to show us. And this is to say something about my desire to see others showing themselves when they are asked to carry their erasure.



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A long way to run

Sometimes I want to say, oh my god, it’s such a small world. And I do. I say this after running into people I never expected to. But then it seems, this is not really true. The world, as it is, is not particularly small.


Since traveling over the past month, visiting London, Bologna, and now Detroit (my hometown), I have bumped into the following people:

1. Bhanu Kapil, a poet who lives in Colorado, at the Tate Britain in London

2. Dave Zohrob, someone who used to be a DJ at WCBN-FM Ann Arbor, at a coffee shop in Detroit (he lives in New York)

3. Casey Girardin, one of my very best friends from childhood, at Sinbad’s, a restaurant on the water in Detroit (well, my parents ran into her, but same difference)

4. Lewis, a person I used to be a bus driver with for Ann Arbor Public Schools, who is a security guard at the Whole Foods in Detroit



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[Me and Bhanu with a Francis Bacon triptych far in the background. The class I took with her at Naropa was about triptychs and Bacon's in particular. We were stormed by the magic of our encounter.]


I realized that another way to understand these run-ins, rather than saying “it’s such a small world!”, is as the consequence of having moved a lot and, I think, having jumped from one class to another. Or, if I haven’t jumped, these run-ins can be thought of as one outcome of having lived at the intersection of working-class neighborhoods, jobs, and public education on the one hand, and relatively elite education and artistic communities on the other. (Understanding these scenes as distinct produces a number of problems, especially since most poets I know do not understand themselves as part of an elite anything, but it’s important to understand that I take the time and pleasure to make this blog post. I can take the time and pleasure to write and read poems and I have the education to know what that is, how that might happen, and that there are conversations about poetry that go far beyond my own intervention. I am not isolated. In this way, I am not an outsider.) I also “ran into” several people I went to high school with when I went to my 15-year high school reunion for Roeper, an undoubtedly elite private high school, which was the third high school I went to, after attending Renaissance in Detroit and Stevenson in Livonia. Basically, it should be clear, that I have covered some serious Metro-Detroit ground.

Expansive and strange, strained and dispersed, on the heels of having spent weeks in such an extraordinarily different city, London, I have many, sometimes too many, places and people to compare to one another; many worlds to understand in relation; many landscapes and habits, methods and sites of exposure to measure, fuel, and digest.

The experience of the so-called uncontainable is ubiquitous. I mean, what cannot be contained is something we (and now I’m talking about us as academics) talk about a lot. Most folks (many kinds of folks) would not deny that they have encountered something that they couldn’t swallow or take in; something they couldn’t properly or desirably hold in their minds or bodies.

When I skate across the surface of these highways, I pass any number of exits I’ve taken to arrive somewhere that used to belong to me. I return to see if I can hold it again, but if I slow down, if I pause for too long, say, in front of the house I grew up in on Longacre, I make the people that live there nervous. What am I doing here? I don’t belong here. It’s not mine; or, it’s not exactly mine.

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[6425 Longacre, a still from a video of driving down the street]


And as my friend so brilliantly suggested regarding Detroit in general, there’s no here here. It’s cut up by highways, spread out, most of the city is ignored. They’re shutting off people’s water. And, as the clerk at Rite Aid said, “it’s Detroit. People’d steal air if it wasn’t free.” (He’d said much more than he meant, we decided. It’s not that people steal just to steal, but that Detroit is the kind of place where you might have to steal air because they might start charging for it and folks here, meaning many Black folks, would not be able to pay for it.) (The comment about there being no here here needs a bit more context, but it has something to do with the desire to signify Detroit to itself. I sit in a coffee shop and the conversation beside me includes “Detroit City of Lights” or something like this. There are plans on the tables for spaces in Detroit.)

The surge of pleasure that capital metes out, and which we (the class of mostly white artists here) squeeze out despite and/ or because of capital, thrives in the tiniest parts of this behemoth city.

Wherever I go, Detroit is being symbolized, both outside and within the city. The place we go for our high intensity workout tonight is decorated with photographs of the Train Station, which is only up the street from our workout. The instructor wears a Detroit City shirt. I have my Detroit Detroit tattoo.

When there is a Tiger’s game, everyone is wearing Detroit schwag. People have old English Ds on their cars. A Whole Foods truck indicates something like “we’re in Detroit now” or “we’re happy to be in Detroit now.” Their sandwiches are listed as “Detroit favorites.” I have a drink at Rock City that is made with Faygo Rock n Rye and I get it because of that, because Faygo symbolizes Detroit. Motor City Brewery has a beer called Ghettoblaster. Shinola’s advertisement on a downtown building reads: “Before Detroit Made Watches and Bicycles We Made Nice hashtag saynicethings.”


[Billboard pic taken from the car]


The city, perhaps in a unique way, perhaps not, needs to symbolize itself within its own borders. But a city can’t signify itself. I don’t know how to understand this. Does this affirm its boundaries or express the desire to expand? “Me, a name, I call myself; Fa, a long long way to run”??? I get that that it’s part of selling stuff. People want to buy the brand Detroit. But it also feels bigger than that. Or the desire to make the brand and buy the brand and trade the brand involves the circulation of feelings that are not always clear to me, especially as I see that I am someone who, unwittingly, participated in the reproduction of this symbol by attaching it to myself. I thought I was saying, I am attached, too attached, let me put this symbol there to objectify it. Let me objectify my attachment to Detroit in some way to lift it off its surface; let me make this desire to make concrete and solid the word “Detroit” an object of knowledge that is more external. This poetics frightens me. A fantasy of liberation hinges on how the freeway asks us to skate through, allows me to collect images from my car, which I try to slow down to live inside, briefly.


[Bankruptcy pic taken from the car]



Detroit, Detroit; Hampstead Heath; Yellow/ Cliff; Shadwell Swim

I take pictures everyday and my phone dies because I need to use the map all day and I am not able to keep up with what I see. But it keeps up with me. I feel like taking pictures everywhere and then going to Facebook to see that the day hasn’t begun in the Midwest. This makes for a long stretch, a noodle (everyone laughs in Bologna when I use the word “noodle” instead of “pasta”), a noodle that feels like it’s going to break.

I tell Lenora, “There are real differences! There are real differences!” I am so emphatic about it, like I never believed until now that there are real differences (which isn’t true–I mean it’s not true that I didn’t believe it, nor are differences a matter of belief). But I hadn’t felt them in that way until then: being both so far from home and not actually realizing what “home” is.

This is a theme on the postcards, maybe, that I sent and the ones that I haven’t. It’s also so obvious to everyone but me because I got a tattoo of the theme, which continues to surprise and re-present itself for interpretation, as it is a conversation-starter.


I know this is going to sound stupid, but I didn’t realize it would mean talking about Detroit with strangers.

“So, you’re from Detroit?” And then some people don’t understand what it says underneath. “Defrost?” And some people say what the tattoo says without realizing it, “Oh, you’re from Detroit, Detroit . . .”


My last day in London–this won’t be the last post I make–my last day in London was pretty much perfect. If only I hadn’t spent the morning packing and thus cutting short my time at Hampstead Heath, where I could have got more heat rash than I did.


I grab a sandwich and a Coke (I almost never drink pop in the States. I think I drink pop here because it feels American). The guy working the little coffee/ food stand at Westcombe Park Station is good at his job because he knows just how long it takes to warm up a ham and cheese sandwich and this just the amount of time I have before I have to catch the train. He asks me about my Detroit tattoo. He says he knows that place because isn’t that where Eminem is from. “Yeah.” “So did you grow up near him? Do you know where his house is?” “Well, I think his childhood home is boarded up and I don’t know where he lives now . . . He’s a pretty interesting guy, though, I think.” “Yeah. He’s white and rap is mostly black and I think he’s a good rapper. Oh your train is here. I’ll cut it in half and then you’ll have to run.” “OK. Thank you! Bye! Have a good one!” I’m not sure people understand what I say when I say, “Have a good one.” I haven’t heard anyone in the UK say this, but it’s one of my favorite ways to depart. I find myself wishing, too, that I’d asked the guy where he was from.

There are so many people in London from so, so many different places and this is intensified by being on the train for hours everyday. An hour out and an hour back and usually more than that because I take more than one roundtrip.


I read Morrissey’s Autobiography on the train and look around a lot. It is both fast and slow reading because I’m at the part where Morrissey complains a lot about Rough Trade records and it’s really boring. Some of the best parts of the book are when he describes music that he loves and I remain taken with the first sentence of the book, which I’ve repeated countless times: “My childhood is streets upon streets upon streets upon streets.” I didn’t go to Manchester, which is where his childhood is. I opted for Brighton instead because it is closer to London and there is sea there. But back to Monday.


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1. Hampstead Heath (soooo English!)




2. The Ladies Only Pond (soooo lovely!)




3. At a beer garden, I try to try draw a picture of the first Nick van Woert sculpture [left] you see at his current exhibit at MAMbo, the pretty fabulous Modern Art Museum in Bologna. And someone who draws better than me draws a picture of a cliff at Cornwall [right].

We meet at the pub at 2:30 after I’ve been laying out in the sun and taken a very, very cold dip in the pond. (I’m just too colloquial for lying out). I have a Pimm’s with lemonade with mint and slices of orange and apple. The mint is really refreshing and the drink is served with a bendy straw. (I think all straws in England are bendy straws). After Pimm’s, there’s a move to drink Lavender Hill beer. There is some time spent reciting Laurie Anderson and discussion of the role of reflection or mimesis and interpretation in psychoanalysis. I share my theory regarding what “love” is in “Love Will Tear Us Apart” on the train.




4. I meet someone, this time near Shadwell, for a second swim at a secret river basin. I ask if it’s really secret and they say yes! It’s for members only and it turns out, we are the members! And there is a speaker in a wagon attached to a bike that is playing what else? British punk and no-wave, which is so lovely to have that feel close and local somehow as we slide into the cool-but-not-as-cold-as-the-ponds water of the Thames.


It’s too much to recount how I, then, in a sun plus beer plus last-day-in-London fog ride the train back to my kind and generous hosts in Greenwich and Rihanna’s song about finding love in a hopeless place comes on through the shuffle.


I wake up in the hotel room near O’Hare at 3am and continue to try to think through the fantasy of finding love in hopelessness, wondering what the intrigue is specifically around the extreme of love plus hopelessness. And does this mean finding hope in hopelessness and why that? This bends back to my theory about “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” which I’ll have to get to next time, just like “Philosophy in Erection,” which had something to do with being torn apart, too, as Catherine started off that talk about being in between and thinking that’d be pleasurable but finding it more complex than that.













One day I went to the Natural History Museum. This was after having met for lunch with an analyst here to discuss our work, analysis, or, as I’d said in my email, anything! The presence of the concept of analysis itself, and all its coordinated attachments, is so important to me and offers so much, I had what felt like the pure spirit of wandering. [I throw a log on the Hegel fire and hope it will actually burn.] So, I wandered into the National History Museum, which was flooded with children, school groups, etc. I asked a volunteer, if she had to recommend one thing to see, what would it be. I am a geologist, she said, so I think you should go into that room. It is also much quieter there, she said, and no one here, on the first floor, is really looking at anything. There you can take your time and I think that would be a nice memory to take away.

I could have found myself anywhere.

I liked this idea of quiet and I would have never thought to go see the rocks, but I was so taken by their look and their descriptions. I looked for a list–I wanted there to be a list of all the descriptions of all the rocks. But if there had been, what, exactly, would I have done with it?

Are we talking about finding yourself anywhere, or finding yourself anywhere? This is a move that Derrida makes any number of times, but he makes it in particular in Glas. 


I have picked up Glas for the first time since the seminar ended. I find the part that I’m thinking of:

Ideality is death, to be sure, but to be dead–this is the whole question of dissemination–is that to be dead or to be dead? (133)

[Emphasis on to be or emphasis on dead ?]

Some sentences later: When one says “death is,” one says “death is denied”; death is not insofar as one posits it. 



[To the far right, in the front, wearing a red wrist band, sits a sweet Hegelian; in the center, a smiling writer on Derrida and Agamben; in the back, a not necessarily a Hegelian in yellow: we are on our way to Dalston for the most delicious meal that I've had in London, Turkish food.]



I saw King Lear at the National Theater on Monday and it was raining right before the show. It rains a lot here, little spurts, and I was safe under the awning and this woman was working something out with her umbrella. It had *not* flipped open on its own. It was she who had flipped it open in order to repair it. King Lear was amazing and exciting to me, although it was difficult to understand. I mean, speech! It’s tough to decipher. In a letter I wrote I recounted the consequences of the tyranny of love. My King Lear take-away.


The rocks at the Natural History Museum:


            steep white scalenohedra

           Cave-in-Rock, Hardin Co., Illinois


           crystal showing “ghost”; with 

           chalcopyrite and blende


This is to say nothing of my visit to the Freud Museum yesterday, on my 33rd birthday, and someone told me that, speaking of pilgrimages, people cry when they see the couch. I *did* cry, but it was in thinking of the commitment to listening, that he listened 12 hours in one day some times. I also have not mentioned my incredibly lovely time with the poet and delight, Francesca Lisette, and the urgency and care with which she suggested I drink a hard shake for my birthday. So I had a “Brandy Alexander” which was vanilla and chocolate ice cream, nutella, and Brandy.


Someone quite (the British use “quite” quite a lot and it’s absolutely infecting my speech. This is the nature of speech, I realize. It is always being transmitted and it is impossible to shake off and this is both exciting and scary, depending), someone quite surprising, who was always saying surprising things, making a turn in the conversation that changed the affect and urgency of the questions, something I often aim to do in discussions, enters a room with two fingers raised like she aims to say, “I come in peace.” Each time I see this I want to double-check. “So, you come in peace?” And they reply, “I come in pieces.” I find this delightful and terrifying. I hate to pit delight and terror against one another, but the longer I am in London and am thinking, the more I think they are in the same ring, duking it out.



I had the extraordinary pleasure of attending a reading/ talk by Adam Phillips on July 1st with another new friend, a painter who builds the paint slowly and saw the colors of these chairs in a careful way. Phillips read from his biography of Freud, Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst, which is also to say the making of the psychoanalyst. [The picture above is of Phillips wedged between heads.] The first bit was all about Freud’s ambivalence about biographers. I said that psychoanalysis seems to me to be about figuring out how to tell stories about yourself that you can live with and in that sense, it is entirely autobiography. I kind of asked and answered what the difference is between biography and autobiography for Freud. And it’s the “auto.” What Freud disliked, or found entirely suspect, was the idea of someone telling someone else’s life. Phillips said yes, that’s pretty much it. The analyst doesn’t tell a story about your life that you haven’t already told.

There are still lots of pictures of people and buildings and stories to tell. I am here for another week and then off to Bologna for a few days.

[And I've finally decided to release us all from the ancient aesthetics of this blog.]

June 23, London



You can’t tell, but I’m waiting for the train and I tried to take the most secret selfie possible because it’s so weird when you see people taking pictures of themselves by themselves, but I felt compelled to since I felt so tired after the first day of Derrida, but the kind of exhaustion that you want to document. I have no idea what I’ve succeeded in taking a picture of, something that does and doesn’t look like me, which means I’m like only succeeding in imitating Derrida. The contagion of Glas is no surprise, friends! Please allow me this rehearsal. In the secret selfie I covered up my eye accidentally because I wasn’t looking at what I was doing as I was trying to look nonchalant as I took a picture of myself. JESUS! Let’s shake this off. So then I get on the train and the sky was looking gorgeous, and I was feeling a bit ill having scarfed down an enormous cone of fish and chips, which they don’t even have forks here. I mean you eat fried fish with your hands and get really greasy. This was after a long time wandering for food with the other students. Philosophers have almost no leader unless he is already dead I think. I somehow am happier to be a poet than a philosopher but what exactly do I mean when I say that? Poets are alive and philosophers are dead? The sky was like chim chimney chim chimney chim chim chicharee gorgeous and all throughout London I keep singing feed the birds, too, because I realize what I know of London is Mary Poppins and Crass, and maybe just that, because Joy Division and the Smiths aren’t from here. Oh and like Madness and Kate Bush. So the sky anyway rather than me or my covered up eye. This is the sky in my neighborhood in Greenwich after the first day of Derrida. What’s the first day of Derrida mean? I say, whatever you do, don’t miss the hole in the sky. RECALL WHEN THEY OPEN UP THE SKY IN . . . WHATCHACALLIT? Katniss . . . The Hunger Games. Ha!



June 19-21, London




Me and this guy taking a picture in Greenwich Park


Me and all these people taking a picture of the view


Me and all these people at Farringdon Station. You can’t see it but I’m holding a bag with Curry Wurst in it.


Me and Chipp at Farringdon Station. You can’t see it but he has a bag full of chocolate malt balls and fizzy drinks and pickle Monster chips at his feet. It was on this bench that I ate my Curry Wurst and Sauerkraut. 



Chipp and Gemma in Bedford after we got off the train. You can’t tell, but Gemma has sausage in her backpack.


It’s obvious we are waiting for a taxi to take us flying down curvy roads during which a discussion about the World Cup will take place. Scotland has never done well, but a famous tennis player is someone the taxi driver tells his son to be like. Gemma is Scottish. She is proud of the tennis player and the taxi driver.




It’s obvious we are waiting for a taxi and that I am facing the sun.


Americans make better guacamole than the English. This orange salt shaker helped. I took a picture of this orange salt shaker for River, whose favorite color is orange. The avocados in England are not that great, but this guac was still good.


Devin and I went to the Tate Modern and it turns out their exhibit on Poetry and Dreams also included a room of Soviet posters. I have more to say about the Poetry and Dream exhibit. Consider this a cliffhanger for the days to come.