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Chris Kraus

Chris Kraus' I Love Dick is opening a space for me to exist in. To move around in. She says,

"Reading delivers on the promise that sex raises but hardly ever can fulfill- getting larger cause you're entering another person's language, cadence, heart and mind."

And that's when I feel most alive. Expansive writing. Expansive reading.

But the so called personal is there. And that's what NY School poetics, Eileen Myles, Michelle Tea and others have given me. A space. A permission. A recognition of the complexities of being male. I've never been an insider of those big powerful worlds of writers and artists. I hadn't felt completely at home inside those insulated walls of power. The towers of HSBC or the towers of Cambridge university.

"Because we rejected a certain kind of critical language, people just assumed that we were dumb" says Alice Notley. These spheres. These permissions. In Revolutionary Letters, 1971, Diane di Prima wrote "I just realized the stakes are myself." And that's where I am. The self is performative. The personal is critical. Men are taught to move away from the personal into the universal. The objective. To find and unlock the big secrets of knowledge. The greatest secret is that there is NO SECRET!

Since the death of my brother, the personal has become more and more the subject of my art. And not the personal as locked in place. But moving. In motion. And full of doubt and questions. The personal full of uncertainty. An attempt to move closer to reality. Intersubjectivity. I am wrong a lot. Being sure of your self is a sign of male power. It is the president of whatever country. And that power is also a prison. Is certainty a freedom? It might be a privilege but it's a trap. It's not freedom. "Isn't the greatest freedom in the world the freedom to be wrong" writes Chris Kraus in I Love Dick. And I say yes. I cannot mansplain. I never been one for mansplaining. Acting like I know something. I see it all the time. It is not limited to men at the university where I teach. Where does it come from? This need to be objective? Science. Hard science. Why is hard better than soft? Why is aggression celebrated and softness a weakness? Stubbornness and conviction a sign of strength and uncertainty and doubt a weakness? Do we all need to become hard to survive in this world we have created?

When I watch a Brooke Candy video it makes me feel because I have more freedom to move. Like the role of aggressor and predator in being biological male is less static. It's being played with. It is reframed somewhere else. To the point of absurdity. But absurd for who? Are these gender codes being questioned in a Brooke Candy video? Or is just flipped onto other side of coin and thus the same coin?

Men need to part of the discussions on gender. It is a whole system of traps and signs and straight jackets. But we need honesty. The media perpetuates data. It is trying to be hard science. Hard facts. Us versus them in whatever context.

How do we get out? What are we getting out of? Duty? I want to get out of my duty. To my gender. I am between genders. Between classes. I can pass for the dominant one.  A white male. Almost middle class. But not really. The complexity is a simple one. It's a spectrum. Can we go there?

What if everyone woke up to the game? Then what? End of game. No game. Another game or end of life.

We keep trying to fix this game. It's not working. Can we play another one? How much of life is performance? All of it? What isn't performative?


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Another Ireland: Part Two
Maurice Scully, The Basic Colours. Durham, UK: Pig Press, 1994.
Geoffrey Squires, Landscapes and Silences. Dublin: New Writers' Press, 1996.
Catherine Walsh, Idir Eatortha and Making Tents. London: Invisible Books, 1996.

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