“The role of knowledge and art, as the ancient Greeks understood, is to create ekstasis, which means standing outside one’s self to give our individual life and struggle meaning and perspective. The role of art and scholarship is to transform us as individuals, not entertain us as a group. It is to nurture this capacity for understanding and empathy. Art and scholarship allow us to see the underlying structures and assumptions used to manipulate and control us. And this is why art, like intellectual endeavor, is feared by the corporate elite as subversive. This is why corporations have used their money to deform universities into vocational schools that spit out blinkered and illiterate systems managers. This is why the humanities are withering away. The vast stage of entertainment that envelops our culture is intended to impart the opposite of ekstasis. Mass entertainment plays to the basest and crudest instincts of the crowd. It conditions us to have the same aspirations and desires. It forces us to speak in the same dead clichés and slogans. It homogenizes human experience. It wallows in a cloying nostalgia and sentimentalism that foster historical amnesia. It turns the Other into a cartoon or a stereotype. It prohibits empathy because it prohibits understanding. It denies human singularity and uniqueness. It assures us that we all have within us the ability, talent or luck to become famous and rich. It forms us into a lowing and compliant herd. We have been conditioned to believe—defying all the great moral and philosophical writers from Socrates to Orwell—that the aim of life is not to understand but to be entertained. If we do not shake ourselves awake from our electronic hallucinations and defy the elites who are ruining the country and trashing the planet we will experience the awful and deadly retribution of the gods.”—
this summer i learned that i have a grandpa who is into farmer’s markets, seasonal food and being wildly liberal. he likes long road trips, long books and waking up to big mugs of coffee and music, at night he likes wine or beer and more music- just like me. these things are not widely unusual, but to find them in a grandfather, my mother’s father who has always existed in my mind as some stern california business man who was never around, was exciting at this age. he used to be a photographer. he backcountry camped in yosemite and had bears steal his steak. he has owned very fast cars and big red vans you could sleep in. my family are people with lives who are both expansive and interesting, so overlapping with mine and so vastly different.
today i watched my aunt sharon, a petit tiny lady who lives off energy drinks and cigarettes, who owns a beauty parlor and is always covered in hair spray, pick up a shotgun and shoot trap like nothing. she unjammed a stuck shell with her large gold rings and fake pink fingernails in place.
and then, my mother, nonchalantly asked trent to try out his .45, joking about trying to hit an apple off a tree. sharon ran out and picked out which apple she should hit; a reddish brown one that was clearly leftover and out of place. it was a joke, nothing serious, unexpected. but fuck! she shot it clear off the tree on her first try from 30 feet away. she used to do this every weekend. just go shoot trap with all these men, and WIN. my mom, you guys, is a serious warrior!
we ate dinner in a 100 year old farm house where my grandma grew up. my great-grandma just passed away this summer, and the farm had to be sold. it was the last big meal we would have there, the last time she would spend time in the home where she grew up, saw bad winters, bad harvest, good christmases and parties and family evenings and sunday dinners after church. all of that, and tonight’s walmart fried chicken and macaroni salad was it. we took a last tour, said goodbye, and she cried for her mother even though she is pushing 70 herself.
finally rode my bike to trent’s place, facing my fear of being passed by mtd buses and semi trucks and riding on one of the busier streets in town. that makes this an entirely successful day no matter what.
Women are sexualized and objectified to appeal to others. Our culture tells us that our sexuality doesn’t belong to us, nor is it for us to enjoy -– it’s for The Male Gaze. Therefore, the act of a lady pleasing herself for her own purposes presents a little bit of a problem for The Patriarchy, which thinks that women are supposed to be sexy for other people, not for themselves. The Patriarchy also wants us to believe that women are passive about sex, that we are not sexual creatures. Masturbating proves that wrong.
Let’s return to that quote up there for a second as well:
“Higher self esteem…more positive body image…less sexual anxiety.”
When women feel these things, it’s harder to control them, to tell them what to do, to tell them how to change. Ultimately, masturbating is connected to self-respect, self-love, and sexual freedom, all things that challenge several mainstream notions of femininity.
Here’s the deal: Masturbating is fun, orgasms are good for you, and it makes misogynists uncomfortable. So get yourself a vibrator and start a revolution.
“There were three brothers, all brown-limbed with jokes that never failed. They were old enough to walk to the nearby creek in the afternoons and stand in the weeds and fish, and the second night they were there, they’d crept outside at night to hunt for bait. Maggie’s mom had woken her up by patting her shoulder and murmuring into her ear. They wanted to include Maggie, she said, even though she was a girl and she was only nine, a few grades behind them, and so if she wanted to go, she would have to be very careful and quiet. Yelling and running scares the earthworms away, her mom said. The boys called them nightcrawlers, and so Maggie did, too.”—
My short story “Nightcrawler” is featured in issue #13 of Storychord, up today! (via ljm)