The intimacy of a breathing machine.
If you enjoy being close to my abstract ideals, and I enjoy being close to your abstract ideals, we may enjoy each other.
If my upbringing has made me susceptible to your cheap clichés, and your upbringing has made you reproduce cheap clichés, then we may enjoy each other.
If I’ve been socialized to enjoy exploiting you, and you’ve been socialized to enjoy being exploited by me, we may enjoy each other.
If I enjoy institutionalized oppression and you participate in institutionalized oppression, then we may enjoy each other.
If you enjoy being absorbed and sold by capital, and I enjoy commodifying you, we may enjoy each other.
If you enjoy being subject to systemic violence, and I enjoy enforcing systemic violence, then we may enjoy each other.
If you enjoy hierarchies that produce abusive power relations, and I promote hierarchies that produce abusive power relations, then we may enjoy each other.
Vancouver poet and editor Anahita Jamali Rad’s first trade poetry collection, For Love And Autonomy (Vancouver BC: Talonbooks, 2016), is wildly smart, dark and funny, and engages, as her author bio writes, “materiality, love, class, violence and displacement.” In a lyric of sentences, For Love And Autonomy is thick with theory, writing on love and the body, industrialization and capital, linking her to a series of Pacific poets writing in similar veins, from Kaia Sand to Cecily Nicholson to Stephen Collis to Jeff Derksen. As she writes in the poem “in slow”: “structure / this mess // so lonely / to be // nestled in / civil society [.]”
Part of what impresses about this collection is the way in which it writes so deeply around and through the complexities of its subject, utilizing prose, short lined lyrics and fragments to write out such a multi-faceted book-length poem on the combined physical, social and political acts of simply “being.” There is such a deep engagement in these poems, as well as real questions about the autonomous body, social responsibilities and potential actions, and whether or not freedom and/or free will is even possible within the framework of civil society. As she writes in the poem “marx, himself, is a machine fragment”: “This process of reification is / unbearable [.]”
In this country, in her or his or their country, there are tears that need to be wiped away. Don’t force it. Don’t force me to tell you what you already know about the tears that need to be wiped away. Don’t. Force the tears to be wiped away. The tears wipe away, are wiped away. The meaning of the tears to be wiped away, is wiped away. The tears in this country are wiped away. In this country, we wipe our tears away. We wipe our tears, in this, in her or his or their country, away. Don’t force me to tell you how the tears are wiped away. In this country, we don’t force anyone to wipe her or his or their tears away. In this country, we don’t force it.
“I” is always necessarily a “we.”
You may answer the call to build. To build, not merely economical, but socially determining bodies, here and there, expressing grievances. Bodies, which constitute an exotic historical accident. An accident, which excludes the definition of class. An accident, which excludes. Definitions, which exclude. Classically exclude. These bodies, which are of things, which are firstly, of the last, are piled up under a tall blue sky, confess a manifesto, and handkerchiefs bid farewell to a desperate empiricism. Such is the body. Such are the bodies. (“against the industrialization of our bodies”)