This month was to have been the month I completed a first draft of my first novel. But there was too much interesting non-fiction going to think about writing fiction. So I decided to content myself with doing a daily blog post, which I have done, much of which, some may argue, is actually fiction. That’s OK if you feel that way. It has crossed my mind.
I was driving back home from a tiring day of car-shopping and heard the coolest interview on NPR with Zadie Smith, the British novelist. Some of these young folks have some really refreshing ideas about things! I include Zadie Smith in that group. It made me think, consciously and with focus, about some things I have been mulling unconsciously and without focus over the past several months, especially as the fall election campaign and all its accompanying logical fallacies in the name of politics as usual heated up.
So where to start with the fuzzy thinking?
First of all, it occurs to me that so much of what we think we know about race is at best contextual and at the very lowest common denominator, socially constructed. In fact, we could easily cross over to post-racialism, that is to say, we could make ideas about race a thing of the past, an antiquated and false science like astrology (and/or eugenics), except that so many people profit from it. Politicians, academics, legal professionals, a whole host of folks benefit from maintaining these racial constructions, preserving them like finely detailed but totally unnecessary brick walls (you know if I am talking about you!). Just today I received an email reminder to attend a faculty and staff (as part-time reference librarian I fit somewhere hidden in the middle) information session on a new program next semester on “First Year Curriculum on Race and Identity.” Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, y’all! This is supposed to be progress?
Once we transfer “race” to the dustbin of history, or simultaneously, we can think about how other “divisions” in society are similarly contextual and socially constructed. A whole lot of koolaid has been passed around recently regarding gender and sexual orientation identity, especially during the presidential campaign. Although it puts me in a danger zone, I will say it: all contextual and socially constructed. Is it real? Perhaps, like racism is real when we need it to be. But need it be real? Not necessarily.
OK. Here is where I dig down into the archive and pull out a sonnet that is vaguely (?) related to what we have been talking about. Here it is, a flawed attempt!
It may all be lost in a masquerade –
that’s what Benson used to say
in the song that criss-crossed
between jazz and rhythm & blues –
maybe the universe is a giant hologram –
two dimensions projected over a 3d space,
and we all live in a simulated lab
of our own making – or our enemy’s –
which would explain the gaps
and limitations that often present themselves
in our silent hopes and daydreams –
and all the chit-chat we engage in
about race and sex and intersectionality.
Stop, the love you save may be your own.