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June 2023: buzzing
Wasps remain, perhaps, because they insist on it.
Hi all! It’s great to return to sharing thoughts and updates with you. I hope you enjoy reading and/or listening to what I’ve prepared this month. Please feel free to share this newsletter with whoever you feel might find it interesting…and if you haven’t already, treat yourself and subscribe.
In this season, the earth quickens. Trees bloom, flowers open, heat rises. Many creatures are steady shedding, and I’m one of them. Soon as I sent in year-end grades I heard it almost, time rattling as it slipped off me—a decade as a graduate student, teaching assistant, adjunct, lecturer; and longer, a lifetime as a ward in someone’s institution. Funny to move out in new skin, to feel space warp around me now. In this fresh air, my lungs beg deeper breaths. They labor. The new skin flexes on my frame.
Only a couple weeks in and I’m all abuzz. You really do stay busy when you work for yourself: already, I realize the joy is the joke is the truth. And yet, busy-ness is not stability. Living between jobs amplifies a long-standing anxiety. All this buzzing—a tightly wound vibration—might be what Musa Springer describes as “[t]hat irreconcilable contradiction between all that i need to do to sustain my physical, mental, and physical [sic] wellness, and all that will be lost to the capitalist world when i do those things[.]”
I think of wasps. (They’ve been with me as I prepare to bring the wasp project to ODC’s State of Play Festival this August.) Actually, I think of bees, and how wasps are derided for not being more like them. Entomologist Seirian Sumner probes the issue in her book Endless Forms. Bees may sting, she notes, but they also pollinate plants and make honey. Labor weaves them into the (human) world. By the same lights, all wasps seem to do is keep to themselves, torment animals, and sting people. Nothing but spite seems to hold them aloft.
Sure, wasps are (as Sumner points out) prime pest-control agents. Something else holds them in this world, though, something beyond virtue. Many wasps live parasitically; several species lay their eggs on or inside the bodies of other organisms, often rendering them as food for their young. Wasps endure by reaching into the life-worlds of other species. They lay eggs with the same long, tube-like organ that sheaths their stinger. Wasps remain, perhaps, because they insist on it.
This is a shameless projection, and a human-centered one at that. But, as The Majestic Maij wonderfully suggests, reckless imagining often gestures toward “unrestrained elation in this realm.” As I move out into this world, buzzing ceaselessly, I often feel there’s no land on which I may alight. What care is to be found on this killing field of a ‘free market?’ I can seek relation, though; I can give it shelter to flourish. I can do this by reaching.
Things call to us, and we respond in their tongue (if we’re lucky). We can then carry ourselves out in the names of those things. We become their affiliates, as children unto them. How do I affiliate myself, then, in reviving this newsletter? Staying in touch is historically very hard for me. But when I visit with you, I remember that what I produce is just pretense for our be-ing together. This sustains me as I learn how to honor my calling, my work—even as I resist the strictures of labor. I’m excited to keep practicing reaching here, with you. Here’s to turning relation into relationship.
Sunday, June 25 (time TBD): I’m teaching a movement workshop as part of Black — Still, a temporary architecture project by enFOLD Collective / Applications & Materials installed at Craft Contemporary. It’s an honor to teach in a space designed for the rest and rejuvenation of black folks.
Thursday, June 29, 7pm: I’m part of an evening of performances responding to Lisa Alvarado’s Pulse Meridian Foliation exhibition at REDCAT. The work is incredible—be sure to see it if you can.
Until next time, I hope you stay well. We’ll see each other soon.