Emily Abendroth

“The [Onsite check-cashing franchise] does not have a monopoly on exclusionary logics.”i

[Elk’s Club] [Offshore Military Base] [Nuclear Family] [Academic Community] [Bail Bonds Market] [Single Professionals Network] [Sensor-Activated Motion Detector]

Its territory is fogged in the overlap, both mingled in and re-partitioned amid the trap housings of others:
a new parapet or palisade, a fading rampart, a bulwark another workplace checkpoint, an impassable berm a drug-sniffing vermin squad, an emerging prison hulk the bulky and overarching chambers of angled steel lattice

“I was treated very nicely,” he said. “Excepting that I was in a state of perfect terror.”

What to make of “crowd movement pattern recognition”? What of “a reef of bombs”? Its geographic relief a “natural” sheathing of ersatz habitat used exclusively by military hacks for waste munitions disposal, for blowing up ordnance in an oval of oceanic proportions. Today, as the Bering Strait is melting, it opens up new areas of the Northwest passage allowing for ever greater volumes of long distance transcontinental shipping. It melts, in significant part, because of the arc of ever greater volumes of long distance transcontinental shipping. We grip wildly at this, by destruction securing our mounting permissions. The deluge we wished for is kicked to the fore, tortured into further accommodations.

The admonition to “learn our limitations” was everywhere emblazoned as the single most indelible motif that we might need take heed of should we indeed wish to succeed in our future doings. I.e. In the 1960s, they learned their limitations. In the 1970s, they learned their limitations. In the 1980s, the same. In the 1990s, more so. We lived today in the diminished afterglows of a near total disappearance of prior tumultuous turfs paraded before us now as if completely unmurky, as if an otherworldly site of airtight ideological inheritances. An unquestionable bequest whose contents were positioned and repositioned until supposedly the only hypothesis that could be gathered in synopsis was the rather impossible mandate of a world-historical regulation: “not to reach” “not to stretch” “not to spread” be it merely for a small red-rimmed teacup at suppertime or for the sky We were bred to believe that even trying to make our own lives worth occupying was the very height of rudeness or imprudence We were minced into pieces and then recast as the involuntary navigators of an unworkably narrow map which arrived in our laps under the guises of an etiquette manual a semi-annual behavorial soundtrack crackling away, stuck on loop, haywire

Having reached the limits of recuperation Having grated harshly against the question of what it was she wanted to recupe Having first cooped herself up within the miniscule range of choices provided and then belabored those same joists endlessly, painfully, but without extension The person tried earnestly now to ask herself: Am I in my own life instigating punishment to myself and to those around me, rather than seeking rectification for our dynamics or solutions to our confusions? Am I in my own life delegating away my very livelihood to the state? Am I fated to do so? Are these the dynamics that if undone could undo prisons? Could undo derision? Could undo imperialism?

This obscene tension of scale - which the person variously tried to inhale or paled in the face of - was everywhere in the scenes around her. She felt, if only blurrily, the necessity to boil it down, without however making too smooth an oil of it. She felt like, “Shit, what I need to do is to evolve my paranoias, not to dissolve them.”

What, we might ask, is “fighting age” in an “age of fighting”? And who indeed qualifies for the opportunity to “reach it” as if convening with a proper chronological mobilization or elected calendar destination And not as having simply arrived there by having simply arrived at all. Yoked in smoke, a thick congregation of unwilling tutors arrive late, arrive inebriated, yet still catering to a broader order of border murder

What other girders might be ushered in to support a palpable community acutely tuned to itself in its permanent tension with the existent.ii In its soft tapping against the unremitting rigid distance of logics whose project it is to fence the persistent, the resistant, or the wily. The inflexible reign of a chain of ordering documents that need only state or feign one thing in order to erase another. How then to rediscover.


From Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity by Judith Butler (brackets not in original). Routledge: New York and London, 1999.
i ii

The phrase “in permanent tension with the existent” comes from Gabriel Pombo da Silva, a Basque political prisoner who is currently being held in Aceh, Germany in conditions of extreme isolation. In his essay “Diary and Ideary of a Delinquent” (2004), he notes further: To my comrades and my family: I would have liked to make an end once and for all to the deadly weight of prisons, persecutions, and evasions… I say this with a burning heart; yet, I fear that I am obliged to live constantly with a past conditioning the present and the future, which pushes me always further into a desperate and surrealist situation of tension and confrontation with all and everything that configures, structures, and comprises the world, existence, and life in all its aspects.

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