Into the dark
A brief letter, updates, and a digest of recent work
October has been a very good month for me. Now that there’s little left to harvest in my garden except cold-loving salads (arugula, kale, spinach, winter lettuces) and herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage), I’ve had a lot more time to sit indoors, think, and dream.
I’ve also had much more time with my husband, which is really the best thing ever. Also, it’s been the time for having more people over for dinners, and going to events held by others. I’ve had reason to wear a suit more times in the last month than I have all year, so much so that I’m almost finally learning to feel comfortable in one.
This coming Saturday, 4 November, I’ll be in London for another book event, this time at the London Radical Bookfair.
It’s been seven weeks since Here Be Monsters: How To Fight Capitalism Instead of Each Other, was released. Seems longer ago than that, honestly. But then I remember that this will be only the second event for the book (a third and possibly a fourth coming late November), and quite a lot has happened in my life and in the world since its release.
Reader reviews of the book have slowly been trickling out, though it’s not yet been reviewed by any journals or blogs yet. I’m told this is a usual state of things, as it takes a while for a book to build momentum. And of course, any increased attention to the book will also bring with it unpleasant attention, too, and I’m never very eager for that.
Regarding that “unpleasant” attention: you’ve maybe noticed that a higher proportion of my essays have been behind a paywall recently. I made that decision just after Here Be Monsters was published: I learned that there was quite a ruckus being raised by some folks who were pressuring the publisher over my book. I hope some day to go more into detail about that, because people are really fucking insane, but it’s probably best I don’t yet.
The increased paywalls will unfortunately need to continue, but I’ll make sure I also publish at least a few free essays, and I’ve created a discounted subscription offer (20% off forever) for those of you who’d like to a paid subscription:
Two weekends ago, I wrote an essay and submitted it to a really large journal per their request. I’m still waiting for a decision from them about publication, but I’m feeling rather confident about it. I’m sure you’ll like it.
Also, yesterday, Dan Evans and I talked with James A. Smith about the left and Palestine for The Popular Show. It was a really, really great conversation where we discuss the political alignment shake-ups and the mass populist refusal to believe what their own governments are telling them to believe. You can listen to it on Spotify and other places, and there’s also a video version of it available on The Popular Show’s Patreon.
What I’ve Written Lately
It’s been a while since I’ve published a monthly digest for you, so here’s one for my writing from September and October:
2 September — “The City of God Against The Communists” (Paid)
Making leftism anti-capitalist again would mean no longer looking for the demonic forces ( “able-ism,” “fascism,” “racism,” “fatphobia,” “cisheteronormativity,” etc) hiding in the behaviours and souls of our neighbors, and instead conspiring with them to make all our material conditions more livable. The capitalists won’t like that, of course, nor will their institutions and agents, and they’ve got a lot more money and power than we do.
10 September — “What Just-Is” (Paid)
When justice became social instead of economic, when the personal became political, we lost the ability to let parts of life just be. We forgot how to exempt aspects of ourselves from the political realm, and then we cultivated an insatiable resentment for the “privilege” of others.
15 September — “Make Any Leftist A Fascist With This One Neat Trick!” (Unlocked)
Originally paywalled, now available to all readers:
That’s the neat trick of the red-brown smear. You can turn any leftist critique into its opposite by merely calling it so, and then find all manner of evidence to prove the matter later. All you need to do is move around the boundary markers of what constitutes “true” leftist analysis and rename everything outside the newly-drawn territory as evil.
24 September — “An Equinox In London” (Free)
A brief travel journal from my first event for Here Be Monsters in London.
29 September — “The Trace” (Free)
We can feel like we were aggressed upon by people who actually did nothing to us at all. Not recognizing this leads to many of the accusations of “micro-aggressions” and other claims of non-physical harm or violence on social media. Identitarian-thinking easily feeds into this sense, giving us a ready-made explanation for why we feel harm without ever being able to point to who harmed us or how we were actually harmed. At the most extreme edges of this comes the certainty that another group is trying to “genocide” you — whether that’s “white genocide” or “trans genocide.” Blaming one identity group for all the problems in society is the corollary of that way of thinking, and is just as destructive.
3 October — The Re/al/ign, Episode 09, with Catherine Liu (Unlocked)
6 October — “The Mysteria, part 8: Ghosts in the Machine” (Paid)
Under this pressure from the Reformation, the Church abandoned this older teaching and instead began to teach that the spirit world consisted exclusively of angels and their fallen counterparts, demons. There were now only good and bad spirits, with no neutral intermediaries acting in the world. A consequence of this new framework was that new explanations for natural processes (the “magic” in natural philosophy) needed to be found, since there could be no such thing as a neutral spirit whose task was merely to make the world happen. Every natural process therefore needed to be explained without any reference to spirits.
To not put too fine a point on it, this is the root of disenchantment: an entire category of beings, which fifteen centuries’ worth of European Christians (and many more centuries of pagans before them) had believed existed, was suddenly written out of the world.
11 October — “How Is Your Heart Breaking?” (Free)
An open discussion thread about despair that resulted in something beautifully hopeful.
19 October — “After The First Frost, the Compost” (Paid)
The EU is still ‘roided up from their seizure of power during the Covid years, claiming for themselves power over human movement and human medical sovereignty. Now, they’re flexing against human expression. Any criticism of the government and governments they approve of must be silenced.
The next few years in Europe were already promising to be quite bad, but these moves by the governments show that they’re betting things will be even worse than many of us suspected. They’re accumulating extra political powers so quickly that it really feels they’re expecting massive civil unrest. It appears they are trying to cut off the flow of communication and freedom of movement to position themselves more strongly against the people they claim to represent.
27 October — “In Which Ciphers Wake” (Paid)
It feels as if the agreements we’ve been forced to accept — in lieu of accords we make ourselves — are falling apart. Cities, capital, and all this technology was forced upon us, and in return we agreed to act “civil” to each other — while our lives were ripped apart, our spirits confined, and our making of meaning stolen. That those agreements now fray and tatter is no great loss, but what’s to come instead is not yet possible.
All the while, it seems the state and the capitalists increase their real and digital ordering of our lives, to make sure most of us stay in place, do what we should be doing, and most of all come to rely upon them even more. The more the earth falls out out from under us, the more ætheric their control becomes.
I’ve started serializing a novel-in-progress, and I published three chapters of it in October: