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We need to talk about the regulations and messages of "stay the fuck at home;" of quarantines and police powers; of medicine and our bodies; and we need to do it now.
So I asked the brilliant Sophie Lewis -family abolitionist, and author of the challenging and fascinating book about the politics of gestation, Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family - to talk about all this and more. Sophie and I have intersecting influences; Donna Haraway was a huge provocateur for Sophie, and my mentor, Lynn Margulis, was a huge provocateur for Donna. What these influences have led to: a question about what the individual is, how we're all connected, where our boundaries are.
This is an intense and wide-ranging conversation. I'm so happy to share it with you.
ON THIS EPISODE
- Why being with our families is an intolerable proposition
- How the right has seized resistance to the state in our time
- How the left couldn't be less prepared for this pandemic and why
- The way the condemnation of magic and the non-critical acceptance of science has made us impotent in the face of the current events
- Whether or not astrology is eugenic, even though tarot is great
- How leftists can interrogate science now
- What Sophie learned from her silence meditation retreat (and how being greeted with silence can affect change)
- Why Sylvia Federici and political economy takes on witchcraft (and sex work) need to be critiqued (and, uh, I kind of go off)
- Why individual self-care is a "pestilence."
- The lessons of hospice care
- The value of strangers and strangerhood
- Why the classical elements and magic matter to leftist theory
- What if we didn't reach for the tools of fear and fascism in duress?
• For more Sophie, go to her website. There you can find her essay, "Momrades against Motherhood, Mothering against the World." And we should all read Sophie's great, brief essay, "The Virus and the Home" where she states, "A quarantine is, in effect, an abuser's dream..." And here's her essay exploring the problems with Donna Haraway's Staying With The Trouble. Sophie is also a member of the Out Of the Woods Collective who you may want to look into. Finally, here's a good discussion between Sophie and Joanna Biggs.
• As a supplement to Sophie's essay read Des Fitzgerald's excellent short essay, "Stay The Fuck At Home," and Natasha Lennard's essay, "Domestic Violence Is on the Rise With Coronavirus Lockdown. The Responses Are Missing the Point."
• Assad Haider, who critiques the tensions between identity politics and class politics was on the show way back on AEWCH 26.
• And if you do want to hear about me talking Wilhelm Reich, here you go.
• Kate Bornstein (pictured below) is a gender/trans/queer elder and a kind and loving soul. Her most popular book is My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity
But for a more memoir-y work, check out A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology, and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today
• Someone once asked Mahatma Gandhi what he thought of Western civilization. “I think it would be a good idea,” he said. At least that's how the story goes.
• If you're unfamiliar with Sylvia Federici's work, it's useful to some, even if it deserves (serious and thorough) critique. Here's Daniel Denvir interviewing her on The Dig.
I've found Federici's work mostly uninspiring and overrated; her essays about witchcraft and magic go something like: "Capitalism disempowered witches, but I don't believe those people ever had power in the first place." But as you can hear from Sophie's take, Federici has been a huge figure for many leftists, and a sort of backdoor for some leftists into witchcraft (though mostly in an aesthetic sense). Some of my critique comes out on AEWCH 98 with Thomas Waters.
• Would you like to read (or re-read) "A Cyborg Manifesto" by Donna Haraway? Also, I enjoyed, though did not fully agree with her book, Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. And here's Donna's update on the book that Sophie found wanting,
• Alyssa Battistoni's essay about political organizing and disorganizing is "Spadework." And here's an interview with Alyssa - “Living Together Shouldn’t Put Us at War With One Another or With the Earth." And for work by Sophie's partner, Vicky Osterweil, go here.
• Sophie talks about abortion frankly and directly here.
• Here's Douglas Crimp's essay "How To Have Promiscuity In An Epidemic" and many of his other essays are collected in Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics.
• Sophie mentions, briefly, Ann Boyer. I have yet to read her book, The Undying: Pain, vulnerability, mortality, medicine, art, time, dreams, data, exhaustion, cancer, and care, but I'm excited to.
Until next time, friends,