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ONE: MEA CULPA, EMMA GOLDMAN
My dear friend Stench in Brussels excoriated (never typed that word before) me about my last blog. I mean he was OUTRAGED by my doubting the effect of the bottle-throwing/graffiti-writing activities in Portland -- and my linking anarchists with chaos.
I completely agree with PART of what he said, and I apologize to the spirit of Emma Goldman and all other valiant anarchists for equating anarchism with chaos. That was inexcusable sloppy thinking on my part, and shows my unconscious absorption of media cliches. I cannot believe, after being part of a study group on anarchism many years ago, I succumbed to this popular misconception.
It is true that now anarchy is commonly used as a synonym for chaos. And it is true that some anarchists DO believe in creating chaos. BUT this is the great Peter Kropotkin's definition of the POLITICAL THEORY of anarchism:
ANARCHISMis the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government — harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.
It's a beautiful, generous, radical, idea -- perhaps impossible to achieve. But it is NOT about creating chaos.
I think Emma Goldman is the best-known anarchist in this country's history. She was a great speaker and thinker and organizer. A great lover of humanity. Also just an amazingly honest and open person. I highly recommend her autobiography. She was deported in 1919, even though she was a citizen. That was at a very reactionary time.
Another inaccuracy in my blog was my concern with "chaos" when I was concerned in fact with "the APPEARANCE of chaos." I knew, from talking to my friend Kendall in Portland, that all the political action was in a very small area and the chaos-creating activity was only late at night. In other words, it just wasn't all that BIG --- nowhere near enough to claim that Portland was in chaos at ANY time.
But I still believe that in a Presidential election year -- let alone THIS year -- one should be careful about creating fabulous photo-ops for one's opponent.
In his email, Stench mourned the disappearance of the courageous radical Terry he once knew who marched as the sole member of the "Lesbians for Penetration" contingent at the Gay Pride Parade. I think the year was 1990.
Here's how it came about: In the old days of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, there were no corporations marching, no barriers between onlookers and marchers, and anyone could march with whatever contingent they dreamed up. Or by themselves. We would enjoy marching with a contingent a little way, then we'd spot a friend in the crowd, stop to talk, then jump into another contingent that might be passing.
Well, I got the idea for a "Lesbians for Penetration" contingent, which I thought was amusing and subversive. I assumed a lot of women would want to march with me, but I was shocked to discover that somehow I had stumbled on a taboo! Sure, a lot of
lesbians like penetration, but to say it in public? Forget it!
Nobody, even my housemate who was into SM, would join my contingent!
Every refusal was like a red flag to a bull. The more I knew I was blaspheming some antiquated concept of lesbians, the more I had to do it.
Imagine marching all by yourself and being met by an enormous joyous roar of laughter from over a hundred thousand people, as you move along. Only I didn't march. I pranced all the way down Market Street, from Castro to Civic Center. I danced, I leaped, I pirouetted. I waved my sign. I waggled the dildo coming out of my hat at the roaring crowd. It was perhaps the greatest performance of my life, and certainly my biggest audience.
But, Stench, it wasn't a POLITICAL act. It didn't take any courage on my part. I was just an exhibitionist with a subversive sense of humor. I hope I still am.
Having told you about my first boyfriend saving me from drowning, I went on Facebook to track him down and thank him for giving me a life beyond the age of 19. I sent him a message expressing my gratitude.
I don't do social media, but I went on it just now, and he has tried to contact me. Not sure if I'll respond.
Last night I watched "A NEW LEAF" on Youtube. I liked it very much. It's very funny, and the great thing is neither Elaine May or Walter Matthau ever play for laughs. They just play their CHARACTERS and they trust the humor will bloom, which it does. The climactic scene is when the hitherto selfish and unloving Matthau character saves the sweet, nerdy May character from drowning -- even though he has been plotting to kill her. It demonstrates that he has come to love her.
That was a MOVIE. Just a story. Jon did it for real.
I just never really got what he did. I had a sense of entitlement around me like a hardened shell, and I could not perceive the loving actions of others, even when someone was risking his own life to save mine. And I still have that shell or I wouldn't have insulted Jon in the blog, at the same time I described him rescuing me.
Whew. You know, the Black Lives Matter movement is causing memories to arise of incidents when I exploited my entitlement as a white person. And my Buddhist practice is making me aware of my GENERAL sense of entitlement. I feel kind of shaken. My image of myself might be shattering. It's scary and exciting.