ish I read this week(ish), vol. 1 : november 30, 2019

Good afternoon, beloveds!

So, I hadn’t picked up a book for a few months before the beginning of this one, depressed and preoccupied with looking for a job as I’ve been. Around the Witches’ New Year I started to move out of that deep oceanic depression and into a cosmic microwave background radiation depression: still here, but less detectable under average conditions. That opened the floodgates for me to finish a whole slew of books I’d been unable to before, making this edition particularly literature-heavy. Enjoy.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from A Secret World by Peter Wohlleben (Greystone Books, 2016).

If I needed more convincing that the human/animal monopoly on sentience is a myth, this book would have pushed me over the edge. As it is, I had my understanding of the Earth as a vast interconnected web of life reinforced by these stories of tree solidarity and family. And I am now immersed in the idea of living on tree time, which is also crip time and CP time and queer time, and trying to hold space for myself to build myself and my body of work slowly. Slow growth equals strength, despite what capitalism might want us to believe. The trees know, y’all.

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018).

Speaking of crip time. Leah, I am so grateful for this offering of yours. (I know they aren’t here, but I’ma speak it to the Universe.) It took me a while to finish this because it is a hard read in ways, as someone who has longed for disability community since I was a crazy achy teenager, because it is full of such beautiful stories of us taking care of each other in the most radical and revolutionary ways. But while I was making my way through those feelings of–let’s be honest, jealousy–I was also doing the work of finding and creating that community that I was longing for. Like now, I’m a member of the Los Angeles Spoonie Collective, and I’ve met so many other amazing disabled activists and friends. That’s in part thanks to Leah’s work. There is so much goodness in here, on femmes and suicide, on access intimacy, on building disabled community and care networks… just, yeah. Get it if you haven’t already. It’s on sale right now via the link up top, so hurry!

The Inheritance Trilogy: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, The Kingdom of Gods, and The Awakened Kingdom, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit, 2014).

Oh. My. Gods. So. I am a huge fan of N.K. Jemisin’s work. We read her short story Walking Awake in my Afrofuturism class at UCLA, and I fell in love with the Broken Earth Trilogy shortly thereafter. I got How Long Til Black Future Month on a Kindle deal and of course loved that, but I’d been broke so I hadn’t been able to buy this series or her other duology. But I realized I could check out the e-book from my library recently, so I did, and… oh my gods. I devoured it. The series is about a planet that is kinda Earth-like, but there’s gods. Like, in human form, in non-human form, living among them and doing god shit. The mythology is beautiful, especially the idea of the Three: this trinity/godhead that consists of a goddess, a god, and a genderfluid being that can be either a goddess or a god depending on how they feel. I’m not at all doing it justice. You should just read it.

Vanessa Barbara: “Early to Bed, Early to Rise Makes Me Exhausted, Depressed and Sick.” The New York Times, 28 Oct 2019.

Mx. Barbara’s story is a perfect example of how capitalism forces us to sacrifice our bodies and minds in favor of fitting into an arbitrary 9-to-5 schedule. I don’t have delayed sleep phase syndrome, but I do have disabilities that prevent me from being able to get out of the house earlier than noon reliably. I’ve often lamented how much more productive I’d be if I was allowed to just do what my bodymind needed. This quote sums it up:

Here’s the thing, though. If left to our own devices — if allowed to follow our own biological clocks — we sleep just fine.

Individuals with extreme cases of the syndrome are unable to work conventional jobs. We are also famously unreliable at keeping appointments and participating in diurnal social activities. We learn to make excuses and tell lies. I often say that I work nights, which is true — it’s just not the whole story. Most people respect work-related excuses, but sneer at health conditions they’ve never heard of.

That’s the worst thing about having a circadian rhythm disorder: living in a society that places a moral value on the time your alarm clock goes off. Most cultures emphatically equate early rising with righteousness: As we say in Brazil, “God helps those who wake up early.”

Jessica Jurnigan: “Binding Harm: Generations of Witches Intertwine Rituals and Activism.” Bitch Media, 18 Nov 2019.

So, I don’t know how I feel about the subjects of this article–Starhawk and Amanda Yates Garcia–because there is so much about white witchcraft that tends to be appropriative. The last time I engaged with Starhawk’s work I was in my teens, and much less militant, and I have only heard of Yates Garcia in passing prior to reading this. That said, I was nodding my head YES to so much in this essay. I am a witch because I understand that all systems of oppression are related, because I understand that the continued separation of our bodies from our minds and from Creation is crucial to the colonial-capitalist project. Crip/CP/queer/tree time is in the same radical, anti-oppressive tradition as Yates Garcia’s witch time:

Witch time is Earth time—Earth and its relationship to other planets in our solar system, its relationship to the universe… It’s not this urgent schedule based completely on your productivity and your ability to reproduce capital.

See? YES. I am in a constant practice of listening to the Earth, listening to our collective bodymindsoul and my own, and prioritizing those flesh-and-dirt needs over the dictates of ableist capitalism. That is my everyday magic.


That’s it for this edition, thanks for reading! I hope y’all are having a great weekend.
xo

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