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When talking politics with your barber: two postmortem reflections of mid-November.

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In the post-election political situation, you talk politics and political economy, the dynamics of globalization and the dejection of its discontents, with friends at bars and burger joints; with your barber at a morning haircut; with your parents over an innocuous cup of coffee. Shit is hitting the fan and people are beginning to realize that it is everywhere, flying into every corner of the room.

Trump is an utter reactionary. [This much is obvious – what does it mean?] What this means is that, while he represents the definite political form of the existing class society, he has managed to engineer – or rather capture, or buy – the political will of an inherently progressive force, the disenfranchised masses of the exploited and oppressed heaving in its Herculean effort to outgrow, to unburden itself of the bondage imposed on it by: neoliberalism, free-trade and globalization, Reaganomics, Clintonomics, Trumpanomics – shit, whatever contrived degenerate form of crony capitalism we can coin new discourses about in its present forms. Trump wants to rewind the manifest reality of globalization, like all of the other reactionaries. This is what is now called, “protectionism.” It stinks. What it is is basically the late neoliberal equivalent of populism in the so-called “first world”, the socioeconomically developed and “progressive” west.

[When I say “reactionary”, I also mean a tendency that verbalizes itself in much more pernicious and violent ways, which all are familiar with: misogyny, racism, xenophobia, etc. That this exists in all its dangers as a part of the reactionary tendency calls us urgently to attention; it is also orthogonal to the point I endeavor briefly here to make. Hence I mean “reactionary” here primarily in the narrower economic sense, and hopefully allow the reader to draw out any further conclusions.]

Justin Trudeau delivered an address – aired on the coattails of Obama’s first public election postmortem – where he detailed [“detailed” may be a strong word – “alluded to”] Canada’s plans following a meeting with a forum of international investors positioned to speculate on Canadian stability through infrastructure spending. Trudeau is advertising Canada as open to the world, rather than closed to it. “Privatize everything” – the natural pairing to deficit spending – co-definitive of Keynesianism and the neoliberal project. Neoliberalism failed, and everywhere in today’s reaction is its death knell. The IMF has declared that neoliberalism was a failure as a set of economic policies. At a summit of G20 leaders, Trudeau was practically laughed off stage for presenting Keynesian economic policies as an alternative to brutal austerity plus Keynesian economic policies: the two go hand-in-hand, the former alone a naive delusion in the global political and economic climate we live. So, Trudeau is nearly as stuck in the past as Trump. In terms of economic and foreign policy and trade relations, Justin is simply rehashing the role of his papa Pierre, while Trump and Theresa May may yet play the parts of Ronald Reagan and Margaret “the Iron Woman” Thatcher. We’ve seen this movie before. It’s not a happy ending.

[So we have a series of arbitrary, spectacular divisions erupting within the forces of reaction, where today’s progressives will likely tend towards the more palatable or clandestine form of reaction of a Trudeau, distancing themselves further from any progressive elements in the support of the disenfranchised masses swept away by populism. This lets the rot of reaction under the existing political system fester.]

The reason that this class is utterly unable to find a solution to today’s crisis is ultimately that that article which most upholds their power – that is, the political and economic principle of private property – is exactly the stricture which prevents the new society from outgrowing the old. All conditions of alienation in the presently existing system are conditions of the growth of the embryo of the new within the old (to recall some tried but true revolutionary imagery).

Power & Politics pundits pipe up over why the federal government should have to court and cajole private investors into investing. The market is wiser than the politik – bookies have been reported as having given better odds on a Trump win than the pollsters. Humanity is hopelessly lost-in-the-woods, an honest to God real fable of the Grimms, in navigating the management of financial markets, because the existing market society attempts to harness indeterminacy as an axiomatic reification [empty abstractions: a self-fulfilling prophecy, a matter taken as given by the economists and thus turned into economic reality]; that is, as an alternative to rational planning, the auto-correcting value of the dollar, which squares up omnisciently against commodity and labour markets alike. Capitalism, the existence of capitalist markets, means not knowing how markets work – not entirely, some degrees of knowing being better than others, which is why finance capital exists and speculation is profitable – while there is so much stuffy talk about its management, the “stuff” only of the propertied and privileged strata of society protected from the smog where outside we are suffocating, crushed, clamoring for the comfort of their abundantly overvalued houses.

Radical redistribution is the best we can aim for: free education for all and a guaranteed universal basic income. Otherwise we can continue to stalk political talk like reapers smoking cigarettes to mock death on the bosses’ time.

[The seizure of political and economic power notwithstanding.]

Leonard Cohen is dead and I pray for another poet. I pray, being an atheist, and mourn that poetry is nothing.

My Canada would soar into tomorrow like it tears through the sorrow of a dead poet. It would find poetry in the now and not neglect the reality that we live where the kingdom of death and nihilism encompasses all around.

captain of the silver team (a sonnet)

never was a piano player but
for keys unlocked in sleepless nights stars of
possibility. never was a star
but i was captain of the silver team.

never came back home very often but
never left much in return. and all that
i have, thoughts of whys, of being and time,
i have nothing, the nothing, to discern.

never was a creature of concern but
for every second that i lived. and now
when the thought of me vanishes, then, when
i wonder, how far i’ll have gone to go.

for never was that it ever will be
everywhere everything was becoming.

Escape Artist

I want to feel as free from my body

as porn stars feel when they fuck:

a performance automatic,

defensive detachment;

solipsism,

a survival tactic.

God sticking the invisible hand

down the pants

of the reproductive machines,

streaming commodity bodies and sex

sells fetish and fantasy:

the body,

a propaganda regime

for Freud’s psychoanalytic fever dreams.

I’m a narcissist,

drowning in my body

to remind myself I exist.

I’m an echo,

shouting after my body

when it won’t let me go.

Go blank in the eyes transcendent,

forcing sounds of satisfaction,

faking, presencing, substanceless,

repeat, repeat reactions;

a desiring-machine’s satisfaction,

staring blankly into the eyes of Being.

An escape artist so inconsequential –

all her audience,

a practice mirror,

like young dancers

partnered with all of their faults.

Body unfamiliar,

the Romantics had the answers

’till the art in nature died.

‘Till this body was so inscribed:

the mass grave of signifiers

with no transcendental signified.

Truth bona fide,

I am infinity inside –

the violence of metaphysics

met with the absent ‘I’;

an escape artist so inconsequential

he’s at his front door again,

forgot his keys,

again…

The category of the subject,

‘I’ am a body have a body

‘I’, tattooed, screwed up,

a smoker in slow motion suicide:

Death, the impossible possibility of,

‘I’, the homeless dwelling,

somebody silhouetted outside by the porchlight, ‘I’.

Such lovely shutters and large windows

and, oh – they repainted the front door.

Want to feel as free from my body

as the lucky who get shot in wars.

Tomb of the unknown soldier,

the most selfless bag of bones.

Anybody’s body

buying back the burial home.

Here’s to us when we’re alone,

the life and the death,

the dance,

the absence,

the nothing that’s left.

Here’s to eyes that never age

and hands that know how to touch.

Dead labour goes to the highest bidder,

his organs were harvested but he’s no quitter.

Body already expropriated private property,

death the only ‘I’ myself that belongs to me.

Philosophy causes cancer:

I spread the more I fall apart;

truth kills, so love’s the answer.

Want to feel as free from my body as Eucharist,

the animal cannibal ‘I’,

cannibalized,

a feast for the eyes of the narcissist,

‘I’.

Homo homini lupus, raw meat for the dogs,

an escape artist like Abraham’s only son

consumed for sons of gods.

Re-

A quick poem, from the author’s journal.

Repressing representations

repressed representatives

revolutionaries reprogramming

reprogrammed resistances

revolts resistors

resisting reductions

reproductive relations

related reproductions

refused regurgitated reborn.

Representing resentment

reappearing reactions

repetition repetition repetition

really really real.

Redescribing recreation

republic reassembled

redistributed

resignations resolved

resembling resolutions

repeating republic

republic

reimagined revelation

revelry revealed

reimagining remotely

related real realizations

reunifications

relatives reunions

reuniting recognitions

recognizing remains.

Real remains

remaining reimagined.

Real remains

relating relata

representing reproductive

repressing representations

repressed representatives

repossessing reprocessing

revolutionary recitation

reactionary regurgitation

reason revealing reality

receding relatively real

reterritorialization

resistance redefined

reproductive republic

republicking reproducers.

Real reaction

refute reason

repudiate representatives

representation reviled

relived recurrently

recurrent repetitions,

endlessly,

she said.

Gate C37 (Awake)

Lines composed while not sleeping during a layover at YVR. From the author’s journal…

GATE C37 (AWAKE)

awake but not alive.

fluorescent lights aglow

escalators go

faster as I approach;

as fast as regular speed.

fast enough to sweep away my feet.

sleepy me,

my sandbag eyes

cut curtains where saints go to die;

awake but not alive

in an empty airport, free

as you like,

a land between

all of the deaths

I have not yet,

and ‘I’.

in endless transit,

laying over,

from runway noise

to the hills at Dover;

awake but not alive

they take off for the lands of the dead,

while I twist,

while I turn,

and torture my neck

trying to rest my head.

restless as a restless grave,

a body without a soul to save.

after hours,

still

in motion,

half lonely ghost,

half hemlock potion;

half alive,

fully awake.

pray the ocean my soul to take.

pray death deny the man

a wake.