Saturday XXXXI: Love Among the Ruins • 16 February 2008

Solidarity is not a product of time: it’s a product of shared transformation. Religious people know this, and summer camp directors and fraternity presidents, and the higher-ups in a good social movement. There’s a paper I’m not writing (because you don’t expose your friends like that) on how leftist social movements generate passion and unity by creating risky scenarios in which members undergo a collective trauma. But it’s beautifully surprising to see solidarity generated—and quickly—not in a situation where the group is doing ecstatic ritual, or political protest, or overt initiation rites… but instead just getting together each day for introspection. But it happens—you don’t mean to, but you do bond with your fellow travelers on a Vipassana retreat. Mysore practice is a little sketchier—different start times, more chances to dislike others and less opportunity, perhaps, to bond. But what I have seen these past weeks and months—it is collective effervence of a rarefied… but also a practical everyday… sort. And its sweetness has increased as the time grew short. I bet that, now that it is done and the distillation continues in memory, and the water drains out of this fruit we’ve been harvesting, its little pulp will get even more sweet. I’m not a sentimental girl, not so much (though is that changing?); but I feel like it’s ok to build up a memory like this to strengthen your practice as it goes forward, for a time. And that these students will return to the dried-up fruit of our memories when we need to, to eat some of the preserves and hopefully take strength from them.

Also. We watched the saddest movie on Valentine’s and then I slept on the sofa because the Editor’s new cold was at the height of communicability. Sad Editor. The movie is not supposed to be sad because it’s full of postmodern distraction devices and features an insincere, dislikable protagonist. But the Editor is so sophisticated that such devices don’t throw him off and he still gets moved by the most difficult things. He's post-jaded. That’s the problem after you deconstruct everything except for your heart: EVERYTHING might just transport you.

That’s the thing, I guess. 

Ok. Headlines. This blog is trying to get a little more personal, so some of these are, again, from my life.

● I blogged something about all the sociology papers I’m not writing during my time here at Anonymous Corporate Studio—papers with titles like Appropriating a Lineage: Classification Struggle and Karma in Marketing Someone Else’s Guru (a Bourdieuian analysis); and When Hierarchy Breaks Down: the Unmaking of Social Status and Discrimination in a Contemplative Community. But then I was a good owl and I did not post that entry.

● Obama links for internet-heads. Otherwise they won’t really be funny. One. Two.

● The higher being Dharma Mittra (who has a superstitious side, you could say) has a newsletter I don’t normally read. But today the first paragraph is this: “The cosmic wheel is sending rampant changes to all. Chances are you are experiencing or contemplating massive shifts in your personal world. Embrace the movement and flow with the forces of nature to your new destination.” Ok then. So maybe I’ll read it.

● Saw Deena Metzger speak this week at a memorial for Anais Nin. Deena’s like the Topangafied Ana Forrest of the diary-writers Anais so inspired. Imagining their life—in Silverlake, during the most myopic and materialist American moment thus far, breaking rules and living by their art, creating new forms and wild unexpected friendships—this transported me. The social values that are sold to us are soul-crushing! Wake the fuck up! What about personal experience, community, art, life of the heart and life of the mind? Forget your car payment. Stop buying shit. Whole worlds in this city live by creation and connection. They were post-materialist 50 years ago… why aren’t we post-materialist now?

● Oh, and I just want to say that Anna is dear and sweet and softer the closer she gets. She is bringing big gutsy changes to her world and it was kind of amazing to have her breeze through my life not once but twice this week. Thank you, Anna.