We must note that the old letters that Mrs Brabbam periodically reintroduces into her own mailbox so as to appear beloved by the external world, as Bradbury tells us, were stolen from Mrs Ortega, the Mexican woman who works in the grocery store. The example is always the problem for desire / love. Wailing and weeping make for a great spectacle, obviously. Oprah, Ricki, Maury, Montel, Jerry and the Vatican have all made great profits from them — especially women and children, please. We are these glassy lachrymatoria — our tear ducts are banks that weep out gold. Remember when the mourners at Kim Jong Il’s funerals were imprisoned for not crying sincerely enough? Tears for gold, asshole. Except, there was no gold. Tricked. Weepers should unionize. Therefore, I've been thinking some about the increasingly obsolete practice of moirology — the practice of hiring professional mourners. If you were a rich person, you’d pay someone some money to come and wail and beat their chests at your favorite corpse — your dead father, your dead uncle, your landlord etc. There are women who are hired to cry, wail, and lament for dead strangers — the rudaali of India, the crying women of the Philippines, the carpideria of Brazil. But how they cry for strangers, how they take their tears from some unknown place and give them to some unknown person, how they repeat their performance everyday — and they do this for pay — is nice to think about. Moirologists are paid for their memorialization. The performance of mourning is purely professional— a product of practice. I enjoy thinking about affective labor that is entirely for purchase, for sale. It gives me immense pleasure to know that crocodile tears can be swapped for some kind of purchase in identity politics, post-colonial mourning, whatever gets you the job. Can the subaltern cry wolf and get away with it? In other words, how much sincerity do you expect to get for an $18 SPD book? English Word List: Apocalyse Now / blockbusters / freak / redo / cut / recall / guy-next-door / remake / take-over / auto-remake / million dollar / plastic-playboy / clean cut / you-wish-girl-next-door / entertainment-existence / target removal / clean-up / footage / precogs / blackouts / mainstream America / “reverse-engineer” / deleted / neo-uncanny / pop / haunted / awesome / creepy / cool / vintage / fake/ cute / nice / counterfeit / memory fix / underground / cut-ups / cutters / delete / wipe out / erasing / Enter the Interzone / recovery / comeback / make-over / make-up / make-believe / brainwash / flashback / movie-sequel / credit history / reload / dreamand / waiting room / spooky place / middle-of-nowhere / outerspace / what-the-fuck / creepy place / Deadbeat No-Town. Where have we gone? / Replay / buffer zone / As Time Goes By / happyness / junkyard / clown / We Are The First Last people / mapping / Juke Box / cut down to size / Box / mailbox / Dead Letter Office / keep it going / cowboy / take over / enemy seizure / queer combination / information gathering / sexy / newsreels / straight man / will to cohere / recall / choice / post / happy few / mass media / Flash Back / Blast to the Past / Every image in front of your eyes / rememory / loop / culture-wise / film-loop / symposium of the Whole / displacement / hoax / big bang. Anyone who followed the controversy over the fictitious Gay Girl in Damascus blog, created by Edinburgh-based US grad student Tom MacMaster writing as Amina Arraf, might have despaired. Female, lesbian, Arab, and an anti-Assad protester, MacMaster’s Amina quickly became a posterchild of the Arab Spring for a wide swath of the liberal media and activist blogosphere. For those cognizant of contemporary critiques of homonationalism against the backdrop of pervasive homophobia, Amina’s dispatches from the frontline seemed a perfect embodiment of fantasies about the possibilities for progressive sexual politics in a time of revolution. MacMaster’s elaborate hoax was uncovered, in part, through information provided by a Paula Brooks, executive editor of the US-based lesbian and gay news site LezGetReal, with whom ‘Amina’ had been in contact. Thank fuck, I hear you say, except that Brooks was herself a fake identity created by Bill Graber, a 58-year old former air force pilot and retired construction worker based in Dayton, Ohio, who claimed to have been inspired to create his online avatar after a lesbian couple with whom he was friendly had been mistreated by an Ohio hospital. Convinced that the mainstream media did a poor job of representing LGBT folks, Graber created Brooks. Clearly more than lone eccentrics, the uncanny simultaneity of MacMaster and Graber’s performance as putatively liberal straight men getting off on playing spunky lesbians speaking truth to power begs a gigantic WTF?! In my favorite scene from Space Is the Place, you’re dressed in Egyptian finery, flanked by a pair of attendants wearing gold masks. One of them is Horus, the falcon-headed God. It is a very tripped-out scene, even for the time. You walk into an Oakland youth center. On the wall are posters of various Black Panthers — there’s a pool table and a jukebox. The kids who are hanging out stare wide-eyed in disbelief. Sun Ra: They ask me, “Are you for real?” Bob: And you gently lecture them: “I’m not real, I’m just like you. You don’t exist in this society. If you did your people wouldn’t be seeking equal rights. You’re not real. If you were you’d have some status among the nations of the world. So we are both myths. I do not come to you as a reality, I come to you as the myth because that is what black people are — myths. I came from a dream … dreamed long ago. I’m actually a presence sent to you by your ancestors. I’m going to be here until I pick out some of you to take back with me.” Shoot out the lights.
[Note: Sources: Heriberto Yépez, The Empire of Neomemory (trs. Jen Hofer, Christian Nagler, and Brian Whitener); Lauren Berlant, Desire / Love, at punctum books; Divya Victor, as quoted in “The Next Big Thing: Divya Victor”, at Give a Fig, 7 Feb 013; Rahul Rao, “Sour Lips: A Review”, at The Disorder of Things, 8 Feb 013; Bob Nickas, “Komp- / Laint / Dept. / It’s After the End of the World”, at Vice, 7 Feb 013; Richard and Linda Thompson, album title]