here's the link to the playlist itself — see thread below for content notes if those are things you want/need!
i recently had a conversation with someone who had never even heard of Philip Glass and honestly? it was kind of refreshing
What straight people think we want: another gaybashing tearjerker
What we want: gay space rogues going on adventures, breaking gay hearts at every port
my co-worker's computer just updated and gave him a new background that's a giant sand dune and he turned around and showed me and my first instinct was to be like "oh! your computer has entered Numbers now!" but then i remembered that he is not familiar with Hebrew names for books of the Bible and thus would not get this Very Clever b'midbar joke so i decided to put it Here
it's like it was trying to be Spooky but then kind of ran out of steam and i'm right there with you bb
there is some ghostly Sad Calliope Music floating around our office with no discernable source and i . . . don't mind it
re: long post about politics, changing the world for the better, and existentialist/nihilist hope (with some animal death) Afficher plus
i want to talk about a parable that some of you have probs heard me bring up before, the parable of the starfish. as i understand it, this is a parable that was originally told by Loren Eiseley in 1969, tho i haven't read the original source, so his emphasis may be quite different than mine:
so there's a tropical island with a town on it, and one night there's a terrible storm. the next morning, the island's beaches are covered with stranded starfish, hapless red spangles as far as the eye can see. the sun is rising; the air is dry — before long the starfish are going to bake to death. one of the older townspeople is out taking a morning walk and sees a kid on a beach methodically picking up starfish and returning them to the sea.
"hey kid!", the older person says, "you're wasting your time! look at how many starfish there are — you're never gonna make a difference!"
and the kid turns and looks the older person in the eye, then very deliberately reaches down and returns another starfish to the sea
"i made a difference for that one.", the kid replies
i return to this parable over and over again, b/c the scale of the Work feels so daunting. there are so many aching places, so many injustices, so many threats to so many people. it feels impossible to start anywhere, b/c that means that there's somewhere else you're not starting. and what the starfish parable teaches is that that doesn't have to matter. don't worry about starting everywhere, just start *somewhere*. make a difference to one person, to one cause. do it again every day, or as often as you can
a small difference *is still a difference*. adding a little goodness to the world is still *adding goodness*. the lesser of two evils is still *less evil*. so pick somewhere and start. even if it feels trivial and inadequate in the face of Everything. pick somewhere and start. make the difference you can make. and sure, if you find a better thing to do, a More Important Good To Advance, start doing that instead! but don't wait until you find The Most Perfect Good, or you'll never start at all. Maya Angelou: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better."
i think many of us Feel Ready, like we're waiting for a Sign, for a Trumpet, for One Sweeping Moment where we will Answer The Call and join in one perfect action that will remake the world, a secular coming of the promised Messiah. but we're just idling till the call comes. there is no Messiah. there will be no Trumpets. there will be no Singular Moment, just a bunch of ordinary ones, one after the other, day in, day out, an eternal slide forward into continuous infinity
if you are waiting for a sign, this is it! if you are waiting for The Moment, this is it! the time is now! if you have not yet begun the Work, begin! start! find the difference you can make, however small, to bring goodness into the world. make a difference to *that one*. do it again tomorrow. make excellence a habit. act as tho a better world were possible, even if you don't believe it — the material difference you make will exist regardless of your feelings, your beliefs. it will *matter*. no one is coming to save us; we must do it ourselves
take care of yourself. take care of each other. do what you can with what you have to manifest the spirit that sees *all* life as precious and enacts that belief with a truly just an sustainable society of mutual interdependence. abolish capitalism
the alternative is death
long post about politics, changing the world for the better, and existentialist/nihilist hope Afficher plus
so i've been thinking a lot recently about sth i read a while back abt how protest is saying "pls don't do that!!!", while resistance is making it difficult/impossible to do the thing. (obvs these can overlap sometimes, but i think it's a useful distinction!) and that's been colliding with sth a friend on Twitter wrote a while back abt how often the best forms of political action are the ones that make a concrete, material difference even if no one notices yr doing them. in that protest usually needs media attn to work, where resistance doesn't. and then *that's* been colliding with this thread about the spirit that views some people as inherently worth less than others, the spirit that says only the suffering of the powerful matters: https://twitter.com/JuliusGoat/status/1047408836028588033 and that's all just been swimming around for the last couple of weeks and it's all coalesced around this question:
What are you going to do to materially alter the world for the better?
i don't want you to tell me your answer here. i don't want this to turn into a Who's The Most Activist Competition, and i don't want ppl who don't have the spoons to do more than survive to feel Judged And Shamed if they can't reply with Impeccable Actions and Transformative Deeds. but i do think it's important to spend some time and actually come up with an answer. don't just think about it as you read this and feel Vaguely Motivated. actually put your answer into words
What are you going to do?
some possible answers are probably fairly obvious. if you have money, donate. if you have time, volunteer. i'm not going to tell you where the need is most dire — the spirit of destruction is advancing on many fronts, and i think you could do worse than finding the corner nearest you, the issue that speaks to you, and starting there. find the work that your hands can do, and do it. you can always change course later if you learn more about the world and find a different Work you feel called to do. but start now; don't wait to be perfect
maybe instead you have words, noises, colors, art. i don't think art alone can save the world, but it can make people feel hope. feel joy. feel that someone else shares their numbing sadness. art can help make life bearable. it can leaven despair and give respite from struggle. those are no small things. the spirit of destruction wants us to be miserable, wants us to be in despair. fighting that misery, even temporarily, is a small and precious victory. it may not be permanent, it may be a band-aid, but here's the thing: band-aids stop the bleeding. they help protect an open wound
i don't think that life can be sustainably lived in a state of despair. i don't think life can be lived in a state of struggle only, not without burnout. this is going to be a long fight — there is no messiah, there will be no Revelation, no instant where the world is made anew, there's only the Work, the long arduous work of building a better world ourselves. i won't tell you not to feel despair. feel what you feel. but even if you feel despair, you can still act; if you can do sth that might shake another's despair, now would not be a bad time to do it
and maybe you have no money to give, and no time to volunteer, and no aptitude for art. reach out to the people you love and love them. hold space for them when they're on the rocks, and support them however you can. there is suffering on the small scale all well as the large
because ultimately the better world we're building will be a world of deep interconnectedness, a world of communities bound together in mutual support, where individuals are nodes in a web, not isolated self-sufficient atoms. we don't have to wait; we can start building it now. what can you do to strengthen the bonds of community, to shore up the relationships you have with those around you? individually, we are scattered, weak. collectively, we are mighty. when we come together, when we share each other's burdens, help carry our collective load, sometimes something remarkable happens where we rejuvenate each other, and together find a strength that we could never have found apart. when we take care of the people in our lives, it sometimes gives us the nourishment to reach out and do more, and even when it doesn't, well, we're still doing the Work, we're still saying to the spirit of destruction "not today. today you will not grind my friends and loved ones into dust, or not all of them, at least. today the people i can hold space for will have a burden that is somewhat lighter."
that's not nothing. to save one person (or help them save themself), to ease one desperate heartache, even if only temporarily — that is still a concrete change for the better. that is still a rebuffment to the spirit that would see us perpetually isolated, miserable, or dead
and maybe you don't have the spoons for any of this. maybe you genuinely can't do any of this. i won't presume to know your circumstances or say i have been exactly where you are, but i have been thru perilous waters of my own, where merely breathing took heavy conscious effort. it's rough. i'm sorry. i know that that's inadequate. i hope that you have people in your life to support you, and i hope that, however unlikely it may seem, whatever daunting things you're facing pass quickly. if all you can do is survive, then survive
because every day you're alive is a day you aren't dead. and that matters. it matters so tremendously much. believing that every life has value means believing yours does too. manifesting that belief in the world means manifesting it in your own life too. live. survive. endure.
i'm not here to tell you you're not doing enough. maybe you already are. maybe you're doing too much and are on the brink of collapse. or maybe you could be doing way than you are. i think many of us could be doing more, but ultimately that's between you and your conscience. are you doing enough in the face of concentration camps for children? are you doing enough in the face of a climate catastrophe 17 years away? in the face of international fascism? of entrenched white supremacy? of rape culture? of capitalism? of— of— of—? i don't know
i don't know what "enough" looks like. i don't know if "enough" is even possible for a human being. if we all gave everything and more than everything, i don't know whether it would be enough to redirect the world and build utopia. maybe the pessimists are right and it's already too late. maybe.
but maybe not. because i do know that doing something is better than doing nothing. that working towards justice is better than abandoning hope. that reaching out and increasing love, increasing joy, increasing Life wherever and however you can, on large scale or small — that is the Work. do what you can, where you can, how you can, and that will increase the odds that it *will* be enough, moreso than doing nothing will. do the Work that you find to hand, whether that's saving yourself or fighting the most powerful head-on. and even if, in the end, it is not *enough*, it will still have been *good*
those moments where you feel joyous, those moments where you feel fulfilled, those moments where you are alive? those are all facts, immutable and indelible. no power in the universe can change them. if you bring joy to another, it will always and forever be true that they were joyous. if you make the world kinder, not even a cosmic paroxysm can make it not have been kind. if you advance Justice in the smallest of things, that thing will always have been Just, at least in that moment
so do what you can, what you honestly can. i cannot tell you it will be enough, but it is far more likely to be enough than doing nothing is. and it will still have made the world better than it otherwise would be, better in ways that can never *not* have been, however briefly. so do the Work. because collective problems can only be solved by collective action, but at its heart, collective action is a bunch of individuals all acting together. it may not be enough, but it's all we have
What are you going to do?
hey uh, quick PSA, but "sound design" and "amplification" are Very not synonymous
i know i like to put on airs of being "classy" and a "serious composer person" but hot DAMN nothing gets me like a good whole-step modulation at the end of a pop song
parody lyrics idea: The Lady Is A Trans
Goodbye, Project Gutenberg Canada
long post about intersecting systems of oppression sparked by calls for scores from female composers Afficher plus
so sth has been crystalizing for me recently, and i want to write out my thoughts abt it to hopefully clarify my thoughts further
if you've spent much time around calls for scores for female composers, you probably know that they're bedeviled by issues of trans-inclusivity. sometimes that's b/c they're TERFy and exclude trans women, but more often it's b/c they don't seem to really . . . understand trans existence outside of a strictly limited binary. i've talked to a lot of competition administrators to ask whether nonbinary ppl can apply, and overwhelmingly the response i get is "oh yes! anyone who identifies as female is welcome!", which obviously isn't actually an answer to my question
so what would a fully trans-inclusive call like this look like? the answer that some people seem to be coming to is "a call for women, nonbinary people, and trans men — basically anyone who isn't a cis man". which like, ok. i can see where that's coming from. but there are several ways in which it's weird. for starters, it can put trans men in kind of an unenviable position of having to out themselves to submit to it, and it plays into the dynamic that lets DFAB people explore their gender freely while forcing DMAB people to choose demarcated boxes: a DFAB person can identify with their assigned gender, question it, see how it feels being a man for a while, move to somewhere neither male nor female, and return to femininity all without jeopardizing their ability to apply; a DMAB person has to be sure enough in themself to disavow their assigned gender to apply, and if they decide after further explanation that they actually *are* a man after all, they'd have to rescind their application. and that seems not great!
but more fundamentally, lumping everyone who isn't a cis man into a single category and treating them all as interchangeable, which also strikes me as Not The Best Practice. trans men and trans women actually have fairly different life experiences! many nonbinary people have fought *really hard* to establish the claim that they're Not Women, and lumping them in with a group that's treated as "women plus some other people i guess" again seems Not Super Great
so is the solution just to exclude nonbinary people and trans men from calls for scores aimed at redressing representational inequality??? i don't actually think so! but i do think it's . . . significantly more complicated than that
basically, i think what's happening is that there are two axes of oppression getting muddled up here. there's the gender axis, which *broadly* speaking divides ppl into "men" and "women" and treats men as superior to women (with a Big Footnote that there are non-trivial arguments to be made that the Mainstream Gender System in the contemporary United States is actually quite a bit more complicated than that, including categories like "failed man" and "failed woman"), and then there's another axis that we don't really have a word for (to my knowledge — one may exist in the literature!): whether someone is trans or cis. to save on typing, let's call it the sproink axis — broadly speaking, it divides people into "trans" and "cis" and treats cis ppl as superior to trans ppl. (and again, another Big Footnote here about the legibility of nonbinary ppl and whether or not we're a single category and whether or not we fall under the trans umbrella insofar as societal power dynamics are concerned)
now! these two axes are obviously pretty closely related! your sproink is obvs p dependent on your gender, and it's hard to totally tease out the effects of one from the other. but i think it's a useful framework to have, and i think the lacuna of language here significantly clouds a lot of discussion about this issue. (as an example: it seems Awkward to say that "trans men are marginalized because of their gender" because men *as a societal class* aren't marginalized by the gender axis. but like, trans men obviously face societal marginalization, and gender seems to be at the root of why? and i think really the answer is that no, it's not a matter of gender, it's a matter of sproink, but we don't have a word for that, and so we fall back on "gender" and get hopelessly confused. conversely, trans women are marginalized on account of *both* their gender and their sproink, and we call that transmisogyny)
and i think this is why these calls get so mired in conceptual difficulty: they're essentially trying to uplift the marginalized end of *two different axes of societal marginalization at the same time* without really realizing that that's what they're doing. it's like if there were a call for scores for "female composers and black composers" — obviously those aren't mutually exclusive categories, and also that framing raises questions about why those two groups specifically are being focussed on as opposed to other axes of marginalization such as class, sexual orientation, or dis/ability status
AND YET (and this, i think, is the crux of it): gender and race aren't actually unrelated to one another, even if we usually think of them as orthogonal. i'm not saying anything new or groundbreaking here — there's a long tradition of intersectional scholars/theorists/thinkers pointing out the ways in which black femininity and black masculinity are treated *very* differently than their white counterparts. (as tiny thumbnail examples: black women tend to be seen as stronger/much less susceptible to pain than white women, and black men are not treated as Intellectual Authorities By Default — see also just like, narratives around black criminality and the kinds of things that white teenagers can get away with that black teenagers get murdered for)
and this isn't unique to race! again, i take this to be a fairly standard understanding of dynamics of societal oppression: class affects one's ability to conform to gender roles, as does ability, as does sexual orientation, as does . . . everything. all of these axes may appear orthogonal, but they are all *inextricably intertwined*, with the result that focussing on any single one of them necessarily gives a distorted picture, since each one is affected by all of the others, albeit in ways that are often rendered invisible as part of the project of marginalization writ large
and the reason the case of gender and sproink is so fraught is that instead of appearing to be at 90º (and thus Basically Unrelated), gender and sproink appear to be at like, 1º (and thus Basically Indistinguishable). if, with gender and other axes of oppression, we can kind of Pretend They're Not Related, with gender and sproink we fundamentally Can't, but that breaks the Fundamental Conceit of the single-identity-based approach to combatting inequality and sends its philosophical underpinnings into a befuddled tailspin
i don't know what the answer is here! this is complicated and massive and messy. but i think what i'm moving towards is an increased skepticism towards approaches to addressing under-representation in the arts that rely on cordoning off and amplifying single identity categories. but i'm also not sure how i feel about that! b/c i love me a good trans cabaret, and i pretty firmly believe that people of color should have spaces without white people. so i guess i'm kind of . . . at an impasse, and i'm v curious how other ppl think abt this and square this circle. so, uhhhhhhhhh thoughts?
and that's the lot! (there are three other songs that we didn't do in this cabaret, and i have Rewrites Planned, so Stay Tuned For Further Developments!) i made the posts unlisted so i didn't clog up the public timeline, but the vids are all there individually if u just wanna retweet one song/sequence. enjoy!
"Passing" is a song about passing as cis that includes an implied sexual assault and murder as well as a fairly explicit suicide. "New Year's Eve" is a song about hope
"Negative Gender" is about genders that are defined in opposition to masculinity
"Life Thru Plexiglass" is about dissociation and picking at beard hairs with tweezers to the point of drawing blood. "touch me" is an *extremely* NSFW song about kinky sex as borderline self-harm
"Hey Sugar" is about unexpected side-effects of HRT. this song is mostly about food
I'm a writer, composer, and bassoonist with feet in both the classical and musical theatre worlds. In my free time, I am very gay. (they/them)
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