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The visible world is merely their skin.

Altogether elsewhere, an interlocutor described the work of someone whom I haven’t read, for reasons, as, and I quote, “filmic and competent and all surface. And all the epigraphs only makes things worse,” and I know, I know, it has nothing to do with me, per se, but still: I felt so seen. —I do wonder, sometimes, as to how and why and the extent to which I’ve decided that the thing-I-do-with-prose should be so devoted to things prose is not supposed to do, but it’s like they say: anything worth doing is worth doing backwards, and in heels. [Strides off, whistling “Moments in the Woods.”]


I might’ve made a mistake when I began the thing-that-argues. —Because I could not hear myself constantly and on a regular basis referring to Jo as a white woman (or, God forbid, a White woman), it would not be fair to single out Christian, say, by referring to him as a Black kid, or to Gordon as a black man.

Because I would not mark all of them, I could not mark any of them, so as to mark them all the same. The logic’s ineluctable.

But, you know. Logic.

I used to say that I didn't capitalize Black because I didn't want to have to capitalize White, but the "because" clause there was a mistake, an error in reasoning and logic.

It’s not just a matter of black, or Black, and white, of course. —How would you go about marking Ellen Oh? Would you say she is Korean? Even though she was born in Alabama, and most of her family hasn’t lived in Korea for a couple generations now? (Can you specify to any useful degree the differences in appearance between all possible individuals whose forebears might at one point have been sustained by that mighty peninsula, and the appearances of anyone, everyone else, that would render such a marker immediately perceptible, and adequately useful?) —You might perhaps think “Asian” to be an acceptable compromise, as a marker, but look for God’s sake at a map: Asia’s everything east of the Bosporous. How staggeringly varied, the appearances of everyone from there, to there! Worse than no mark at all, distorting marker and marked, and to no good or necessary purpose.

(The Ronin Benkei was flatly Japanese, even though Farrell was much too polite ever to notice more than a few echoes of classical Japanese manners in the gestures of Julie Tanikawa, whom he never heard swear in Japanese, except that once, for all that she spoke it as a child, with her long-dead grandmother.) (And as for Brian Li Sung—oh, but comics have their own markers, at once far more persnicketily precise, and yet so roomily ambiguous, and I’ve said too much.)

It’s not that the characters aren’t marked at all, of course: just not with such totalizing, reductive, contingent signs. Everyone’s described in much the same manner: their clothing, the way they carry themselves, their hair, how they say the things they say, the way the light hits them (the visible world being merely their skin)—the hope, of course, being that these pointilist details will accrete into a portait in the reader’s mind—inaccurate, perhaps, at the start, but resolving over time toward something more and more like what’s intended. (—Or, to be precise, what’s needed to make what’s intended work; this is imprecise stuff, this work, but really, think about it: how could even a single person, that is so large, ever fit within a book that is so small?)

But what does such a cowardly refusal on the part of the narrative voice, to plainly mark what any other medium would’ve plainly marked, by virtue of not being limited to one word set after another—what does this do to a reader’s relationship with the portrait they’ve been assembling when it suddenly must drastically be rearranged, after thousands upon thousands of those words? (I mean this at least is gonna hit a bit different than Juan Rico offhandedly clocking himself in a mirror on page two hundred and fifty.)

But let’s turn it around a minute: is it my fault if you didn’t assume from the get-go that an un(obviously)-marked character in a novel written by a white man, in a rather terribly white idiom, set in one of the whitest cities in the country—is it on me if you’re the one who assumes, before you’ve been told, that this character’s clearly white?

“White culture, should I capitalize it? My solution is to only use it as the first word of the sentence, so that you can't ever know which one I think is the correct answer.”

My own take on the question of the moment, or at least of the moment when I began sketching this out (though I’ve been thinking about something like it for a while now; it might’ve been the foreword of the third book, had anything coalesced in time)—my own take is not unlike what’s laid out by Angus above: because I would not dignify the constellation of revanchist grievances, the cop’s swagger and the supervisor’s sneer, that make up the bulk of what passes for the race I could call my own—because I would never capitalize that—well. Logic demands. Right?

But it’s ad fastidium, is what it is. —I could bolster it with an argumentum ad verecundiam, by turning to what Delany’s said, on his own perspective on the subject, bolstered in turn by Dr. DuBois’:

—the small “b” on “black” is a very significant letter, an attempt to ironize and de-transcendentalize the whole concept of race, to render it provisional and contingent, a significance that many young people today, white and black, who lackadaisically capitalize it, have lost track of—

Oh, but that was written in 1998, which is further away than it seems. Which is not to say anything’s changed, good Lord, I wouldn’t know, I only ever had breakfast the one time with the man, and we mostly talked about Fowles. But then, there’s this, from 2007, or 2016, depending:

“And those aren’t races. Those are adjectives of place—like Hispanic. And Chinese. Caucasians are people from the area in and around the Caucasus Mountains, which is where, at one time—erroneously—white people were assumed to have originated.”


“And that refers to the language spoken. So it gets a capital, like English and French. There is no country—or language—called black or white. Or yellow.”

But when he told this to a much younger, tenure-track colleague, the woman looked uncomfortable and said, “Well, more and more people are capitalizing ‘Black,’ these days.”

“But doesn’t it strike you as illiterate?” Arnold asked.

In her gray-green blouse, the young white woman shrugged as the elevator came—and three days later left an article by bell hooks in Arnold’s mailbox—which used “Black” throughout. He liked the article, but the uppercase “B” set Arnold’s teeth on edge.

And yes, it’s much the same argument! But it sits very differently, with different emphases and outcomes, when it comes from the mouth of Arnold Hawley, such a very fragile man—not Delany’s opposite, no: but still: his reflection, seen in a glass, darkly, as it were.

(Everyone knows there is no country called black, or language. What capitalizing the B presupposes is: maybe there is?)

But my own take on whether to capitalize “black” has no bearing on the thing-that-argues—in part because I’ve short-circuited it entirely, yes, but also and mostly because none of the people in it give a damn what I think, nor should they: the thing-that-argues, when it turns its attention to any such matter, should only ever care what it is they think, and how, and why: Christian thinks of himself as a Black man, for all that Gordon sees him as a black boy; H.D. sees herself as a Black businesswoman, concerned as she is with Black businesses; Udom, the new Dagger, still thinks of himself as from Across-the-River, though he knows most everyone these days sees him as one of the Igbo; Zeina, the new Mooncalfe, would probably say she’s black, or crack a bleak joke about Atlantis, and drowned mothers-to-be, or maybe she’d punch you, I don’t know; and Frances Upchurch (though that is not her name) would tell you exactly what you’d think she would, and never you’d know otherwise. —And each of them must be able to believe what they believe, to fight for it, or change their minds, without ever having to worry about some quasi-objective narrative voice thinks maybe it knows better blundering up to flatly gainsay them, this white voice in a terribly white idiom telling each and every reader that this was said by a Black man, or that was thought by a black woman, tricking these readers, every one, into thinking they maybe know what the author thinks—or worse, what the thing-that-argues thinks—and thus, what ought to be right, and further thus, who should be, could be, must be wrong. —And this understanding extends to all things.

(The narrative voice of Dark Reflections does not capitalize “black,” when referring to jeans, or to people, and so we can think we know what the author thought just a few years ago, or at least his copyeditor.)

So maybe I made a mistake at the start of it all. But there was thought behind it? At the start? Reasons to have done it, not that those are a guarantee of any God damn thing. —Maybe I’d do it differently, I were setting out today. Maybe I still regret using quotations marks, or writing it down as “Mr.” instead of “Mister.” But here we are.

There is a strength in writing as a fool, you do it right. Talking outside the glass. The room, that negative space affords, for the characters, for the story, for the readers (or so I tell myself, but I am a fool)—there’s power, in setting a taboo like this. You may not talk inside the glass, but still: you spill enough words, the shape of the glass can start to be made out.

Move fast; break things.

One is not unaware of a certain disgruntlement in certain quarters regarding a certain operation to which one has recently bound oneself; one looks at the one hand, one looks at the other, one manages a shrug of a bromide, life is compromise, I don’t know. It’s another of those situations where the structure is such that your choice or my choice can’t make a dent in the structure, but it’s all the structure will afford any one of us. They’re burning the postal service to the ground to steal an election—you maybe wanna buy a book? Could help pass the time until a general strike’s declared.

More numbers.

So I sold a copy of the new book through Amazon a couple-few days ago, for eighteen dollars. —I made forty-three cents.

Publishing is hard, y’all.

Despite recent movements advocating pushback against Amazon, most people in the United States maintain a favorable view of Jeff Bezos’ “everything store.” Peter Hildick-Smith, president of book audience research firm Codex, says that this includes most people who frequent independent shops; just over three-quarters of that cohort also use Amazon, at an average of five times a month, according to a 2019 survey. Even among bibliophiles, Hildick-Smith says, “It’s not as if everybody’s saying, ‘Gosh, I really don’t like Amazon. I don’t shop there’.” The result? “A very skewed market.”

When I first started putting this thing out in books (as opposed to words, or ’zines), I went with CreateSpace, because it was there, and because you could give them a PDF and some money and a couple days later you’d have a book-shaped stack of paper, neatly bound—

The author, with two of his books.

—which was a neat-enough trick, even if the paper’s a whit too glossy, and the cover a touch too stiff, to feel quite right in the hand, and every now and then you get a copy with sixty some-odd pages of the Petrisin Guide to Taking CLEP Exams stuck in the middle.

But even then, CreateSpace was being bound ever more tightly to Amazon, and now it’s been utterly subsumed, it’s gone; it’s nothing but Kindle, all the way down. —And if Hildick-SmithThe Amazon edition. had a hard time finding bibliophiles who don’t like Amazon, well, he didn’t talk to very many booksellers, or librarians.

If you spend eighteen dollars to buy the old CreateSpace Amazon paperback edition of “Wake up…”, published by and distributed by and pretty much only sold by Amazon, well, Amazon pays me four dollars. I can buy an author’s copy for six dollars and eighty cents, so we’ll take that as their basic cost to print; eighteen minus four minus six point eight leaves seven dollars and twenty cents for Jeff Bezos’ pocket.

The numbers for the new, Supersticery Press edition shake out a bit differently: published by me, printed by IngramSpark, distributed by Ingram, available to be sold by just about anyone who buys books wholesale from Ingram.The Supersticery edition. The wholesale price is forty-five percent of the list price, or seven dollars and sixty-five cents. It costs seven dollars and four cents to print a copy; IngramSpark then credits my account with sixty-one cents. Profit!

But there’s fifty-five percent of the list price left over: nine dollars and thirty-five cents. And that goes to whomever sells the book. Me, for instance, if you buy it direct. Your local bookstore, which you can do through IndieBound, assuming your local bookstore participates—even if they don’t have it on the shelf when you order. —Or, y’know, Jeff Bezos, I suppose. If you wanted.

Or if you buy a copy through Bookshop.org—which you can do with the click of a mouse or a tap on the screen—ten percent of the list price, or a dollar seventy, goes into a pool that every six months gets divvied out to bookstores in the American Booksellers Association; another dollar seventy goes to whomever gave you the link to Bookshop (like me, if you buy through this). (If it’s an ABA bookstore that gives you the link, they get twenty-five percent, not ten: four dollars and twenty-five cents.) —And you’ll notice you’re not paying full price, which is another thing a retailer can do with that fifty-five percent.

(Of course, there’s still anywhere from two dollars and four cents to four dollars fifty-nine cents going into Bookshop.org’s pockets, but they have expenses, and it’s okay, they’re a B-corp, and also capitalism.)

I’ll probably keep the Amazon editions around; I’m mildly amused by the mild confusion, and anyway to shut them off I’d have to figure out which website I’m supposed to log into now and what my password was or is or ought to be, and who has the time. —What’s also amusing to me, with Amazon, is of course they carry the new editions, of all three books (they carry everything Ingram distributes, because why not), but: you wouldn’t know it from search results, or looking at my Amazon author page. You can only find the Amazon editions for the paperbacks of the first two, but! Amazon makes more money off the editions that aren’t theirs: two dollars and fifteen cents more, per copy.

Well, anyway. I chuckled. Mordantly, but.

Grimly rarebit—

sadly and but lovely relevant. [via]

Farm team.

Aw, hey, Trump and Barr needn’t‘ve worried; Portland’s finest can bring it all on their own!

Portland police smash window, slash tires of woman’s Prius during protest dustup.

Go. Move. Shift.

Photo by by Benjamin Brink.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit Portland, the city substantially cut back on camp sweeps to allow people experiencing homelessness to shelter in place. With sweeps on pause, camps have popped up in unusual places, and some have grown.

Over at Street Roots, a photo gallery, of some of the things people can do when they have to do for themselves. —Meanwhile, in LA:

On July 31, the Friday night that California became the first state to surpass 500,000 Coronavirus cases, members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) threw a party.

And of course it was crowded and indoors and without masks, because these are cops, but what on earth is the connection, you might well ask?

The gathering also comes just ahead of what UCLA Law Professor Emeritus Gary Blasi calls a “tsunami of evictions,” which, in Los Angeles, will be carried out by the Sheriff’s Department. The California Judicial Council recently advised that the temporary emergency rules preventing pandemic evictions could expire as soon as August 14.

Some residents don’t have to wait for “UD Day”—the resumption of evictions—to have their shelter disrupted by LASD. In response to the reports of the “LASD party,” LA Postmates Girl tweeted: “Conveniently, a massive homeless encampment that had been in front of #Sassafras for months (started when COVID hit) was just cleared up YESTERDAY.”

KNOCK.LA spoke with an unhoused resident who’d been displaced by the sweep.

“I used to stay right in the bar, I never got any notice, they woke me up at 7 a.m., and told me that I had 15 minutes to get out of there or they were gonna bulldoze my whole place, my whole structure,” the resident said. “They did it, they bulldozed the whole thing. And now they’re having a party.”

He continued: “The only encampments they destroyed were a few of them across the street, mine, and my neighbors right next door. And then one block up, they’re fine. They didn’t touch that at all. It’s crazy. And that bar’s been abandoned, and nobody’s been there at all for two months. All of a sudden now tonight they’re having a party, the day after they kicked me out. They were like, ‘yeah, they need this open now.’”

ACAB. Abolish prisons. Defund all cops. Policing delenda est.


On Friday, the federal moratorium on evictions in properties with federally backed mortgages and for tenants who receive government-assisted housing expired. The Urban Institute estimated that provision covered nearly 30% of the country’s rental units.


By one estimate, some 40 million Americans could be evicted during the public health crisis.

Annie Nova

Facing evictions.

While the majority of Americans continue to stretch paychecks and unemployment aid amid the coronavirus pandemic, Jeff Bezos added a whopping $13 billion to his net worth in just a single day.


With many Americans trapped at home amid the global pandemic, Amazon has seen a surge in usage. Government-mandated business shut downs as well as the fear of spreading and catching coronavirus have prompted many citizens to turn to online shopping more than ever.

Jessica Schadebeck

Go, find an envelope. Scribble on the back of it. The population of the City of Seattle stands at 744,949, as of 2018. Let’s make the math easier: call it 750,000.

Average household size in Seattle is in the neighborhood of 2.12 persons per: 353,774. Again, in the interest of ease, and spotting the house, let’s call it 355,000 households.

Percentage of households renting in Seattle: 54%, or 191,700; let’s say 192,000.

Percentage of renters in the State of Washington uncertain about making rent in the pandemic, and facing eviction: 28%, per the map above. If we apply it to our estimate of Seattle’s rental households, 53,760—oh, hell. Let’s spot the house again. 55,000.

Average monthly rent in Seattle, as of June 2020: $2,200.

$2,200 times 55,000 equals $121,000,000, to keep the entire City of Seattle safe from eviction for one month.

Thirteen billion dollars, divided by one hundred twenty-one million dollars, equals one hundred seven months of rent for those facing possible eviction in the City of Seattle.

One day’s market fluctuation for one Jeff Bezos equals nine life-changing years for over a hundred thousand people.

We’ve raised over $300,000 within 21 days and frankly, this is too much money to reasonably spend. No single organization needs this much money to make a difference.


Every billionaire in this country is a failure of policy.

Every billionaire in this world is an affront to God.

Our crisis is a brand.

Secretary, we were just going through the situation in Portland. I want to get to the other major cities of our country and the violence happening there, but why can’t—before we finish on Portland, why can’t you just arrest the leadership in Portland because of their ignoring what’s really happening on the ground?

Well we absolutely are doing that. So we’re working with the FBI there in Portland, the US Attorney’s office there in Portland to address the leaders that are organizing this and then going after them. We’re also making arrests every night. We made more than seven or eight arrests last night and we’ll continue to do that, we’ll continue to hold these criminals accountable. If the city government won’t, the federal government will hold these folks accountable.

Leave aside for just a moment the head-spinning question of whether Chad Wolf ever got it through his five o’clock Michael Bay former-lobbyist shadow that the Fox News anchor meant arresting the Mayor, and the City Council, and not the good folks running Riot Ribs—isn’t it astonishing just how many constitutional crises we can be teetering on the brink of, these days? And never manage to tumble over?

ACAB. Feds GTFO. Defund the police. DHS delenda est.

Messrs. Underhill.

Knowing as you must of my interest in all things psychoceramic, and my professional investment in one small corner of the field, and knowing as you might of the longstanding similarities between stories of alien abductions, and stories of fairy kidnaps (previously commented upon by among others Jacques Vallée, who was played by François Truffaut in Close Encounters of the Third Kind), well: you can then imagine the thrill that passed through me when I learned that the zelyonye chelovechki, or “Little Green Men”—unidentified alien soldiers in green camo who first popped up all over Ukraine during the 2014 annexation of Crimea—were also known to those invaded as vezhlivye lyudi: the “Polite People.”

Lownsdale Chapman Square.


CLOSE UP to the front row. CAMERA FOLLOWS.

It is oh-dark-thirty.

He closes up the plywood over the front doors.


LGM 1 nods toward WOLF

(sotto voce)
So who is that?

Lemme' have your attention for a moment.


’Cause you're talking about, what you're talking about, bitching about that bust you shot, some son of a bitch don't want to do what he's told... somebody don't want to respect you, some broad you think you got a chance with, so on, let's talk about something important.
Are they all here?

All but the FBI.

(checks watch)
Well, I'm going anyway. Let's talk about something important.

LGM 2 gets up, walks to a rack of rifles and flash-bangs and grenades. He starts to take a grenade.

Put. That tear gas. Down. Tear gas is for closers only, you think I'm fuckin' with you, I am not fuckin' with you: I'm here from DC, I'm here from Trump and Barr... and I'm here on a mission of mercy...
(he checks notes)
You're with BORTAC? You call yourself a cop, you son of a bitch...


LGM 1 gets up, starts for the plywood over the front doors.

I don't gave to listen to this shit.

You certainly don't, pal, ’cause the good news is: you’re fired.
The bad news is you got, all of you've got just one week to regain your jobs. Starting with tonight. Starting with tonight's riot... Oh: have I got your attention now? Good. ’Cause we’re having a little contest. And the fellow with the highest body count wins first place. First prize is a brand new Silverado. You wanna' see second prize?

He reaches into his briefcase, takes out a cheap contraption of camo webbing and pouches.

Second prize is a tactical diaper bag. Third prize is you're fired. You get the picture, are you laughing now? You got violent anarchists coming at that door, seventy-two minutes, Trump and Barr paid good money, get their names, to bust them. You can't bust the anarchists you're given, you can't bust shit, you are shit... hit the bricks, pal, and beat it ’cause you're going out.

The intel's weak.


The intel's weak! The fuckin' intel is weak? You're weak. I been in this business fifteen years.

What's your name?

Fuck you, that's my name. You know why, Mister? ’Cause you drove an unmarked van to get here tonight, I flew a Sikorsky S-76. That's my name, and your name is you're wanting, and you can't play in the man's game, you can't bust them, then go home and tell whoever the fuck your troubles. Because One Thing Counts in This Life: Get Them to Kneel on the Sidewalk Before You. You hear me, you pieces of shit...? I know your war stories. I know the bullshit excuses that are your lives. What do you know...? What do you know...

He starts to write graffiti on the marble wall of the lobby.


writes huge in chalk: "A.B.C."

A. Always
B. Be
C. Cruel, Always Be Cruel


Always Be Cruel.
Attention, Intimidation, Detonation, Arrest.
Attention: Do I have your attention!
Intimidation: Are you intimidated? I know you are, because it's fuck-or-walk: you bust or you hit the bricks.
Detonation: Are you ready to blow shit up for Christ?
and Arrest?
A.I.D.A. Get out there, you got the anarchists coming in. You think they came in to get out of the pandemic? A guy don't link arms on the line ’lest he wants to get busted: They're sitting out there, waiting to give you their dignity... You gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it?

The first duty.

Past his sell-by Acting Secretary Chad Wolf
addresses our Vezhlivye Lyudi.

Some additional context.

For years, the Portland Police and the Department of Homeland Security have worked with fascist and far-right organizers to coordinate their demonstrations and facilitate their violence against anti-racist and anti-fascist counter-protesters as well as the general public. In June 2018, DHS worked directly with Gibson to plan a rally in downtown Portland during which fascists were permitted to attack counter-demonstrators with impunity. In early 2019, texts between far-right leader Joey Gibson and members of the Portland Police Bureau came to light, revealing that the police were feeding Gibson information, letting him know when his colleagues that were on probation needed to lay low, and informed him in advance about anti-fascist events and activities. Police faced no consequences for this.

a joint statement by It’s Going Down and Crimethinc.

Some further context:

Before federal officers started dragging people into unmarked vans, PPB was pulling civilians out of their cars if they drove too close to the protests.

Tuck Woodstock

And but also:

Promised Land.


Standing figures of a pioneer family, circa 1843. The parents stand to the back and their son stands between them in front. The father is bearded and wearing a long-sleeve shirt, trousers with suspenders and mid-calf boots. He points with his proper right hand and his proper left arm is around his wife, who wears a long prairie dress shawl, and apron. Her hair is in a bun, and she holds a doll to her chest in her proper left hand. The boy wears trousers with suspenders and his shirt sleeves are rolled up. He holds a Bible in his proper right hand, against his proper right leg. A wagon wheel and leaning rifle stand behind the father figure.

In conclusion: ACAB. Abolish prisons. Defund the police. ICE delenda est.

Always already again, again.

So that’s the choice we face, my fellow Americans: between freedom and opportunity or socialism and decline. And I have no doubt, as all of us do all that we can, even in these challenging times between now and November 3rd, we’ll see our way through. We’ll be there for our neighbors and friends, we will heal our land, and then we will win a great victory for freedom and our very way of life. And with President Donald Trump in the White House for four more years, we’ll make America great again, again.”

Again, again.


A thread about the civil suit brought in the Southern District of New York by the Bronx Defenders, the Legal Aid Society, the Brooklyn Defender Service, the Queens Defenders, the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, and the New York County Defender Service against the Office of Court Administration and Chief Administrative Judge of the Unified Court System Lawrence K. Marks, regarding ill-conceived efforts to proceed with in-person court appearances during a raging (and accelerating) pandemic (a subject, you must understand, that I take somewhat personally), anyway, this Twitter thread rather rapidly dissolves as random people leap in to shout BUT OUR KID’S or But let’s send kids to school, which is just barely topic-adjacent, if you squint in the right and most generous light, but even so it’s so much static, record-scratch catchphrases shouted at random (pro? or con?) because maybe they just might stick to the protein coating of the thread, much like the more obvious ejaculates of yore: BUT HER EMAILS; nevertheless, she persisted; ah, well, nevertheless. —I never much liked the Darmok episode of Star Trek, but I gotta admit: if you want Shaka, when the walls fell, welp: this is how you get Shaka, when the walls fell. —Or Ascians. I bet we end up Ascians.

Speaking of self-publishing—

—as we were:


I’ve finally managed to secure test printings of paperbacks from a print-on-demand shop that isn’t wholly owned by the largest and hungriest and most endangering river-system in the world, and holy cats, they are beautiful? They sit in the hand just right and the paper, the paper has this rough-hewn pulpy feel like a mass-market paperback you picked up from a spinner rack instead of that glossy slick you get from so many self-published books like too many (wonderfully, eminently playable) small-press RPGs. —It only took me 22 business days, plus shipping, to do it, since apparently what with the raging pandemic and all there’s been something of an impact on our ability to order and print and place books on demand, but hey.

So! You can certainly order them through me, which would make me ineffably happy, but your local library, or an independent bookstore, might also appreciate the nod, and anyway, them? Being plugged into the way things are? Might move it all along a little faster, because, what takes me, the publisher, 22 business days to deliver, the river insists would only take 11 to 17.