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You are the captain of a naval vessel. You have the highest security clearance & a
drawer full of stationery. The great novels have come to life as newspapers performed
by paper scientists. When two or more gather in the same room they call it sleep. When
a person speaks to another person they produce a document.
Afterwards, this document must be filed in the proper folders. Some of the people
who file the documents adopt an air of pickled gravity. Others expose themselves like
walnut meat, abandoning their faith in favor of piety. Some forget that there are docu-
ments at all, wriggling into snakes.
Dialogue has grown impossible. People only speak from mimeographed scripts con-
sidered worthy of eternal documentation. They only remove their blindfolds when
they know they are standing before something that is beautiful. There are buildings
filled with file folders that fill the lesser- known countries of the world, these buildings
are known as history. There is a black market in false documents that get filed along
with the genuine ones.
I came late to this circle & with a certain degree of hesitation. I was used to thinking of
history as a progression of documents, just as a snake eats an entire antelope & is ren-
dered motionless for a week, just as an accountant gets a paper cut & splits into two
people. But there are no sets of steel plates holding the bridges together, no honeybees
in the spaces between the window & the screen, only documents, only photographs.
The only thing that is still real resides inside an old photograph, but no one
is willing to look at it. It has been filed in a special folder made of teak.
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In her new book, Danish poet Olga Ravn writes with open love, pity, and compassion for her strange yet familiar creations.
Draconian individual punishment distracts from systemic change and reinforces the cruelest and most racist system of incarceration on the planet.
Our well-being depends on a better understanding of how the logic of labor has twisted our relationship with pleasure.