Sunday, May 06, 2007

from Babylon

Dear Annie, Mike, and Peter,

Greetings! As of now, I belong to no particular place. Did you know Babylon is simultaneously a place in New York and the ruined ancient city in Northern Iraq? But there's something symbolic and iconic and exiled about Babylon, some suggestion of too much knowledge and too much destruction. In other words, I like it.

I'm supposed to be finished with law school at Wash U in St. Louis. I will be studying for the bar exam in New York. I will move to D.C. in September, I think, to work for the smallest office of a St. Louis-based law firm. But over the years, New York has grown into home, which is why I chose to be from Babylon. I still claim exile as my home. Law school has exiled my imagination, and I'm split, like a woman quartered in a more civilized penal system. But I'm fighting back. Two weeks ago, I almost raised my hand in class to ask Duncan Kennedy if the Constitution exists--or if it is the Santa Clause of "Democracy". The exchange would have gone like this:

Me: Professor, I have another critique from the left. I think you believe that the Constiution exists. Professor, is there really a Constitution?

Professor Kennedy: Yes, my left wing friend, pinch yourself--there is a Constitution. You see, it's too late for you. You are a lawyer. You ARE the Constitution. But so is Justice Alito. I hope you use it for good and not to further the intelligensia and its "democracy." Pierce the veil, but you cannot burn it for you are a lawyer.

Haha--not yet my dear Professor--don't drag me down your river Styx so fast. I still have one paper yet to complete. Viva Procrastination! I could burn my veil right now, select all, delete send to trash, and game over. But I won't. For Babylon awaits. I guess I have signed up to channel Duncan Kennedy for a very long time. Here's the problem: I don't believe that I can define anything anymore, for I have unlearned everything they taught me, and now my old friend post-modernism has me by a sultry noose that I have bound tangibility up in with myself (we are like a suicidal pretzel), and I'm doubting so much of existence. I'm beginning to believe that there is a politics of the tangible that is too starry-eyed and bushy-tailed (to employ an American cultural phrase) for me. I'm beginning to believe that if I believe in the Constituion, then I will soon find myself believing in Jesus, the Tooth Fairy, and Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Yesterday a guy I went to school with since the age of 11 died in Iraq. His name was Andy Weiss. We lived in the same lower-middle class neighborhood in West Lafayette, Indiana. We used to stand at the same bus-stop until I became a sophomore in high school, and begged my parents to drive me and spare me some intangible embarrassment factor. Andy was always nice. He had a cute smile. I judged him as with the "wrong crowd" in terms of "success," but I liked him a lot. I only found out about his death because this is the year of my 10th high school reunion. I'm not going, but I decided to put myself on the list in case I encountered news or email addresses of old friends that I needed to reconnect with privately. Yesterday, someone sent this link:

It took 10 hours for it to sink in. The article, as you'll note, is such crap. It has nothing about who Andy was. It doesn't at all tell his story. It's generally very dehumanizing. Just like the bomb that killed him. There's this coalition of creepiness that keeps "democracy" together, and the press is the glue of this insidious force.

Here's what I wrote:

Welcome to the U.S.A., where leaders of democracy will persuade
the love of your life, your baby's father, and your college-bound daughter to sign
up for a highly increased odds of dying violently
in exchange for money and a gun.
It's as easy as signing up for tennis lessons, and cheaper.
It's easier than a mortgage. If you sign away
your life, there's no debt to pay down.

In the shadows of public discourse, I see only
specters slinking around in golden paper crowns,
grinning at how many are willing to die for "democracy."

I just checked on the Constitution; they say its still premature,
they covered it in glass for 2 hundred years, without air because its impure.
Meanwhile people lose their Constitutions.
heads are blown off bodies with metal and fire,
bullets separate hearts from their arteries,
but it's this paper that matters, these lungless words that govern
the heartless: so America, in the face of your empire, your genocide, your holy war,
keep on rooting for your sports teams, keep on shopping at WalMart,
keep on getting wasted on your stalest beers, keep on engaging in democracy,
this enraging cocktail of behavior that ensures
that this life's beauty has been oxidized by arrogance

I can't write anymore right now...words have become heavy, enemies, bullets. I look forward to your thoughts and thank you for including me. It is very humbling, especially because your posts are so witty, intelligent, and responsve.


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