FOUR HUNDRED AND SEVENTY

Excerpt from Dear Friend by Dean Young:

What happens when your head splits open
and the bird flies out, its two notes deranged?
You got better, I got better,
wildflowers rimmed the crater,
glitter glitter glitter.
We knew someone whose father died
then we knew ourselves.
Astronomer, gladiator,
thief, a tombstone salesman.
All our vacations went to the sea
that breathed two times a day
without a machine.
We got in trouble with a raft
doing what we promised not to.
Further out to be brought further back.

FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY NINE

From The Irradiated International by Lou Cornum, via Data & Society.

In 1998, a group of Dene elders from Northwest Canada traveled to Hiroshima to meet with survivors and descendants of survivors of the atomic bomb dropped some fifty years earlier. Some of the uranium used to kill more than 200,000 people in Japan had been mined and transported by Dene men, many of whom died years later from radiation-related disease. The six Dene elders came from where the earth had been torn up to the place where earth and sky were ripped apart like never before. They came to Hiroshima to apologize and to recognize the shared radioactive reality between people touched by the detonation of the bomb and those who unwittingly touched the materials that would make such a weapon. Nobody from the Canadian government was present, none among those who had exploited the miner’s bodies and their home lands and willingly aided the construction of the atomic bomb ever made the journey.

The reinscribed path of the Dene elder’s trip illuminated the radiated lines connecting settler colonial resource extraction and Western imperial warmaking. Theirs was an act of unexpected mapping, connecting two nodes of a much larger and largely obscured sphere of ongoing and purposefully scattered atomic apocalypse. What does it mean to ask forgiveness for something that was forced upon you?

FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY

By Billy-Ray Belcourt (2017), via Matthew Ogle’s Pome.

Towards a Theory of Decolonization

1. forget everything you’ve learned about love.

2. investment is the social practice whereby one risks losing it all
to be part of something that feels like release. lose everything
with me.

3. indian time is a form of time travel. a poetics of lateness.

4. i never liked goodbyes, but some of us aren’t here to stay.

5. superstition is a mode of being in the world that keeps ghosts like
me in the living room.

6. the afterlife is the after party: a choreography of mangled bodies.

7. i made a poem out of dirt and ate it.

FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY EIGHT

From Varlam Shalamov’s “Forty-Five Things I Learned in the Gulag,” in Paris Review via Kottke.

7. I saw that the only group of people able to preserve a minimum of humanity in conditions of starvation and abuse were the religious believers, the sectarians (almost all of them), and most priests.

8. Party workers and the military are the first to fall apart and do so most easily.

9. I saw what a weighty argument for the intellectual is the most ordinary slap in the face.

12. I discovered from experts the truth about how mysterious show trials are set up.

13. I understood why prisoners hear political news (arrests, et cetera) before the outside world does.

14. I found out that the prison (and camp) “grapevine” is never just a “grapevine.”

17. I understood why people do not live on hope—there isn’t any hope. Nor can they survive by means of free will—what free will is there? They live by instinct, a feeling of self-preservation, on the same basis as a tree, a stone, an animal.

18. I am proud to have decided right at the beginning, in 1937, that I would never be a foreman if my freedom could lead to another man’s death, if my freedom had to serve the bosses by oppressing other people, prisoners like myself.

19. Both my physical and my spiritual strength turned out to be stronger than I thought in this great test, and I am proud that I never sold anyone, never sent anyone to their death or to another sentence, and never denounced anyone.

30. I discovered that the world should be divided not into good and bad people but into cowards and non-cowards. Ninety-five percent of cowards are capable of the vilest things, lethal things, at the mildest threat.

44. I understood that moving from the condition of a prisoner to the condition of a free man is very difficult, almost impossible without a long period of amortization.

45. I understood that a writer has to be a foreigner in the questions he is dealing with, and if he knows his material well, he will write in such a way that nobody will understand him.