Space spins around the globe. The clay moulds the fingers and the fingers soil the clay. The soiled fingers are made of carbon and oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium. Skin cells are siloed from the host. The mountain climbs slowly below the mountaineer’s slick hands. The rock cups the clinging fingertips and liquid flows up the cliff. The mountain is a pile of bodies. The mystery inside the stone is a silt of sea creatures. The cliff remembers the Archean Eon. The sea creatures teach the mountaineer to breathe. The oxygen asks the lips to say O. The oxygen canister also contains life. The alveolus cell expels imprisoned air. The rain collects carbon dioxide. The local granite sifts the alien rain. The cycle allocates the precious waste. The kaolin gathers oxygen and hydrogen, aluminium and silicon. The clay globe cools the kiln.
I’ve never imagined or bothered, really, to seek out and piece together the story of my birth. The material elements have never felt urgent, though I do know, by then, my parents were no longer in love, and I do know that someone arrived at the hospital with baby’s breath, because flattened on the first page of my photo album, is a dried stem, gently curved beside a photo of my pink, wrinkled face – so new to the world that my face looks raw, helpless and incomplete, as though my face was meant to, over time, grow a sleek coat of fur, whiskers, too, as though my mother gave birth to a puppy, not a person. The way puppies, who are born functionally blind and deaf, come out with their eyes clenched, their canals closed.
DEATH IN THE AGE OF INSTAGRAM
It was New York press, mostly, that covered Ben’s death in June, 2017: New York Times, The New Yorker, American Vogue. T. had informed me by private message on Instagram. She had something to tell me. A heartbreak emoticon. I grimaced during the:
Bad news is usually not what I was expecting. For a moment T. and I were isolated from the world, but that sensation was quickly lost to an eddy. There was an outpouring on Instagram, a strange place to situate grief. My chats with T. proliferated, grew frantic, began to feel like a huddle backstage. Private notes from others arrived:
i’m pretty torn up about this. can’t imagine how you’re feeling.
…knowing him made life better…and of course, I thought of you.
I’ve been taking this news hard. How are you?
YOU knew him best.
THREE OF FIVE
Language is the underwriter of all sorting: rendering what is said, and sayable, apart from what is unsaid, and unsayable; and therefore at root what it thinkable apart from what is not. Language must humanise us, for what is thought without words? Untempered affect, no doubt, experienced unsatisfyingly alone. We address our interiority through talk. From our pit of self-feeling, we send signals, and seek recognition in and through others. Meaning, springing from the dark space of thought. Like millstone grit in the sun, we glint, despite our corporeal opacity, and enter – through no small magical act – discrete imaginations. We achieve this first via utterances, made up of phonemes issued into the air, ringing in ears and conjuring scenes in the minds of others.
I HEARD LOVE IS BLIND
ERICA: If, as your book Labor of Love shows, dating as we know it grew out of shifting labour conditions in capitalism, do you think that platform/digital capitalism, also grew out of dating, insofar as it harnessed many of its key aspects, in particular self-marketing, building and maintaining profiles, and the importance of identifying niches?
MOIRA: In a word: Yes! Or, to put it a bit more precisely: like earlier stages of capitalism, surveillance capitalism has coevolved with dating. Apps and platforms have found ways to incorporate or enclose earlier dating practices (cruising : Grindr : frat party : Tinder?) as well as our romantic and sexual energies in general (flirting on Snapchat, sliding into the DMs). In my book, I try to show some of the ways that dating practices prepared Americans to allow all of our social relations to be commodified, in the hopes that this might optimize us and create the chance of intimacy. The ambiguity of dating, the kinds of privacy in public that it made available, and carefully managed self-disclosure that it involves –these are all features of our virtual lives. Contra legend, it's not just that The Facebook took off when Mark Zuckerberg added the "Relationship Status" feature.
WHERE DO YOU KEEP YOURS?
Where do you keep yours?
(Is it close)
Some are found right beside them In full pride and glory
Some underneath their clothes
In the places they never expose
(is it far)