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The refusal, especially among liberals, to believe that pornography has any real relationship to sexual violence is astonishing. Liberals have always believed in the value and importance of education. But when it comes to pornography, we are asked to believe that nothing pornographic, whether written or visual, has an educative effect on anyone. A recognition that pornography must teach something does not imply any inevitable conclusion: it does not per se countenance censorship. It does, however, demand that we pay some attention to the quality of life, to the content of pornography. And it especially demands that when sexual violence against women is epidemic, serious questions be asked about the function and value of material that advocates such violence and makes it synonymous with pleasure.

–Andrea Dworkin, “Pornography’s Part in Sexual Violence” in The New Terrorism

Karen Young:

Depression hurts, but it makes sense. It’s a creative, adaptive withdrawal from a world that feels painful to be in.

I “broke up” with a friend on Tuesday, and this is the kind of thing I like about myself–that I actually had a conversation with her instead of ghosting her–and also a thing that makes me wary about myself.

I need to be thoughtful to avoid is crashing all over people in the name of Honesty. I need to not value the sense that I have done right so much that I am honest when it inflicts unnecessary pain.

I never used to have this–it was all stomach aches, and whatever compulsions pulls you away from stomach aches.


I’m thinking about it this week because I “broke up” with a friend a couple days ago. I wasn’t nervous, I didn’t spend more than a couple minutes just before thinking about it or how to say what I needed to. I just went, and we talked. She didn’t handle it particularly well, and told me why she thought I was wrong–which is not an appropriate metric in the land of, this is what I’m looking for right now, and this is what I’m needing in my life, which is not the land of right and wrong–and I explained, calmly, and then let it be. After telling me why I was wrong, she asked about what she had done wrong, which was nothing at all, which I had already told her. It wasn’t working, and in some way, some young way, she thought one of us must be wrong.


We parted with her, I’m sure, still thinking I was unfair and wrong, maybe wondering if she had done something wrong. And that bothers me a little–I had the impulse after to write a long email explaining that it’s not about right and wrong, though I had already touched on that in our conversation–but I didn’t act on it and the impulse passed. I did what I could do, and there’s nothing else to be done. She’ll figure things out in her own time. And that is okay. Committed action, nonattachment to results.


And then this morning, I left after a brief conflict with J. We parted ways unresolved, and I didn’t like it, but I wasn’t panicked as I would’ve been in the past. No stomach ache, no nausea, no feeling so bad I felt compelled to make contact. I wanted to ask for some reassurance, I wanted to hear something from him, I wanted to know that it was okay–but all those things were at tolerable levels. I bought a hot chocolate and watched half an hour of Parks and Rec to calm down more, and then went to work and got stuff done. I want to take care of myself–which means not folding or brushing it aside when something bothers me–more than I want to be close to him. In the long run, and in the moment.


And I’m thinking about why this used to be so dramatically hard, and painful. It’s about attachment wounds, attachment hunger, the Trauma of how I grew up, and the fact of my aloneness now. What’s changed is my slowly deepening commitment to myself. What’s changed is my slowly deepening trust in myself and my perceptions and emotions. What’s changed is the depth of my knowledge that mejor sola que mal acompañada.


Maybe, too, it’s about having healed my attachment wounds a bit. Maybe, it’s about having built my endurance for conflict through repeat, repeat, repeat.

Jason Shinder:

. . . bless my presence in this time and space, which will soon be only memory in those few who knew me and then in those few who knew of those who knew me and then in just one line one day in the year 2089 about the past and someone by my name who tried but failed who was single all his life and who also wrote some things, I think poems. The hours are left for vanishing and also for joy and for blessing and gratitude.

Why am I thinking about O?

Of course. Because here I am again. No, Jason is nothing like him–nothing–but here I am again. Building a life with someone. Vulnerable in that way.

But it is also true that I am much less vulnerable than I was then. I am dramatically stronger. I have healed a lot. I care about and for myself. I trust myself. I am the most self-defined, self-referenced I have ever been. And that doesn’t change with Jason.

And we are building on solid ground. We are both well enough to build. There is no malice here. It is a very different thing.

But, here again in some way, and this brings up O. The first night after Jason and I moved in together I dreamt about O–of course.

It’s not about how much I loved or love O, either. I grieved. I angered. I healed. It’s about being at this point in a process.

From Malcolm Gladwell’s essay, “Getting Over It“, in The New Yorker:

Rind was trying to help psychologists focus on what was truly harmful. And, when it came to the effects of things like physical abuse and neglect, he and his colleagues sounded the alarm. “What happens in physical abuse is that it doesn’t happen once,” Rind says. “It happens time and time again. And, when it comes to neglect, the research shows that is the most noxious factor of all—worse than physical abuse. Why? Because it’s not practiced for one week. It’s a persistent thing. It’s a permanent feature of the parent-child relationship. These are the kinds of things that cause problems in adulthood.”

Sam Sax:

i don’t know shit
about the throat
of a sparrow.
how it can sing
& fly at the same
time. this couch
a sovereign object.
this back, a cadillac
on cinderblocks.
i stood once,
not for something,
rather, on my way
to the kitchen
for something to eat.
i bit into an apple,
quite the achievement.
i wanted to be high
so lied to the doctor
about my anxiety,
the panic attacks
began then. naming
the disease made it
open like a primer
in my chest. wicked
mouth, peeling apple
after apple after reading
their skins are poison,
same goes for the seeds.
my man is a monster,
gunfire in the street.
praise the demigod
pharmacy for this
calm blood remedy,
which lets me do
nothing. my back
pinned to the cushion
again. my body, this
magnificent prison,
the ceiling above
bigger than any sky,
one a bird might fall
out of, singing         as it dies.
It’s been a long time since I read before sleep. Of course I grew up reading for hours before bed, and in the middle of night when I couldn’t sleep, which was as often as not. I slept in a sea of books and notebooks and pens. The space between my bed and wall was a small, unkempt library, and the desk next to my bed had a short stack, too. When I got injured a few years ago, it became impossible to read comfortably–elbows, neck–and I lost my favorite way to travel.


You should understate your pain, in writing, if you want anyone to read it. That sounds maudlin, but my tone thinking this, writing it, is flat. It’s an observation about things I’ve read, what works, what doesn’t.


I can read comfortably enough now–just now, just the last few weeks, not even a few months ago–to not be distracted by discomfort or have to rearrange and break the flow every couple minutes. And J falls fast asleep and I wonder if the reading at night is some way to go back to old parts of myself, or do something private and mine, as he seeps in everywhere.


I didn’t understand the intimacy of someone in your space all the time. Someone seeing your small habits, someone knowing if there is open wine in your fridge. For the first time, I am being seen in a way that I suppose would be familiar had I not grown up as an a voice, no body, more or less a hallucination to my parents. I am used to intimacy in doses with friends, some times intense but time-controlled, and this is not that. At moments it is like something closing in on me. I didn’t know about this. How could I have?


Most people like this, want this, and I will probably adjust. But I am not sure. And not troubled by my unsureness–it will unfold, I can’t and don’t need to answer that now. I do find myself wondering what it means for my life. Would I actually prefer to live alone? Can I live with a partner and have enough social energy for friendships, which, right now, I simply don’t? Do I need to be with someone more introverted, or more independent?


This is all the beginning, and I don’t know how to do it yet. I will give it time–that is my discipline, my practice.

Bessel van der Kolk:

Trauma has nothing whatsoever to do with cognition. It has to do with your body being reset to interpret the world as a dangerous place.” That reset begins in the deep recesses of the brain with its most primitive structures, regions that, he says, no cognitive therapy can access. “It’s not something you can talk yourself out of.


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