Discourse with the TV

I watch a lot of TV. Some of it has been glorious, most of it has been background noise. I like the constant distraction. It makes me more able to focus because instead of thinking about myself and my ailments I’m thinking about what’s happening in America. 

Last night I smoked a joint and became anxious immediately. This happens every time I smoke a joint but I keep on doing it, just like with the television. I nearly dive into the couch such is my desire to stop thinking. I piled my laptop on my groin. Throwing the laptop in the mix creates a more hardened firewall between the mind and the mind than television alone. 

MSNBC talking head Chris Hayes was on. He seems like a decent enough person, like the affable kid you were kind of friends with in junior highschool turned into an acceptably progressive media personality. And he buys you lunch or something. I’ve heard that his book Colony in a Nation is good but I haven’t read it. 

He was hosting an episode of his show dedicated to a discussion of, among other things, the ‘Reform Movement’. While I assume there was someone on the program purporting to represent the aforementioned movement (I was with the internet periodically) I did not catch them. On the occasion of my cognitive arrival there was an African American man who was somehow employed by a police union fielding questions from Chris Mathews to which he provided by rote a litany of the most tired of strawman arguments in defense of impunity for the police. . Then some mayors fielded questions from people beamed in from elsewhere. 

I take umbrage at many of the ways in which this show went down. The ‘Reform Movement’ thing rankled me. Who exactly picked that name? The people in the street? Or the people who have proffered themselves as their representatives? Whatever the case, nobody asked me. 

Not that I should be the first one to be asked. I’m no organizer and I’m not among the population of people who are most impacted by the criminal justice system. Not that I haven’t gotten caught up in it in my life, but there as well is a minefield of privilege. What I’m saying is I’m white and I’m crazy in a way that doesn’t result in lots of contact with the police. This seems like the better kind of crazy for me if we’re going to look at it in a black and white world, and I would know because I’ve been both kinds.

But if you did ask me what I thought about the police, I can answer “fuck ‘em” with conviction. “Reform” doesn’t reach a sticky finger towards what needs to happen in order for justice to be served. It’s the phraseology of talking heads who want something that can take the resounding clamor for abolition and grind it up into digestible chunks, a process that bears no small similarity to dog food. 

As for me, I’ll continue to show up to the stuff as I can. I miss a lot, not being on social media. I am mostly aware of things after they’ve occurred. I don’t like this, but the cost of being immersed in the emotional economy of the internet is high. I’m brittle. Seeing the heights that others have reached makes me feel bad about the little bit that I cling to with such effort. 

And besides that is that this state of affairs forces me to reach out to friends for information. Sometimes this turns into a plan. It’s nice to have someone to say ‘fuck the police’ with. It’s so easy to become so lonely when you’re so sick for so long. The lives of others burn and it becomes easy to want to avoid them. And I would like it to be about some failure on my part to come to peace with the fact that I want less than most people and will never be congratulated or celebrated for achieving it. People don’t recognize the labor that goes into being only yourself in a world full of incitements to be otherwise. It’s all very taoist.

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