The Catalogue: No. 27

Friday, February 22, 2019

Hi! LC here. 
It's probably pretty obvious we're still trying to figure out a sustainable format for The Catalogue (and I guess OCL in general). But I started The Catalogue as a way to literally catalog the digital media I was consuming. Part of that was obviously to share interesting reads (often ones that make me unspeakably angry, as inspired by a friend's newsletter comprised exclusively of the latest dumpster fires), but The Catalogue also represents a larger intention to "consciously curate" a life that is well-read and well-examined. To be real, if I didn't have the structure of these semi-weekly posts, I probably wouldn't be as compelled to seek out a more diverse, evocative set of material. I'd easily/ probably binge-listen to the Hamilton and Anastasia Broadway soundtracks during every single commute. But I am a young person determined to be wise -- which is to say, one with the desperate stamina to be better informed about this terrible, lovely world. So here we are -- this week in conscious consumption: 

This week, Amelie Wen Zhao had to self-cancel (or self-delay) her upcoming novel Blood Heir due to backlash on YA Twitter about all sorts of things, ranging from allegations of racist scenes to her own vindictiveness towards anyone who left her bad reviews. This isn’t the first time such things have happened in the YA world. Now, both the social justice and anti-SJW forces are using Zhao to advance their agendas. Jess, Diana, Oxford, and Mark discuss why the moral stakes seem so high in the YA sphere and how an Asian woman is forced to navigate it.
Again a Solstice | Jennifer Chang
What does it even mean to write a poem?
It means today
I’m correcting my mistakes.
It means I don’t want to be lonely.
Unrest in Baton Rouge | Tracy K. Smith
Is it strange to say love is a language
Few practice, but all, or near all speak?
Table | You Li
What goes with the table is what needs
the table. Without the table you are burning your
fingers. Without the table you are burning money
in the park. The opposite of the table is the inverse
of the table. Vases crashing to the floor. Arms falling.
Maybe meeting a new flavor is alchemy. Today, you can’t stand it. Tomorrow, it’s all you can stand. At home, using books like Sohui Kim’s “Korean Home Cooking,” I cooked stews. Minced garlic. Read about blending the flavors—combining chilies and anchovies until the spice bloomed the way that I liked, simmering until the heat of the red pepper was present without screaming. It was a privilege, I guess, growing to care so deeply about something that had nothing to do with my life. Only now, it did.
[My stepfather] called my mom “Chopsticks.” And it was just to demean, just to make us feel less than. It also fits into the pattern of white man dominating an Asian woman who needs him in financial and legal ways. So much of that relationship and that marriage was about our citizenship. I didn’t get my citizenship until I was 14. And then they had a child the first year they were married, which is another form of control, using the child. First and foremost, for them it’s about domination and control, and racism came out of that.
Fighting for Asylum Seekers Who Look Like Me |  Kanwalroop Kaur Singh for Asian American Writers' Workshop
Everything I do is precedent. Those who look like me have not done this before. I tie my turban, and it hugs me like armor. Every day, on my way to law school, I walk past brick buildings the color of bloodstains, feeling shaken by the act of studying a legal system based upon British common law: I am the descendant of people colonized by an Empire that weaponized this very system of law against us. They used it to maim and mangle us into lesser versions of ourselves.
Periodic #1 | Franny Choi for Palette Poetry
I’m trying, with all of that in tow, to figure out how to write, now, about my body and its leakages—not just the parts that leak out of me, but the porousness of my body’s demands for coherence. That is, I’m trying to write, not how about menstruating amplifies my womanhood, but to ask: given the strangeness of gender, given that I am a woman and also a queer person of color and a cyborg and a squid and a riverbank, how might thinking about what leaks from my body help me think about other kinds of leakiness, too? Yes, it all started as a big joke, but I’m hopeful that writing with a spirit of play will help to give this series the flexibility it needs to stay unstuck in a number of ruts, including and especially trans-exclusive ones. To discard what needs to be discarded, and to prepare for what I haven’t yet begun to imagine.
 An Excerpt from The Source of Self-Regard | Toni Morrison for Shondaland
While I maintain a cool eye while reading historical texts, it is an eye no cooler than the one historians maintain, and ought to maintain when reading fiction. Yet in spite of my wariness, my skepticism, there is a dependence, solid and continuous, that I have on history, partly for the data available to me there, but mostly for precisely those gaps, those erasures, that censure. It is in the interstices of recorded history that I frequently find the "nothing" or the "not enough" or the "indistinct" or "incomplete" or "discredited" or "buried" information important to me.
Love always,

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