KR BlogBlogCurrent EventsRemembrancesWriting

Notes on Love and Violence, Part 2


“Well, he acts like he has genuine emotions… But as to whether he has real feelings is something I don’t think anyone can truthfully answer.”

— Dave Bowman on HAL 9000 in 2001

(1) Because for memories not our own, we want to be The Age Of ________. Because we want to be part of the next era of human evolution. Because we can’t get everyone in one house to discuss this. Because the house and the land under it are always for sale. Because there are always new ways for others to get in and newer ways to keeping others out.

(2) It’s Fiesta in San Antonio, and I’m a child hiding behind my mother’s skirt as we pass by The Alamo. Crockett had a death wish all along, my mother whispers, pulling me along an elementary school display of Texas history: Pueblo land, Mexican province, Republic, Statehood, Confederacy, Statehood again. In the River Parade, my mother crowns the daughters of Santa Anna and Sam Houston in the Battle of Flowers. These caudillos burns bright in our Mexicana veins, she hisses, smearing my embroidered tunic with the ashes of lost names: Hasinais, Thecae, Taysha. My mother pushes me forward, to face the crowd, but I do not know if their raised fists, their chanting and swaying, are gestures of rapture or hostility. As I’m carried to a boat covered in torches and flowers, I cannot understand their language.

(3) I nearly fall asleep watching the new Bond film Spectre. The villain’s lines and actions do not mirror the egregious claims he makes; I cannot believe this was a man responsible for every evil-doing concerning Bond. The real ruin still weighs heavily in my mind: the Curse of the Bond Girl. I mean the one female who survives by the end of the film wins the feature-length love of James Bond, but fares much worse in real life, or so I’ve been told, that rarely does she go on to win awards. Rarely is she taken seriously. So I’ve been told.


(4) I rewatch 2001 to see if there’s anything I previously missed about creation and destruction, some hidden message that would lead us out of the endless cycles of attack and retaliation. It isn’t the journey of humankind, though, that seems most significant, but when HAL 9000 pleads with Dave not to “kill” him. I feel complicit in the act as I hear his ever-calm voice telling Dave: “My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a… –fraid.” I believe him: that he is afraid, although I don’t know if the fear itself is genuine, or if he merely has the language to argue why he should not be shut down. What does it mean, then, for a computer to appeal to emotion–is that enough to constitute an emotional response?

(5) Because the poet still asks what are genuine emotions without needing a definitive answer.

(6) In Tribeca at a business dinner, a potential investor tells me and my colleagues that he doesn’t eat “beige” food, that it’s bad for you. He orders for everyone: steaks all around. Bread is immediately removed from the table. His steak arrives bloody on a plate, which he attacks with relish. I pretend to make an emergency call, and run into a bodega. Standing outside in the chill, I eat a cold PopTart on the street, in a silver evening dress and grey coat, so that I don’t tell the investor that while writing the play that he might invest in, a play about violence, illness and mutation, a play of things I’ve seen, I keep seeing pogroms in my dreams.

(7) Because faith might only be an alibi for the darker, more irreversible finales. Because the alibi of a poet gone missing is the desire to create. Because the poet must leave this ever-changing materialities of this realm, temporarily, to ward off those darker, more irreversible fates. Because writing itself is a practicing of faith.

(8) Perhaps love is not the antithesis of violence but its cause. Perhaps to evolve out of violence, we must evolve out of emotional states altogether. Then one might know the sort of fear HAL 9000 experienced, a hybrid fear of human rationality and a strange innocence not un-new. That purity found in the hybridity of man and machine.

(9) I try to consider Dawn of the Planet of the Apes from the apes’ perspective. I find myself not only rooting for the apes throughout the film, but frustrated with Caesar’s lack of understanding when it comes to Koba–had he forgotten the lab in which Koba was tortured, or what triggered this aggressive side of him in the first place but a man and his gun? It is probably one of the most biased films of history I’ve ever seen, and it never happened. By the end of the film I realize that this imaginary history of the apes–like most “real” histories–sway in favor of protecting the (former) dominant culture, ensuring the human patriarchy’s survival–and that all other forms of life must not only ensure this survival, but sacrifice themselves in its name.

(10) Because to write of past violence is to burn counterclockwise.

Because the poet who’s seen war says to the politicians: you are not my mantra–I won’t believe in your second-sighted burnings.

Because the poet meddling in prose means: I’ll send my own death before the firing squad.

This is the second installment of a 4-part series. Check out the firstthird, and final installments.