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Sunday, November 25, 2007

AN OPEN LETTER TO DALE SMITH 

"The problem with Spahr and Young is that their efforts in this essay promote them as Bay Area poets--a geography doped on failed possibilities and destructive utopian values." --Dale Smith, in the comment box of his blog "Possum Ego," responding to Judith Jordan, Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dear Dale, your blog post with its evaluations of the younger Dale Smith's methods of confrontation, as well as your world views and the minds that help shape those world views is a marvelous thing to read. In the rarest and most beautiful way at times you give this.

Part of me though thinks maybe you were widening your reach of the argument's blade to pull Spahr and Young in with your views of The Bay Area? But that was just a passing thought I had, because it needed to pass. You wouldn't cheapen your argument (at least I don't think you would) after having bothered to present such a thoughtful and open post about yourself. In fact the ease with which you say "a geography doped on failed possibilities and destructive utopian values," to me sounds like something said by someone who has spent much time forming these ideas. To the point where it's almost vague to the reader, as though we should simply KNOW how you mean what you mean.

I believe you when you say in your post that you support what is necessary for exploration of gender, sexuality and the desires intertwined. And I say I believe you because I want to make it clear that I'm not arguing that you are hostile on those grounds. Yet I question negating this geography, and all that has happened there, especially what has happened there in the last half century.

Failed possibilities? Destructive utopian values?

When I begin thinking about San Francisco and Berkeley I think about courageous people, people with real guts!

And I'd like to also point out that some of the first voices who come to mind for me are voices who also spoke out on issues of class, in fact class first and foremost. Leslie Feinberg for instance didn't just form the backbone of the trans revolution, but started out in the labor movement, getting her head kicked in, but kept going, and not giving in. People like Harvey Milk who helped union organizers in many marvelous ways in the Castro.

This is important, talking about class, because I want to make it clear that The Bay Area is NOT a nest of rich kids angry at mommy and daddy. The Bay Area has been dismissed far too long in such ways as these. Many of the best revolutionaries to come out of this area are people who understood how class was the foundation of all they argued and fought to change. People who had the intelligence, creativity, and the courage to make this world better. They failed? Did they?

Not to me they didn't. Any one person who has been inspired to grab hold of their own creative core and go forward because of these people is reason enough to say The Bay Area did not fail us.

Am I trying to say San Francisco is this wacko point on the map to meditate on when times are rough? No, nothing so sentimental as that. Suffering is great in life, especially when you find yourself completely Outside. So I am talking about something far beyond sentimentality. I'm talking about women and men who told the world to FUCK ITSELF because they were recreating the rules of the world, creating space to belong when they could find it nowhere else. It's no mistake it exists on fault lines, shakes and almost seems to want to shake apart at times because the minds drawn there are dangerous in very many ways to the confines of this brutal, murderous world.

Destructive utopian values?

Maybe you need to clarify what you mean because this seems to contradict your post where you spoke out in favor of human beings exploring their values.

Maybe I've got the wrong notion? If you take the time to let me know, I'd appreciate it,
CAConrad

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