Finding a Way Out of the Polder

“It was after the end of
the world… To lie on
our backs looking
into the dark was all
there was worth

—       Nathaniel Mackey, “Eye on the Scarecrow” from Splay Anthem.

These past few months I have been busy doing everything except blogging. One could say I have been purposefully shying away from it, in the main, because I felt—and still feel—like writing fuck everything ad infinitum. An urge that I have, somehow, managed to curb when writing for ‘official’ publications and panels. My engagement with the intellectual work of theorists grouped under the label ‘Afro-Pessimism’ made me realize that the only possible response is fuck everything, starting with the nation-state. The nation-state is so deeply fucked that we might not be able to rehabilitate it, at all. If recuperation (making things better) is our political goal, then we might be setting ourselves up for an impossible task.

Over the past months, I’ve been told, several times, in purportedly leftist spaces, that my work is “too radical,” or even more bewildering: “too political.” What does it mean to be too political? What constitutes the ‘too’? The ‘too’, which is almost accusatory, is as curious as it is significant, and says much about what is considered ‘constructive politics’, and what is not. The diagnosis ‘too political’ implies that a certain kind of politics, or criticality, is expected—perhaps, even desired—however, I am overdoing it by desiring, in the words of Aimé Césaire, “The only thing in the world worth beginning // The End of the World, of course.” My demand is, by its very nature, in a relation of excess vis-à-vis the political, and, therefore, unreasonable both in terms of meaningfulness and practicality. To fundamentally question the legitimacy of established ways is seen as not only an assault on ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, but also a subversive act against the nation itself.

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On the Use of the Word “Blanke”

I always find it odd when White Autochtoon Dutch folk use, when referring to their skin colour and/or “race,”  the adjective “blanke” instead of “white.” This rhetorical move made me wonder why White Autochtoon Dutch people refer to themselves as “blank” instead of “white.”

Analyses of “social problems” tend to problematize the “Other” in relation to White Autochtoon Dutch norms, and differences in social position are often expressed in binary terms of black and white: it’s witte school versus zwarte school (White school versus Black school) and witte wijk  versus zwarte wijk (white neighbourhood versus black neighbourhood). However, when it comes to race it’s “blank” versus “zwart.” There’s an interesting dynamic going on between “blank” and “wit” in which it seems “blank” is reserved for categorizing people. To me, “blanke” is  a depoliticized term to refer to White people.

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