by Michael Scott Monje, Jr.
Author’s Note: “Just before the first issue of Barking Sycamores, Ian challenged me to have a conversation about poetics and process, one that I had traditionally lacked language for. As I began work on my current novel project, Imaginary Friends, I finally began to find the words to respond. The first six parts of my Thoughts on Writing series appeared as an introduction to the blogging of that book’s rough draft, and from there, I blogged two additional sections (“Imaginary Friendship” and “It’s time to accept that they hate you”). Other sections have appeared in the Neuroqueer blog and in the Typed Words, Loud Voices anthology from Autonomous Press. This is the final individual poem in the series, at least as far as stand-alone poems go. One other section has yet to appear, and if you see it, know that it comes immediately before this one. And know that these thoughts are not exhaustive or complete. They are, however, the end of this particular project. I could not be happier to be placing the final piece in the very outlet that first challenged me to take this up, and I look forward to our continuing to work together into the future”
— Mx. Michael Scott Monje, Jr.
Let me take a minute to get into sync,
because it takes work to build a beat
and I don’t want to be any less than limber
before I set out to rip into a pack of professional beginners.
I know what you do and what you did,
have ever since I saw someone get professional attention
for publishing on aesthetics and developing
a thesis remarkably equal in content to the one I had turned in
two years earlier as a senior,
but being perceived as fair game when it happened
due to my status as an undergraduate
didn’t give me the reach or power to address it,
and I didn’t know what happened until I was long past it.
As people, we move forward and learn from where we have been.
That’s why I am not letting you get
what you did nothing to build.
I might not complain a lot but I never forget,
storing my past in my tissue
and issuing missives
to warn dismissive
whose one note is to use social construction
to break apart people they should support
by subverting useful critiques to make claims
that their subjective experience
is more important
or corroboration by existence,
and who use this
representation in the academy
and the intentions and meanings of theories
through the subversion of the rhetor’s context
and the substitution of high-toned relativistic fallacious bullshit.
Publishing shit that sits on top of my self-definition
and imposes technical language I find viscerally disgusting
for the slipperiness of its meanings
and its use in justifying cultural appropriation
by the population it was intended keep
from indulgence in exactly that sin
is a pinnacle of self-destruction that I’m trying to be done with
before my knuckle bones are dust and I need to hire a typist.
It’s true that including you would help to redistribute material wealth,
lining your pockets alongside a bunch of artists
who help to add to the harmony of this message,
who modify its meaning and pay forward support,
thereby gaining at least a momentary control of something intangible
and ensuring that those with a finer feel for what’s important
will detect the texture of their fingerprints.
The intention to limit the legitimacy of the population producing
the work that would exist to signal boost your criticism
is preventing the redistribution of rhetorical agency
that this whole damned theory in practice is meant to be facilitating,
so in realistic terms it would not be in line with our socialism
to include someone who just wants to take advantage
of a chance to limit the growth
of an emergent experience in radical self-definition
employed as a way to teach a system
of basic coding skills
to a population of cyborgs who have always been
overly conscious of the fact that everything around them
moves in systemic pattern ballet rhythms.
I’m tending to an organism,
living with traditions
that teach me to be
a cybernetic eusocialist,
and I’m not forgiving an imposition on my being
by an intruder who laments the idea of being decent
and feels entitled to rampage across the work of others
instead of lifting it.
If that’s your idea of fitting in, go fit in with the kind of person who does that kind of thing.
I’ll wait to drop your name until you have patronage,
because your method is still anti-capitalistic,
even if it is worse than your predilections
for making the same mistakes that Lenin did.
Your resistance is feudal.
Oh shit, you got the Trotsky outta me.
Combine it with some Hans Moravec
and run it through Hip Hop is Dead
and you might begin to see
the light from the lamp I stole from Diogenes.
Until then, keep the fuck away from me.
You want to speak over my self-definition?
Motherfucker, you apparently missed the fact that It’s. Time. To. Listen.
At least, that is what I’m doing.
I may use this platform to widely distribute what I have to say,
but like 90% of my day is actually spent
providing access and encouragement
to a diverse range rhetorical communication agents,
trying to understand patterns and intentions,
to interrelate their and my content.
I know they meant to imply one when they sent
manuscripts with fully realized impressions of results from my prompts,
but the linguistic diversity here keeps me having to seek
to see the ways they find themselves fitting in to this revolution,
and instead of training them to it,
I am training the means of production to them.
Institutions are only as good as their function,
so to create one that functions to support everyone who contributes to it
and makes no bones about the fact that the goal
is to make a living wage simultaneously
is, in fact, on point and on mission
for any system that is in need of full wealth redistribution.
Shrinking away from markets is off target,
and can only be taken seriously
by an unserious hobbyist whose family is supporting
their rebellion against their own privilege
without having the sense to tell their little emperor that those new clothes
are not only invisible, they smell a lot like bullshit.
You missed the mark with Marx and imposed a self-referential farce
that limits your discourse to criticism,
but revolution involves dismantling and reconstruction,
and you don’t have enough tools to work the whole system,
so now that there’s a new phase beginning
you’re feeling the uselessness
of all tools
whose lack of versatility
means that they can only see
a field of nails where there is actually
a sea of screws doing what screws do,
without really paying attention to your hammering.
I don’t shrink from markets, they are another sphere of influence for my rhetoric.
The key is that marketing needs to be done from within an ethic,
and used to highlight the voices that need some attention
because they’ve been previously sidelined or they represent
knowledge that needs to be disseminated,
so don’t mistake my ability to compete
and my ability to take pleasure in this thing
to make you think that I’m about to compromise
when it comes to the balance of power or to redistribution.
A market’s a market, but the name of the system
is about what that space offers up as a priority,
and in this case it isn’t the consolidation of capital,
it’s the consolidation of camaraderie.
I had the credit to bear debt and go about hiring
or else cajoling
a sea of underpaid freelancers
who would have jumped at growing
a market for their best work
instead of going fishing on job boards
where they have to compete against each other for the opportunity to barely earn.
Instead of exploiting the wish for better benefits and connections
I went to work partnering up people as equals,
to ensure that we are all our own incentives for success,
but that when your labor benefits anything,
it benefits everyone whose work went into creating this.
And there’s a plan in place for recruiting
those who show commitment to an ideal
of pulling together to move mountains,
using crip time to undermine the powers of Doctors and
making everything instructively bigger indoors.
We’re picking up on transmissions from all over the timeline
to reconstruct our triumphs, make good on our mistakes
and to reshape our ways
until access is embedded in the context
used to make decisions about shaping our environment.
In the meantime, Autonomous is already offering a higher royalty
than practically anyone else in traditional publishing,
and we’re explicitly recruiting those voices who most need a market
that doesn’t market to the tastes of a gaze that uses a narrow range
of presentational performances to dictate success.
Rather, we offer a chance for our writers to create our audience,
producing what they would see us be,
fingerprinting us with their influence,
and helping to shape our identity by contributing
their technological and cultural distinctiveness
without the need for assimilating.
I’m over here being like “hack your head,
we’re all robots, and if you wake up to it,
you can create yourself without disrupting the network
and we can benefit from the collective
while each taking a turn at steering it,”
and you’re over there like,
“Ha! The rigidity of thinking that rejecting the rigidity
of discourse in certain contexts
is itself so limiting as to not be worthy of consideration,”
like the 2015 postmodernist version
of a 1991 Rush Limbaugh, who once made fun of Larry King
for being disgusted with bigotry
by saying that hating bigots is still bigoted,
and therefore a hypocritical sin,
and both of you need to know that mumbling those arguments
is impossible for anyone who understands
that the terms of the original speaker’s intent
have to be redefined before you can get that to interpret,
and reading other people in that way is disingenuous.
Those who do it deserve whatever public flogging they get.
My footsteps are getting so big and heavy
that I must be ready
to move forward
despite the way I carry this weight,
a world on my shoulders—
or that’s the way it feels from inside
this panorama that presses down on the top of my neck,
so I’ll give a motherfuck
but I won’t shrug.
My home was just at the epicenter
of the second largest earthquake ever in my home state,
so someone notify Tim McIlrath,
because this sleeping giant just decided to wake,
but it’ll need to be stoked to stay woke,
and it will take a community to decide its eventual fate.
For those of you who aren’t part of the problem in this warning,
I’m inviting you to participate in building this thing:
An imprint dedicated to our own voices,
neuroqueers all, exploring self-definition
and carrying a commitment to help others with it.
We’re here, and yes there do need to be editors,
so deal with it, but if you get that this needs scaffolding to be effective,
you can get yourself promoted through our engines,
adding to the experience of this phenomenon
and enjoying the platform we’ve spent years gathering lumber for,
until our lumbering sent shockwaves through everything
and delivered us a thing ready for use but forever unfinished.
NeuroQueer Books is a starship and a TARDIS,
and with great power comes that sense of responsibility,
so for those who have not been addressed yet:
We want your manuscript submissions,
but our queer ethic will never let us demand that you submit,
so if resistance is your thing and you have words for us,
you should know that the shingle’s out and we’re open,
our first titles launch in March,
and we’re looking for more to fill our calendar.
This thing isn’t a promotion engine for me,
I’m just a producer with a five year plan
who needs to find a swarm of killer bees
ready to be an invasive literary species.
I’ve spent years immersing myself in what I need to be a razor,
watching other producers who made this incision
to insert their community into public perception through a team effort and
marking their way across a shared aesthetic with its own vocabulary
so clearly and organically that everything happened almost orgasmically,
until they were marked by tragedy
and the tide rolled back
and their wonder was dismissed as a market oversaturating.
I’ve also been questioning the way other movements who made a big influence
were approached by those who wanted to have a piece of them,
those who hadn’t built the thing, who managed to undermine
the process because they controlled access,
as well as the ones who,
being exploited, gave birth through their own pain
to the art that gave me this commitment,
pushing the secret forward by encoding instructions in their words’ innards,
so I’ve got their hard knock lives engrained in my brain
to the point that when I sweat you can smell their style coming out of my pores.
I’ll stick to being a general in my own skin,
having found thirty-six of the fifty ways to dissect the one thing
that gave this energy its beginning,
but this is the result, the secret of my being,
and the moment where the past has been leading up to one thing.
It’s what I’m doing, not what I’m owning,
and it’s about the fact that I’m owing an upayable debt
from the vets that won’t let me forget
that everything allowing me to speak
was built from Clive Campbell’s way of knowing,
and I’m not laying claim to anything, just holding through a moment
in the middle of changing,
and I will learn from what other tacticians did,
and I will reshape this skin I’m in, until I engender my proper self
and every behavior is a communication of my perceptions,
with every performance rewarded by intended reactions.
This is magic, it’s the theory you put into practice,
and it involves two key components:
intentionality and a willingness to take responsibility
for defining the context of your own communication.
We may never totally control language,
but let’s get to work on shaping its environment.
The address is michael@autpress
and we’re accepting proposals
and manuscript submissions.
You’re all welcome to join us—
if you haven’t already been dismissed.
Michael Scott Monje, Jr. writes the Shaping Clay blog, featuring a semi-autobiographical serial fable about being autistic, queer, and stuck at the end of the twentieth century. They are the author of Nothing is Right and Mirror Project, both self-published (for now) and Defiant, with Autonomous Press. They also wrote the electronic chapbook A Waking Narrative. Michael’s poetry has also appeared in Neuroqueer and other venues.