Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Seen and Not Seen: On Toilets, Transsexuals, and Terrorists

In the last week or two, a lot of my friends have been sharing this image:

[Image description: two young Black girls are holding hands and laughing in front of a GIRLS LOCKER ROOM sign. The caption above reads, "So, tell me, which girl shouldn't be allowed in?", while at the bottom of the picture are two hashtags, #beautifulgirls and #transgenderisnotscary. Facebook commenter 1 writes: "People would feel differently about is if they showed an actual transgender person in the picture, not that I'm against it at all but if you're going to make a pro-trans page then you should use actual transgender people." Commenter 2 replies: "This ad features my trans niece." Commenter 1 responds: "Oh, my bad then."]

I find this image, especially in conjunction with the accompanying comments, extremely revealing of the visual logic that underlies cis images of trans people. In light of the ever-growing spate of anti-trans bathroom bills (and certain responses to them, of which more below), I think it's worth unpacking what precisely we can deduce about how cis people do and don't see us.

For the commenter who objects to the photo, "an actual transgender person" is someone who is visibly recognizable as gender-variant, someone who can be seen to be non-cisgender. "People" (not himself, he insists) "would feel differently" if the picture portrayed an "actual" (i.e. visible) trans person -- and on this point he's not actually wrong, because the ad wouldn't make any sense if one of its subjects were visibly trans. The caption "So, tell me, which girl shouldn't be allowed in?" only makes sense if neither girl is visibly trans. The logic of the ad demands that transgender people be indistinguishable from cis people. This ad couldn't work with, and doesn't speak to, visibly trans people: people who are not conventionally "beautiful girls," people whom the cis gaze does designate as "scary." The commenter understands the category "trans people" to contain only visibly trans people, while the ad refuses any identification of trans people as visibly different from cis people.

At base, there are two disparate logics of gendered visibility at work here, and their disparity can be traced to the fundamental contradiction in the medical establishment's manner of bestowing gender on people. Birth-assigned genders rely on a logic of pure visibility: the doctor sees the fetal genitalia on an ultrasound and declares a gender on that visual basis. Trans people's genders are recognized on the basis of invisibility, on the pure interiority of a self-declared psychic gender (I'm talking here about the medical recognition of trans people's genders, which is usually required in order to receive hormones, surgeries, and a change of legal gender).

Now,  my reaction to the incommensurability of these two models is that the birth assignment model of gender is deeply flawed and harmful, and ought to be phased out. But a lot of people -- who may on some level be aware that there is a contradiction here, but who may not have thought through the exact details of it; or who may simply find the idea of such a radical overhaul of our gender system too scary -- respond by doubling down on birth-assigned genders (or "biological sex" as they like to call it), seeking some kind of deeper reality in which to anchor birth-assigned genders, whether that's chromosomes, internal reproductive organs, gonads, etc. The problem with this approach is that chromosomes and genitalia and internal reproductive organs and gonads don't align neatly in a binary-sex model. There's a lot more variation than that.

For those who are wedded to the concept of a biological sex binary and everything it represents, visibility is the primary metric of gender. This logic assumes that all trans people are instantly recognizable, "scary" and certainly not "beautiful" to the cis onlooker, and this is ostensibly what underlies bathroom bills like that of North Carolina. Some pro-trans responses to the bathroom bills -- like the ad above, or the phenomenon of cis-passing trans men taking selfies in women's restrooms -- react by privileging the logic of the non-visibly trans person, where the very invisibility of one's transness reveals the absurdity of the bill.

For one group, trans people's visibility is the problem; for the other, trans people's invisibility proves that there is no problem. The reality of cis views on trans visibility, however, is decidedly more complex than either side concedes.

Quite apart from throwing visibly trans people under the bus, the "we're just like you!" response overestimates the rationality of anti-trans bigotry. The increased visibility of transness in the public eye may have shaped the climate in which current anti-trans rhetoric is formed, but being anti-trans has never just been about cis people's fear and disgust of visibly trans folks. Arguably, the "trap" narrative of the cis-passing trans person who "tricks" a cis person into intimacy has a much longer pedigree in the bigoted imagination. For anti-trans bigots, the "man in a dress" (their view of a visibly trans person) is pitiful and laughable, but the "trap" (their view of a non-visibly trans person) is a devious degenerate.

In Assuming A Body (a book about which I am, incidentally, highly conflicted), Gayle Salamon invokes the figure of the terrorist as an analogue for anti-trans fears:
The primary anxiety today is not that transpeople [sic] will fail to pass, but that they will pass too well -- that they will walk among us, but we will not be able to tell them apart from us, an anxiety that mirrors current apprehensions about nationality, border control, and the war on terror with uncanny precision. [192]
If Salamon is right, then responses like the ad above or the bearded trans guys in women's rooms are not only unhelpful, but precisely counterproductive, stoking cis fears of trans non-visibility. And it doesn't take much reflection to recall that US cultural signifiers for terrorism float free of actual terrorist acts -- brown skin, thick beards, turbans -- such that bearing one or more of these signifiers marks one as Other, as enemy, completely independent of the actual definition of "terrorist." The anxiety that terrorists walk invisibly among us is cathected onto visible traits. People who attack a Sikh man don't care whether he is or is not a terrorist; they care that his turban is popularly construed as a visible symbol of an invisible threat, and they care about the message they can send to the invisible threat by attacking the visible symbol. In the same way, people who propose bathroom bills don't care whether or not they target actual trans people; they care about sending a message to us, and the message is that our existence is an affront to them.

Look: they know, okay? Anti-trans bigots know that some cis people "look" trans and some trans people "look" cis, and they do not care. Our visibility isn't the point. Our existence is.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

On Biomedical Technologies of Gender

I have a bad habit of accumulating interesting journal articles on my computer and only reading them months or years later. Such was the case with a 2012 Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health article called "Transgender Transitions: Sex/Gender Binaries in the Digital Age" by one Kay Siebler. The title is clumsy, but the convergence of transgender studies with internet studies is a research interest of mine, so the other day I finally got around to reading it.

I was disappointed. Siebler's argument boils down to a rehashing of that boring, ignorant claim that people who medically transition are reinforcing gender binaries, and if we were ~real true queers~ we wouldn't get hormones or surgeries (and we certainly wouldn't talk to each other about them). This idea is weirdly pervasive in queer circles, and it's predicated on fallacies.

What I find most troubling about this claim isn't its oversimplification of the relationship between individual's actions and the system of enforced gender binaries; nor its naive valorization of nonbinary identities as always inherently better and more liberatory than binary identities; nor even the way it holds trans people to a different standard than cis people. It's the way that, even as it purports to dismantle the gender binary, it naturalizes the sex binary and the cis body. For Siebler, and for many others who think similarly, binary sex assignment at birth is self-evident; the cis body and its gender are natural, a blank slate on which hormones and surgeries constitute unnatural intervention (if not mutilation). These are pernicious misconceptions: the cis body as given, unmarked, its sex preexisting and floating above the socio-material discourses in which its life is lived. These are the (platonic) ideals clung to by the "don't call me cis" crowd (with, and I always promise myself I'm not going to compare gender and race but I always end up doing it anyway, its irresistible echoes of "I'm not white, I'm Irish").

Look: all genders are biopolitical fictions. It's just that some are more strictly regulated and suppressed than others. The body is never a blank slate and genders are never natural. There's no ontological difference between a trans person taking hormones and the assignation of an infant to a socio-material category based on its genitalia, as discerned by the medical gaze at birth or before. Both are biomedical interventions. Both are leaps into the rapid-running river of the sex/gender system, and both require intense struggle to keep your head above the suffocating flow of discourse. The only real difference is that the birth assignment is socially and institutionally supported.

Ironically, I find a parallel frustration in the work of someone who is both acutely cognizant of the fictitious nature of cis genders and extremely in favor of doing whatever the hell you want with synthetic hormones: Paul Preciado. Preciado's Foucauldian analysis in Testo Junkie is so brilliant, such a lucid and convincing account of the operations of pharmacopornographic biopower, that it's kind of hilarious how thuddingly flat his conclusions fall. All that dazzling description of the global assemblages of sex and gender, and then all he can offer is a revolution through drag king workshops. It's like a parody of everything he has devoted the preceding 350 pages to dismantling. Perhaps I am jaded by too much queer theory of the "my preferred gender/sexual practices just so happen to be the most politically subversive" variety, but I find it hard to get excited about any revolution that entails occupying the postures of toxic masculinity, whatever the intent behind so doing. Bragging about your dick(s) and mistreating your girlfriend as revolutionary praxis? Count me out, bro.

For Preciado, biomedical technologies of gender are inherently revolutionary. For Siebers, they are inherently reactionary. Both of them are ignoring the ways we interact with existing gendered power structures.

Biomedical technologies of gender are systems in which we all partake, trans or cis, knowingly or otherwise. The cis/trans axis of power requires that trans people fight harder for their genders, prove and justify and earn them in ways cis people aren't required to do. The male/female axis of power denigrates women in material and discursive ways. Trans women's oppression at the intersection of these axes is multiplied as transmisogyny. This is, like, feminism 101. It's incredible how quickly it gets forgotten by people who want to make sweeping claims about trans folks.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Joyful Mysteries of Reproductive Justice

On Saturday, I worked as an abortion clinic escort for the first time. Escorts offer moral support and a friendly face for the women whose path to the clinic door is lined by protestors whose intimidation tactics are a shameless smorgasbord of shouting about murder, thrusting leaflets into passing hands, and brandishing disgusting and mendacious placards.

On my way to the clinic, I prayed the rosary, a practice at which I am still very new. Saturday's apportioned subject matter for contemplation is the Joyful Mysteries.

The first Joyful Mystery is the Annunciation, when the angel tells Mary of her impending parthenogenetic motherhood. Mary's “yes” (“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”) is often embraced by liberal Christianity as a moment of empowerment and consent; but this “yes” troubles me, circumscribed as it is by power and coercion from all sides. I think of women and girls in the US and around the world whose reproductive options are narrowly circumscribed by social forces, women and girls whose bodily autonomy is consistently violated by poverty and patriarchy and legal structures and social institutions. I think of the “nos,” “nos” unspoken or sublimated or overridden. I think about how every “yes” is a compromised yes, a coerced yes, and I think of the very real improvements we could make to the material and discursive circumstances of these yeses, and the space we could make for these hidden nos, if only we tried.

Don't worry, I know a clinic staffed by very nice people who can help
I first read about the work of clinic escorts at least 18 months ago, and I have finally succumbed to the call that has been quiet yet persistent at the back of my mind ever since then. The call said: These protestors – the ones who are violent, the ones who make death threats, and the ones whose presence is a barrier to justice for those most in need of it – these are your co-religionists. Aren't you going to do anything?

The second Joyful Mystery is the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. I think of the intergenerational solidarity of these two improbably pregnant women, one old, one young, in the face of pregnancies so unplanned that it took divine intervention to make them happen. I think of all the ways in which solidarity between oppressed people manifests. I think especially of women who seek ways to live and to live with dignity in a world that is hostile to their bodies; of black women whose bodies are targeted by white supremacy; of trans women whose bodies are rendered disposable by transmisogyny.

A fellow escort was deeply troubled by a flyer she had seen in her local Methodist church. It advertised a fundraising walk for a crisis pregnancy center – those creepy fake clinics that spread misinformation about reproductive options. My escort friend was concerned to see the anti-abortion agenda pushed so brazenly within the walls of a mainline church.

She isn't wrong to be concerned. Mainline churches have failed hard when it comes to reproductive justice. By silence, by noncommittal waffling, by avoiding the issue for fear of controversy, mainline denominations have allowed the voices of injustice to set the terms of the national conversation. Our reticence has helped cause a political climate in which serious presidential candidates earn applause and acclaim for stating their opposition to abortion under all circumstances.

(Increasingly, when I watch this old Simpsons clip, I expect to hear cheers instead of boos in response to the proposition, “No abortions for anyone!”)

Still a very compelling platform imo
The third Joyful Mystery is the Nativity, childbirth in poverty and peril, one precarious life bringing forth another. I think of the 69% of abortion-seekers in the US who are “economically disadvantaged.” I think of how structural racism and ableism lead to the high rates of poverty among people of color and people with disabilities. I think of all the parents and guardians whose economic disadvantages force them to make heartbreaking decisions about exactly which goods they should deprive their children of today. I think of the shockwaves of devastation caused by an unplanned pregnancy when abortion is not easily or affordably available.

Progressives, and perhaps especially progressive people of faith, need to stop being on the defensive on this issue. We need to stop apologizing for abortion and start treating it as a good and necessary aspect of reproductive justice.

I don't concede the “pro-life” appellation, I don't accept the oversimplified “choice” framework, I'm not interested in the third term in the safe-legal-rare buzzphrase. I care about reproductive justice, the intersectional movement founded by women of color and centering their perspectives. Reproductive justice is about race and economics and ability and sexuality, birth control and abortion and parental leave and childcare, comprehensive healthcare and living wages and affordable housing, education and access and culture. Facilitating coparenting among polyamorous partners, overhauling the foster care system, marriage equality for people with disabilities – all are aspects of reproductive justice.

The fourth Joyful Mystery is the Presentation of the newborn Jesus at the Temple, when the old prophets Anna and Simeon express their joy at seeing him. I think of every friend's baby I have cuddled, every tiny human I have smiled at in passing, every infant I have smothered in kisses. I think of the material and psychological wellbeing I wish on my godchildren. I think of the incalculable value of a supportive community, including those who are older and those who are childless, in the care and upbringing of a child. I think of how forced childbirth and lack of reproductive options reduce this community.

Abortion isn't something we should tiptoe around, apologize for, or treat as a necessary evil. In the political climate of the US, caring about reproductive justice means arguing for abortion as a moral good. “Life,” in the phrase “pro-life,” means only “fetuses carried to term, all other factors be damned.” It's a reduction of the richness of life to pure numbers, where the only number that matters is the birthrate. Quite aside from the fact that indefinite population expansion will eventually outstrip the planet's resources and result in death on an enormous scale, this is a cruelly narrow definition of life, one that prioritizes the dogma of fetal preservation over every actual living human's needs.

The fifth Joyful Mystery is the Finding of prepubescent Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem, after he goes AWOL from his parents. This is the only story of Jesus' childhood that made it into the canonical gospels. I think of it as an instance of the child Jesus asserting his personhood, refusing to be treated as an appendage to or property of his parents. He breaks from the established hierarchy of his society in order to seek his God. I think of all who are oppressed by the established order of society. I think of their quests for truth and meaning and justice and life. I pray that I might be one to help facilitate that.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Marriage Is Meaningless. Yay!

Today's SCOTUS decision confirming marriage equality across the US has brought out the predictable chorus of conservative opposition. The conservative argument that resonates most with me is the claim that marriage equality is the first step toward stripping marriage of all meaning. To some extent, I agree with this claim -- the difference is, I think this is a good thing -- but I also think it's overlooking a more fundamental reality:

Marriage is already meaningless.

Seriously, even before today's ruling, even 25 years ago when same-sex marriage wasn't a major issue in the public eye, what is marriage? As far as I can tell, marriage is a conflation of at least three different things, none of which need to coexist anymore:

  • a legal kinship contract
  • a religious rite
  • a sexual relationship 
There is no logical reason for these three to coincide, and, in a pluralistic society like the 21st-century United States, there's no legal or moral way to ensure they do.

A lot of people get terrible upset about the relationship between the legal and religious sides of marriage, but it seems pretty clear to me. Constitutionally, the legal and religious sides have to remain separate. Look at other religious rites: there is no religious monopoly or mandate with respect to birth or naming or death. These are legal matters in civil society, and you have the option to involve your religion if that's your jam.

Truth be told, this is how marriage already operates. I got married in a courthouse. So did plenty of heterosexual couples. You sign a contract in a little room that is nominally a chapel, but there's nothing inherently religious or spiritual about it (other than the civil religion of US law and politics, but that's a different conversation I won't get into here). Non-religious straight people have been getting married forever. From a legal perspective, religion is an optional add-on to legal matters of birth, marriage, death, etc. In the course of human history, the religious meaning of these rites of passage arguably preexists the legal meaning, but this is 2015 CE, not 8000 BCE.

As to the sexual component of marriage, my general feeling is that it's nobody's business outside of the members of the marriage (assuming consent and legality and all that good stuff). In practice, mandating the sexuality of a marriage has always been deeply misogynistic, whether it's contemporary purity culture's obsession with female virginity, or the centuries of men's control over women's sexual and reproductive rights.

But even just ideologically, the sexual component of marriage is plain incoherent. In the conservative imagination, marriage involves a sexual initiation. This demands an arbitrary declaration of a singular sexual act as uniquely constitutive of sexual and marital union, and/or an asinine blanket ban on all extramarital sexuality, as though sexuality were wholly separable from friendship, romance, and other forms of relationship. Even if you don't buy the initiation thing, the assumption of sexuality within marriage is both creepy and unnecessary. Not all couples want sex; not all couples have sex; and telling an asexual couple that their marriage is incomplete is both rude and factually inaccurate. Mandating (or even normalizing) sexuality of any kind within marriage is as incoherent as insisting that all married couples have to, I don't know, share an umbrella.

What frustrates me the most about the whole same-sex marriage argument, though, is that it's a public debate where both sides rely on an adherence to the legal enshrinement of the gender binary. In New York, even before today's ruling, the "gender" fields on a marriage license application are optional, and we left ours blank. I'm pretty sure that my ungendered marriage is therefore neither "same-sex" nor "opposite-sex" -- an all-too-rare instance in which the legal paperwork accurately reflects reality.

Once you recognize that the religious, sexual, and gendered aspects of marriage are and have always been irrelevant to the legal side, there's only one logical course of action: create a legal framework for kinship contracts among partners and families of all configurations. Phase out "marriage," with its archaic focus on the monogamous pair-bond with an assumed reproductive capability. Make life easier for the genderqueers, the polyamorous, the three-parent families, the siblings who live together, the consenting adults and the children they may or may not take responsibility for.

We're here. We've always been here. We're not going away. It's time the legal system caught up to that reality.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Freddie Gray, Baltimore, and the Christian Logic of Abuse

Smarter, better-qualified people than myself have written smarter, better things about the protests in Baltimore. From a quick survey of Facebook, here's Ta-Nehisi Coates, Julia Blount, Benji Hart, and those are just the three articles I've seen shared most.

Of course, I've also seen the terrible responses, the white people referring to the protestors as “thugs” and “animals” (transparent racist dogwhistles both), sanctimoniously misusing out-of-context MLK quotes, expressing far more concern over CVS than over black human lives – and the inevitable production of Freddie Gray's arrest record, as if that revealed anything other than the logical knots into which white supremacy will tie itself in order to maintain the just-world fallacy.

Something that really strikes me about the white supremacist treatment of Freddie Gray and the Baltimore protestors is the extent to which it manifests the Christian logic of abuse. White America has been subjugating people of color for centuries, and when we demand compliance from the people we oppress, we are operating exactly as white patriarchal Christianity does.

Bloggers like Libby Anne, Sarah Moon, and Samantha Field have been writing for a long time about the abusive Christianity of patriarchy and the profound harm it does to women and queer people. Scholars like Delores S. Williams and Kelly Brown Douglas have spent decades critiquing the intersection of white supremacy and heteropatriarchy in Christianity, and the oppression of black and brown women at the hands of an imperialist religion.

Wives, obey your husbands. Slaves, obey your masters.

As the religion of empire, Christianity has taken the contextually specific advice given by one subject of imperial oppression to others, in a world he expected to pass away imminently, and imposed it from above as the rule of law. This advice is not normative advice for moral living; it is a measure for survival as a beleaguered minority. A black mother in the US in 2015 tells her son to avoid the cops, not because avoidance of cops is all-purpose moral advice, but because it is a survival tactic to avoid being murdered in a white supremacist context. A whole system that puts the onus on black people to avoid being murdered by cops is a profoundly broken system.

The logic of patriarchy blames women for being abused while simultaneously encouraging them to stay in abusive relationships. The logic of white supremacy murders black people and simultaneously blames them for their own murder. Much of that logic traces directly back to the imperial wielding of the cross.

The resurrection is a profound symbol of the transformation of abuse and suffering into new life and hope. The imperial misstep is to demand abuse and suffering. Imperial Christianity sees abuse and suffering transformed into new life and hope, and concludes that more abuse and suffering is needed. The Christianity of empire, of patriarchy, of white supremacy, centers Christ's death and believes that it can be the agent of hope.

This has never been true. The face of God is not the face of white America. The face of God is the face of Freddie Gray, the faces of those who protest. As Kelly Brown Douglas says, “To be where God is, is to be where black people are crying out for freedom from crucifying realities.”

ETA: Nyasha Junior has an important take on Kelly Brown Douglas' piece.

Friday, March 6, 2015

UKIP, Queerness, and Non-Reproductivity

This week, Vice published an amazing piece about the UKIP spring conference. The whole article is worth a read – every time you think it must have exhausted the cornucopia of preposterousness, along comes another sentence like 
A leaflet that was handed out as he spoke helpfully pointed out that foreign aid is actually spent on "giving dance lessons to Africans" 
"At the risk of sounding melodramatic, let's suppose our leader was issued with a European arrest warrant for allegedly stealing a chicken from a Carrefour in France"
Before I read the article, though, I saw this image circulating in isolation.

Image: a page from a flyer. A highlighted text box states that "What the LGBT is achieving, of course, is a recruitment drive. As such people cannot reproduce their own kind, they must recruit fresh 'blood' and this is best done among children in schools, the younger the better. The Government, through Gove and Morgan, has given them carte blanche."
It's easy to laugh at the naked scaremongering – the appeal to the tired old "predatory gays" trope, the implie conflation of queerness and pedophilia, the othering language of "such people" and "the LGBT" (which, ???) – but I think it's worth devoting some attention to the focus on reproduction.

That queers cannot reproduce is, of course, an anti-queer argument of long pedigree (see what I did there?). The Catholic church has thrown most of its anti-LGBT eggs into this philosophical basket, despite the elaborate theological hoop-jumping required to maintain this position while still justifying sex between infertile hetero couples. Its demonstrable falsity notwithstanding, the non-reproductivity argument still holds powerful rhetorical sway.

Look again at the flyer's language: 
As such people cannot reproduce their own kind, they must recruit fresh 'blood' and this is best done among children
See that must, both bolded and italicized. If queerness and pedophilia are conflated, as in the popular queerphobic trope that is certainly being invoked to some extent, the fresh blood to be recruited is a rainbow army of child prey, new meat for the insatiable sexual appetites of those voraciously vampiric queers who drain the bodily fluids from each victim before tossing them aside like so much offal. On this reading, queers need fresh blood because we are going through our finite supply of single-use sex partners at a rate of knots.

Simultaneously with this subtext, though, runs a second set of implied reasons for the queer recruitment drive, and that is simply "to reproduce their own kind." If this reproduction is intended to be analogous with human reproduction in its idealized form, in which parents are assumed not to prey sexually on their own children, then presumably queers are not recruiting these young schoolchildren to be our own sex partners. Recruitment, in the minds of the anti-queer flyering brigade, is the queer version of reproduction.

Queerness is definitionally non-reproductive to the creators of this flyer. Why, then, do queers wish to reproduce their own kind? They must do it, and the reason that they must do it is that they cannot do it. Self-evidently, non-reproductivity is a defect, and reproduction is the goal. For those who subscribe to the non-reproductivity argument against queerness, there is no "why" to reproduction. It's simply what living beings do.

I can't help wondering what would happen to this discourse if it came face-to-face with Lee Edelman. Edelman (No Future, 3, 4) exhorts queers to refuse the very terms of the argument that we must reproduce our own kind:
queerness names the side of those not 'fighting for the children,' the side outside the consensus by which all politics confirms the absolute value of reproductive futurism.  [...]
Rather than rejecting, with liberal discourse, this ascription of negativity to the queer, we might, as I argue, do better to consider accepting and even embracing it.
If we're talking pure biological fact, queerness is not definitionally non-reproductive, and straightness is not definitionally productive; but that's not the argument I want to have. Frankly, I don't want to have any argument that accepts the parameters UKIP sets.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I am bedeviled by fits of rationality

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
"Have a great day!"
--conversation between me and the Canon to the Ordinary when I got Ashes to Go at the train station this morning
 When I think rationally about existence, I am unable to function.

The universe massively preexists humanity and will vastly outlive us. We are specks of spacedust, and as a species our little life is nary a blip in the spacetime continuum. That's pure scientific fact, y'all.

"In four billion years the sun will swallow the earth, so what's the point of writing this assignment?" is not a good excuse, but when you think about it it's a strictly rational one. What's the point of getting out of bed? What's the point of staying alive?

In our anthropocentric little construction of reality, my fits of rationality are known as "depression" and are assumed to be treatable. When I lie staring at the ceiling, sleepless for wondering desperately why there's something rather than nothing, I'm making the most rational and fundamental of inquiries, and yet I am not functioning as a human should.

I take my meds. I drink my coffee and catch my train and go to work and class. Most of the time, I am not so rational that I can't participate in the trivialities of human life. The great irony, of course, is that my studies -- the work to which I am attempting to devote my life -- entail engaging the very existential questions that, if I delve into them too deeply, immobilize me utterly.

We are dust, and to dust we shall return. Have a great day.