Disability Space is Our Space

One long held view in disability studies is that the industrial revolution and factory labor created disability. Bodies had to fit the factories. Broken bodies were useless. Enter asylums for warehousing the cripples.

The biggest problem with this is its essentialism. Bodies drift in and out of public space, or to put it another way, whatever we mean by private space was always disabled. Maternity space, death bed space, sick room space, blind space, deaf space, lame space, autistic spaces—all were nearly permanent, atavistic, dating back to the origins of humankind. Reading the ancient genome we see astonishing numbers of disabled. They were our forebears. Our brothers and sisters. They lived together. Personal space, tribal space, was always disability space.

This means that industrial space, capitalist space is a perversion of human geography in which the disabled are stigmatized. If there could be a slogan for this it would be: “Don’t stay home with your crippled brother/mother/father/sister….come on down to the factory and throw away your heart for money.” Another way to say it is: “Novelty beats traditional suffering.”

You can get away with a view like this if you believe in the accumulation of capital.
You can get away with a view like this if you believe in Marx.

You cannot get away with “novelty beats traditional suffering” if you acknowledge suffering.

The man from Porlock is here. My doorbell is ringing.

Morning Notes

One month I carried the Torah everywhere
 The next month the Koran, the New Testament
 The Dhamapada, Emily Dickinson…
 
 I would like to speak with my 20 year’s self
 Buy him a cup of tea
 
 **
 
 The fact is
 Repeat
 
 **
 
 In Russia once
 I bought a coat from a man
 Then gave it back
 
 **
 
 Mike the farmer brought Christianity to Finland
 
 **
 
 If you plan any razzmatazz with me you better not be a member of the Chamber of Commerce
 
 
 **
 
 A friend said recently he wants to buy a samovar
 I told him I have one
 Then I remembered it was in my childhood
 That it’s long gone
 
 **
 
 I told a stranger my family came to America for the juicy prunes
 
 
 **
 
 I know so many poets who want to be celebrities
 If you can’t stand the neglect stay out of the aquarium
 
 
 **
 
 I hid inside a piano once
 
 
 
 
 
 
 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

More About Hating Smokey the Bear

I don’t like Smokey the Bear. I’ve already written about it. He’s a slick defier of logic. Children are powerless to prevent forest fires and telling kids they’ve a singular moral responsibility fo forestall contagion is the kind of cartoon horse shit Americans are forced to grow up with.

Meanwhile the forests are being systematically cut down by Weyerhaeuser and fried by acid rain from “clean coal”—a phrase I’m sure Smokey the Bear would approve.

Now you will say: “But Kuusisto, is it Smokey the Bear you don’t like, or is it the fatuous, bloated, running dogs of the bourgeoisie who created him who you dislike?”

Of course I dislike Madison Avenue. But it’s the cartoon Bear I hate. He’s the kind of anthropomorphic dungaree wearing shovel toting ranger hat wearing dingus who will pick your pockets if you’re not careful. He’s out to mess with your conscience. He wants you to feel responsible when bad things happen in nature.

Only you can prevent hurricanes.

Only you can prevent global warming.

He’s anti-democratic and the purveyor of superstition.

Thomas Jefferson would have despised Smokey the Bear.

Why am I “on” about this?

Because when you make a woman who’s survived sexual abuse stand alone before a room fool of smug, pink, hostile men on Capitol Hill, you’re saying, “only you can prevent sexual assault”—the American social lie…the idea that the culture isn’t responsible, only you, only you.

Stephen Kuusisto and HarleyABOUT: Stephen Kuusisto is the author of the memoirs Have Dog, Will Travel; Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”); and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the University of Iowa, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Ohio State University. He currently teaches at Syracuse University where he holds a University Professorship in Disability Studies. He is a frequent speaker in the US and abroad. His website is StephenKuusisto.com.

Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey is now available for pre-order:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound.org

Have Dog, Will Travel by Stephen Kuusisto

(Photo picturing the cover of Stephen Kuusisto’s new memoir “Have Dog, Will Travel” along with his former guide dogs Nira (top) and Corky, bottom.) Bottom photo by Marion Ettlinger 

This is the Smokey the Bear Social Lie Complex.

The corridors of power depend on this.

I’ve Had It….

I’ve had it with these amateur sufferers, these sons of bitches who think their D League oppressions are anything more than a hangnail. Karl Ove Knausgaard for example. He’s what my grandmother would call a shallow piss pot of a man and he should thank his lucky stars he’s writing and publishing his pissant Little Bo Peep books in an age of literary decline. Invented struggle is beneath contempt. Why do I bother? Maybe because there are genuine writers, especially those with disabilities who are ten thousand times more powerful than Knausgaard or Anthony Doerr or Jose Saramago—just to name three writers I cannot stand though for different reasons and I won’t bore you. At least not right now.

What else? I’ve had it with men. All of them. And many women—the Trump girls and the boys club girls—the latter you find in higher ed administration rather frequently. I’ve had it with junior high mean girls who’ve grown up only in physical stature.

I’ve had it with corporation tee shirts, sports radio, Ted Cruz, the Great Cheeto in Chief, the oil and gas lobby, Ax deodorant, Big Pharma television advertising, other peoples fuchsia hair, bad tattoos, New York Yankees hats, BMW convertibles, slick supersonic info wars.

I’ve had it with congress which I won’t capitalize. It rhymes with emptiness.

I’ve had it with the pope the army the endomorphic police state, Vladimir Putin, Teresa May, all the little diapered Nazis who salute the Great Cheeto; I’ve had it with misogynistic rap, Diet Coke, school boards, free hotel breakfasts, cable news, the National Football League, the NCAA, single issue politics, flag worshipers, Monsanto, border walls, nuclear power, and dollar shave clubs. If it costs you, don’t shave.

I love Walt Whitman, Toni Morrison, rain at night, baseball, the Bill of Rights, and sailboats.

Thank you for listening.

Stephen Kuusisto and HarleyABOUT: Stephen Kuusisto is the author of the memoirs Have Dog, Will Travel; Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”); and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the University of Iowa, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Ohio State University. He currently teaches at Syracuse University where he holds a University Professorship in Disability Studies. He is a frequent speaker in the US and abroad. His website is StephenKuusisto.com.

Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey is now available for pre-order:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound.org

Have Dog, Will Travel by Stephen Kuusisto

(Photo picturing the cover of Stephen Kuusisto’s new memoir “Have Dog, Will Travel” along with his former guide dogs Nira (top) and Corky, bottom.) Bottom photo by Marion Ettlinger 

Ode to my Twin Brother Who Died at Birth

Of course I found a spoon in the snow

While missing you, gulls above the harbor

Baltic yellow mid day mid winter light

A policeman talked softly to his horse

I was proud of my new wristwatch 

Cheap but Swiss made

Being of the scholar class

It was a totem thrill on my wrist

You my brother my twin 

Gone in infancy who followed 

And follow—listen

I’m sewing together 

A seahorse like the one

We rode in the womb