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I was flying into Chicago at night Watching the l…

I was flying into Chicago at night
Watching the lake turn the sky into blue-green smoke
The sun was setting to the left of the plane
And the cabin was filled with an unearthly glow
In 27-D, I was behind the wing
Watching landscape roll out like credits on a screen

The earth looked like it was lit from within
Like a poorly assembled electrical ball
As we moved out of the farmlands into the grid
The plan of a city was all that you saw
And all of these people sitting totally still
As the ground raced beneath them, thirty-thousand feet down

It took an hour, maybe a day
But once I really listened the noise just fell away

Stratford-On-Guy, Exile in Guyville, Liz Phair
Flying into Tegel from Brussels yesterday evening, north of Berlin. I sat in 20-F, the sun coming in over my right shoulder, as we cut a giant curve from the Berliner Ring to turn back west, I sang, “… As we moved out of the farmlands into the grid …”.

These lyrics. How she sings them. Just my regular reminder to self that after 24 years Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville is still one of the best albums ever.

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The All-Russian meeting of Muslims, called for by …

The All-Russian meeting of Muslims, called for by Muslim Duma deputies immediately after the February revolution, was fast approaching — but before this, on 23 April, delegates gathered in Kazan in Tatarstan for the All-Russian Muslim Women’s Congress. There, fifty-nine women delegates met before an audience 300 strong, overwhelmingly female, to debate issues including the status of Sharia law, plural marriage, women’s rights and the hijab. Contributions came from a range of political and religious positions, from socialists like Zulaykha Rahmanqulova and the twenty-two-year-old poet Zahida Burnasheva, as well as from the religious scholars Fatima Latifiya and Labiba Huseynova, an expert on Islamic law.

Delegates debated whether Quranic injunctions were historically specific. Even many proponents of trans-historical orthodoxy interpreted the texts to insist, against conservative voices, that women had the right to attend mosque, or that polygyny was only permitted — a crucial caveat — if it was “just”; that is, with the permission of the first wife. Unsatisfied when the gathering approved that progressive–traditionalist position on plural marriage, the feminists and socialists mandated three of their number, including Burnasheva, to attend the All-Russian Muslim Conference in Moscow the next month, to put their alternative case against polygyny.

The conference passed ten principles, including women’s right to vote, the equality of the sexes, and the non-compulsory nature of the hijab. The centre of gravity of the discussions was clearly Jadidist, or further left. A symptom of tremulous times.

October: the story of the Russian Revolution, China Miéville

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The scale of the Third Front was staggering, as ab…

The scale of the Third Front was staggering, as about 1,800 factories were set up in the hinterland to prepare for war. As one scholar has noted, since about two-thirds of the state’s industrial investment went to the project between 1964 and 1971, it constituted the main economic policy of the Cultural Revolution. […] It is probably the biggest example of wasteful capital allocation made by a one-party state in the twentieth century. In terms of economic development, it was a disaster second only to the Great Leap Forward.

The Cultural Revolution: A People's History, 1962–1976, Frank Dikötter

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I chose to be a queer girl because it’s way more f…

I chose to be a queer girl because it’s way more fun than the alternatives. I was tired of feeling trapped in a straightjacket. I like being able to have lovers of more than one gender, and I get a kick out of cutting a feminine swathe through the world.

[…]

Why does it matter whether my perversity was a choice or ordained for me? Partly because it feels like I’m bucking the trend in maintream queer culture.

“Choice cuts”, in That's Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, Charlie Anders

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Too many anxieties? Get on the bike. Insecure? Ge…

Too many anxieties? Get on the bike.
Insecure? Get on the bike.
Hunting for male approval? Get on the bike.
Get on the bike. Get on the bike. Get on the bike. Get on the bike. Get on the bike. Get on the bike. Get on the bike.
It becomes my mantra.
I name the bike. Beelzebub. Every day I will get up on it and ride out my demons.

Trans(per)forming Nina Arsenault: An Unreasonable Body of Work, Nina Arsenault

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So much life force from inside me seems to come fr…

So much life force from inside me seems to come from my genitals. So much sensation. Sensation that is distinctly in male shape. This fucks up my ability to be in the moment but also feels like an enlivening force within me. Do I need to learn to accept my male genitals? To be comfortable with them?

I don’t know if I should look to escape the sensation of being male to lose more inner life (how much more?) or risk it all? To be a doll? Would I objectify myself into an automaton? Would I be happier like that? Is that what I really want?

Trans(per)forming Nina Arsenault: An Unreasonable Body of Work, Nina Arsenault

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Our first manifesto we released by fax. We didn’t …

Our first manifesto we released by fax. We didn’t have problems spelling the word, ‘cunt’; I think it was the word ‘manifesto’ we had problems with.

VNX Matrix, Virginia Barratt & Francesca di Rimini, overheard in Wired interview in my lounge

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The popular story of a leg transplant performed by…

The popular story of a leg transplant performed by physician saints Cosmos and Damian changes in its late-medieval retelling to emphasise not only the grafting of a black leg onto a sick white man but also the attaching of the gangrenous white leg onto the corpse of the Moor from whom the original graft was taken104. Such tales surely suggest that the intact condition of the body, even after death, had deep significance.

104. Judith-Danielle Jacquet, “Le Miracle de la Jambe Noire,” in Gélis and Redon (eds.), Les Miracles miroirs, pp. 23-52.

Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion, Caroline Walker Bynum

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A careful and comparative reading of texts by male…

A careful and comparative reading of texts by male and female authors from the twelfth to the fifteenth century thus suggests that it is men who develop conceptions of gender, whereas women develop conceptions of humanity.

Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion, Caroline Walker Bynum

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The relatively high standing of blacks in medieval…

The relatively high standing of blacks in medieval court culture becomes evident in the characters of Belacâne and Feirefiz in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Arthurian epic, Parzival (1197-1210). Belacâne is the Moorish Queen of Zanzamanc in Africa who gives birth to Feirefiz after being married to the Christian knight Gahmuret, who is also the father of Eschenbach’s hero, Parzival. Significantly, Gahmuret’s romance with Belacâne presents an interracial (and interreligious) relationship in a positive light, although Belacâne wishes to become Christian. Likewise, Feirefiz, who is described as having black-and-white patched skin, is regarded as Parzival’s equal. Parzival even claims that, together with their shared dead father, the three of them are in essence one because of blood bond. After renouncing his pagan faith, Feirefiz marries the white Grail bearer and is granted all the privileges of a Christian knight.

Germany and the Black Diaspora: Points of Contact, 1250-1914, Mischa Honeck, Martin Klimke, Anna Kuhlmann (eds.)