Sunday, June 1, 2014

introduction for Rachel Levitsky by Krystal Languell

May 18, 2014 at Berl's Bookstore
at Lesley Flint Presents, hosted by Joseph Bradshaw

Rachel Levitsky is a visionary.

When I met Rachel, I persuaded her to let me turn Belladonna into a nonprofit.

“Our strategy was later revealed as naïve, but not completely naïve.”

She has written a novel against the arrogant notion that we can act without context,  arguing instead that when we inevitably spill over out of ourselves we are world-building.

“We could not keep all the particulars of it, our suffering, within the confines of our chest”

If we must risk death when we act (and we must),

“there is no outcome other than my death”

then our actions must have purpose in order to validate to our survival.

The book is dedicated to dissent and to the future and its mothers.

If it is not for our food water and shelter or the food water and shelter of others,

Alice Notley writes, “We the men have caused a crisis of money food and shelter, the primal goods, and we the men will fix it. You can’t help because it’s urgent. Only we the men know how to fix the things we broke.”

then it must be FOR AN IDEA with high stakes, with skin in the game, as a sports commentator or financial guru or NY Times columnist would argue—

“…might not we attempt to contribute a future less poisonous, atomized, wasting and ruined for the world into which surely others will find themselves awakening like us, shouldering unknown traits and ways.”

an idea about the future—though this “skin game” idiom, the origin of which is disputed, usually connotes a financial stake, a wager or an investment depending on your tack, while Levitsky’s novel calls for political skin; she asks whether we are willing to stake our freedom from violence—a risk more immediate than what money is capable of.

Can we be activist in our nonprofit management, in our university employment, in our personal lives? Can we be interventionist in our editing and our event curation?

Levitsky answers yes. It may not always be fun or cute or charming to do so, but it is powerful and it means in a higher stakes way, that is, this activism in daily life and circled round in this challenging novel, than most of the text being created and published today. Not just poetics of what are you doing, but a poetics of what are you doing about.

And in terms of collaboration, who are you doing about and with.

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