“For years, everyone said, ‘Joni’s weird chords, Joni’s weird chords.’ And I thought, How can there be weird chords? Chords are depictions of emotions. These chords that I was getting by twisting the knobs on the guitar until I could get these chords that I heard inside that suited me, they feel like my feelings. You know, I called them, not knowing, chords of inquiry. They had a question mark in them. There were so many unresolved things in me, that those chords suited me. You know, I’d stay in unresolved emotionality for days and days…”
Let’s all help college students get knowledge they deserve for free:)
The Final Secret of David Wojnarowicz
NYU’s Bobst Library is an empty cavern where fluorescent lights hang down like stalactites and lone students wing through the stacks like bats. My ears are straining to catch some sign of life when I hear the squawk of a recalcitrant brake as the librarian wheels a metal book cart my way. If my soul could salivate, I’d go wet inside. Saints’ relics, the shirt off Justin Bieber’s back, lost tapes showing what really happened that day in Dallas—I couldn’t give two shits about those curios. I’m about to hold David Wojnarowicz’s final secret: the Magic Box.
Through his art, Wojnarowicz gave voice to the unspeakable, be it the banal brutality of the suburbs, the roaring horror of AIDS, or the beauty of two faggots fucking on an abandoned pier in downtown Manhattan—all subjects he came by honestly. His father was violently abusive, alcoholic, and eventually killed himself; his mother was often absent and rarely parental. By the time he was a teenager, Wojnarowicz was hustling among the junkies and pimps in pre-Disney Times Square. Yet like an alchemist, he somehow distilled shit into gold, turning a painful childhood into powerful, layered artwork that was at once raw and intensely structured. His paintings, essays, and installations graced everything from the 1985 Whitney Biennial to ACT UP protest signs. If playwright Larry Kramer was the conscience of 1980s queer America, Wojnarowicz was the id—full of rage and lust, love and fear.
And he understood that that rage could be his weapon. In his essay “Do Not Doubt the Dangerousness of the 12-Inch-Tall Politician,” Wojnarowicz wrote that “to speak about the once unspeakable can make the INVISIBLE familiar if repeated often enough in clear and loud tones.” This was his central project, his central problem: how to make legible the queer outline of his life, which America would have rather seen destroyed, or, failing that, kept silent. Wojnarowicz believed that this articulation had the power to “shake the boundaries of the illusion of the ONE-TRIBE NATION,” his dismissive term for the false sense of shared experience that was at the heart of every two-and-a-half-child, three-car-garage, prefab, Norman Rockwell–style American dream. It was all part of the “pre-invented world”—the shit we are handed at birth, like language and capitalism—which was built to serve the needs of those in power and which Wojnarowicz rejected vocally and often.
i asked stephen sandyfarquhar his thoughts on queer vs mogai and i think they shed some fantasic new insight on the issue (bold is mine):
haha actually i almost sent you a message about queer vs. mogai. i always misread mogai as mogwai, which is a scottish post-rock band.
Utopian thought, ideal
Someone skinned 6 rats and hung them on plastic hangers over the new Utrecht N train stop 🐭🐭🐭 @emilyjeanhanna where do we live?
tip: if the internal logic of what you are saying relies on shame and fixed identity, you are speaking sjspeak