july 4

I’m back! after another gap! This is my first week back in Minneapolis where it has felt VERY hot as it has in most of north america (PNW folks in both settler states, I hope you are surviving.)

today is An Holiday, one which I think many of my readers have grown estranged from in recent years. I used to be Really Really Into the fourth—like posted a quotation from 1776 the musical every year, bought a lot of red, white, and blue shit, etc. I had a very strong sense of nationalism because I believed the uh. There’s no other way of saying this, but the liberal lie about the possibilities of the country.

when I trace my own radicalization, not just away from nationalism but towards an actual understanding of a kind of leftist anticapitalist politics, so much of it can be grounded in the fact that I was in Minneapolis in the fall of 2016, a time not just when a certain 45th president of the united states was elected, but when the #noDAPL protests at Standing Rock were really in the public eye, and I had friends and colleagues making weekend runs to camp to bring the water protectors supplies. It was then that I was actually taught about settler colonialism in a serious way—though I had taken multiple courses in Native American history in undergrad, I admittedly had not been as exposed to a broader world of Indigenous scholarship, nor had I really grappled with what it meant to take Indigenous sovereignty seriously (not that this is the fault of any teachers I had, including ones who may be reading this! You’re amazing!) I’m incredibly lucky to have had professors, friends, and colleagues in graduate school who did expose me to this thought, who were with me as I learned not just about the atrocities of genocide but also the ongoing resistance (including the resistance going on right now in northern Minnesota to prevent the construction of Line 3, which you can find out more about and ways to help here.)

I don’t know how to describe it exactly. The greater my commitments to Indigenous sovereignty, the less I could support the settler state and pretend that a project to include more people will actually ever provide justice. And this then extends to not just my commitments to relationship with Native peoples—I also don’t believe in the project of incorporation for Black people, at least not without a massive restructuring. I don’t know that I believe in a state at all, though this I joke is through a lack of imagination—I cannot imagine a state that takes care of its people, and so I believe in people taking care of one another.

All of this doesn’t mean I won’t work to build a better world with folks who are invested in the US state and making it better, but that’s how I transformed from the nationalist you might have known me as to the person I am today. And now I will move onto the single book I’ve finished in weeks because vacation was actually NOT conducive to getting any reading done. Hopefully I’ll have books to write about next week, but for now let’s get to

The Book I Wrote About This Week

Rogue Protocol, by Martha Wells

This was an interesting return to the Murderbot series. Over the past two books (which I think I read last summer,) we watched the Murderbot struggle with how its own developing sense of autonomy and feelings—could no longer hide behind its own functions, and in fact was developing its skills to pass as a human in the last book, in pursuit of being treated in ways that would keep it safe. So this book, where we see the Murderbot come face to face with another bot, one who is treated almost as a friend by humans, makes sense in the logical progression of the larger arc that Murderbot is going through.

But it all felt… flat? There’s something about Murderbot as an outsider here that makes the relationships we’re watching feel much less developed than we’ve seen in previous books. Wells is sort of a genius of giving us pre-set dynamics of a group that give you a sense of who characters are and the rich history they share but for me that didn’t come across, especially with Miki and her relationship to the humans around her. What is clearly this important crux for Murderbot, to see that humans and bots can be friends and not in a subservient relationship, fell kind of flat because we didn’t seem to get enough into Miki’s actual relationship with those humans in a meaningful way. Yes, Wells is juggling a lot here, and it’s pretty amazing what she can do as an author, but this crucial thing that she’s also normally so good at seemed to fall flat for me.

I am looking forward to where the revelations that Murderbot has or is developing go in the next books! But this one, though still delightfully fun (Murderbot is a great narrator,) wasn’t my favorite in the series so far by quite a bit.

The Reading Situation

  • 100 books: my reading took a real hit in the month of June, as the aforementioned vacation meant was I far busier than I intended to be. At the time of this writing, I’m still at 59 books, but I’m slowly trying to get back to where I was and figure out how to get back on track. Hopefully soon I will at least be at 60 books!

  • Author identity challenge: still at 11/18, or 61%! Every time I start a book by a white person now I just go “oh boy.” Not that I’m saying white people can’t write! I’m just being Exposed.

  • Currently reading: Frankly at the moment, despite other books I’m in the middle of, I’m really only reading “Prisons Make Us Safer” by Victoria Law (hint: they don’t) and The Menopause Manifesto by Jen Gunter. I’m working away on something so I haven’t really been at the other books I have, though again, I hope to be back at them soon!

HMU

And that’s it for this week! Thanks so much for your patience, especially given that I barely talked about books (though I will say, I have LOTS of books about Native history and philosophy that I probably could recommend (and I am supposed to be writing a syllabus about Indigenous histories oops, so that would be an even better exercise,)) but it’s a thing I’ve been working through for the past fiveish years, and I’m glad I can articulate it here for you now. I hope you are surviving the fireworks—I also hate loud sounds, so it’s just Hell! Always! If you want to see me talk about starting a fight in the library (I would never, but I am Ready if one happens) you can follow me on twitter @fadesintointent. If you want to see me almost never post, you can follow me on Instagram @sonofahurricane. And if you want to see my vision of a world beyond the current settler state, you can start by taking care of yourselves and each other. <3