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  • Writer's pictureDave Stanley

ENG 876: Final Post

Question: In the last few weeks of this semester, we circled back to our beginning by looking at the power of narrative in shaping the world. As Frederic Jameson said in The Disorder of Things, “it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” Shelley Streeby argues that the world-making of visionary writers such as Butler, Vizenor, etc, is not only essential for us to see our way through such epoch defining crises as climate change, but a radical (as in “getting at the roots”) act of resistance to the world-that-is. She seems to empower literature with a much more central role in resistance struggles than one of merely passive entertainment. What do you make of this? Where do we go from here?

Also, if you care to, please include a reflection on where we have been through the semester in terms of the course, its content, and our chosen structures of pedagogy.

Answer: This particular struggle is one that I have found central to my questions in the class. Jameson's words resonate with the pessimist in me deeply. After working on my final project at length, and finding little solace in reflecting on the doings of shooters and Nazis... I began to wonder to myself why I was bothering. Could I make real change? Did any of what I was doing matter? And yet... the anger... the deep seated that these men who espouse a rhetoric of hate must be wrong, and that other people can see that too. That a rationality can win out in the end, and a better future can emerge. To that end I think reflection on the class and the various things we have learned about and the successes that groups have had over time.

Looking at the prophetic writing of Butler and how she foresaw the way that radical evil oligarchs might rally to will of Americans to truly dark causes. Thinking about Rita Raley and her work with turning media into tactile interventions. Situationalist International and their work with Detournement. The power of groups like ZAD to make real political change. The Alcatraz occupation and the ongoing fight for indigenous rights. Humans all over this little planet have been fighting for their rights, their hopes, their dreams, and the chance to live. And in many more cases that we think of at our lowest moments they are winning. This gives me hope. Helps me think that anything is possible in the face of adversity.

So, can imagine an end to capitalism? Not as easily as I do the end of the world, but I will understand that in most cases capitalism will be to blame. Does that paralyze me? Sometimes. Does that make me angry? Always.

So where do I go from here. I think that drawing on the class, my experiences, and the invaluable feedback I've received to take the fight outside. Work on engaging with useful tactics of protest and radical movement, to deplatform, disenfranchise, and defeat anyone who spews these rhetoric of hate. Work to make sensible changes to the law that prevent tragedies and terrorist attacks. Work to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Do. The. Work.

Streeby is right that literature can be central to resistance. What I think is overlooked is the form that might take. The literature online, like these blog posts, like the novels, articles, and think pieces written every day, are places that resistance can begin. If we convince people to take a stand, to ignore the fallacious need for "fair play" in representation of radical viewpoints, and stand up for something, I really do think that a better future is possible.

My own future work will draw heavily upon some of the ideas about how power is distributed in our society, that I learned in our class. I have been armed with terminology and discursive understanding that help arm me to both understand who my enemies are and to understand how to engage with them.

So thank you for reading this blog, with its up's and down's, and standing with me though this particularity trying semester. This class has been a pleasure, and an excellent experience.

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