Category Archives: Vision

The Multiversity

Have you ever made a hair pin turn, but sensed others of you peeling off and missing the corner, in screech of brakes, careening out of control, spinning off the road in tight spiral, tumbling trunk over hood to catastrophe? You knew somehow that you had lived on, while others of you ended, trapped over and over, powerless, clenched in fear, frozen, gasping, clawing, screaming.

Reaching your arm across your beloved passenger to keep her in her seat. Even when no one was there?

Or in one case, without even trying to stop, accelerating spontaneously, the last moments of your life burned like a star, flying into the abyss?

This is the sensation of parallel lives.

Once I chose one love over another, but dreamed my other life continued. I saw it all the way through: a simple, contented life of family and joy. But in this life, I went on alone, with those dedicated to Earth.

By 2020 it was clear that the University as it had been envisioned was over. Once built on the ideal of the entire universe of ideas together, meeting in hallways, arguing in classrooms, holding forth before lecture halls, demonstrating over Bunsen burners, then atom smashers, scribbling, then typing, then word processing in offices.

Here, the liberated minds were sacred, tenured, funded in their resistance.

Once a servant of colonialism, the University lived out its promise: rebels repurposed the tools of academia to dismantle, to deconstruct, to decolonize. Critics of capitalism and white supremacy, anointed in its halls as tokens, did not inoculate us: they transformed us!—until we had tools for the great inventories we needed to rebuild the world, for utopia, to create a livable existence for all.

But the very machine we meant to retire—into a nice museum or a history book in miles of library stacks—kept on grinding. The western mania for colonialism devoured the globe then turned on its own creations. Students became customers. Even good-hearted administrators could not save it. Above them someone had an appetite for conquest, efficiency, assessment, standards. The languages of disciplines were shackled to a brand and silenced in their critique. The library was not so much emptied of books as suffocated, forced to breathe and re-breathe the dusty old volumes.

Book acquisitions were over.

And when the plague struck, the patrons quit coming to study and whisper and linger in the rows where once they had turned oxygen exhaled by the forests of books into new air for the old tomes to breathe.

Grieve this for one moment. Picture your library, your campus, now dead, now emptied of meaning, an overpriced Disneyland that held no danger, no discomfort, no challenge, no energy for it from conscripted faculty, indentured students, and no more revolution. See the shining and quiet floors. The lawns. The coffee shops. Full of people. Then ghost haunted.

Now—it is time to build the new world. Look up.

The trick is to wear what we love like loose garments. There is nothing to let go of. Say goodbye to those parallel lives self-destructing, frozen, mourning, too depressed to rise, ranting and beating their fists on administrative walls.

Accelerate into the abyss.

We had already begun to build the multiversity, based on theories of parallel worlds, experiments to revision, islands preserving history, culture, ecology, knowledges, and languages.

We imagined ourselves on arks, like medieval Irish monks who protected ancient manuscripts from marauders, like elders telling stories, making offerings, tending the shrines of ancestors, like archivists of queer zines, like hippy hoarders with all the old press clippings, composition books filled with ball point scrawl, meeting notes, and photos of a revolution, like keepers of heirloom seed collections, of vinyl, or genome projects…

And like the Great Mycelium who stored a plague to save her from the plague of us.

12 Steps for Survivors of the Isms Anonymous

The reader walked up the concrete ramp, sliding her hand along the chipped and smoothed paint of the metal railing, past determined roses and sunflowers on ragged plants that needed to be deadheaded. She stopped to cup one bright beauty in her brown hand and brought it to her nose.

“So sweet,” she whispered to the plant.

Under the awning of the old stone church with its desert pink stucko joints and decorated with long-necked statues of monsters that gave the church its nickname: the Pink Gargoyle Church, she was met by friends on wide wooden benches around the patio. People stood up from conversations to embrace one another in warm, chaste hugs. They looked into each other’s eyes and exchanged the coded banter they had learned in rooms like these, rooms like the one she now entered through glass doors.

She stopped to introduce herself to the grim young man sitting just inside the door, shaking his hand warmly. “Welcome home Sebastian,” she said.

Inside, against a wall decorated with two plain banners—The 12 Steps of SIA, The 12 Traditions of SIA—she sat among more friends, smiling around a fold out table in a circle of thrifted chairs. The meeting began over the quiet clink of metal spoons stirring sugar and the powdered cream into chipped mugs at the coffee pot.

The last bits of chat quieted slowly as the leader said, “Will you please join me in a moment of silence for the still suffering, followed by the Serenity Prayer.”

The quiet came deep, willing, communal. She could feel the flutter of anxiety rise and still as her breath came all the way in, all the way out. She concentrated on the words as she spoke them, trusting the one she said them to, trusting the evidence in the room. Trusting the wisdom and the freedom that they requested in unison.

The readings went as usual, read every meeting, reminding her every meeting. She let them flow around her.

“We meet to share the experiences we have as survivors of the isms of a society built on dominance: colonialism, racism, binarism, heterosexism, ableism, classism…

“Those experiences infected us as children and continue to affect us today…

“One. We admitted we were powerless over the isms and the effects of growing up in structural violence and that our lives had become unmanageable.

“Two. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity…”

“Nine. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all…

“Suicide, addiction, harm to ourselves and others, anxiety, depression…

“We lived life from the standpoint of victims…

“We take our own inventories and leave the rest to our higher powers…”

And then, after the readings, in the familiar format of the meeting, wise, brave, petty, self-pitying, humble, comfortable, familiar, humorous, vulnerable, honest, and sometimes also still in denial, the people spoke for their three minutes, each as their ticket number was pulled and called from an old coffee can.

She looked out the window at the blue sky, at the tree waving in the breeze. She looked at the speakers. She nodded. She smiled. She felt moved. She felt glad it wasn’t her. She felt grateful. She opened her heart. She resisted. She checked out. She checked in. When the Newcomer Sebastian shared, choked with grief, she nodded with the room when he said, something about walking his neighborhood in fear for his life, about “the plundering of black bodies,” and “Black Lives Matter.” The hour gradually passed.

“Number 68,” the ticket person said.

The reader looked up from her folded hands and smiled. Her number had been called.

“My name is Juno and I am a Survivor,” she began.

Untwinned Flames

The reader spread out the cards amidst tinkles of laughter from behind the coolness of her shining veil. She would sometimes widen her eyes for effect, but she really did know things.

She could feel the whiteness of her grin as the golden women who came to her saw themselves laid out by her graceful brown fingers. Laid out on the table. The reader knew power.

But she was humble too. The gift that was to feel the skeins of the universe running through her vagus nerve—deep in organs and bone marrow, along all of her into ever fine filaments and out to the winds on her skin—she held lightly. When the message came in, the scar on her face burned clean, as sharp as the knife from this boyhood wounding.

The golden women, celebrities who sparked screens and speakers and made millions, could see the very tip of white blaze against her cheekbone above her face covering. But they knew not to ask. Or they were afraid, in awe of their prophet.

The day would come when she removed the veil and let them see the consequences of her youth on the streets, of bondage, of unchecked dominance in a crazed empire on the verge of collapse. It was then that she ceased telling them of love and wealth.

She spoke of garbage.

The divine feminine was turning her back on the Emperor, the Hierophant, and on all the kings, of fire and armor, of abundance and of blood.

It is time to go, she told them. And this is how.