Even if they don’t, even if our stories are met with apathy, with disdain, I believe our enduring anger and our passion require them. These stories sustain my activism because they make concrete the issues that, for me, have always had a certain looming intangibility to them. Scripts are not enough, and they were never meant to be enough. The best thing my scripts ever did was open up a channel to the people in my community. To force me to ask the questions that I had never thought to ask.
When I finally dared to return to my building, I saw a trail of glass, which led me to the gaping space where my front door had been. With the entrance wide open to the outside, my apartment no longer looked like an indoor space. The carpet was dirty and matted from the morning traffic of heavy footprints.The linoleum floor was streaked with mud. My sofa had disappeared under a layer of drop cloth; my other furniture had been shoved into the middle of my kitchen.
In his article “How Roland Barthes Gave Us the TV Recap,” Sam Anderson writes that “a cultural critic is betwixt and between: not a regular consumer of culture and yet someone immersed deeply enough in it to appreciate its inner mechanisms.” I feel strange saying that my recaps of a show like Bachelor in Paradise are a significant piece of cultural criticism or that they make me a cultural critic. (Though, certainly, some gorgeous writing came out of recaps of the final episode of Mad Men that wove together the end of the show for its viewers.) But I believe that the position I occupied, the sort of liminal space that an anthropologist would call a key informant, enabled me to situate Bachelor in Paradise within a context where individuals would actually enjoy it.
Anne Carson writes that prose is a house and poetry is the man on fire running through it. I think we managed to convince ourselves that movies can be that house, when really it’s more of an Airbnb. Checking into an Airbnb for the weekend is not the same as living in a house. While you are physically inside of a home, it is temporary, it is free of obligation aside from the implicit agreement that you will effectively not be the man on fire running through it. But owning a home requires sustained and incremental effort: you need to pay the bills, you need to maintain your property. And with that dedication comes intimacy: it’s your house. It’s the place you return to again and again.