the raw nerve of imperial existence

Content Warning: US Politics, general negative feelings.

It’s December in a few days. I make a point of spending December only promoting nice, cool, good things, ideally free content. That means now is literally the last opportunity, based on scheduling for me to put anything on the blog that’s, basically, kind of a downer for the rest of the year. That right there is kinda interesting, like I’ve deliberately set myself a rule that hey, next month, ease up a bit.

I have been spending the bulk of this month mainlining American political coverage.

And the weird thing is, I have not been mainlining the news, no no no, I don’t care to read the news. I’ve been looking up stuff from a month ago. Two months ago. Seeing who was saying what. Seeing where predictions were. Grappling with the ways people tried to make meaning out of the whole process. Watching as obscure laws and specific rules are fought over, and systems that do exist were put to the test and eventually, eventually, the struggling flailing comes to that fulcrum point a few weeks ago. Stretching out before it and after it, seeing who was confident, and who was scared, and who was relieved and who’s making up excuses to feel better.

And I do this, because the American election scares the living shit out of me.

I don’t want to talk to people about it. I don’t go on forums to post about it. I like tweeting about the way systems work and the way rules can be enforced or things we can extrapolate from the interaction of rules and the ways people talk about making their points, like how Mike Huckabee absolutely thinks like a rapist, or how Fuckface’s opinions about Torture betray that he absolutely is the kind of coward torture could break easily. Those are opinions and interests and that’s, basically, engaging with the media of the politics. And in part, it’s because when you talk about issues of politics, like how we change minds and convince people of things, I do think there’s stuff I can contribute there that’s good. I think that cis people can learn from me about some things we cis people do that makes like harder for trans people.

But I don’t get to vote.

I can’t drive people to the polls.

I can’t deliver water or reassure people or help folks in lines.

I can’t do anything with that machine over there, that slowly turns.

And I know, well, why should I, voting is fake, actually, they’re all as bad as each other, which is a mindset I know can sometimes come from a political position and sometimes it can come from depression and none of it helps the way my brain fizzes in this situation. I get it, you don’t care, or a meme about failure, whatever.

Voting systems are systems, they’re made by people. People can fix and address and change them. And right now we’re looking at some really complicated systems that need addressing somehow as we try and get to work on it and maybe it’ll work, gosh, I hope so.

I can’t help.

I can’t affect it.

And I am subject to the global empire that has colonised my life.

Eventually I get some take like ‘what do you know about it’ and like, I have to? Like, I’m an adult living under American empire. I have to be aware of America. I have to know why Utica and Albany are different but not very different (and they’re not the same as Rochester or Buffalo). I am affected by the turnings of this dreadful machine, and so are the people in my lives. I have to contend with the moral quality of people around me who would vote for an act of dreadful racist violence, even though we know they wouldn’t or couldn’t, because, they’re here.

We are subjects.

And I can’t do anything about it.

Can’t talk about it.

Just sitting here, feeling sick, watching a month old coverage, to hopefully see if someone saying stuff now has maybe been on the right track. That maybe some of the effort being spent, or the energy being poured into saving people or helping people or listening to people is ‘acceptable.’ Like starlight in a dark sky.

But then, I don’t matter to this conversation because I don’t have the mystical quality of Getting Itness, and I’m not Affected by it, because the American Empire is, despite being a world-wide, sprawling, fantastically powerful thing, only about twelve feet across and situated entirely in a state I’ve never been to, so anything I know doesn’t apply to it.

I thought, for a time, about doing this as a Game Pile video. About just sitting here reading this script out while I just play and fiddle around with the 538 map of the electoral college map and literally play with representatives of factors that are going this way and that way. I thought about writing about the interface of the FiveThirtyEight ticker, and how a probabilistic analysis presentation method was not actually a progress bar that people intuitively read it as. I thought about how basically for a few weeks there, America was presenting the world a sort of anxiety-based desk toy, a stress ball that we could never squeeze in a way that would make us feel better and for a while, lots of people played that game with no awareness of how to win.

Of the three games about America, that’s definitely one of them.