I have been wanting to publish my crazy article – the one that I finished writing while I became crazy. That article actually was written in many layers. A barely recognizable earlier version served as part of my qualifying exam in graduate school. After I graduated, I returned to it to work it into a different shape. It was intended for an anthology on Decolonizing Sexualities that some activist-academic colleagues of mine were editing. As my article was almost finished, the editors asked that I anonymize one key figure in my article, and I didn’t comply, so we parted ways. I kept writing, and reading new things on the way, and enjoying thinking like I had forgotten I was capable of. I felt like I understood some really important things, that everything I had ever known was going to be part of this article. I was very creative, and I also knew somehow that my days were counted, so I imagined that I would hand over my gift – my article – to the most discerning and sensitive and politically trustworthy people that I knew and then, the rest would be up to them to figure out because I .. well I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen with me, but I speculated that I would be locked up in a psychiatric ward because I couldn‘t stop laughing hysterically at every person’s word.
When indeed I was in the locked psych ward not too much after, my mother gathered the printed pages of the manuscript that had been lying on my desk and handed them over to the crew that ran my ward. Her hope was that it would help them figure out what was wrong with me and cure me. In the midst of all the horror that I experienced it was a small relief that probably they did not care enough to try to read it, because thank-goodness, they did not care about me so much. (That did not stop them from quickly applying their methods of cure on me and figuring out what they thought was wrong with me.)
After I got out of psychiatry I wondered whether my article would ever get published. I had, before I was locked up, indeed shared it with a handful of friends and even one activist-academic „celebrity,“ and a couple of those had responded positively. One former colleague encouraged me to submit it to boundary 2, a fancy academic journal on literature and postmodernism, and I did. I few months later it was rejected. I felt cynically comforted by a response that showed me that someone had read the article and assessed it in highly literary theoretical terms, even if the assessment concluded negatively. I longed to contribute it to Abolition journal, a more radical activist intellectual undergoing, but their publications are few and it never seemed to quite fit for me to submit. I was and am also wary about how to deal with the craziness that is undoubtedly part of the article and if it is at all „fit“ for being read by anyone ever anymore. Plus, lest somebody have a totally wrong picture of myself at that time, I was also crushed and on neuroleptics and barely managing to get through the day, one day after the other.
Those last few years and months I have gradually become publicly visible with my experience and my politics of „psychiatric survivorhood.“ That is, I have a formal role with a Berlin psych survivor organization, I have written and published a thing or two dealing with psychiatry, I have held a speech at the Berlin mad and disability Pride, and I am currently teaching a seminar on Mad Studies, intersectionality and social work.
And those past weeks and days I have been witnessing the gearing up to, and intensification of the genocide of the Palestinian people, and right now I read about phone and Internet service going out in Gaza and I am anxious about what is about to happen there, now. I have my own version of struggling with feeling powerless and angry and sad and tapping into myself and connecting with others and knowing I can do something and it’s not enough and feeling alone and feeling powerful and wanting to write something, again, and thinking that everything has been said and written and it’s really about something else now, and I know we are many and –
One thing I do is continue to do my work, and I mean that in a spiritual sense almost, with Audre Lorde and many others.
My work is not to reform or replace psychiatry with some more humane system of support, but it is to contribute to those who struggle for a different world, for Abolition, for Free Palestine, for Black liberation, for a completely different world that holds all those. And if I know something about craziness and about why not to hope for psychiatry to save us, I will put it at the service of all of us, though that’s for another time, maybe, hopefully. I mean, it is also part of my crazy article which I want to share. It is called:
Antiracism in the Time of COINTELPRO
A #HabeasViscus Production of Race, Sex, Size and Lies
It is structured into these sub-sections:
- I Flesh/Person
- Mamas… May be
- Pornotroping, Or How the Person rises from the ricochet oft he world’s end
- Counterfeiting Lies
- II Flesh/Flesh
- Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like her?
- Dying While Fat
- Thinking While Lazy
I wonder if it will be hard to read, hard to follow me through some online places of racist sexualized abuse from some 15 years ago. It may be, and I hope some readers will make it through anyway. I wonder if my exuberance will startle or alienate some whom I don’t want to alienate. The article, if I may attempt a self-review, is an exercise in a subjectivity of the flesh (Spillers) and against the person (Weheliye), it is an attempt at a revolutionary method. I long for it to be read by people who have studied Hortense Spillers and Alex Weheliye and Frank Wilderson and Sylvia Wynter and Ruth Gilmore, or even by those people themselves. I hope for readers who don’t judge me for erring here and there.
I did some editing in the years after psychiatry, so there are a few different versions of the article in my archive. I am just going to pick one for now.