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I recently discovered 19 letters which my mother sent me from prison.  The letters were written between 1997 and 1999, during which time my mother was imprisoned for drug related crimes.  She now lives in Cleveland, Ohio.  She is my dearest friend, a profoundly astute radical thinker and activist, an avid reader, and a woman who has a greater sense of redemptive care than anyone I have ever encountered.

On the advice of a dear friend, I am putting a call out for responses to these letters as a way of engaging with them nearly 15 years after I initially received them.  They are emotionally complex objects for me and it is difficult for me to imagine digesting them all these years later without the help of friends, lovers, and family members, queer and otherwise.  My memory of this time and its impact on my life are directly related to my understanding of radical queerness; being marked; having lost and having again regained a belief in my ability to be loved and to love.

Therefore, I am asking 18 people (I will respond to one letter myself) to volunteer to respond to one letter each in any format which they find appropriate.  The only limitation I will impose on the form of this response is that it should lend itself to being compiled in book form.  Nevertheless, this is a very broad limit.  For example, if you are a sculptor, you might make something three dimensional which can be photographed for inclusion in the final aggregation.  If you are a dancer, you might undertake a piece which could be photographed or recorded.  Of course, written responses are also welcome.

If you are interested in responding to a letter, please contact me at thisisdarren@gmail.com.  From there, I will dispatch one letter to you at an address of your choosing.  All I ask is that you return the letter along with your response (or instructions on how to access your response) within one month.  When I have received all of the responses, I will begin the process of compiling them into a book, likely to be framed by an essay.  The future life of this final compendium is to be determined.

Should you have any further questions, wish for further context, or if you have any particular ideas about the life of this project beyond the response phase, please feel free to contact me.

With love,

dp

Get inspired; get political:

Suggestions for an erotogenic boundary exercuse.

Fill the bathtub with the hottest water which can be tolerated safely.

Immerse yourself.

Remain immersed.
A number of possibilities:
You immerse your ears.  You hear yourself and detect ranges of sound of which you are not usually aware. | The water is so hot that you might feel the urge to pee.  Do you stop yourself? | You experiment with the possibilities of extension and contraction.  Putting your legs out.  Releasing your arms.  Turning yourself over. | Make waves laterally. | Make waves medially. | Negotiate weightlessness. | Contrast the heat of the water with the cold porcelain above the waterline.

When the water is merely warm, release the drain stopper.
What is the least effort possible to accomplish this action?  It can be done with a foot.

Remain in the water as it drains.
When you have found a comfortable position of maximum release, allow yourself to remain in that position without willfully introducing new tensions.  The water will begin returning your weight to you.  Are you breathing?  This experience can be overwhelming.

As this process unfolds, it is possible to release not only physical tension but also held emotions or thoughts.  This instrumentalizes drainage and begins to render water metaphorically.  Gently resist the urge to become consumed by the thought of the water.  Return to kinetics.  Repeat a simple statement which affirms the isometry of being drained and being filled.

As the water level decreases, your body is wet and exposed.  If it is cold, you may exude vapor.  Can you locate the smallest scale of sensation?  Is it possible to feel water evaporating from your torso?  From your knuckle?

Have you changed your position?

When the water is nearly gone, it will collect in eddies and pools at various points of contact between your body and the surface of the bathtub.  Without the force of high volumes of water, it will respond differently to the presence of your body.  What is the intensity of this particular touch?  Does it approximate the intensity of other forms of touch?

When the tub has been emptied of water, begin to consider removing yourself.
Do not feel compelled to stand up quickly, this can cause disorientation.  Return to your breath and consider where you will initiate the movement.  From that place, mindfully and effortfully begin to experience the tension necessary to extricate yourself from the bathtub.

 

 

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