Wednesday, March 16, 2005

SEAS memories Take 2

Dear SEAS,

Spring 2002, I think it was, that the image first popped into my head and weighed on my heart. That we had been welcomed into your house, you, a righteous mama, once big and strong, who had suddenly taken ill. We had drank the last of your water in the hopes that, our thirst quenched, we would know how to nurse you back to health. But now we sat confused and helpless, meeting after meeting, our childish hands barely propping up your frail body.

I´m far away. I have no clue how you fare now. Whether this letter will go into a book
·on your raft as you sail off to die in dignity
·or on a shelf in your bustling bursting home
·or for you to read and rejuvenate with because you´re still in bedrest but well enough to be restless.

I´m far away. And yet I´m so close to you. I´m in a town called El Bolson in Patagonia, so far away and yet I´m one of 6 $tanford alumni, 2 living here, and 4 of us visiting. I have next to me
·the Honors thesis of one, about revolutionary artistic living in Bolson ("Life and All its Miracles. A revolutionary poetics of social transformation, May 17 2004)
·the voluptuous program for the 2005 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, so far away from you and yet I was one of at least 10 Stanford alumni participating in it
·the DisO guide. Version 2002.

I sometimes forget why I brought the DisO with me in these wanderings of the globe. Then I open it and read an article and I remember.
Do you?
Remember?

We first met, you and I, after the rally for Amadou Diallo. We wore red for the blood he shed (DisO ´02 p. 24). I got a flier (which I still don´t know whether to spell with an i or a y) from Tim Ly, went home and subscribed to the list, skimmed your emails, and continued doing my a cappella and theatre and classes and other generally non-specifically-revolutionary things and, and, and.

And in one of my skimmings I stumbled upon Fair Trade coffee (p. 15) and, running after that butterfly, tumbled down off the side of the organizational mountain. I´m sorry. I´m sorry for mixing my metaphors and I´m sorry I didn´t follow your lead first and learn how to tread the paths before running off trying to forge new ones. (Big Mama, you know, you remember, but do your children know how we, StanFair, fizzled out after our original burst of fire, armed with so much information and so little womanpower?)

I finally came to you in the fall after a terrorist group attacked the people of the largest terrorist State in the world. The people under that terrorist State, citizens or not, knowingly or not, were entering a period of unprecedented fascism. War was in the air, on more than one front. And we, we would meet around the Haas Center kitchen table amidst that sound and fury and, and, and.

·And the labor struggle was intensifying (p. 60, also 14, 53).
·the Hoover tower had cast its shadow too long, too strong (p.36).
·prisons were doing a PacMan on schools (p. 18).
·the medical waste campaign needed follow-up (p. 28).
·Philipino airport screeners and other victims of racial profiling needed solidarity (p. 55).
·this group or that event needed money.
·flyers (i?) to be able to give money to this group or that event needed putting up.
And we would meet and say and do things but we still needed a campaign for this year but we couldn´t even agree on what Environmental Justice was (or figure out how to settle it into your name once and for all) and so many righteous folks had just graduated and it felt like none of us knew what we were doing and it was beautiful how we respected each other and put ideals into practice in our round-table straight-talking decision-making but did I mention how we still needed a campaign and, but, and, but, and.

And the DisOs were late but arrived, printed and beautiful. Little red books that opened onto the discontentment that sat like splinters in our minds, that shattered pavements to reveal the dirt tracks that led to the beaches on the islands of the rEvolution.

Lavanya put together summer reading for us, and the reader was red and black too, and when we came back in the fall we knew in our hearts that the Administration that had taken over the land commonly referred to as the United States of America was going to invade the land referred to as Iraq, and the Administration of our $chool was one of 5 contracted with the Department of Energy to research and develop nuclear weapons under the guise of stewardship of existing materials (p. 45), and on the same day that we were told to Act Patriotic or be hunted down by signatures on one document, Boeing signed another billion dollar deal with the Department of Defense to fuel an industry that toxified the water of its fellow citizens during a production process that aimed specifically for shock, awe, and death, and we knew $tanford was invested Boeing and we had to Do Something about it, and, and, and.

And we didn´t Know Everthing but we knew Enough To Act (p. 35) so we Acted, but in haste, forgetting that Acting would involve Being More Informed and Saying It Good to convince other people to act, and we took our divestment proposals and our befuddled well-intentioned selves to the Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility (p. 71) and they Slapped Us Down.

We went home and licked our wounds and regrouped and recuperated and kept joining our people in White Plaza, the Quad, front of Hoover tower, the streets of Palo Alto, streets of San Francisco and, and, and.

They bombed Iraq.

And they occupied Iraq, and we were occupying too much space in the Haas Center. I came one evening and sat and looked at you, heavy and bloated with information and history and undistributed DisOs and felt like crying because all this time I still didn´t know who you were and what you´d been, and I took my scalpel in my childish hands and sliced into your organs and examined every tissue and steeled myself to discard and rearrange, even though each dead tree I threw away could have delivered an Honors thesis and I wondered where these righteous folks whose names danced out were now, and were they still as righteous, and did they ever feel as helpless? And now that I´d cut you into pieces I wanted to draw you whole again and bring you back to life but da Vinci wasn´t alive to teach me and, and, and.

And when we came back in the fall we still didn´t have a campaign, but suddenly you appeared larger than that. We couldn´t find a campaign for you like any other group anymore than we could attribute properties to Brahma like any other god because you weren´t any other group anymore. And we sketched you as we talked and you filled out and we glimpsed the exquisiteness that you could be and we set out to manifest it and we called it the Convergence.

May I? Might I describe, feeble as my words will be, a sketch of sorts?

Your DisOrganization lives in the heart of campus. Perhaps the Old Union. You offer yourself to every individual and collection of individuals that believes that Another World Is Possible. They themselves don´t know what that means, and they disagree constantly, but that´s just fine. They disagree in the warmth of your embrace and with access to your
·library that tells them that noone has ever exactly what they´re doing but have tried something very similar that they could learn from. The library would have the essence of the history of each group and movement across campus, across the country, across the world, from the beginning of all groups and movements, like a fantasmic cataclysmic explosion across all dimensions of the DisO.
·website, the cyberpresence that allowed them to connect even away from your physical embrace, the nexus not only for the network of learning activators on campus, but even those who had learned and left and were activated in other worlds.
·calendar that allowed them to schedule events in cooperation and concert
·art supplies and whatnot, so that one´s trash would be another´s revolutionary masterpiece.
and they would examine each of their resources in the light of cooperation, not competition, and the cooperative houses would be sisters and brothers to the ethnic theme houses and you wouldn´t be able to tell what the event was about based on the color of the partipants
and the community would converge at the beginning of each quarter to present themselves to the young ´uns, and each big ´un would take a young ´un under their wings and each group would know the other groups so that when a young ´un came to them and expressed desires and ideals and ideas that jived better with another group the big ´un would point ´em right to that other group, and each ´un, lil or big, would learn how to direct every part of their life and learning towards the possibility of that Other World, not just in meetings and rallies and petitions, but in classes, and parties, and finals, and jobs and houses and homes and food and clothes and how food grows and clothes are made and schools or non-schools and shampoo and group decision making and burrito tomatoes and strawberries and bicycles and wines and computer parts and water sources and crop seeds and, and, and.

And when they converge they look like the people sitting at the bottom of the DisO cover holding hands, not boxed in, but safe and secure in the warmth of your embrace that is the frame around us, and they quote K.M. (back cover) knowing that he was wrong in some things and right on in others and so are they.

Spring 2005 it is.
How do you fare?

Love,
Malavika

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