[-empyre-] QUEER PARANORMAL
jlposner at gmail.com
Wed Nov 27 08:44:07 AEDT 2019
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I hope you’re starting to slow down before the gear up of going to or returning to wherever it is you may be going or whatever it is you’ll be doing this emotionally fraught week. I am hoping that everyone on here has a moment to catch their breath and find some rest within. I am grateful to be invited to be invited to participate on this thread—as I feel like I was only just here on the thread remembering Carolee Schneeman, Barbara Hammer, and Grace Quintanilla! Thank you for this invitation, M.
I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to write about this week, but there are a few things that I think I’d like you to know about where I am within the QUEER PARANORMAL. I’ve been living deep in PARANORMAL QUEERNESS these last few years—and certainly this last year. This is going to get personal.
I feel like it might be helpful to explain the reasons I believe Margaretha invited me to contribute this week, as none of these things are really addressed in my professional bio or website (lolz). Please know that I offer this to you with tenderness and care:
I was a colleague of Margaretha’s before we became friends—academics in the same department. We became friends after I insisted that I help ghostbust her house about a year ago around Halloween. I don’t know that the details matter much, but it was very intense, and we did it. Using sound, plants, potions, reiki, song, movement, and rhythm (and a variety of other tools); we managed to flip the energetics of a building that had been constricted for years. It was very powerful, and no one was surprised that we were able to do this.
I’m queer! I host a bi-monthly women’s event called FLANNEL at Wunderbar in Syracuse, NY. This October, I conducted a group ritual with at least hundred other queers in a parking lot. I burned mugwort harvested and dried from Margaretha’s garden. It was magic. I also had people screaming at the tops of their lungs on the dance floor all night— it was medicine. Please reach out if you’re interested in coming to our next one.
I’ve just returned from my father’s large suburban house in Philadelphia. His wife (who was quite cruel to me) died on my birthday last year (Oct. 3, 2018). I would spend the next few weeks preparing and hosting Shiva at their home. It was perhaps the most difficult weeks of my life. Part of the preparation for these weeks of mourning (for which I was excluded as a non-blood relative) included rendering a 3,600 sq foot home I never lived in ready for dozens of guests in a mater of three days. Neither my father nor his wife learned to let go of material things, so their home held 70+ years of stuff, paperwork, and memories. In some rooms, there was little room for anything else. With my help, my father has been purging his house in an effort to get it to market. Remarkably, he has done it (through some tough love and my own adaptation of Marie Kondo’s energetic methods). But as the house is now emptied of things, it is booming with the echo of my step-mother. She died while she was across the country, and had always intended to return to her big house filled with the things of her life. But now that she’s gone, as well as most of her things, her vibration echos loudly from the corners of drawers, rooms, and closets. My father wasn’t ready to do energy work to clear this yet, and the house hasn’t sold in a market in which it should have. I sprinkled dried plants in those corners before I left on Sunday. The feeling is that of a photograph. Before he became an engineer, my father was a photographer. He’s kept a darkroom in every house he’s lived in (which is many).
I built a yurt on my family’s intergenerational camping co-op in the Summer of 2018. One one hand, it happened with such grace and speed that it felt destined. But then many signs appeared that suggested this was not right: a severely sprained ankle, two concussions, hundreds of Monotropa uniflora sprouting up around my yurt where nothing else would grow. Nightmares. Strife in personal relationships. I pulled some tarot cards about the yurt and it was always: images of lightning, of towers falling. In March of 2019, I was notified that my baby yurt had been crushed by a 100 ft, old growth tree that had been stuck by lightning. No-one was injured, but the yurt was destroyed. I had intended to share this space as a retreat for artists and healers, but this plan is now indefinitely stalled. I cannot afford to rebuild.
My art practice is largely a vehicle for bringing embodied energy work to the public. I spend great effort and focus on understanding the energetics of the language and materials I employ creatively— employing poetics as a method to move people into a state of emotional openness and transformation via their bodies.
My mother (with whom I have a very fraught relationship) revealed to me, literally from her hospital bed, that she believed me to be a person that I am not. In fact, the person she believed me to be was the opposite of who I have spent my life becoming. She misunderstood me on a soul level. This was very painful to hear and feel.
I’ve experienced a variety of sudden and mysterious physical ailments over the last few years. All of them occur suddenly, have no medical root, and resolve with the assistance of homeopathy, acupuncture, herbs, diet, and rest alone. Energy work is the only think that helps.
My relationship to academia is the most contingent it’s ever been at this moment, and it has always been contingent. I am starting Yoga Teacher Training in January, and am conducting embodied movement and yoga workshops in Central New York. This work feels good, but I’m not sure it is right.
My partner works at Syracuse University (where I have taught, may teach again, went to undergrad, and worked as staff and faculty), which has been besieged by white supremacist hate crimes over the past few weeks. I do not know that I can accurately describe the soul-level grief and pain that comes along with being a member of a minority identity targeted by hate crimes within your own community. It is, at times, unbearable. It is no question why people with the means to leave these kinds of contexts do. It is no question that those with the capacity to organize will.
It’s been a harrowing year for me (for the reasons listed above, but also for additional personal and professional reasons I won’t discuss here). I’ve been taking time. I was discussing the past year with a friend who is a queer artist working in spiritual realms, and she asked me what I needed in order to do the things I know I need to do next. She meant to help, but it felt overwhelming: accountability, deadlines, ways of turning up the pressure, lists, strategic planning, etc. I know all of these things, but they are of no use to me now. I told her I just needed time. I needed time to shift my own energy, and to slow down enough to allow a momentum to catch up with all of this grief. In this past six, twelve, and eighteen months I’ve experienced layers compounded grief. Grief is certainly a space with a way of keeping a very specific kind of time.
It makes me think of what Jose Esteban Munoz made so saliently clear in his first few paragraphs of Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity: Queerness is on the horizon. If we read this along Sara Ahmed’s theory of queer phenomenology, we understand that the horizon is oblique—slippery. If we believe what Munoz and Ahmed are saying, then queerness is always out of reach. It’s sitting in time. Looking. Slipping. Navigating gravity on a round earth that is always already spinning, tilted. I think of how now all we have of Jose is his words, echoing like a photograph.
This is what I’ve learned this year: Not everything that forces change is a blessing. Sometimes painful things happen for no reason, but that does not mean that they will not change the course of your life. I do not believe that the breaking of a curse and a blessing are the same things. Some things hurt much more than the others, and we must make these distinctions.
I believe some of the most powerful energetic medicine is seeing, naming, and accepting things for what they are. Queerness, grief, and the paranormal evade seeing and naming precisely because they are always already slippery and out of reach. In order to accept them, to work with and through them; we must learn to recognize exactly what it is we cannot yet see.
I hope these notes are interesting as a framing device for my approach to this concept of the Queer Paranormal—which for me, is deeply personal.
Tomorrow I hope to lighten things up a bit, by sharing my favorite queer paranormal story of the notorious, early 20th century French medium Eva C. and her lesbian lover, conspirator, and photographer Juliette Alexendre-Bisson <http://jessicaposner.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/BirthofEctoplasmDuringSeancewiththeMediumEvaCJulietteAlexandre-Bisson.jpg.jpg> (image record <https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/284437>, via the Met.)
In queerness and grief,
jlposner at gmail.com <mailto:jlposner at gmail.com>
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