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i return to the point about marginalization because it’s important to me as a writer, it dovetails with literary aesthetics and cultural politics.

i think we’re marginalized on a number of levels and probably seek compensation any number of ways; as ‘minorities’ we’re denied hegemony and the political mainstream and the complacency and privilege that comes with it. hence iowa writing program is full of children of the affluent: one black woman told me her dad was a NYC headhunter for corporate execs & he called the president of u. of iowa and said “let my daughter into the program,” so they did—but she quit a year later, complaining that the instructors were racist, etc. (she told me this so i believed it.)

we’re marginalized as children of the working class, feeling the financial insecurity l. describes (which is covalent and hides the social and political insecurity that comes from extreme marginalization). the sense of privilege which endows the children of the rich with the empowerment to become artists (as so many are) comes from knowing that there’s a cushion to land on if art/writing/etc. doesn’t work out. case in point, adam hochschild.

and we’re marginalized as artists/writers, etc.: which itself is some compensation for marginalization (in that art attempts to operate on social levels beyond the quotidian and the practical—and in some way counter the marginalization), and that is one of the specific reasons for pro-capitalist marginalization of art—it is a kind of cultural interference in economic affairs. to prioritize the immediate financial job demands long-term over one’s own artistic activity (whether one does this for millions of dollars or for a regular salary) is to internalize capitalist marginalization of the artist. part of the significance and purpose and vocation of the artist is to assert aesthetic, ideological, and political independence in the face of the market.

yeah, i think these questions bear upon the artist/writer and determine the parameters of their production.

the union of a couple where one or both are artists/writers i think both lessens these 3 kinds of political isolation, and at the same time (like any union) feels these political marginalizations as stresses on some emotional or psychological or physical level.

most writing/art bears the imprint of these conditions in its face (teju cole’s lonesome traveler, etc.)

—from an email, 1-6-12

Ship overhead---photo by Ronaldo Oliveira

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