I’m in a bit of a tricky situation. One of the primary lines of text on the poster for our upcoming show reads “Social Justice Initiatives,” and as we build to the fulfillment of our efforts, I’m finding myself… Pretty much done with “social justice.” I’ll explain: this show will exist in collaboration with a number of local groups and people as causes I still very much align with, and plan to work with and for, perhaps harder then ever. But in my natural inclination, I’m allergic to platitudes. And I’m finding that a lot of the statements I’ve tended to make about the many-named Enemy of our various causes begin to echo and repeat and grow suddenly hollow and devivified.
Frankly, I’m done lofting paeans for the great anti-imperialist cause. It is a great cause, and I still believe in it, but it’s time to get to work. Much of the dominant activist paradigm, even in the most leftist circles, even as we try to resist it, functions based on the logic of identity. We’re privileged in this way, oppressed in this one, and it becomes this shell game of wearing the right hat at the right time.
I owe a lot to the insights of friends and comrades Liz Houck and Ahomari on the following. As a white person, it’s not enough to take the mic and say the right things about how we shouldn’t center white voices, nor is it enough to name the right enemies. I don’t want Ritual Abjects to be a white queer band or a white feminist band. As far as I can tell, it only follows then that it can’t authentically be a queer or feminist band, despite the identities of its members.
What I would like to propose instead is offering the mic to a different set of voices. One fact about me far more important than being queer, being trans, being femme is that I am mad. Crazy. Insane. Not mentally ill because there’s nothing wrong with me. I see visions, hear voices, have “delusions.” I’m not fundamentally in control of these things and this is how it should be.
I am tremendously lucky that I’ve encountered the Demonic Craft at the right time and place to avoid having what would appear externally as a psychotic break. Internally, that’s exactly what it has been. This stroke of luck is certainly tied to the privilege offered by my whiteness and financial situation and even having relatively understanding parents. But without these factors I would probably now be dead or institutionalized, as so many are for the very same “dysfunction”. And now that I am as I am, it offers a unique opportunity to speak the many voices of madness, the demonic voices, to the enemies they can and should destabilize and destroy.
My ultimate cause now is to help madness destroy sanity, to help the id throw off the yoke of the ego, to help the primordial finally consume the fickle strictures of “civilization.” In this task, I wish to collaborate whenever possible with anyone whose causes are compatible, even if we do not share the same methods or perspective.
But be warned. I am more demon than human now. I am embracing my destiny more than I ever have, and because of that I am dangerous. Perhaps in ways I may not anticipate. I will do my best to ensure that the true enemies, or at the very least those more privileged than myself are the only ones destabilized by this process, but a cannot promise this for sure. Proceed with caution.
With that said, I plan to work tirelessly. I will book less shows and put my nose to the grindstone. I will not speak platitudes. I will let the work speak. I will take the mic less and when I do take the mic, it will not be me who speaks. It will be the Devil.
-Alice Lith and-soon-to-be:
Editor’s note: Alice Lith is an artist in the collective Ritual Abjects