destituencies: issue zero

In destituencies’ zeroeth issue, we’ve brought together a compact ensemble of four works that we’d like to offer as an excuse to pause and as an opportunity to break away from the alerts and alarms that accumulate in and increasingly structure our lives, whether expressed as cascades of anxious screen notifications or as chameleonic emergency measures. And of course, as the world collectively holds its breath, we send this out also as an invitation to think beyond the hollow yet exhausting dramas of the election. In place of “What is going to happen?,” a repressive apprehension of what may happen to us, we choose to ask instead “What might otherwise happen?” in hopes of pursuing what can possibly be done and, perhaps more urgently, undone.

The first work we’re featuring in issue zero is Wendy Trevino’s incendiary poem When You Hear People Say “Burn Down The American Plantation.” Written in the midst of the contagious and unruly upheavals of the George Floyd revolts, the work gestures again and again towards that which used to be here, a still-present past that is both a violent inheritance and a living memory of insurrection. In a world built upon anti-Blackness, capitalist dispossession, and state violence, Trevino’s poem ultimately imagines what else might soon be set aflame here, and here, and here, and here, and…

In the piece that follows, contributors from the Hostis journal have outlined the contours of the destitution thesis, drawing a nonlinear thread through 2001-1921-2014 in order to stitch together a concept that has been “forged in the fires of struggle.” Their text, Destituent Power: An Incomplete Timeline, asks in an appropriately (un)timely manner whether our present requires not another balanced calculation of the lesser of whatever number of predictable evils, but a return to the unapologetic clarity of an ultimatum: ¡Que se vayan todos! (All of them must go!)

The third and final piece is a series of Notes on Ungovernable Life written by Ian Alan Paul. Over a series of brief passages that attempt to think through the consequences of life’s addressability and multiplicity, life is theorized as being at once the object of, and fundamentally incommensurable with, the capture of governance.

It feels less than empty to wish all who read this well, given the tense precarities and acute uncertainties that more and more people so intimately live. We’ll end instead by reminding ourselves of the necessity of solidarity, and of the profound reckonings with the world that even the most modest gestures of solidarity now require of us.