Discomposition: An Interview with Fred Moten – Michigan Quarterly Review
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Discomposition: An Interview with Fred Moten

Fred Moten lives in New York City and teaches at New York University where he is a Professor of Performance Studies. A Distinguished Professor Emeritus from the University of California, Riverside, he is renowned for his work as scholar, theorist, and poet.

His poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, PEN America, poets.org, The Poetry Society of America, The Atlantic, and the LA Times. He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Roy Lichtenstein Award, and the Stephen E. Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry from the African American Literature and Culture Society. The author of ten books of poetry, his sixth book of poems, The Feel Trio, published by Letter Machine Editions in 2014, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Fred Moten and David Joez Villaverde, a contributing editor for MQR, discuss some ideas behind his latest collection perennial fashion presence falling, which was released by Wave Books in May of 2023. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

David Joez Villaverde (DV): I wanted to start with a question that your own work posed to me, from All That Beauty, one of my favorite lines is:

“Does art move / against our / terrible capacity / to settle? Or does / it settle where / we move?”

Perhaps this is an unanswerable question even though there is an answer that immediately follows it in the text, but I found that I kept returning to it. I’m wondering as time has passed, do you find yourself coming up with different answers?

Fred Moten (FM): At that time, I would say I had begun to move in a direction that I’m way more fully into now. I often liken it to a crisis of faith. I’m not a traditionally religious person, but I was raised in a more or less traditionally religious sort of family and community. I think probably if I could have just managed to believe in God, there’s a decent chance I would have been a priest. It would have been a function not only of belief, but also an affinity for a certain kind of contemplative life.

You mentioned the word cenobitic last night, and I think I have cenobitic tendencies, I have certain monkish tendencies. The idea of being in a community of belief, or in a community of study always has had a kind of appeal to me. And so, in some ways, it makes sense why I ended up in the university, which is both an offshoot of those kinds of connections of study and belief, even if it is also now, so highly secularized, even in religious universities. But I could never manage to believe in God. As a matter of fact, I have a radical disbelief in God and in sovereignty, and in univocity, singularity, or individuality. I strenuously disbelieve in all of those things.

Now for a long time, what I had instead was a kind of a belief in art. I mean, I think I did believe in art, in a more or less conventional way, in its beauty, in its capacities for truth, its capacities for feeling, for empathy, for healing. A lot of the things that we attribute to God I attributed to art.

But I would say since I moved back to New York in 2017 I’ve been losing my religion; I’ve been losing that faith. It’s definitely connected to this weird place that I seem now to have in the art world, which I think is a strange place, because it appears to be both marginal and central at the same time. Part of what’s at stake is over the last few years I’ve been thinking more and more about the idea of world and there are certain thinkers, especially Denise Ferreira da Silva, who sort of refuse the separation of Afro-pessimistic negation from the black radical tradition’s imperative to preserve, which is not the same as to redeem. Such thinking is concerned with the sense that the pursuit of justice—which is in a fundamental way a religious idea, an apocalyptic idea—doesn’t require a transformation of the world it requires an end of the world as we know it, as Silva puts it. And I guess I’ve got certain philosophical affinities which have made me consider that it doesn’t just require the end of the world as we know it, or the end of the world, or this world, as such; it requires the end of the very idea of world. And this is something that hs been occurring to me, you know, sort of partly as a function of my own sort of deviant readings of Heidegger and partly as a function of my devoted, and I hope, deviantly non-deviant readings of the great poet, Ed Roberson, and particularly his amazing book, To See the Earth Before the End of the World. I’m interested in the negation of world and the preservation of earth that his title implies. And so, what I began to consider, and be haunted by, is how much work in the world the artist does, how much work in the world as we know it art does. How much work in the world that the idea, so to speak, of the artwork does. I don’t believe in the singularity of the artwork. I don’t believe in the singularity of the poem, I don’t believe in the singularity of the artist. I think that these are extraordinarily harmful delusions precisely insofar as they are subordinate to the exclusionary singularity of the idea of the world, or world, which works, itself, to regulate earthly differences.

So, I am in this position obviously of profound ambivalence. I’m often referring also, say, to Wallace Stevens, or a particular poem by Wallace Stevens, and there’s a part of my mind that gravitates to him as an artist, and gravitates to the Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour as an artwork, as a poem, just as I am drawn to and enabled by Roberson and his book. But what I find in their work, or in what is generally presented to us as their work, and what I find in what is generally presented to us as the singular artistic figures named Wallace Stevens, or Ed Roberson, what I find at the best of those moments, is a force. In physics terms I think we would call it the weak force; it’s a disruptive force. It’s a kind of already given violence in the artwork and in the artist that obliterates them. They are undone, they are not intact. And what is that force?

For me, on the most basic level, [art is an abstraction of a] social and aesthetic practice.  And this is rambling, but I guess I’m excited. Thank you for the question, because I want to work through this. I’ve been, animated or enabled, by a couple of distinctions, even if they’re only useful in a heuristic way.

One of them is that distinction that Roberson implies between earth and world, and the other is an old distinction between art and the aesthetic, between the artwork and aesthetic practice, and between the artist and aesthetic sociality—which is a phrase I always attribute to my partner Laura Harris because the first time I ever heard it is when she said it.

DV: Thank you, I think you’re right in identifying that this is a very…what was one of your words?…eremitic profession or vocation. All roads lead to Rome in the sense that all manner of deep study leads to eschatology.

Going off what you said, I think some of my thoughts are in the same vein. I have been wondering if the teleology of a language, or maybe of all things, is devoted to seeking its own end. I think, that the idea or the ways that we can become enthralled by language, so to speak, enthralled by the vernacular, reminds me of the line in your new poem Tables and Gems:

“the history of who was here is read as here we are.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the history of language, both in its ability to dazzle us like a gem or our need for its functionality like a table. I chose the words enthralled and vernacular, particularly, based on their etymology. “Enthrall” coming from the Old Norse for slave and vernacular coming from the Etruscan for the same. There’s a way in which language holds us and a way in which I think that we, as artists, are seeking to, like you were talking about Wallace Stevens, to break through to the weak force, the thing that exists beyond us. My question is, does that always necessitate our very destruction, to get to that place?

FM: Well, the weak force in physics is a force of unbinding. It’s the force that tends towards a kind of discomposition, or incoherence—and there’s an interesting moral element perhaps to why it is that this force is considered weak, as opposed to strong. There’s no accounting for the taste of physicists when they come up with their terms.  The point is that there is this tendency in language and beyond, if there is such a place or thing, for incompleteness, which is not driven in the first instance by the very idea of the first instance. Beginnings and ends are bracketed.

And so what’s at stake is a kind of continual investigation of this beginningless endlessness that we seem to be involved in? Maybe once the hegemony of the powerful, and I think delusional, ideas of beginning and ending are challenged a lot of other possibilities open up. So, I think it’s important to continue the long historical, theoretical, and aesthetic work of understanding the implications of our assumption of beginnings. And this isn’t my idea. This is an imperative that is received in the course of study, and which can only be worked through and contributed to with friends.

It seems pretty clear that the political, economic, sociological, and ecological implications of these assumptions are brutal and unsustainable, especially, for the species, if you will, that makes them. These assumptions are fundamental to the very idea of species, and to the very idea of our species, which seems to come into view of itself and for itself in the light of these assumptions. Our sense of ourselves seems to be given in the idea that we are the ones who so assume, and who can assume. And even senses of deviance or exclusion from and within the species is still predicated on the concept of species and the work of speciation.  It’s not just our right but also our capacity to live on and with the earth that are at stake. These assumptions produce an increasingly general incapacity that parallels a general foreclosure of any claim of a right to live even as they also produce very specific, highly racialized and gendered, experiences of brutality that at the end of the day are touchstones within the history of that unsustainability, which is also known as human inhabitation of the world.

So, part of the work is always to pay attention to that, and to contribute to a dismantling of the structures that are based on those assumptions. And for a long time, I think we have assumed that art is a really good way both to understand and to fight these problems. But sometimes, every once in a while, we kind of have to come to grips with a clue, that maybe art, even if it seems like sometimes it’s our go-to way of dealing with these problems—art is a function of these problems, that also exacerbates these problems.

So, to go back to the other question, yes, art settles. It’s part and parcel, it’s an activity of settling. I believe that. However, I also believe that social and aesthetic practice unsettles. So, for me, a lot of what I’ve been doing the last few years has been trying to get a better understanding or better refinement of my own understanding of this distinction between art and social and aesthetic practice.

Again, it’s partly been a kind of loss of faith in art. But on the other hand, the other way that I could understand it has been a rediscovery of faith in aesthetic sociality; but in this instance, the faith—that now I would like to say that I practice—is a faith that is held and dispersed and disbursed in practice, as opposed to a faith that is, in some fundamental sense, structured by a relation, or an action, between a subject and an object. I don’t have an object of faith anymore, and I don’t have all these little objects of faith that we call artworks, or at least I’m trying not to.

What I feel more now is that I want to practice something, and I want to do it with other people, and I want to realize how it’s the case that what I’ve been doing all along has been a practice with other people, even if I wasn’t thinking about it that way, even if I didn’t pay attention to it that way and it’s an interesting condition to be dealing with, because it’s challenging. There are some books that I’m supposed to be finishing, that I’ve kind of obligated myself to finish. I feel obligated and I want to honor those obligations, and they were obligations made to friends, and you know people who I feel respect for, but man, the way I’m thinking right now doesn’t seem to be compatible with the idea of a book [laughing] or it certainly doesn’t seem to be compatible with the already existing, the common hegemonic notion of the book. So, there’s all these little weird contradictions that I’m embedded in now. And I’m not trying to deny the contradictions, I’m trying to exacerbate them, trying to get into them deeper, like a kind of a depth charge.

And so, to get back to the end of your second question, yeah, there is a destructiveness to it. There’s a violence at work here. And it’s a violence that I think requires us to be able to make another important distinction. I think the distinction between earth and world is useful. The distinction between art and the aesthetic is useful. And similarly, the distinction between violence and brutality is useful. This violent destructiveness that I’m engaged in or want to be engaged in, and for which and by which I will have been undone, is, for me, a function of love. But there is no denying that it’s destructive. There is no denying that it’s disruptive, there is no denying that it leaves nothing intact. Or no. Let me say that in a little bit more precise way: there is no denying that there’s no thing it leaves intact.

DV: Thank you. There’s a lot of different directions to go off that, but in terms of leaving no thing intact… well, I am a film guy and last night someone sent me a video of a writer and director I like, Paul Schrader. It was a very strange thing, he’s recording himself walking on the High Line with a bunch of Go Pros attached to him. But there was one quote that was kind of plangent where he said “there is no content without form, there is no wine without the bottle,” and that struck me.

You were talking about your new process and how it looks nothing like a book, or perhaps it’s opposed to a book, and I know you’ve spoken before about getting these big 11” x 17” notebooks and having four different colored markers. I was wondering if you could speak to your composition process, or about the antagonism that exists with form—thinking about this as a book that has parameters that are physical, that are in the world, that a bookseller only has a bookshelf that’s so big or the print maker only has spools that are capable of printing on such a large sheet, and so on, and so forth—and how your you’re writing exists with the tension of the existing form.

FM: Well, okay. So, there’s so much to say, I hope I can get it all to come. You know, when I talk about art in that general sense I’m also always more specifically talking about black art or what people would call African and Afrodiasporic Art. And even within that narrowing of the field, where I’m interested in Caribbean art, or in Nollywood or Dub music, or in grime, or in the beguines of Martinique, I’m most fully given to study the particular modalities of that art that have made their way to and through the Southern United States. 

So, within that framework, there’s what people generally call art and what I want to more specifically, more minutely, and more precisely to understand, as social aesthetic activity. The modes that are the most important, that seem to be the most enduring, that carry the most weight in ordinary thinking and practice, are basically like cooking and sewing. 

Okay, so first and foremost what that means is that this art is part of a maternal ecology. It’s women’s work and it is the aesthetic sociality that sustains us. And I think about quilting in this regard very, very specifically, under the influence of the discovery and the payment of great critical attention over the last you know 35, 40 years to, let’s say, the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama and the quilts that they make. But there are obviously many others too, so that partly, I’m thinking about a specific quilt that my aunt Bertha Marks made and gave to my mother that is in my family. I don’t think of her quilt as outside of that framework, which is a framework that people try to fold into a certain kind of modernism in terms of the way colors and shapes and forms are used, in terms of the way abstraction, or what people call abstraction, is deployed. People say, man, these women were making works of art, you know. And I’ve begun to think, I know you mean that as a compliment, and I see why you say it. And if what you’re saying is that these quilts they make—or, more precisely, the quilting they do—are as important or that they should be thought of with the same level of intensity as a Matisse painting. I agree with you. I just think it’s imprecise to call them artists or to call their quilts works of art, even if we mean that to be a compliment, even if we mean that to work some combination of uplift and redress. Similarly, I don’t think it’s right to call me a poet, or a theorist, or whatever. I’ve been trying to figure out how to want something other than that honorific imprecision. These things and identities that seem to coalesce are the ephemera of aesthetic sociality, and in this respect, they correspond, or they ought to correspond, or we ought to want them to correspond, much more to a meal that’s been cooked on a Sunday after church than something on the auction block at Sotheby’s. Those of us who are descendants of folks who were on the auction block ought to have something particularly violent to do and say about this.

Of course, the historic devaluation of those practices is a function of and coterminous with the historic devaluation of black people. But what’s also at stake, and again I’ll use a phrase of Silva’s, is that there is something about quilting, and those various manifestations of quilting, which do not correspond to the equations of value. They radically disrupt not just the way we things are valued but also the essentially brutal idea and activity of valuation.

What quilting generates is this continual manifestation of the invaluable. And this manifestation of the invaluable is interesting, not because the invaluable corresponds to some imaginary realm radically outside of the precincts of use. No, these things are invaluable precisely because they are used. They operate within a framework of what Alice Walker calls “everyday use.” They are invaluable in their everyday use. In other words, one way to think about it is that these are not works that constitute an end within an eschatological system. This is, rather, a remorseless working in a general field of, again I’ll use this kind of awkward phrase, beginningless endlessness. That’s what those quilts are. More precisely, that’s what they hold as we hand them down, and wear them down, into some general disappearance.

Now, if there’s another genre within the framework of black art that has a similar kind of importance, even if it’s a distant third, I would say it’s music. So, there is cooking, there is sewing, and then way, way back, coming up for the bronze medal, is music. And part of the reason that music can at least be thought of in the same vein as those other two, is because the aesthetic sociality of it is so clear, it’s because it’s got certain cenobitic elements to it that are relatively straightforward.

However else we might describe Minton’s Playhouse, or the Paradise Garage, or a juke joint in Mississippi, they were monastic zones. And within that monasticism what’s at stake is a set of collaborative social practices. But this raises a question, which is general and personal. Why do we, why have I, written so much more about or in relation to music? Certainly, it has to do with my being held within the very equations of value that I have been trying critically to expose and disrupt. At the same time, I wanna say, and I hope it’s true, that I’ve been trying to show that the music, insofar as it is beautiful, and no matter who does it, and in ways that are can’t be indexed to or held within the prevailing system of gender, is women working. And it’s not that it’s some distant third—that’s not true, and that’s not how I feel. It’s just that the music is inseparable from the cooking and the sewing. It’s part of the maternal ecology.

So, a small pivot: one of the main reasons why I’ve taken to these big notebooks and taken to using markers and pencils, and so forth, is because of the extraordinary experience I’ve had over the last few years of working with musicians. And in particular, one person who really opened this realm up for me is a great composer and bass player, William Parker. And in a different way, the piece I read last night from the recital for Terry Adkins was written in a kind of collaboration with the great composer, George E. Lewis. But the more intimate and repeated chances that I’ve had to work with musicians have been in the last 2, 2 and a half years, with the great double bassist Brandon Lopez and a great drummer named Gerald Cleaver. I’ve had the scary experience of listening to recordings I made with Brandon and Gerald. What I noticed as a listener to the album—people have been very nice about the album and like it, you know they seem to like it, and I don’t dislike it because what they’re playing on the album is amazing—I don’t mean to be falsely modest, or it’s not like some neurotic shit, but I recognize the deficiencies of my performance on the album. It’s really, maybe, that I recognize that I’m performing. And how I recognize that goes back to my earliest experiences of and lessons in critical practice, listening to music with my mom and the community of women of which she was a part.

Because something was being offered to me and required of me, in both situations, that I needed to keep learning. My mom and her friends were trying to teach me to listen to the way musicians listen in the making of the music. I think they were trying to teach me that the music is the making of the music. So, now I have got my books in front of me and I’m reading these poems, and I hear my friends responding to me in their playing. But I’m not responding to them very much at all, not much. I wanted to, but I didn’t know how to. I didn’t know what I was doing. I still don’t know what I’m doing and I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing. So that I can respond to them. In other words, I gotta listen while I’m playing—musicians know how to do that, they learn how to do that through practice, and of course the so-called improvising musicians have even more experience with this, which is a difficult thing to do—to listen while you’re playing. I was reading, but I couldn’t listen while I was reading. There are these long gaps in the album where they’re just playing and it’s partly because that’s when I’m listening. I’m really just listening to them, I’m like I don’t wanna mess this up, I don’t know where to come in, the best thing for me to do is shut the fuck up basically. But I had to say something, and then I start reading, and they’re kind, and they are patient with me, and they know I want to do better and I also think they’re still getting something out of it. They’re finding something in what I’m doing and they’re listening. They’re listening to me, and I think they think that there’s something worthwhile in what they’re listening to. They’re patient with me performing until I learn how to practice, which is to say, how to listen.

What that means is that I’ve got to stop reading, but it’s complicated right? Because, of course, there’s this long history of sight reading in music, so that it’s not so much that I gotta get rid of the book or stop reading, that’s imprecise; what I gotta do is to develop a different way to read. So, what I’m writing now are scores for creative misreading. They’re more graphic scores than they are poems and to the extent that I use poems that I’d previously written I have to fold those poems into the graphic score. It’s like Madam Defarge’s register, like a text aspiring to be some kind of cryptographic textile.

I’ve got one of my notebooks up here right now, and you know a lot of it is handwritten, a lot of it is various marks and arrows. I’m trying to give myself a set of suggestions that I can pass on. So, I also have to desacralize the score, the text. I had to learn how to say: I don’t have to read all of this, I don’t have to read all this, I don’t have to read it how it’s written. All of a sudden, those inevitable moments when you stumble in a reading, like last night I had one and I was just like, oh shit, sorry I’m gonna start all over with this poem. I can’t do that and can’t want to do that when I’m playing with my friends. I mean, I could say, okay, I’m gonna start all over, but if I started all over it doesn’t erase what I did before, in the same way that you can delude yourself into thinking you can do at a reading. So, in other words, I’m learning how to be involved with other people in the making and as we practice something. All I want to do really, to tell you the truth, I shouldn’t say all I want to do, but a whole bunch of what I want to do, is to practice with those guys all the time. My biggest ambition is to figure out a way for us to have time and space to practice together and I think it’s also a thing that shows up in the particular modes of social life that working musicians have built for themselves. I’m learning how to listen with my mom and her friends.

So that’s very important for me and it’s obviously different from the way most sculptors and painters work, or at least how they think they work or how I think they think they work. It’s different from the way most writers or poets think that they work. 

DV: Well thank you very much for your time. Your newest collection of poetry is being released by Wave Books this May, what’s the title?

FM: Yes, it’s called perennial fashion presence falling, and the perennial fashion is a kind of double edge joke.

DV: Is that referring to, I can’t remember his name, the guy who coined the term paraontology?

FM: To a certain extent. Well, it’s a long story, but “perennial fashion” refers to an essay by Adorno.

DV: The one about jazz?

FM: Yeah, it’s called “Perennial Fashion—Jazz.” And my tendency with regard to Adorno’s particular sort of bad attitude, let’s call it, towards jazz has always been a kind of Rakim like attitude, which is I am whatever you say I am. Now people will usually attribute that line to Eminem but Eminem will tell you that he got it from Rakim. And it’s like whatever man, you know, I don’t care what you think about me. Jazz is whatever you say it is, and who cares what you say.

DV: Adorno was a hater.

FM: But what if the problem with Adorno is that he loved jazz, but he just couldn’t admit it? That the anti-blackness of his intellectual formation was so powerful that to admit that you love this music and even further, to admit that this music bears thinking, would have been to throw over his entire intellectual formation. I don’t think he could do that. In many respects he’s a more or less deviantly orthodox Kantian, and nothing good can come from that kind of thing. Maybe what I’ve been trying to say is that this residual Kantianism is a general problem that causes particular discomfort for the ones who don’t want it that way or who want to assume that for them it’s not that way.

But to me, to the extent that jazz has a definition, the best definition ever is Adorno’s definition, which is: “jazz is not what it is.” You know, like, yeah, okay, that’s right. So, it’s interesting that out of all that hate came all that truth.

But you’re referring to a different use of those words—perennial fashion. There’s a brilliant scholar, who was once a close friend, named Nahum Chandler and he is the first person I ever heard utter the word “paraontology.” I never meant to attribute to him any sort of ownership, or originary ownership, of the word but I always heard and still hear that word through Chandler, in his voice, so to speak, even if I always had and probably wanted to have or work with a deviant or incomplete understanding of how he understood it. And I always tried to make that clear, just as I always try to make clear that I was interested and inspired by his use of that term.

But for some reason we drifted apart and it occurred to me, seeing a lecture that he gave a while ago at Cornell, that he didn’t like the fact that I was using that term, and he seemed to indicate that maybe in my use of the term I had not achieved, or hadn’t acquired the proper ambition for, the rigor that he aspires to and achieves.

And so, he seems to make a distinction regarding the kinds of work that we do, between the perennial, which is what he says he wants his work to be, and the merely fashionable, which is, I think, what he implies that my work is. And that shit rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t think it was very nice. And now, there are a couple of other philosophers, Axelle Karera and Benjamin Brewer, who have taken that up, by way of the fact that the term paraontology appears actually to have been coined by a German philosopher and mathematician named Oskar Becker, who is an interesting philosopher and who, like almost all interesting philosophers in the Western tradition, is brutally racist and anti-black and committed to sovereignty and individuation, which took the conventional and non-exceptional form of an avowal of Nazism in the 1930’s.

So, Karera and Brewer suggest that it is a very problematic thing for certain thinkers to find themselves in debt to Becker. She’s especially concerned about me and a friend and colleague R.A. Judy, while also separating us two in a certain way from Chandler, perhaps without knowing how long and how closely all three of us worked and thought together. I found out that Becker used the term in the 1930s from Judy when we were working and just emailing back and forth in 2015, 2016. We were also reading a brilliant psychoanalytically-inclined philosopher named Lorenzo Chiesa, who uses the term at roughly the same time, but without reference either to Becker or to Chandler. Then, I started trying to read Becker. Not a lot of it is translated into English, and my German isn’t that good, but I found a lot of stuff on Becker, a lot of interesting criticism of Becker, again some of it in German, some of it in the English, some of it going all the way back to the late 1920’s when he first started publishing. And so, I’m working through some of that stuff, trying to think about it, and some of that is there on and under the surface of perennial fashion   presence falling.

But I have to say, I don’t think it’s a matter of debt, you know. I don’t think my relationship—it’s fucked up, but my relationship to somebody like Becker, or somebody like Heidegger, or somebody like Kant, or somebody like Adorno is not a relationship of indebtedness. It’s more fucked up than that; it’s a relationship of kinship. Now, that’s worse. That’s ethically, and not merely morally, disturbing. I’m not indebted to Wallace Stevens but I have a kinship with Wallace Stevens. Our kinship is given in the fact that we share certain concerns, and when I say kinship I don’t mean in a sort of familiar way, or in an oedipal way. I don’t mean kinship as something that is sort of constrained by the illusions of the nuclear family, I mean something way more spooky. Unfortunately, we’re not merely related; we’re involved.

And to get back to where we were starting, the weak force, which one would seek to deploy, would be one that would be visited upon such kinship. That this is a kinship that is always in the midst of being discomposed if we do our work properly. The kinship isn’t voluntary and the explosion of it isn’t optional. And that what’s involved is not its destruction but its general dispersal.

DV: We’re moving towards estrangement.

FM: Yeah, and to put it in the most simple kind of mathematical terms, insofar as I am in kinship with, which is to say, insofar as I’m involved with Roberson and Stevens, and with my mom and her friends, and with Brandon and Gerald, and with Adorno and Kant and Becker, that involvement is one which can be characterized by an imperative placed on me to fuck them all up. And the only way that I can follow that imperative is if I fuck myself up in the process. There’s so much love and hate involved, and they are not equally distributed however much they’re shared in this ongoing quilting, and preparing tables, and turning over ground.

So that’s the math. 

DV: That is a perfect place to end. Thank you so much.

David Joez Villaverde has received a CantoMundo Fellowship, The American Academy of Poets Prize, and honors from the Black Warrior Review, and Best New Poets. His poetry is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, AGNI, Fence, and Poet Lore. He lives in New York and can be found at schadenfreudeanslip.com.

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