Is there a renewed underground today for antifascist resistance to survive? “In our own time, the idea of resistance has a renewed urgency and appeal. But we won’t be able to fight a fresh wave of authoritarianism without appreciating the symbols that animated the antifascist imagination of the past – in particular, the underground. That symbol has very deep roots in European and US culture, but over the course of the 20th century it was transformed from a threatening zone of subversion into a liberating space of political resistance.”
Coghlan’s book Sensational Internationalism: The Paris Commune and the Remapping of American Memory in the Long Nineteenth Century (2016) recovers the now largely forgotten story of the Paris Commune’s spectacular afterlife as specter and spectacle in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century American culture.
Women’s writing about war: “The Age of Revolutions, in which women like Abigail Adams and Mary Wollstonecraft were famously writing to demand a revolution in their experiences of oppression, was not an age that could yet imagine a world without violence against women. At best, or more accurately at worst, women could be co-participants, using military revolution to seize an opportunity to be equal to men as perpetrators of violence—even as women’s writing also made visible the intensification of women’s victimization at the hands of male soldiers, lovers, and rebels. And at the hands of women, too.”
“JRC: How can art battle politics in this era of fake news and open hostility and fascist rhetoric?
PW: Art tells the truth. It’s that simple. Fiction, in particular, reveals the truth through fabrication.”
‘The necessary thing to do is to transform shock into a high alertness that prevents anything from being taken for granted — to confront fear and to love the way it makes everything appear strange. Love the new frequencies; what is noise now will be music later. The disintegration of the known world provides a lot of pieces to play with and use in constructing alternatives while being aware that the simple modes of representation are tranquilizers at best, coercion at worst.
What I call for is a literature that craves the conflict and owns the destruction, a split-mind literature that features fear and handles shock, that keeps self-evident “reality” safely within the quotation marks. Never should we assume the sun will rise tomorrow, that America cannot be a fascist state, or that the nice-guy neighbor will not be a murderer because he gives out candy at Halloween.
America, including its literature, is now in ruins, and the next four years will be far worse than anyone can imagine. Which is why we must keep imagining them as we struggle to survive them. To write in and of America, we must be ready to lose everything, to recognize we never had any of it in the first place, to abandon hope and embrace struggle, to fight in the streets and in our sentences.’
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