Biographies are sneaky. Autobiographies are extra sneaky. It’s hard to render life in prose. People seem to change, depending on how you look at them.
We’re all products of a set of historical processes. I have a U.S. passport and some anthropology degrees. I could describe my particular ethnic location as Nordo-Judaic — whence my Jewish first name and Norwegian last name. I was born in the early 1980s in New England, in eastern Connecticut. I could theoretically get a German passport, because my grandfather was a Holocaust survivor. It all seems like an improbable set of circumstances.
Lately I’ve especially identified with questions about gender and gender politics. I’m a genderqueer person, which brings me to have lots of thoughts about gender in society.
I sometimes have utopian moments. At least, I think about utopianism a lot, and I like imagining a better world than the one we live in. But I mean, there are people more utopian than me. My babysitter when I was small was a rebel sculptor who had fled “the rat race” (as he called it) and lived in a tiny cabin in the woods. He had kerosene lamps at night, and many windows to watch the birds and animals passing by the swamp outside. I’m not that utopian. That kind of utopianism is too lonely.
Existence is muddled. It’s an inventory of ambivalence and transient shapes, even though it’s not only that. But maybe this isn’t the place for a larger theory of life. To keep things concrete, I can tell you some places I’ve lived.
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Cleveland Heights, Ohio
- Stellenbosch, South Africa
- Whittier, California
- Paris (Guy Moquet, Crimée, Barbès, Bir Hakeim, Pernety, Cité Univ., Place Monge)
- Chicago (Hyde Park, Pilsen)
- Somerville, Massachusetts
- Ithaca, New York
- Mansfield, Connecticut
- Willimantic, Connecticut