Ev Yankey

Last night I had a date at The Uncommons Board Game Cafe, and not only was there a Bronie meeting taking place, but at the table next to me I got to listen to this dude explain how to play a card game to his date. He kept correcting her, but she kept beating him anyway. At one point he told her a move she made was wrong, and then he corrected himself but explained that she was only right because of card text that she hadn’t anticipated. After she won 3 games he gave up and pouted for 10 minutes. He ended up blaming it on her intuition or something like that.

Yesterday I was visiting an institution on Roosevelt Island and noticed for the first time that one of the men living there had a series of numbers tattooed on his arm. He’s a little too young for it to be a Holocaust tattoo, so I can only assume he was numbered in a institution when he was younger. And he’s still living in an institution today. And I have to sit on a conference call next week and listen to the State tell me that he’s doing just fine there.

evyankey asked: So Nonas, Kiasrostami, and maybe Andrew Savage can maybe consciously, or intentionally, or maybe only in retrospect be in love with misunderstanding, but what are the forces that push us in the other direction? Because something pushes us to be analysts; to me moments when I don't yearn to understand are less like romantic excitement and more like escape. Maybe we are drawn towards art/ists because of the gaps, but our romantic arcs lead to objectification, where do we find resistance over time?


hi ev!

first, thanks for reading and taking the time to ask questions. i feel like no one reads anything i post over 3 sentences usually, so it means a lot.

second, it’s funny you bring this up cause these last two posts were sparked more by a sense of deja vu, like something i recognized from before was happening again. the posts were based more off the impulse to make connections/trace the evolution of my thinking and exposure to things than to analyze the points being made per se, but naturally, as i was writing that last post about kiasrostami, i started thinking about my self and my own experiences with love/sex/romance.

i think what pushes us to seek something out and analyze it (or date it for that matter) is desire, desire i would argue fueled by a sense of lack: i hate myself but i love that other thing. well, why? i would argue because you want to take what that other thing is into yourself. that process of seeing the other and trying to understand it, so you can incorporate it into yourself is analysis or a form of it at least. i think maybe i’m saying dating is just a form of research, LOLZ. anyways, i think that starts to get at answering your first question, yes? no? lemme know.

second question, I AM SO HAPPY YOU BROUGHT UP ESCAPISM! i was trying to describe to a friend why one of my former relationships didn’t work, and this is kind of what i came up with:

for me, meaning comes from the struggle to reconcile one’s ideas with one’s reality, but what many people do not realize is that this is a two way street! yes, it is important to have lofty ideals and really be earnest in some capacity and take those dreams and ideals seriously, but it is equally important to pragmatically and soberly look at reality and adjust your ideals in accordance. yes, sometimes that is just compromise, but what i’m really getting at is a more dialectical relationship between one’s dreams and one’s reality.

what is SO IMPORTANT to me is that one really observe and objectively try to evaluate the world (as impossible as that maybe) and to LEARN FROM IT. let me say that again, it is important to observe the world AND LEARN FROM IT. if we are really taking reality/ the other seriously and respecting its autonomy, we can learn from it and then adjust our dreams and ideals to be smarter, better informed ideals.

so like yeah, not only should one try to inflict themselves upon the world and make it a better place, but also one should let the world inflict itself upon oneself. one’s ideals and dreams should be as constantly evolving as reality, because one is an uncompromising observer of the world who takes his or her world seriously and adjust his or her plans and dreams (ideas) accordingly. i also think this ties in a lot to my ideals about good or selfless art which i posted a while back.

and here’s where escapism comes in. if you have dreams and ideals but don’t struggle to reconcile your reality to those ideals (aka change the world around you for the better), then it’s just escapism. it’s meaningless, because it does nothing. not that this isn’t a totally understandable sentiment. the idea of being able to “change the world” seems so impossible, it’s almost hard to type without feeling saccharine and cheesy. especially when the problems are so large and structural and you’re just one person, who, like, barely feels capable of flossing regularly, much less ‘making the world a better place’. 

equally as problematic (maybe a different form of escapism) is someone who has dreams and ideal and tries to change the world to reflect those ideals, but doesn’t let reality affect and shape and evolve their ideals (tip-toeing fascism).

i’m just going to give one real world example and then i’ll stop, i promise. so, like, you all know this person, that friend of yours who is an unrepentant romantic, will do anything crazy and spontaneously for love, no questions asked. that friend who is just so in love with love. come on, you know the person i’m talking about. maybe you call them your boy-crazy or girl-crazy friend. maybe it’s you? who knows. so yeah, this person has all kinds of ideas about love, love for them is the ultimate ideal. and they are more than willing to inflict themselves upon reality in order to make love happen in real life. kudos, first part of the dialectic completed (thesis). you friend is not some lazy bum who isn;t even trying. your crazy romantic friend wants to make things happen irl. this is good but not enough.

here’s why. your friend’s ideas of love, that ideal, came from reality, or a version or part of reality at least, the one performed by the people around them, the tv shows they grew up watching, the books they read, the movies they saw. the problem is the most ubiquitous, popular ideas about romance are not neutral. the romantic ideal comes from a very fucked up world, that idea has been cultivated because it serves those in power. the romantic ideal built up by social practices over the past say 3-4 centuries and reified by different forms of media is REALLY problematic. but you could totally miss that if you weren’t forcing yourself to reconcile your ideals with reality. unless you took a careful look at your parents’ and relatives’ marriages, unless you took the time to examine the romantic myth/ideal and trace where it comes from and what it does and who it serves. like it’s not as bad as the escapism of someone who just reads a book and does nothing, but it is still a form of escapism. it is still of form of escaping reality and the demands it makes upon any thinking, feeling observer, demands to wrestle with reality and reconsider one’s previously held ideals.

so i guess what i’m saying reality and experience are perhaps where we can find resistance to objectification. what two post ago i was callign thingliness. the reality of the object (or person) can offer resistance to our previously held ideas of them (objectification) if we are open to that and actively cultivating the type of awareness where we are looking for the gaps.

ok, ev. this was a lot. i don’t even know if i answered your questions really, but they were just such good catalysts for writing about something i had already been thinking about that i couldn’t resist. PLEAS PLEASE PLEASE feel free to respond here and we can continue this discussion publicly or via email. thanks for being the QOOLEST ev. it means a lot <3.

I really feel your idea that desire is about wanting to take a thing into oneself, to understand or analyze it. This is consumption, right? We accumulate or buy or otherwise attach to ourselves that-which-is-outside, and derive some meaning from that process. 

And I like the idea that we could as an alternative to this process allow reality or The Other to change us or our ideals; for us to not let our own ideas overwhelm the external world as it would in consumption or analysis, but to bow down before the “thingliness” of that-which-is-outside. But I worry about our capacity to do this in an ordered way, to learn and correctly see the social forces around us. Can we really figure things out? 

I was thinking about this when Victoria was talking about desire at the Downtown Boys show at Silent Barn last week. She said: 

"Desire is not something you simply want. Desire is something you feel so strongly about it eats you. And if you don’t put that desire outside of yourself, it will eat you alive"

I think about a woman I know who lives in a group home who wants to choose her own clothing every day, and can’t do so because her support staff feel like she will choose dirty clothes, so they instead make the decision for her. Every day, she tries to wear clothes she wants, but is thwarted. She wants to choose her clothes, but what she really desires is power over her own life and body. She could make the choice that many people in her situation do to try to reconcile herself to what is happening, and in this case acceptance would be a form of understanding or analysis, she would be taking into herself the idea that she can’t make good decisions about her own life (this is an artificial idea, but she could assimilate it). But her desire for power cannot be reconciled, and it will “eat her alive” until she has power in the world outside of herself.

The thing is, that we can take a careful look at this situation and see what is fucked about it. There are explainable reasons why someone like her-a woman of color with an intellectual disability-would have her autonomy taken away from her. We can look at this and allow it to inform us and our ideals…to a point. But I just don’t know what the world would look like when her desire becomes unrestrained-when this woman who might choose to wear dirty clothes every day, or no clothes, gains true power. I want her to have power, I can fight for it, but I don’t think I can imagine it. 

The example of our lovestruck friends is apt, because if we look closely we can see through the romantic myth/ideal, but only because it is an artificial ideal. We can and should adjust our ideas of the world to recognize that hurting people through your selfish pursuit of storybook romance is wrong, but what is right? How do we imagine that? I’m not looking for an answer, it just feels like however much we open ourselves to truly engaging with people and reality it’s not going to allow our ideals and dreams-or anything inside our own heads-to encompass or understand the desire (in Victoria’s sense) we encounter around us. Maybe it feels like if I try to allow “reality” to change “me”, the “me” in that equation is going to inevitably distort reality.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention, or engage others, or try to change ourselves, I just think it’s always going to be a fight? And to me it feels like change is going to come less from figuring things out through critical engagement and more from allowing ourselves to be chaotically battered about by desire, or power, or other forces of resistance.

It’s a good sign when your OKCupid date shows up wearing a Chumped “Boys Drool” T-shirt.

Don’t organize for people’s rights, organize for their power. 

That way you won’t end up with a bunch of home-health aides with a “right” to be paid for overtime but no jobs to pay them

The Department of Labor wants home-health aides to be paid overtime. Sounds great, but most don’t people realize that this is a rule implemented by the Federal Government yet also unfunded by the Federal Government. Medicaid pays for home-health aides; you want to pay them more, then pay them more, don’t make rules requiring they be paid more and not lay out the cash for it.

The problem with a Marxist/Leftist model of class-based organizing around people as “workers” is that it leaves out people with disabilities who don’t work, and leads to horrors like the new union-supported DOL Companionship rules that are going to take away people’s home-health aides in the name of “worker rights”

I need more sweaters so I can be a cute boy in a sweater like all the cute boys in sweaters I see

So much of the Chris Pratt Saturday Night Live was references to pictures of him looking really hot, but all I’ve been doing is going back to the video again and again to keep looking at images of him being in love with Anna Faris.

The last 20 seconds of a video I shot with Judy