There are entire economies devoted to the belief that humans are the ultimate life form, the pinnacle of creation. The survivability of the lowly cockroach in a nuclear storm renders that courageously upbeat faith moot, but what of it? I happen to think we are one more step in evolution’s grand trek, a stop along the way like Stuckeys where we can get our pecan-log on. Bill tells me that all great evolutionary change is precipitated by catastrophe. He reminds me that prokaryotes evolved from eukaryotes for whom oxygen was poison. Those early anaerobic eukes were well adapted to living in our highly nitrogenous, cO2 rich atmosphere, and living in water kept them safe from the ultraviolet radiation of our sun. But that had to change, didn’t it? My own smaller universe’s great shifts have been punctuated not by ellipses but by several loud, comic exclamation points. And catastrophe is of course merely a word describing a big event; to an alcoholic those seven DUI’s are the thing that got her sober, not just a series of tragic-comic inabilities to put her finger on her nose before an officer of the law.
Our economies and ecosystems are currently anchored to the binaries of him/her, us/them. Public systems and institutions are rarely ahead of the curve, so we can’t really fault them. From my perspective at least I see all current social dialogues – about marriage, about immigration, about social policy – as the dying grip of the tribalists’ attempts to force reality into a “manageable” package. What’s painfully evident in the arguments for things like “traditional marriage” or “keeping America American” is how they are not grounded in any sort of logic or even actual history, how they are excruciatingly emotional and even childish. As raw as it is for me to feel persistently ejected from social discourse by virtue of being a queer former woman must it be mind-numbingly painful to feel that all the structures holding your universe together are falling apart, or being blown up by pansy, homosexual, unpatriotic terrorists. I can relate, believe me.
All forced conflict is by nature absurd, but catastrophe on the other hand can be exhilarating and generative. At the heart of any argument for war, whether on the battlefield or in one’s own kitchen (“If I spill one more jar of honey from a jar you have left improperly sealed you are exiled from this kitchen!” Those of you who have roomed with me may pause now and shake your heads in sweet nostalgia) is something absolutely ridiculous, like “this here is mine.” The great gift of transitioning is the molecular understanding that not even your own body is yours – everything really is just energy we shift from shelf to shelf, kicking up dust mites and memories and hope for some room. The creamy center of catastrophe is maybe “there seems to be some sort of logjam here – maybe it’s time to move some tectonic plates around!”
We can see the transgendered as biology “fucking up” or we can view ourselves as ahead of the social curve. We are a genetic error, a mutation - or - we are the budding beginnings of evolutionary tendrils. Or both. It doesn’t matter to me – it doesn’t change what is, for me personally. Either way it was a wonderous catastrophe that shifted me from Samantha to Samuel, a starfish beginning in a Spongebob sea. To be literally cut open from port to starboard, a wanton cicatricle twist of scarring and fate – to have imprisoned the hormonal body in testosterone only to have it escape its ordained estrogen death and mutate into something beyond the imaginings of its inhabitor, is to fucking know some evolution.
I try to sidestep my own obsession with the “why” - technologies avail themselves to me only as I live in my present moment. I can now view my own past through the lenses of addiction, transgender, spirituality or vis a vis misogyny, pop culture, 70’s blockbuster films, the slow food movement, tramp art and more but I had to stay more or less in motion to be able to really look behind me. Any discipline I may use to update my understanding of history is just another place holder on the landscape of the cosmic dinner table.
But know this: you are not a biologic cock-up. You are here with reason and purpose and cunning and calamity. You are here with some really great shoes. You are here to take me out to the ballroom, take me out to the crowd. You are here to exhibit your tentacular disaster, your twisty limbs, your sass and frown. You are here to get down, sisterbrother. Don’t truck with the naysayers – tell them you’re just the next babystep towards God’s great genius and you can’t help them if they won’t leave the crib. Come slither beside me – what everybody knows but will never say out loud is that in the race between the tortoise and the hare, it is the stopwatch who wins. Let us then be cuttlefishies and leave the racing for the quads.