On delusion

dear you,

All week, I have been thinking about this quote from Lolita, wherein the narrator says of Humbert Humbert, "His is a lesson in self-delusion, and though there is no longer hope for him, there may be hope for us."

(side note: I think about Lolita all the time, in large part because I think it's a porous example of the magnificence and terrible treachery that well-rendered literature can cause)

(side note: I just read maybe one of the best articles I've ever read about Lolita in the New Yorker last month-- do we still have big think-piece-sized things to say about this book? Yes. Yes, we do. It is largely a wonderful article because it is not actually about Humbert Humbert, but rather, about how well a Russian pegged an American novel... better than any American has ever pegged a Russian novel, at least).

The reason I've been thinking about this quote is probably pretty obvious; we are in a new year (hello, hi, you look incredible, and yes, you've come out of 2020 with an actual crown on your head, you beautiful angel), and the clawing, scraping, choke-hold temper tantrum being displayed in Washington right now is this quote writ large.

Most of us don't need that lesson in that particular way, but what control do we have, at least on a global level, a cosmic one? As terrible as it is, living through these horrors, there is something to be said about being face-to-face with our own self-delusions. And a little bit of satisfaction, admittedly, that there seems to be no more hope for the tsunami of deadly Proud Boy-era high jinx, nor the fallen emperor who rules them.

While my self-delusions are plentiful, I'm not delusional enough to believe that a new year, a new administration, and a Democratic Senate mean we can rest easy.

But I do believe that there is hope for us. Maybe even more so, when we open ourselves up to our self-delusions. Sit with them like the Buddha sat with Mara, and fill two tea mugs. That is where hope lives.

May your new year be brighter, may you be kind, may you have ample tea with your demons.



  • We Teach Sex (to Everyone)! Along with Capricorn favorite Kristy Lin Billuni, I am co-editing a special issue of Sinister Wisdom, and I invite you to submit your stories, poems, & art about sexuality, queerness, and education. From the call for submissions: "Rather than how-to tutorials, this call seeks the stories of how we teach and learn about bodies and sex. As technology forces us to rethink the way we teach, learn, and consume information, it also challenges us to consider the idea of community through remoteness."

  • Chapbook Alert! I am honored to have a new chapbook forthcoming from the brand new press, Harbor Editions, this February! "bright news of gladiolas" is the first book I've written about Oakland (and the first book of mine ever to have a pink cover!). I can't wait to share it with you.

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