Episode 9: Other Worlds Already Exist

16–19 Nov 2017
Tramway & Kinning Park Complex & Many Studios, Glasgow
4 days of performances, discussions, workshops, screenings with mutant dancers, prison abolitionist poets, transfeminist revolutionaries, haunted noise, science fiction, sex worker resistance, crip erotics, radical pornography and militant fiction.
 

With: Samuel R. Delany, Huw Lemmey, Storyboard P, Moor Mother, Hal Duncan, KUCHENGA, Nat Raha, Jackie Wang, Dj@Christelle, DJ D-Harsh, Nena Etza, LAPS, Wu Tsang, boychild, Robert Softley Gale, Maxine Meighan, SWARM (Sex Workers' Advocacy & Resistance Movement) and Sgàire Wood

Screenings by: Tiona McClodden, Samuel R. Delany, Jacolby Satterwhite and Paul Kindersley.

 

Introduction

At the centre of this Episode is the life and work of Samuel R. Delany. Almost always known as Chip, he is a grand master of science fiction and fantasy, sex-radical memoirist, revolutionary pornographer, social commentator, literary critic, architect of one of the queerest and most uncompromisingly experimental literary careers ever undertaken. 

Science fiction doesn’t try to predict the future, but rather offers a significant distortion of the present…We sit around and look at what we see around us and we say how can the world be different? - Samuel R. Delany from Starboard Wine: More Notes on the Language of Science Fiction, 1984.

The fact that the forces of patriarchal and heteronormative, abelist and racist society crawl over our skin, colonise our thoughts and move through our veins, can sometimes feel like a kind of science fiction. But in the midst of this ubiquitous, seemingly unceasing violence, Chip’s writing helps us recognise that we always inhabit multiple worlds—and that other ways of existing already dwell among us.

While recognising the harm they cause, he helps reject the stories that power tries to make us believe about ourselves, and creates allegories that amplify his and our lived experiences in ways that are meaningful to us all. He explores worlds that, even whilst under attack, live out of sync with this so-called present.

The only important elements in any society are the artistic and the criminal, because they alone, by questioning the society’s values, can force it to change. Samuel R. Delany from Empire Star

Delany's books inhabit alternate forms of humanity, not as some fantastical future possibility, but as elaborations on already present ways of socialising—recalled as fact, and distorted and amplified through the lens of his fiction.

A beautiful example of this can be found in The Motion of Light in Water, where he reflects on his first encounters of seemingly numberless group sex between parked trucks at the docks or in the St Marks bathhouse. There, you never had to break contact with flesh for more than a few seconds. Delany talks about how men in that space took care of one another not only by offering flesh but by performing a care for the self that encompassed a vast care for others—a delicate and loving being for others.1

I want to have sex with what I want to become. Bhanu Kapil2

So, following Chip’s lead - this Episode is about the movements, feelings and entanglements of already possible worlds that bear the weight of our desires, and how they help us deal with an often unbearable or impossible present.

It’s about understanding ourselves as tuned to a slightly different spot on the spatio-temporal dial, where—off to the side and in flight—perhaps we can recognise what it is about our cultures that could potentially overwhelm brutality.

If we can influence the future and do a positive visualization of what we wanna see: write it down. Visualize it. Walk in it. Redefine your power—what can you do with no weapons and no money. Moor Mother

Episode 9 was previewed in The Skinny which included an interview with Samuel R Delany by Adam Benmakhlouf.  The Episode was reviewed in Exeunt by Andrew Edwards; in The List by Claire Sawers and in Glasgow Review of Books by Mark West.

 

  • 1. This last paragraph is basically a summary of a much richer argument made by Chip's friend José Muñoz in his book Cruising Utopia.
  • 2. From Handwritten Preface to Reverse the Book in Incubation: A Space for Monsters. Bhanu Kapil writes heart-breaking poems about bodies, metamorphosis and monsters, migration and mental health, race riots and soot. We asked her to be in this Episode, but in the end she couldn’t make it.

Credits

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Thank you - Buzzcut, Deepa Shastri, Digital Desperados, John Stevens & Qu Junktions, Jo Ross, Yvonne Wadell, Andrew Howell, Karl Taylor, Martin Vincent & Aye Aye Books, Nadia Lucchesi, Rachel and everyone at Kinning Park Complex, Rebecca Clemens at EAI, Simon Eilbeck, Sondra Perry, Studio Julia (Erwan Lhuissier, Hugo Timm, Valerio Di Lucente), Soul Food Sisters, Tim Nunn, Jude McGill, Paul Sorley and everyone at Tramway, The UNITY Centre & Collective, West Glasgow Against Poverty (WestGAP), SWARM, Emanuel Almborg, Seán Elder, Dhanveer Brar, Laura Guy, Oliver Cano, Amalle Dublon, Tina Zavitsanos, Luca Stevenson, Marcy DePina, Joe Hatt, Bill Wood III, Jose Munoz, Steven Shaviro, the Institute of Physical Sociality, Reina Gossett, Arthur Jafa and everyone who came and contributed to Episode 8 and all of our friends and allies.

On Episode 9, Arika has and will involve: 

Alice Black, Neil Davidson, Barry Esson, Alex Fleming, Agnieszka Habraschka, Jim Hutchison, Emma Macleod, Bryony McIntyre, Cloudberry McLean, Nick Miller, Anna Pearce, Ash Reid and Alex Woodward.

 

We couldn't do it without our Supporters: TramwayCreative ScotlandGlasgow City CouncilGlasgow Life and The Skinny