Living joyously is a radical act

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POSTED: July 5, 2019

In the twentieth episode of the Miaaw podcast Sophie Hope and I talk about things we remember from the discussions so far, and things we have thought as a result of those discussions. One topic, to which we will inevitably return, concerns the roles of anger, optimism and pessimism in any cultural, political or social action.

I contrast my memories of George Clinton and Billy Bragg in the 1980s. I point out that one dressed up and “taught” like a clown, while the other dressed down and “taught” like a polytechnic lecturer. Sophie talked about anger as though it had an obvious role as the focal point of struggle. (I paraphrase here, and she may rightly disagree with my characterisation of her argument.)

Some days after editing the podcast, and therefore listening to it several times, I came across this quote in the Guardian:

“Living joyously is a radical act in a broken world, especially in an unjust world. For people to come here and be their most fabulous selves and let go is an act of resistance,” says Boroski.

Smoove Gardner and Nicci Boroski own The Back Door – Bloomington, Indiana’s radical queer bar. They explain their position, and I find myself agreeing completely with them.

Their stance reminds me of what Raoul Vaneigem wrote in 1967 in The Revolution of Everyday Life:

People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth.

Neither Boroski nor Vaneigem argue from anger, and neither do they adopt the oppositional stance; both of which (in my opinion) doom you to fight a battle on some else’s terms.

Living joyously is a radical act in a broken world.