“Where Dust and Death are Neighbors”

On December 20, 2017, Gary Numan opened his show in Salt Lake City with the words, “We live in a windswept hell, Where dust and death are neighbors, We hide in a perfect storm, Not even God remembers.” Packed hot and sweaty into the small sold-out venue, his multi-generational fan base crooned and swayed with him, letting a godless apocalypse wet their dry lips. I commemorated the show with a post—as ritualistic as it was hopeful—to announce the end of the writing project I had used to plumb my psyche of the shit trauma had left smeared on my synaptic systems. Listen:

I bring an end to this record today. For three years now, I feel like I’ve moved from crisis to crisis, managing one just long enough to prevent the next from drowning me. It was like someone trapped me in a room with water levels that rose steadily until all the oxygen got trapped in two inches of atmosphere at the ceiling. Left to tread water, I let my school, work, and interpersonal relationships suffer so that I could survive. I found four points of contact in the corner of the room long enough to pass my qualifying exams, but now, the aching in my muscles demand that I either tread water again or dive deep to force a drain open somewhere.

I joined Lucenti soon thereafter. In my first post—dated January 20, 2018—I introduced myself with a story. I stood at the Point of the Mountain between Utah and Salt Lake Valleys, observed the poisonous fog of pollution slowly killing us all, and asked if there was any way for my comrades and me to “light this shit up”? But in the last ten months, we have watched the darkness creep into every corner of our lives and transform a politics of hope into a politics of blatant narcissism. The memetic poisons of white supremacy, imperialism, capitalism, and patriarchy not only continue to thrive but also justify abuse at every level of the social stratum. Frat boys drink and boof their way into devil’s triangles inoculated from criticism by their bourgeois privilege. Their victims face public scrutiny facilitated by what amounts to little more than a kangaroo court.

When Gary Numan returned to Salt Lake City on September 30, 2018, he closed the show with the words, “If you are my answer, Then I must have asked the wrong question, I’d spit on your heaven, If I could find one to believe in.” It’s a message that deserved to be shouted, with fists in the air, by people angry as hell. Laying on the floor in one of the dilapidated rooms of my psyche, I watched the last of the water swirl down the drain with a final farting slurp. I stood up and exited one door of perception into a hall lined with more. I opened another and stepped out into windswept hell where a fire burned nearby. I sat around the flames with my comrades and remembered the commitment we made long ago, before the world ventured down an even darker path:

In these volatile times — where darkness carries with it a fascist taint — we turn our conversation toward how to fight, how to organize, and how to overcome. We ask ourselves, “how do we light up the darkness?” This journal is our answer. We write because we believe that, by sharing our stories, we connect with others who might need community to combat isolation. We write to deconstruct the forces of oppression that marginalize, isolate, and harm anyone who doesn’t belong to the “norm” or behave as expected. We write to understand our world, the people who belong to it, and the darkness that threatens it. We call our project Lucenti — a latin verb meaning “to shine light,” or “to light up what’s obscured by darkness” — because that’s what we seek to accomplish.

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