Letters to John: Love in a Time of Crisis

by Jonas Weaver

Finally getting around to replying to John’s reply to me.


Dear John,

I need to apologize as well. This is late in coming. We’re 3 days out from the inauguration of a fascist and all his racist friends. It’s still not quite feeling real but it still feels too real, if that makes sense. I’m also sorry for the delay since I’ve been dealing with a bunch of my mental health stuff and so this is a long time in coming. But finally, a reply.

I think, though, a brief moment of reflection on the times we find ourselves in, a time of crisis — rather, a time of crisis that’s been ongoing for centuries. This is, as you note, nothing new. But I think for middle class white people like me it’s a bit new as an experience, as a phenomenological moment of, Fuck this is real. But I think this engagement is something fruitful, I think it’s a way of resisting. I’m not sure why I think that and it might just be my delusional belief in the usefulness and goodness of writing. But I think it so that’s that.

My claim regarding that to be Western is to be Christian was a geographical claim. Admittedly, geography is not excused from the fluctuations and determinations of anti-Blackness. But I want to work through this, because your reply has been in my mind for a while now. Insomuch as you and I were born in a Western nation we are Christian since the West as such and Christianity as we know it are, at some level, co-constitutive. The West exists on the the bodies of those it excludes. This will tie into your concept of “the matrix of man” later actually.

So, to directly answer your questions: 1) I would say I am Western in two senses a) in the sense that I was not born in another place and, related, b) that I was born in this defined-as-such place called the West. Point B) simply means that I was born into a nation classified as “Western,” a classification resting on exclusion. And since I am the inheritor of the benefits of anti-Black violence, directly or indirectly is irrelevant, I guess, with some shame, I am “really Western.” Question 2) This is hard and I’m not sure I’m prepared, capable, or even know how to answer it. But given the terms of the West currently I don’t think there can be inclusion that isn’t in some way tied up in capital and contradiction? Question 3) Difficult. I really don’t know. I don’t think refusal of God and a God who loves me (whatever the fuck that means, or looks like, I don’t know precisely) but I guess the phenomenological experience of that is something I cannot refuse. Whether that’s precisely Christian, I don’t know. I’m not spiritual but I think I’m religious. So, I can’t easily refuse Christianity. I don’t know really. I am averse to reformist tendencies and attitudes in Christianity. This is a question I might need to come back to. And one I need to think through more. Though, it should be said explicitly: to be Western is to be a part of the accident of violent geographical delineations and to be, or not, properly a member of those violently lined borders and horizons is a question. To be Western requires access to the Human and those outside that category aren’t Western beyond the accident of being born in “the West.” Unsure if that makes sense but it’s a start to processing your questions, I think.

I think your clarification is helpful. Referring to something I mentioned above: I wonder if this matrix is a way to think more clearly the ways in which capitalism, or its American modality, came to be alongside, or because of, anti-Black violence? Though, I wonder, if the term “Matrix of Man” might better be formulated as “Matrix of the Human.” I suggest this for two reasons: 1) obviously the use of “Man” is problematic, since it carries weight to it, an assumption that I know you don’t share but, and more importantly, 2) I wonder if the Human provides a better way of describing what you’re after. I read your description of this Matrix as a form of capture. Unlike identity claims this Matrix traps us within specific positions in a field. And I wonder if thinking it as the Matrix of the Human makes explicit the reality that Blackness is the condition for the Human. And precisely because of the exclusions of the Human I wonder if thinking at the Matrix of the Human might be a more precise manner of conceptualizing this?

As always: thank you for sharing your thoughts with me and allowing me a chance to partake in the shared work of thought with you.

With love in a time of crisis,

Jonas Weaver