“Imagine the Angels of Bread” — National Poetry Month 2018

“This is the year that squatters evict landlords,
gazing like admirals from the rail
of the roofdeck
or levitating hands in praise
of steam in the shower;
this is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges
who stare at the floor
and their swollen feet
as files are stamped
with their destination;
this is the year that police revolvers,
stove-hot, blister the fingers
of raging cops,
and nightsticks splinter
in their palms;
this is the year that darkskinned men
lynched a century ago
return to sip coffee quietly
with the apologizing descendants
of their executioners.

This is the year that those
who swim the border’s undertow
and shiver in boxcars
are greeted with trumpets and drums
at the first railroad crossing
on the other side;
this is the year that the hands
pulling tomatoes from the vine
uproot the deed to the earth that sprouts
the vine,
the hands canning tomatoes
are named in the will
that owns the bedlam of the cannery;
this is the year that the eyes stinging from the poison that purifies toilets
awaken at last to the sight
of a rooster-loud hillside,
pilgrimage of immigrant birth; this is the year that cockroaches
become extinct, that no doctor
finds a roach embedded
in the ear of an infant;
this is the year that the food stamps
of adolescent mothers
are auctioned like gold doubloons,
and no coin is given to buy machetes
for the next bouquet of severed heads
in coffee plantation country.

If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles, then this is the year;
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorium,
then this is the year;
if every rebellion begins with the idea
that conquerors on horseback are not many-legged gods, that they too drown
if plunged in the river,
then this is the year.

So may every humiliated mouth,
teeth like desecrated headstones,
fill with the angels of bread.”

– Martin Espada

The feature image of refugees arriving on Lesbos Island in Greece comes from Memphis Immigration Project here.


“Still I Rise” — National Poetry Month 2018

by Gabriel Valdez

Maya Angelou’s voice was one of resistance and progress through celebration and hopefulness. She’s rarely called upon or referenced as a precursor to Slam and contemporary of the Beat poets because she was so unique a voice, focused on cultural experience and the future rather than personal history and the past.

She’s extraordinarily important today. Many do work in organizing, activism, and politics that burn us out. There’s a hopelessness that’s tempting because anger can be used as fuel, and our anger is very legitimate. Yet giving into it fully risks our greatest strength in terms of resisting: community.

Community can’t just be built on anger; it has to be built on hope, connection, a path forward. Anger risks isolation, and isolation is what wears us out the most. It makes our thinking two-dimensional and inflexible.

Anger has a place – it’s certainly earned, and you should never ask vulnerable communities not to be angry at their exposure and the history of harm they’ve sustained. You can even see Angelou’s show through here.

At the same time, anger must be tempered in Resistance, one of many emotions we learn to sit with and which can contribute to complex, realistic, flexible communities of activism.

The feature image of Maya Angelou comes from the New York Times’ farewell to the great poet. You can find it here.

Yes, It’s Realistic that Roseanne Voted for Trump

by Gabriel Valdez

In the 2018 re-launch of “Roseanne”, it turns out that white, feminist, Boomer icon Roseanne Conner voted for Trump. Many feel that this is a betrayal of the character. Is it?

No. It’s deeply accurate.

If you think it’s unrealistic and a betrayal of the character that a white feminist Boomer icon like Roseanne Conner would vote for Trump, I don’t think you yet have a realistic idea of what happened in 2016.

Boomers voted for Trump by a 9-point margin.

That means white Boomers voted for Trump by a double-digit margin.

White Boomers who were women voted for Trump by a slightly lesser margin…but they still voted for Trump.

This was especially true of white Boomers without a college education, such as Roseanne.

The show is set in Fulton County, IL, on the western side of the state near Iowa. That county voted for Trump by a margin of 15 points.

Roseanne Conner is at a demographic intersection where she would have been extremely likely to vote for Trump.

Trump won white voters by a greater margin than any in our history outside Reagan ’84.

This includes a lot of people who would have been ostensibly liberal in the 80s and 90s.

During the original run of “Roseanne” from 1988-97, Fulton County was one of the most liberal in the state. In fact, it hasn’t gone Republican since 1984.

You should feel betrayed – but not by the show. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t critique it or its messages. But if you think Roseanne Conner would never have voted for Trump, you’re still not looking at 2016 with a realistic eye for what happened.

There are results where racism overbears other progressive leanings. We need to understand that.

A lot of Roseanne Conners voted for Trump, and if you can’t recognize that, you’re harming your ability to understand why and to work against it.

The feature image of the “Roseanne” cast is from Biography here.

Men Need to Expect More from Men

by Gabriel Valdez

I went to look up more information on the Maryland school shooting, and the shooter’s motives in relation to an ex-girlfriend.

What came back was a host of articles going back the last year of men shooting ex-girlfriends. This search was limited to Maryland.

So I looked up Massachusetts. Mississippi. What about states with less population? Vermont. Wyoming.

Again and again, pages and pages, of men murdering girlfriends and exes. Pages and pages going back through time for each without even reaching incidents prior to 2017.

There is a significant, unaddressed problem with toxic masculinity in this culture. This is hardly the first time I’ve said this and I’m hardly the first person who’s said this. It’s been said for decades, and in different language for centuries across the history of our culture.

It doesn’t change unless men expect better from the men beside us. It doesn’t change unless we talk with men about this, even men we agree with, because it has to be normal for us to talk about it. It can’t just be something we bring up when we think there’s a problem.

It has to be something we bring up because it’s important and core to our culture and core to who we are as men, and who we want the men beside us to be as men, what we want our community and culture as men to value. When it’s a problem, it’s already too damn late, and somebody’s already getting hurt because our silence and complicity and avoidance of the topic has already been interpreted as license.

Higher expectations of other men doesn’t mean a damn fucking thing if we don’t voice those higher expectations, and make doing so a normal part of our lives, a normal part of their lives.

Otherwise our expectations are empty, and we only speak them to remain perceived as safe by women in our lives – and that kind of subtle politicking is so you can interpret the performance of ally-ship as your own license, as your own excuse, as your own fallback.

This is common with every privilege – whiteness, straightness, being enabled. If you don’t go out to other men and do the work of it, and vocalize your expectations of them, you’re simply politicking to the people around you so you can keep safe a harbor for your own privilege.

As men, we need to do so much more. We need to not just feel safe because we have a moral expectation, but we need to risk feeling unsafe because we’re willing to hold others up to the same. People are literally dying because too many of us aren’t willing to step outside the realm of ally-ship that’s most convenient and comfortable. We need to fucking get over that.

The feature image is from the ABC News story on the shooting here.

No, I Don’t Want to Own an Immigrant

by Gabriel Valdez

There’s an article in Politico that somehow exists. It was initially titled, “What If You Can Get Your Own Immigrant”. It pretends a person is something you can own, like a Furby or a Magic: The Gathering deck or Politico’s dignity.

Since then, they’ve re-titled it, “Sponsor an Immigrant Yourself”. That’s a much more innocuous title for an article that suggests migrants should be legislated as indentured servants.

Local Natives

Now, first off we’re introduced to the phrase “working class natives” as inherently opposed to immigrants.

Eric Posner and Glen Weyl wrote the article. I want them to sit down for this. It’s going to be difficult to break this news to them. Um, so Eric and Glen, most of the working class natives are dead. We killed nearly all of them, ghettoized the survivors, intentionally destroyed what their economies were based on, and now we invite foreign companies to build on what few lands they have left to call their own. Let’s ditch “working class natives” before it goes to your head as some weird newspeak identity you think is real.

I only bring this detail up because the article leans on this phrase. Without it, it can’t argue that people here already uniquely have the right to end family-based immigration that their own families very likely relied upon.

In other words, today’s immigrants are tomorrow’s “working class natives”. And today’s struggling, victimized “working class natives” were yesterday’s immigrants. Pretending anything else is being arbitrary as fuck in order to normalize someone’s own cultural narcissism.

Forgive the technical term. I’ll be using a few more.

Causes of Food Analogies

I don’t want to delay the meat of the article, though. It goes on:

“So, immigration expands the economic pie but gives too meager a slice to ordinary people. The goal must be to retain, and in fact expand, immigration while ensuring that its benefits are distributed fairly. The current system does the opposite: channeling the benefits of migration to immigrants and domestic elites. Right now, special classes of citizens—mostly corporations (and in practice, big corporations) and family members—can sponsor temporary or permanent migrants, benefiting shareholders mainly, as well as ethnic enclaves.

“This system should be wiped away and replaced with a system of citizenship sponsorship for immigrants that we call a Visas Between Individuals Program. Under this new system, all citizens would have the right to sponsor a migrant for economic purposes.”

This flies in the face of what is well worn and repeatedly proven economic knowledge at this point. Immigration typically boosts economies and creates jobs. The investment spent now is repaid several times over within the space of years.

Immigration doesn’t take a slice of the “economic pie” away from others. It just bakes bigger fucking pies.

In fact, stagnancy in economies is linked to low immigration. For a model that’s close to what the U.S. faces, we can look to Japan’s recent woes: an aging population without enough younger workers to support them. This is primarily linked to a lack of labor force growth driven by low birth rates and anemic immigration.

The United States also has an aging population without enough younger workers to support it. Birth rates are declining, as tends to happen in economically stagnated countries. The problem is that you can’t improve birth rates without improving the economy first, and you can’t improve the economy without improving birth rates…AND THEN WAITING 20 YEARS for those babies to grow up and hit the labor force.

Steady and accessible immigration is by far the more optimal choice. It improves the economy faster by building out the framework that supports and expands a healthy middle class. It helps an economy bridge troubles and results in more buying power across every bracket of income.

You don’t end up with a labor force competing for more jobs or – as is the problem already – a labor force shortage in the places that have jobs, and a labor force surplus in the places that don’t. Instead, you have an injection into the labor force that begins turning into real, local spending within years.

However, where I ended that quote above sounds like a pretty generous idea, right? Let anyone sponsor a migrant. That would seem to agree with what I say here, doesn’t it?

You gotta wait for the beat to drop.

Human Traffi- wait no, Indentured Servit…Get Your Own Immigr– er, Sponsor an Immigrant!

Want to know how Posner and Weyl’s program would work?

“Here’s how the program would work: Imagine a woman named Mary Turner, who lives in Wheeling, West Virginia. She was recently laid off from a chicken-processing plant and makes ends meet by walking and taking care of her neighbors’ pets. Mary could expand her little business by hiring some workers, but no one in the area would accept a wage she can afford. Mary goes online—to a new kind of international gig economy website, a Fiverr for immigrants—and applies to sponsor a migrant. She enters information about what she needs: someone with rudimentary English skills, no criminal record and an affection for animals. She offers a room in her basement, meals and $5 an hour. (Sponsors under this program would be exempt from paying minimum wage.) The website offers Mary some matches—people living in foreign countries who would like to spend some time in the United States and earn some money. After some back and forth, Mary interviews a woman named Sofia who lives in Paraguay.

“Sofia, who grew up in a village, has endured hardships that few Americans can imagine. She is eager to earn some money so that she could move to her nation’s capital city and get some vocational training. A few weeks later, Sofia arrives in Wheeling, after taking a one-week training course on American ways. If things don’t work out, the agency that runs the website will find a new match for Sofia, and Mary will find someone new as well.”

This raises a lot of questions, each of which I will discuss with increasing rage.

The Victimization of Women

How many Sofias would find themselves indebted, unable to pay it off, dependent upon their sponsor for basic living needs, and subsequently abused or sexually abused with no protective structure to seek recourse? And how many children would be put in that situation?

This would be a disaster for women because every form of the structure suggested here would create imbalanced power dynamics that favor the sponsor. Abused migrants would fear coming forward because of the power to keep them in the country or send them back that could be exercised by sponsors and by such a program itself.

Yes, abused migrants are already fearful of coming forward in our current system, but that’s because THEY’RE SCARED OF US ALREADY. The solution isn’t to further delegate that fear into granulated power structures that have even less accountability.

Unless you’re also going to form one of the largest federal departments ever conceived in order to protect people under the suggested program, all you’re doing is creating a caste system for whom human rights are neither prioritized nor enforced.

The lack of thought put into this aspect of it is abominable and ignorant, especially given how necessary these kinds of considerations are and should be in 2018.

This aspect of what they suggest doesn’t just make this indentured servitude. It places it closer on the caste system to slavery.

The Middle Class Couldn’t Afford It

Furthermore, it’s not something that middle class families would use. The middle quintile of earners has been racking up more yearly debt than income since 1999. They don’t have disposable income for investment. In order to sponsor migrants, they would have to take out a loan.

You’re not talking about a middle class family sponsoring a migrant for business purposes. You’re talking about wealthy people spending what to them is insignificant in order to create servants who are working off a debt.

The working class this article claims to champion would be on the hook for feeding, housing, moving, and paying a migrant worker, if not their family. They also forget:

Health Care, You Fuckwits!

If a migrant becomes ill or injured, the sponsor will do one of two things:

  1. Deny care to the indentured migrant in order to save money, resulting in more costly long-term health concerns and increasing the chances that as a citizen they’ll have to claim Medicaid or disability. Eliminate their ability to claim Medicaid or disability and you just push bad debt to the hospitals, who are in turn relieved of that bad debt through the taxes we pay.
  2. Spend money for the care and tack this on to the debt the migrant worker already owes, thereby extending the term of indenture for what may amount to years. And if in those years the migrant worker becomes sick again, that indenture is once more extended. Age brings more likelihood of illness and injury – this is a recipe for effectual lifetime enslavement.

Banks Exist. You Know This, Right?

Because the middle class is so severely in debt, in order for the middle class to utilize this, they’d have to take out loans. This would mean migrants would owe their sponsors, and sponsors would owe the banks.

What this creates is a human trafficking pyramid scheme. If bringing a migrant in is a business expense, then it’s assignable to the business. The article suggests a sponsorship would cost $6,000. You can recognize this as a very low estimate if you, say, live in the real world. But whatever, let’s just take Posner and Weyl at their word and go with $6,000.

Do you think banks providing loans would simply roll over and let a $6,000+ business investment walk out the door without getting value from “it”?

If a business fails – as they often do – you have a dilemma as to whether a migrant could be re-assigned through the federal program, sold off to the bank at a pro-ration of remaining value to settle a debt, or bid upon at liquidation auctions like other hard business investments.

If it’s the first, then banks would have to be compensated by the federal government. This would shift the financial risk of hiring a migrant onto the taxpayers at a cost that’s equal to the “value” remaining in each migrant worker’s debt. This cost doesn’t currently exist because we’re usually not paying migrant workers for their trip over. The costs that do exist are handled much more efficiently because they’re handled as procedure at a macro level.

If you trade a person as debt in part of a settlement, then you’re trading rights to a human being in exchange for debt settlement.

And if you simply put a migrant worker contract up for bid, well then, we’ve kind of been through that as a country before.

And that’s assuming the banking economy doesn’t go to the stand-by they repeatedly go to with everything else it doesn’t know what to do with. They’ve blind bundled bad mortgages, life settlements…you don’t think they’ll blind bundle returns on something that’s already codified as a business investment?

Politico’s Article is Shitty Because it Lacks Accountability

Sorry, technical terms. Yet how am I supposed to be polite when talking about this article? THIS IS 2,300 WORDS IN REACTION TO WHETHER WE SHOULD INSTITUTE A CODIFICATION OF INDENTURED SERVITUDE, SLAVERY, AND SEX TRAFFICKING.

These are the kind of real-world concerns that need to be thought about and addressed before making a suggestion like Posner and Weyl have. Looking at the background of the writers, I’m sure some due diligence in economic theory was done here. But no due diligence in real world application was done.

People don’t look at sociological application as being necessary to economics, but it’s what gives economic theory context for how it will actually be applied by a society. They present a theory, already deeply problematic, but moreso because it takes no time whatsoever to consider how it would be applied practically.

There’s no consideration for how people would be protected – health-wise and from their sponsors. There’s no consideration for who would be financially capable of using this and why. There’s no consideration for how people-as-business-investments would be contextualized as property in a financial system that’s not going to let $6,000+ business investments regularly walk away.

Vulnerable People are Tired of this Shit

I wish I could dismiss this article as lazy, because that would at least be kind. But it’s not. It’s vastly irresponsible. It’s not accountable. When you’re talking about people as direct business investments, that kind of irresponsibility is damaging and deadly.

This article approaches this free of consideration of the real-world application when everyone reading is going to be doing their version of real-world application and what it means. You have got to be responsible for engaging that.

When you don’t, you forego responsibility for how your theory is applied. When you don’t take that accountability on, other people will assign it for you, and that is breakfast for white supremacists who want to view people as property. When it’s plain theory that no real world contextualization goes into, then you’re responsible for the real world contextualization that people recognize in it.

When it comes to how this would be applied within context, there was no intention. It’s theory, and they didn’t think about the practical applications beyond just being able to discuss their theory. When you forego your own accountability, you are accountable for what that theory leads to.

Their article is a playground with no thought for the lessons people will take out of it, and no thought for how the world we live in would functionally apply and monetize this. This is the worst application of ally-ship because it takes the people I’m sure the authors would claim to be allies to, and it puts them in more jeopardy. It normalizes their de-humanization. It normalizes the perception that migrant workers belong at the bottom of a caste system.

This article is such a phenomenal disappointment, whose authors either don’t realize or don’t care the damage it will justify in people’s minds, and the danger their theory would pose if ever applied in the real world.

The featured image of immigrants becoming citizens comes from PBS here.

Have You Heard… Julie Byrne?

by Gabriel Valdez

“I’ve been called heartbreaker
For doing justice to my own.”

Sometimes a song can feel like getting lost in dappled light. It can lift time and make me feel the texture of the memories I most fear losing. These songs let us exist in two places at once, in two times.

The joy in this is the lightness of unpacking sensations from my past. The heartbreak is my inability to feel them fully again, as in presence. I sit with the sensation not of a moment, but of its memory. The windows into it are always shifting. I can’t climb into it fully, but I can feel the breeze come through, hear the echoes of it float in.

Sometimes a singer like Julie Byrne can take the heartbreak of being contained by the present in a way memory can’t be…and the joy of sensing all that memory floating free. In that moment, you’re sitting there with someone. You’re not alone in the joy or the heartbreak. Someone else is there with you, sharing the same conflicting longing and closure, aching and satisfaction, embarrassment and pride.

“I dreamt of the warmest days of love
Which knew not sorrow nor betrayal
When truth was will in the singing of the gale
But when I lay in a verdant field
None could stay my rising.”

It’s sunny there, and the wind will sway the branches, and if you can find stillness with the longing of your past, you can understand and appreciate it. You can see the elements of a memory, realize perspective you couldn’t in the moment.

Not all memories are good, either. Some are anxious, panicking, moments when someone made you lesser because that’s what kept you. Sometimes, you can reclaim the parts where you grew, without feeling like someone else has ownership or control of them. You don’t hear the echoes of doubt or fear that once were intertwined with the good things you learned about yourself.

You realize not being able to step back into those memories can be good. You didn’t fear losing them, you feared losing the elements that helped you grow to become who you are. You feared losing pain would risk losing the lessons learned from it, even when the lesson learned was to step away from pain.

“I’ve been sitting in the garden
Singing to the wind
Searching for an anchor
I’ve been seeking god within.”

We can hold on to the lessons of strength we each learn from rising back, without having to internalize the doubt or coercion that made us pen ourselves away in the first place. We can hold on to what we learned from pain and doubt, without having to hold on to the pain and doubt. We’re not what someone else tried to make us into out of the anxiety of what would happen if we didn’t reshape ourselves. We’re what overcame that fear and intimidation. But sometimes it takes a spark to think of it this way, to put it all together. Sometimes it takes a song, or sometimes a painting, or a movie, or a play, or conversation.

It takes a stillness in ourselves, imparted by something else to cease our restlessness and look at the memory in joy and heartbreak, in fear and strength, with the breath of panic that you thought you’d put behind you, and the calm to be able to accept that it no longer controls you. That’s what resilience is. It isn’t cold and calloused. It’s turning the panic of incomprehension into the calm of understanding. It takes a stillness to witness who you are and how you got there.

We come out the other side of it, without needing to get lost to anger and frustration. Maybe we even learn how not to get lost in panic and anxiety. We learn better how to get lost in our calmness. Julie Byrne offers a good place to slow the world down, like getting lost in dappled light.

If you like Julie Byrne, try: Dawn Landes for something lively and practical, Marissa Nadler for something darker and mysterious, Patty Griffin for the storytelling, or Joni Mitchell for the imagery.

Have You Heard… is a stream of song and band recommendations, many of which may be new to you. We hope it’s less concerned with celebrity and image, and more concerned with the music and what it evokes.

The feature image of Julie Byrne is from Brooklyn Vegan here.

The Work That’s Never Witnessed — “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

by Gabriel Valdez

“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

James 2:17

“Now, we are feeling what not having hope feels like.”

– Michelle Obama

After Donald Trump was elected, several people sought me out because of the work I’ve done in politics. They told me, “I’m willing to die opposing him.” I told them that attitude made them useless.

Show up to a march with the idea that you’re willing to die, and you’ll see everything that happens in that light. You’re so focused on the idea of a noble, meaningful, romantic act of sacrifice…that you won’t even think about protecting the person next to you. You become so obsessed with fighting something that you forget that you’re there to save something.

Who do you think builds something? The one there to nobly sacrifice themselves, or the one there who doles out water, who helps the elderly who grow tired, who communicates from the front of the march to the back what to look out for, or who is ready with first aid supplies in case of violence.

I don’t want someone willing to die. I want someone willing to make sure the person next to them lives.

Do you think the people who have died in marches wanted to? They wanted to live. They were scared for their lives. That’s what makes their sacrifices meaningful. They were there for a purpose. They were there to do work. They were there to hold each other up in an effort that would have been impossible on their own.

Resistance is not a romantic thing. It’s not built on some great act of sacrifice unique to you. It’s not an identity. In fact, it’s not about you. Resistance, and faith, and hope are all built from the same single thing: you show up day after day and you do the work of it.

That work is sometimes grueling and heartbreaking. It wears you down. It tests your spirit. It tests your boundaries. It can break you. There is often no witness for it, especially when the work is performed by women or people of color (or LGBTQ, or the disabled). There is often no reward.

You do the work and it joins with the work of all those around you, and maybe something terrible happens anyway. Was the work useless? Or did you prevent something even more terrible from happening? How do you measure it? How do you assess the amount of work every person did? Often, the only thing you know is that there’s more work to do.

You often feel penned into a corner. How does the universe keep going like this? What use are you? Are you even denting the things you seek to stop? Doesn’t matter. There’s more work, and that work helps people.

“The Last Jedi” is built around being worn thin. It’s built around desperation. It’s built on the back of a Rebellion that has dwindled, but keeps on doing the work.

Many of the heroes willing to sacrifice themselves keep trading on everyone else’s credit. They may come close to death, but as they escape it, it’s others who pay the consequences for their heroism.

“Star Wars” has always relied on building myths, and it’s built some good ones. “The Last Jedi” cares deeply about those myths. It also doesn’t feel beholden to them. It doesn’t feel as if those myths are sacred. In fact, it considers many of those myths downright dangerous.

Myths make us believe that our single heroic action can save the day. And our heroes? Well they’re our saviors. What’s the point of doing all that grueling work day after day if we can just tag a savior in? Hamilton electors, Jill Stein’s recount, Obama’s press conference, the Steele dossier, Mueller, impeachment, Susan Collins for a minute, Jeff Flake for two seconds, Bob Corker for half a breath, all of them saviors at some point since the election.

And yet…somehow we go unsaved.

It’s almost as if the work is up to us.

Some of these things have produced useful results, and some might yet, but only if we do the work that gives them the space to make a change. This is what “The Last Jedi” is about. It’s about persisting, about not putting all our hope in saviors, and not putting faith in our noble ideas of romantic sacrifice. It’s about enduring. There’s sacrifice here, but the only meaningful sacrifice is that which saves someone else. Otherwise, it’s not really a sacrifice, is it?

We find ourselves in the face of a moment that threatens to overwhelm us. As we grow tired, we grow separate, we lose our ability to trust – not just in each other, but that what we’re doing makes a difference. We rebel not just against them, but against each other. We do the work of breaking ourselves for them. And that’s the strategy of how they win, how they erase democracy. They do so by tiring us, by making us grow lonely and hopeless because each of us begins thinking we’re willing to die for something, instead of thinking we’re willing to keep on doing the work day after day.

If you came here for a review, “The Last Jedi” is superb. Writer-director Rian Johnson takes the style and filmic grammar of all the other “Star Wars” entries, even the prequels, and folds them into what feels like an entire trilogy’s worth of story. There are beautiful moments here that feel like still pieces of art, planets that feel built from impressions of emotion. There is a deep melancholy to the film, and a resilient hope.

Yet it acknowledges from the first seconds that “Star Wars” is silly, and that maybe by not adhering to the strict orthodoxy expected of it, it can still be a flexible, meaningful place to tell stories. It’s rare that a film can achieve bleak despair and steady silliness, a tragic reality and a determined irreverence.

It’s not a perfect film, but I think the perfect “Star Wars” film that it could be would be something far lesser.

“The Last Jedi” is a film that can feed a certain soul, one that’s doing the work and growing weary, and feeling more distant from all the other souls doing the work and growing weary.

More than anything else, “The Last Jedi” establishes what it feels like not to feel hope yet to create it, to have your expectations of saviors undermined and realize the power you loaned them is your own. It makes you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable and at risk because you always were, but now you’re doing something about it. It also reminds us that faith in saviors, if it does not have the works or the work behind it, is meaningless.

Go see this thing. Go persist and be resilient.

And remember you’re not alone. The work you do is a spark that carries, that we’re all trying to feed, and our little corner of the universe is in the mood for light.

The feature image of Daisy Ridley as Rey is from Cosmic Book News here.

Movies and how they change you.