November 27, 2023
Acquaintance: Loose Links and Fleeting Connections #2: The concept of “acquaintance” has historically been given much less attention than notions of “friendship” or “love,” the idea seemingly relegated to the bottom of the hierarchy of influential social/intellectual/spiritual connections. And yet, much of our engagement with others—in social as much as in academic or political spaces—plays out on the level of acquaintance. This new series of essays on the Diacritics blog interrogates the impact of those fleeting, brief interactions, or, alternatively, the influence of connections with those we have known for a long time but not very well. Contributors explore how the meaning and value of “acquaintance” varies in different cultural, historical, or social contexts, and how we can think about surface connections between diverse thinkers and creators that nevertheless may have a far-reaching impact on their work.
In school ADHD formed an army against my concentration.
You will find that W.E.B. Du Bois was a chemistry apprentice / consumed with / finding the cure for Parkinson’s disease / in cicadas / but in the process / unveiled a poison / that could give poison to poison ivy/
Twisting the strap on my bookbag, I can’t see straight.
William Lloyd Garrison / was the first legally blind umpire / with the Los Angeles Dodgers /donated a million dollars / to The Retina Foundation / which inspired Helen Keller’s / best-selling, Light in my Darkness/
I draw a funky frame around my science paper.
Mary Beachum was a slaughterhouse worker / created the concept / of The Great Wave off Kanagawa / while using an outhouse / watching silverfish coast and stream / the rain cascading from a crack/
A boy counting coins in his pockets.
Prudence Crandall was incarcerated in a barbarian cave / packed with coyote carcasses / for kleptomania in 1302 / before swiping the warden’s arm which led to the creation / of Judas Cradle/
Who’s singing that song in my head?
Laura Towne used to tutor / the legislative assistant / who had a love child / with Lyndon B. Johnson / that child became / the lawyer who patent the design / of the Lincoln Continental/
See: I’m neatly coloring inside the lines in my coloring book (with markers).
Booker T. Washington was a sax player turned confectioner / sold stuffed bananas / in a small disposal copper chests / from the truck of his car / before discovered by a foreigner / who partnered / to make it / a chain at Disney Lands/
You, daydreaming about not daydreaming.
John J. Carter collected tarantulas / as weapons / to sling onto civilians / in the Invasion of Trinidad and Tobago / before they gained independence / from the Israelites/
I’m following my friend’s waves in his haircut
Today, I swept shortcoming into the distance / of those/ pictures in poems / then bleached and painted them / the right hue of history / for carving a passage / for me to write this/