P E R S O N

by Gilda Davidian

I’m Revolting is a treasure trove of inspiration. Whenever I’m feeling restless on the internet, jumping from site to site, I redirect my browser to the site to find something fresh and unexpected yet welcome and familiar. If you are interested in art, fashion, music or design, I’m Revolting has it all. We are excited to have as our guest today the person behind the site who curates such inspirational beauty.

Hi I’m Revolting! Tell us about something that has been on your mind.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether there’s any way to describe beauty that’s not a metaphor or a more specific euphemism, and about whether beauty is a worthwhile pursuit in general. I’ve made peace with the seriousness of it, and I’ve made peace with my own vanity, and I think you do get better at it, at figuring out exactly what you like, so there’s pleasure in clarity.

But mostly I find myself thinking that the redeeming thing about beauty is the emptiness of it, the awkwardness of attempts to pair beauty with social good, that you can be an otherwise horrible person with exquisite taste, and that this is actually is the only thing that makes beauty a worthwhile pursuit. There’s nothing metaphysical about beauty. It’s more than our attempts to describe it precisely because it doesn’t carry any other meaning, which makes it sort of like death, except not funny.

What is something you are looking forward to?
I have this really uneasy relationship with being busy, with working hard. I’m not quite convinced there’s glory in working, that it’s not just flowers on our chains, some sort of myth to make the misery more bearable. Maybe the drudgery of work isn’t the absence of creativity, or not doing something you love, or doing something that doesn’t garner social credit. Maybe the drudgery of work is just work itself, and having to be productive in order to have a meaningful existence.

All that said, I get enormously anxious when I’m not busy, so I’m really looking forward to being totally slammed these next few months, on a new project that a friend and I have been talking about for what feels like years, and that is finally churning into existence, and that I need so much to quiet my anxious soul I can barely bear to talk about it for fear of jinxing it.

Tell us about something exciting that happened to you recently.
I came home one day recently, carrying some grocery bags, and there was a CNN crew in the lobby of my apartment building. The reporter asked if he might interview me. He asked, “How do you feel about there being a sex offender living in your building?”

The reporter explained that a man who lived in my building was a former Catholic priest who had been accused of molesting a boy, and the church had settled out of court, and how did I feel that he was now living in my building? Before I knew it, I had launched into this diatribe that I’ve been carrying around with me for a while, practicing at parties where I don’t know people well. I’m a bit obsessed with moral ambiguity, and also the attenuating awkwardness.

I said I thought residency restrictions for sex offenders had become bad policy. There are regions in California where the only place sex offenders can legally live is under a bridge, and it makes no sense to have transient sex offenders, without fixed addresses, not living in homes where they can also receive mental health services. It makes no sense to keep parolees from living with their family members, with their mother or their spouse.

And, furthermore, the lack of distinction among sex offenses has been manipulated, so that people convicted of egregious violent crimes are on the same registry as people convicted of public urination. Peeing in public (or having sex in a park) can be charged as indecent exposure — a registrable sex offense — as a tactic to keep people from living in certain areas where property values are rising, to criminalize poverty and homelessness or homosexuality.

The reporter didn’t end up using any of the interview, but before he left he told me what room the former priest lived in, and I found myself punching that floor in the elevator and standing outside the apartment door, which was decorated with a peace sign sticker. I didn’t knock; I didn’t bother the guy. But I worry all the time about my political views being swayed by emotion, by my disdain for everything and especially religion, by these ancient notions of revenge and fairness, and though I’m not always looking for battle, it’s nice to know that I’m ready for a camera in my face asking me to join a lynch mob; ready to worry about the rights of someone I’ve never met, my neighbor, who has maybe done something horrible, and it felt hard and worth it and more true.

Thank you, I’m Revolting!

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