To Infinity and Beyond:  
   Expanding on the Glitch 








Stop. 

And start again

refresh

Stop 

And start again 

refresh

Stop and start again 

refresh

Start again. 

Start again

Error 

Error

…. cannot be read . 

Refresh 

Start again 

Start again.

Cannot read…….. 

…...cannot  be read. 


System overload. 

Processing. 

Processing 

  Loading.... 


Cannot read…….

…….cannot  be read. 

This happens often 


System overload. 

Processing. 

Processing 

    Loading. …..


I sit at my computer. And stare in a daze while being somewhat hypnotized by the rainbow spinning wheel that halts every action I anticipated making online.

My screen goes black and flickers. 


And so we Re- enter…. 

expanding on: The Glitch. 


{Glitch embodied.}

Vibrantly incomprehensible, erratic and read as ‘inarticulate’, the space of the glitch is the home that I find comfort and familiarity in. The glitch presents itself as fragmented, yet sturdy in commanding (though vastly misunderstood). I insert my own body politic into this practicum thinking about the ‘glitch body’ as it stands in relation to the intersections and overlappings of the selves that I flow freely in and out of…... the spaces I occupy and transition through IRL, imaginatively and digitally….. the code that is entered and rewritten in calling forth and resituating for a non subsequent/ non linear expansion. In regards to conceptualizing possibility, futurity and freedom, I'll be thinking about the ways in which the glitch Is the space of catapulted liberation from sequence that aims in moving…. to infinity and beyond. Thus, reaching farther and past the anticipated: what we (think we) know to be proficient, true, accurate, the determined structure to which we operate, standardize, abide, and situate ourSelves within... >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>seeking more. 

In Legacy Russell’s The Glitch Feminism Manifesto, she firmly grounds the re-contextualization of the glitch from a 'feat' to something more that gives life to new possibilities -- ultimately reconfiguring these ‘predefined’ failures in code and sequence as the complete opposite of what is predicated: non failures.…. openings of space. Thus, interstitial gaps that seek and call for more. These are jolts to the pre existing system, pushing forth. For example, 404 Page Not Found (which pops up in window form on desktop or online when something goes wrong and function can not be carried through further) along with the many other glitches that tend to surface during our daily lives with technology and IRL. I understand this ‘System Failure’ as being the catalyst or ignition…. the moments and spaces, in fixed said system that call for different function, urging for a completely new execution and systematic protocol. 

I think about the concept of “failure” more often than one might think. (In terms of thinking about the notion of error, causality and how it relates to my body) The notion of failure is regarded to like a mark of shame. Of course, ‘failure’ is something that feels all consuming at times as the most distressing shake up when it occurs or presents itself. It lay as the location that we all seem to be terrified of arriving at, especially in our avoidance of facing (head on) the complications of this “failure”. I question failure as a concept and re-envision “failure” somewhat as a myth; ultimately a myth of violent inaccuracies essentially calling more into question… with more to be explored. In definition, Failure is, inclined to and has been defined as: any particular moment that omits the expected or “required” action; ultimately falling short (not living up to) of said expectation or functional standard. In re-envisioning, failure is the opportunity for more despite the grit and disdain encasing it. I understand failure as a specific function; operating completely as a means for pushing others to recalibrate their thresholds for expansion in discourse and action around what is ‘acceptable’, and tolerable; distinguishing and concluding what falls into the dominant imposed system/ framework and what does not. 

While staring at my computer, in a full - fledged fixation on computer haptics, I began to think about the idea in a few different capacities… Dropping deep into computer analytics, being a structured entry-point or window,  that I could always situate myself within and through when things felt unstable or hard to understand. I find myself in a hyper focused worm hole of computer science while processing ... 

                           processing … 

                                                 processing  …


like the warm, overloaded hard drive (that was perhaps sorting through too much given input to compute)

...causing the spinning wheel on my computer screen …

>> … I delve head first into notions of disability/alterability wrapped and intertwined with overlappings of my blackness and gender. My mind arrives at specific moments and occurrences where I felt as though my body/self, placed in certain spaces and situations, was the eruption. In these instances my body/self was the skew abruptly acting as the catalyst that Russell proposes and interrogates throughout her writing and research work on Glitch Feminism and the ‘erratum’ of the glitch entirely. I understand my autism as the space of the undefinable, in terms of the glitch. It essentially mirrors the state of existing perpetually in a territory of the non-distinguishable, encountered with many misunderstandings, and miscommunications in regards to others - and the crossover of  different worlds colliding. This space exists as the landscape marked by an extensive misunderstood nature-- that space of misconstrue, preconceived notions, and high stigmatization that is oftentimes encased with a looming (external) projected fear from an overall inability to pinpoint, box in and define our thinking and movements at large. 

I find this also to be similar to the ways that I understand the complications of blackness largely in its vast societal “misunderstood-ness”, as well. There are crossovers in blackness teetering in that similar space as previously mentioned, in regards to my understanding of my autism -- when (encountered with) an exterior gaze and overall forced generalized understanding. This gap exists in regards to the very black cultural mechanics and gems housing its many inner workings and intricacies that make up our identities, extending far and wide. Blackness is oftentimes a stigmatized space that is feared as correlation to the gap  and essentially takes on the likeness of the glitch in its attempts and workings to eradicate dominant forces, normative scripts, and oppressive systems that make up the world we live in -- along with the false narratives and oppressive factors that adamantly work to contain it. I have been situating my understanding of blackness as void, encompassing the interstitial resistive nature that is misread by the dominant system itself.  Void - spatial void, cosmic void; mistaken as the empty 'nothingness' rendered by its perceived lack of substantial meaning.. though (as fact) is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g  past all measured and studied attempts in conceptualizing it. The interstitial. Black matter -To know existence and 'non - existence' at the very same time, endlessly.  Blackness is infinite and unable to be contained. Its elaborate force jolts and lives on. My blackness inextricably entangled with my womanhood and autism are un-contained, insuppressible, and buoyant in their nature (despite the weighted factors that bind them with heaviness). They are the revolutions within me. They are the revolution - like jolts that rock the boat set off to freedom. 

Frequently, I’ve found myself within systems or terrain that felt as though, existing in the categorized space, clearly wasn't accommodating or open to difference. More often than not, this resulted in feeling as though I was caught within systems that didn’t serve the highest good of my being … my most expansive, transgressive, essence of my body and being.

Like the forth calling and eruption of the glitch, 

I needed more 

I sought after more 

I seek more. 

It's necessary to revisit  the process of coding and what is essentially “coded”. ‘Coding’ is situated as the setting of infrastructure of the dominant system a.k.a./regarded as the programmed preset. As part of the Glitch Feminism Manifesto, Russell explains: 

“In a society that conditions the public to find discomfort or outright fear in the errors and malfunctions of our socio mechanics - illicitly and implicitly encouraging an ethos of “don't Rock The Boat”!  A glitch becomes an apt metonym. Glitch Feminism, however, embraces the causality of “error”, and turns the gloomy implication of glitch on its ear by acknowledging that an error in a social system that has already been disrupted by racial, social, sexual, and cultural stratification and the imperialist wrecking ball of globalization — processes that continue to enact violence on all bodies — may not, in fact be error at all, but rather an much - needed erratum. This glitch is a correction to the “machine”, and in turn, a positive departure. (Rhizome) .”

Russell explains Glitch Feminism as being a new framework or logic cultivated from the urge to conceptualize the possibility of what exists beyond hegemonic, formulaic code. The Glitch Feminism Manifesto acts as a re-coding of our understanding of malfunction and failure. It works to propose that perhaps rather than these sudden instances and occurrences that we describe as the glitch, be seen and understood as mistakes/ failures, be flipped and  ultimately viewed as having corrected themselves; though not conclusively intentional. These instances in turn, present themselves as the essential shake up to the overall system and tech sequencing bringing more into play. Though the systems seem firmly implemented, appearing all encompassing, the glitch reveals the flimsy facade of the structure. Thus, dominant but flimsy and yielding (giving way to the glitch) while conclusively also revealing how absolutely powerful the glitch is itself. 

The glitch not only tests limits, it pushes past them. 


--------The glitch bulldozes infrastructure--------->

---------The glitch pushes you to think more---------->

----------The glitch forces new thought, ----------------->

            more ways 


In regards to maneuvering via digital space and physical space ...

I see our movement-s.  as a dance . 

the rhythm that our bodies flow. enact.

Push. 

 the choreography that our bodies/ selves enact (digitally and IRL) 

Are the Rhythm.

The beat that our bodies/selves move to 

That we move to uniquely in a varying of ways

Shaking, and moving, and flowing, and forming; situating. traveling.

Thus being the creation of code 

= resisting what's predetermined 

Written.


Code that which overrides the preset 

and the very systems that deem our bodies (and movement-s) unfree ----> ---->

The imposed. The expected. 


This is the glitch to the algorithm at large. 

Causing substantial “mishaps” or embedded ‘problems’ within the code ---the glitch is the eruption

It is the undefinable. 


We must think of standardized preset as (we think of the stigmatized) ‘feat’ rather than seeing it as the seamless algorithm programmed to categorize and dictate a homogenous way to serve us all and provide universally. It falls short. It fails us.The algorithm will not account for you. If one does not follow the normative-structured way of the algorithm, one won’t be seen. If one is not the ‘standard’ (if one falls out of the context of the ‘norm’, one will be forgotten. The normative script says: KEEP THE SYSTEM AS THE SYSTEM SHALL BE. THOSE WHO DISRUPT THIS CONVENTION, ARE AND WILL BE,  PUSHED TO THE OUTSKIRTS ...OR FALL TO THE WAYSIDE! ...BEWARE! Through the re-contextualization of the error/ malfunction that Russell declares, Glitch Feminism has expanded me to reconfigure the ways in which I understand my relationship with disability "from its gloomy implication" -- which is consistently sapped with highly complicated overtones and entanglements bound to 'failure', malfunction, defect, flaw, impairment, and negative associations to being divergent of standard.

 Like the glitch on my computer screen, my body’s felt foreign to me. This being the many sensations I’ve felt my whole life: feeling stuck at times; like the spinning wheel of an overloaded Macbook shutting down or seeking out other modes of release and relief. The sensations which feel like the haptics of a glitch, along with quite a few other sensory overload, overwhelm and intricacies that too feel synonymous with computer/ tech haptics. In the midst of function restricted in my ability/ ( “alter” “/” alternative”) veering from the “norm”, the sensations emerge like a glitch erupting with sudden irregularities in the body from offset spark in the nervous system, irregularities, and certain faults in the environment. Often experiencing waves of heightened sense, along with the many other complex aspects, I move to challenge the projected notions of error that have been and are routinely projected upon me in an improper attempt to categorize, contain, and push me through a system that is not built for me. I think about falling short of structural and imposed expectations often. In navigating the world, I had been shoved into systems and spaces that coded my brain function and behavior as incorrect and unacceptable, despite the vast expansion, and unique approaches they ultimately offer and bring forward. In terms of this difference, my ways of thinking, operating along with my essence and being were coded as ‘wrong’ due to not fitting into a standard box (of what is ‘good’, acceptable , and normative).  It’s easy to slip into the falsity of such conditioning of what you are said to be and not what you are. In regards to this space marked by falling short and to the wayside by the larger machine of the algorithm, there were moments where I became largely concerned with unmasking in its relation to the notion of the ‘freudian slip’(the accidental occurrence or mistake of revealing one's innermost subconscious thoughts and feelings).  Masking acts as a survival strategy much like the shouldering act involved in the SBW (Strong Black Woman) trope placed upon [and inhabited by] black women in our everyday lives and also expected culturally. In example, this involves shoving ourselves into a mold that doesn’t fit  (and will never entirely fit or come to bend in surrender), while simultaneously finding a sense of navigation within that space for an extended period of time. The unmasking that occurs in revealing or essentially ‘outing’ ones traits and condition; particularly disclosing autism while also in different circumstances (in some cases) being merely unable to mask the idiosyncrasies deemed unsuitable for normative terrain from having reached an over capacitated threshold to maintain any veil..for any longer, whatsoever. 

As part of Coming Out Blackened and Whole: Fragmentation and Reintegration in Audre Lorde’s Zami and The Cancer Journal, in the larger text Power and Possibility by Elizabeth Alexander, Alexander refers to a past Audre Lorde interview, where Lorde states, “I feel that not to be open about any of the different ‘people’ within my identity… particularly the ‘mes’ who are challenged by status quo, is to invite myself and other women, by my example, to live a lie. In other words, I would be giving into a myth of sameness which I think can destroy us” (Alexander 97).” Though in regards to autism spectrum disorders where masking is a survival strategy that many women wear as protective armor, there is something to be said separately about embracing all the selves that come with exploring and acknowledging identity in its entirety. Sameness becomes the homogenizing entity just like the systems that we find to be unfitting. There is a certain power in standing by the ‘mes’ within us that are difficult to grapple with and share with the world. It is simple to turn away from ourselves in tending to the difficult aspects within us. The true challenge is standing by the parts  within us that aren't completely accepted, nurtured by society, and in one way or another ‘go against the grain’. In terms of Lorde’s emphasis on the danger of sameness, the selves that challenge the status quo (in veering from that homogeneous space) are the break in the sequence of sameness. I stand firmly with power reveling in the space of the misunderstood that the many ‘me’s compiled may come to form.  Sameness is the error. 


The notion of pre contextualized error is essentially The error itself. 

The preset is the error. 

The set algorithm is the error. 

Widely perceived as error, atypical is the glitch. It is ‘the uncommon’ in situating ‘neurotypical’ as the dominant coding. Neurodiversity stands as that shake up. It accounts for more in recognizing the needs of those who fall on this spectrum. It simultaneously works in prioritizing difference (rather than forcing conformity to specific normalities, ways of being, and maneuvering through the world -- in regards to ideas, behaviors, and ways of thinking). It moves to suggest that difference is synonymous with difference rather than difference being synonymous with the trap of inadequacy. Neurodiversity recognizes the clear problematics and faults in previous ways in approaching notions of difference regarding condition and disability. It opens up space where space is needed for those who vere from society’s imposed frameworks and definitions of what is understood and valued as good, acceptable, healthy, and worthy of our time, attention and scholarship etc. Previously, I framed how I experience the world to the action like a glitch physically and further extensively. At large it feels like navigating an operating system whose software is built for a different program; while also being likened to having a completely different user’s tech manual than those around me. Despite its coding as the opposite, autism should not be constituted  as a death sentence or defect. It is a difference in communication, socializing and maneuvering among the rest of the world. In further thinking, my autism is the eruption in the sequence or code radically shifting and birthing new ways of understanding and action. It is the flicker that resists pre-determined expectation and dominant conditioning. In rattling sequence, not only in the world at large but also in daily life happenings and occurrences, the glitch helped me envision a world where my body politic was not “error”, “malfunction”, “wrong”, “incorrect”, “FAILURE” (and the list goes on ….). The glitch resisted and re-coded how I, not only, envisioned my identity but also the ways in which I believed I had to navigate the world -- along with the ways I do…. 

Creating expansion. 

Reconfiguring

relearning 

Offering breaks and departures

Forming greater…. conducive environments and modes of carrying on. 

 In seeing further connection to Russell's Elsewhere and After the Flood, "we rock the boat" by transgressing;  like the electrical break of the glitch; by claiming space for ourselves… because that is essentially what the glitch opens to and enacts. Elizabeth Alexander also writes: 

“She must make a physical space for herself in a hybrid language, a composite, a creation of new language to make space for the “new” self-invented body……For the self to remain simultaneously multiple and integrated, embracing definitive boundaries of each category -- race, gender, class, et cetera--while disassembling their static limitation, assumes depth and complexity of identity construction that refutes a history of limitation. For the self to be fundamentally collaged--overlapping and dialogic--- is to break free of diminishing concepts of identity (Alexander 96).”  

The glitch is and creates the new, even if it’s only for a short instant. Alexander describes this creation of newness: new language formed to house and make space for the new body. This can further metaphorically be viewed as the glitch, in that its action exceeds the limit that language once served. It works in exceeding and unbinding from the non serving concepts of identity that are rooted in restrictive code… ultimately opening up to more.


The Glitch is the unfathomable. 

and unable to be read

The Glitch is so far indistinguishable from the system that rests in the concretelike formation of set preset... 


...The Glitch is free


We contain many different parts. Alexander refers to Lorde, having situated herself within the complexities of her own  identity and selves that she encountered throughout her lifetime. In such reference, the urgency and necessity of remaining in our complexity is raised, which can essentially be an act of liberation in its compiled, layering. This complexity lay in the allowing of the self to maintain its 'scrappiness', its multiplied nature (entangled with the many parts which make up ourselves and identities) that acknowledge the boundaries attached to defining imposed categories (of which we inhabit and are slotted into) -- while also dismantling them by way of not allowing space for such boundaries to cause further limitation in regards to overall identity and concept of self. The self existing in its fullness, in its fluidity including all facets and layers, eradicates oneself from the very things that trap us and hinder us from our fullness (along with ability to evolve and transform). The tending to all parts and aspects opens up space which pushes against binary infrastructure in breaking down the overarching limitations that are embedded in the structured framework which surrounds us entirely.


…..Transgressing categorization. 

Transgressing notions...belief systems imposed upon us

   Transgressing limits and boundaries. 


I will continue resting and finding home in the glitch as it shifts us beyond what we think we know and forth to "cosmic possibility"  Russell states. 

The glitch encourages us to break free.


    I can do everything and more

      I am everything. And more.

Everything and beyond

          To infinity and further on....

     To infinity and beyond. 


During this moment in time which is marked by uncertainty, doom and fear of what's to come, we are experiencing circumstances that have completely shaken up existing structures. This shake up has resulted in ultimately forcing forward a completely new way of life from the old; which currently seems increasingly disastrous, unfree, and apocalyptic (though in regards these are ....  In many respects, what is occurring now may seem like a global failure. I find vivid crossovers to the times unfolding in front of us and with what glitch theory presents through its implications.  As Russell writes, “ ...so we find ourselves at the genesis of that journey within digital practice, signifying that we have an opportunity to resist repeating history, making the same mistakes, and falling victim to plugging in the same archaic modes of heteronormativity that have come to dominate world systems and beyond screens (The Society Pages).” This new location of the genesis in regards to digital practice brings the option to shift past heteronormativity, binary, and all unserving infrastructure. Opportunities present themselves in reverence to the space of digital practice functioning as a newer brink offering further expansion in regards to othered bodies/ identities, expanding and pushing beyond. The power in digital practice and the glitch body is that it inherently resists and forms greater options through its fluidity and expansive nature; embodying new spaces. The glitch itself and the glitch body integrate the many outlying aspects and components of our selves which ultimately progress us forward. 

In the age of what feels like the apocalypse of this planet, it is up to us entirely as a world to refrain from our existing patterns and operating, as a whole. One of the greatest global malfunctions of our lifetime, is calling into question: do the systems that are set in place serve humanity's highest good? We must ask ourselves: In what ways are we hacking and disrupting normative systems (that do not serve the power and possibility) for all bodies and identities?  We are seeing huge disparities in terms of race, class, gender etc. Though the disparities are not new, they have been  essentially highlighted. The current shocking destabilization of our society is revealing how constrictive and unserving the systems and dominant machine is in place. Though we are in the beast of the machine rattling and attempting to continue forward, there are options at hand, despite how disastrous the circumstances and how ‘offbeat’ things have unfolded in this current state of heightened fear. The options become present through shifting to new ways of living and constituting ourselves in different ways through and beyond. We can either continue old patterns and ways of life that have clearly been inadequate (especially in serving othered bodies and identities in regards to the domination of the ruling machine at hand)... We can continue to uphold old ways of life that once stood in place or we can push forth to new ways. The wake is forcing forward and driving us in further unpacking the cultural stratifications of larger structures which shape (and uphold) the binaries that form limitations surrounding us -- rendering us unfree. We must seek alternative modalities. This moment is the glitch to the machine, acting as the essential shake up to dominant systems and superstructure in place. Black and brown bodies, marginalized identities, and people with disabilities -- those who navigate the world in alternative ways, have been hit the hardest by this violent shake up due to the flimsiness and the false security of the systems set in place. Interconnected with race, class, gender, and disability ...those who challenge the status quo are the ‘erratum’ shaking  the system and in turn new systems  will be set in place that call for more freedom. Just like the pandemic is the overarching glitch to the world entirely, we are the surge … the spark lit, the glitch to the larger system at hand as we have been and continue to be.        



It starts with a catalyst. 

...As We keep glitching to get free.



I envision a world that embodies the likeness and workings of Glitch Feminism preemptively and urgently.  In aiming towards moving forward, it moves us beyond restrictive conditions and set structures that are essentially causing more harm than good through domination, destruction, fear and immobility. We erupt like the glitch. Having questioned the core and inner workings of progress before, Glitch theory is the window that assisted in reconfiguring the understanding of my identity…..Unwinding, shifting my gaze to arguably one of the biggest forces at hand (IMO): Possibility, and the interstitial that can… and does present itself in a myriad of ways within our bound world; indistinguishable and distinguishable. And the capacity to change, reconfigure, re-imagine, what we are presented with, what we are, who we are, what can be … and so on eternally through which it may manifest into form, word, voice, movement, technology and beyond.

My computer screen flickers once more - following the series of pixelated fragments and unexpected halts that have led us up to this moment. I stare at ‘nothing’. The screen goes black with what seems to feel like the eternal landscape of blackness that makes up a black hole. Some time passes. The drive restarts completely, rearing and making that sound that we all find synonymous to relief when restarting a computer after that dreadful moment of uncertainty. My desktop is back. No 'error' windows to be found; ... Spinning ball no longer in sight.….. I click to reopen my window that had been frozen before,  to see where I will take it and it will take me.


-->  












Works Cited 


Alexander, Elizabeth. Power & Possibility: Essays, Reviews, and Interviews. The University of  Michigan Press , 2007.

Russell, Legacy. “Digital Dualism And The Glitch Feminism Manifesto.” CYBORGOLOGY,  The Society Pages, 10 Dec. 2012, thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2012/12/10/digital-dualism-and-the-glitch-feminism-manifesto/.

Russell, Legacy. “Elsewhere, After the Flood: Glitch Feminism and the Genesis of Glitch Body Politic.” Rhizome, 12 Mar. 2013, rhizome.org/editorial/2013/mar/12/glitch-body-politic/.







April 20, 2020


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