The Activist begins in the middle of a revolution. There is a protesting group of commuters with a missing leader. There is a bridge that may or may not have been bombed. People speak in nonsense and cannot stop themselves. In the midst of all this, the language of news reporters mixes with the language of confession. The art of this beautifully written book is in how it touchingly illustrates that relations between humans and cities are linked in a more complex interface than most realize. The book is full of entrances and exist, alternate routes and incommensurate geographies. The Activist does not analyze or explain the hopeful desires of protest at the turn of the century, but it does enable us to see them differently.
"Whether this is a dream in which I'm captured or I've been captured and made to think I'm in a dream, I can't figure." Apropos to the rapturous tension The Activist evokes. A covert narrative operating as an event disguised as a repot. A grass trap glimpsed through the lashes of a sleepwalker. Topography of disrupted positionality, reflection girders flaccid memory against the romantic high up. Flea-bitten news and neuralgic placards. You are here**. Is dreaming the medium for crossing the ambiguous borders of talk, responsibility, collectivity, solitude? Or does reading anatomize a phantom bridge that carries you over to an unmappable reality and calls you by your secret name? Root, plan and faction, armed with tongue-tied intensity. You may ask how Renee Gladman knows that this city of slippage is your city, how she holds you within it, riveted. And therein lies the magic of this book.