Brand-new! That means: emerged shiny and sparkly from Zeus’ head, or Yasodhara's side, which is, like, 100,000 times less icky than the usual way people show up in the world. Brand-new! No lady parts! No goo! No messy history!
Let's have a parade.
Let's eat chicken wings, and hum the old songs that are forever brand-new.
That brand-new mattress sure is comfortable! Come meet me at that new restaurant on the corner, and then maybe we can go test it out together. Brand-new sex! Yay! Brand-new me! I'll have to make sure and scrub out the bathroom extra, extra well, and check for any unwanted tufts or stains. Brand-new ideas! Out with the old! What’s the old ever done for us, besides sickness, loss, and shame? Bah to the old!
In with big budgets and instant pudding! In with prosthetic everything and cars that drive themselves, so that we can do whatever it is that we do, once things are satisfyingly new, all around.
Let's do this thing!
Let's win once and for all!
Let's break on through to the other side of new!
Here's an app that will show you how.
Here's a brush, and a form, and a box you can click.
Brand-new! Would you like to use that old address? No! Would you like to renew that old subscription? Hell, no! Would you like to plan for when you might, possibly, be less brand-new? Do not offend me, my friend, for such thoughts have zero sparkle, and they emerge from someplace far less appropriate than the unblemished foreheads of our fathers.
Our father, who art brand-new, always and forever!
Our father, who tolerates no loss and no sorrow!
Our father, who smites everything into brand-new ship-shape top condition, now and forever, Amen.
Ah, the foreheads of our fathers! I lose them at my peril.
Do not make me think of the receding hairline of my father, and the way his eyes look tired now, in between sentences, while his smiting is falling apart. Goddamn pharmaceutical companies won’t even cough up the drugs he needs to get rid of those criminals once and for all. Take an axe to them – both the convicts AND the suits. Goddamn transgender intelligence officers. What? Whoever heard of such a thing? How are we supposed to keep things brand-new around here, if we can’t count on men to be men, and drug companies to make their billions?
Don’t talk to me about animals with their legs and chests in traps.
Don’t talk to me about freezing Congolese refugee families with eight children, most of them born in camps.
Don’t talk to me about 15-year-old girls who’ve never seen the inside of a doctor's office, and don’t want their cousin’s baby.
Don’t talk to me about when pipelines fail or trains blow up.
Don’t talk to me about how volunteer church groups, while feel-goody as all get out, can’t do the work a government is supposed to do.
Don’t talk to me about where my brand-new boat came from. I earned it and that’s that.
Don’t talk to me about your weird/lonely/special kid.
Don’t talk to me about who cuts up the steers for my steaks.
Don’t talk to me about the warehouse where you have to wear a respirator to keep from passing out in chickenshit fumes.
Don't talk to me about making another fucking phone call to some answering machine in DC.
Don't talk to me about how my comfort comes at the cost of your mutilation.
Don’t tell me.
Don’t talk to me.
Don’t touch me.
Don’t come any closer.
Don’t forget to clock in.
Don’t forget to bring your ID.
Don’t forget you owe me everything.
Don’t forget, without me you’d be nothing.
Don’t forget who’s boss around here.
Don’t forget it takes years to become an expert, and when you do, there will be some brand-new science you've never heard of.
Don’t forget who’s on the podium.
Don’t forget who built this place.
Don’t forget who keeps things running.
Don’t forget you’re a taker and I am a giver.
Don’t forget the way things work around here.
Don’t forget whose world this is.
Actually, I far prefer Brand Nubian.
I enjoy transferring at some Midwestern airport that’s bristling with red-finned planes, all proudly emblazoned NWA. Did no one think to check? Did someone charismatic think, I wonder if I can set about getting a national airline to rebrand their entire fleet to Niggers With Attitude – and win? Brand-new! Niggers With Attitude on every single uniform lapel, tailfin, and smooth aluminum body. That is the kind of brand-new I can stand with. Like Banksy, inserting that brand-new Abu Ghraib figure into the Florida Disney roller coaster. Like Jenny Holtzer, running ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE among the running Dow and NASDAQ numbers in Times Square; or Komar and Melamid doing the same, except with WE BUY AND SELL AMERICAN SOULS.
What we need right now, or at least what I need, is not the kind of brand-new that is busy deodorizing its vagina and burying its war crimes under multiplying brand-new flags. Instead, it is the kind of brand-new that looks right into avoidance, rearranges its molecules, and comes up with startling, inclusive truth. We are all Charlie is easy enough to say, but how about we are all Putin, Trump, Bannon, and Conway? How about, our category errors have gone far enough, and it is time to recognize in ourselves both the very things we loathe, and the solutions to move past them? Our witch-hunts don’t work. Our bullying leads nowhere, whether it comes from the right, or the left. You can make me afraid to say what I think, but you can’t do anything transformative with that fear, and you certainly can’t use it to change what I think.
Brand-new might be: Who are you and where do you hurt? Who are you and what have been your experiences with power and its limits? Where is your map of the world rattling, and who makes you afraid of what? Brand-new might be conversations that skip categories altogether, and go instead to felt experience.
This week, the candidates for City Council in our small town will speak, and since they don't run by party affiliation, I will actually have to go meet them, to find out what they are like. Shocking! I can’t just vote straight down the ticket, as I do in larger elections, because this ticket’s not like that. I have to bestir myself, and go sniff around. Who are you? What do you want to see happen around here? If I try to talk with you about the common good, and how complex that is, how will you respond?
Our neighbor, whose beagle, Junebug, makes ecstatic ground-sniffing sounds in his backyard, has a hand-drawn sign on his lawn, because he’s running for office. One time, he gave me the leaves he'd just raked up, for compost, and later I gave him some of the tomatoes I grew. What would he do with power, if we voted him in? That’s different from voting for a set of brand-new, my-flavor abstractions, isn’t it? He’s a pleasant man who barbecues, and when he and his wife walk Junebug around the neighborhood, that dog often looks as though she’d rather be sniffing dirt.
Brand-new means no map.
Brand-new means doing the awkward work of finding out for yourself, and taking risks.
Brand-new means building tolerance for curiosity, the bright face of not knowing.
Julie Püttgen is an artist and meditation teacher.
108 Names of now