Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The artist, and the people's fear of a just God.

"A person does not lightly elect to oppose his society. One would much rather be at home among one's compatriots than be mocked and detested by them. And there is a level on which the mockery of the people, even their hatred, is moving, because it is so blind: It is terrible to watch people cling to their captivity and insist on their own destruction." —James Baldwin.

If you read this blog, you must know that I think the world of James Baldwin's writing. In the above quote he speaks of the need (not want) to oppose one's society. This is, at the end of the day, the artist's choice and certainly the serious artist's choice [1]. 

 Lately, I've been immersed in trying to finish essays about the events in the world. For most things I find myself continuously dismayed by that which I read, both from friends and strangers on Facebook [2], on various website comments, to what I hear from contemporary authors [3]. The utter lack of imagination, foresight, historical context and any self-awareness still blows my mind. I find it hard to believe that we've been hurtling along on the same rock for several decades now.

At one point, seeing all the blind reactions, I was certain that I was bearing witness to a very specific sickness (or a symptom of it) for I had never seen so many people frightened that their God[4] might very well be as just as they It is. That in even the relatively safe and comfortable West people are completely incapable of rationale thought is sad, and to bear witness to it is sadder, and to know that people less safe can only be less rational (if we're to follow the model of heuristics and emotions and, in less safe areas, fewer long term polities) is sadder yet.

Nevertheless, this thought has gripped my heart as I think on my reaction, think on the essays I need to write on the matters at hand. To do so, I must find the strength in the words of the greats, especially the likes of Baldwin, and I must move on.

So to all those whom I told I would be writing on these matters soon, I will. I most certainly hope to encompass all the reactions around, to include the demagogues who have taken advantage of this situation.

[1] Oh, I know, I mentioned the very post-modern view that one doesn't simply give art that filters through time the accolades people think it deserves. Much of it is the trophy of the powerful and we enjoy such things. But let's avoid that for a second; I am at the end of the day a romantic and I do think that my writing serves more purpose than to just entertain. 

[2] Certainly there's a word for this, that angry feeling when you see political views of your friends, people you enjoy hanging out with, and the fury of that combined with not wanting to start a Facebook war with said friend(s)? I would call it Facebook rage, but that sounds a little weak, if you ask me. Any better words out there? Facerage? Fanger? Man, I'm not good at this. Any teens out there?

[3] There's another post. Most of these authors, even the esteemed Rushdie, sound like nothing more than parroting fools. More or less reflecting the depth or lack thereof in their writing. It's all most likely jealousy (as the better half may point out). 

[4] That may be any God, or whatever it is that you believe holds the die in the universe, even the currently sacrosanct—or at least powerful, or one with the most divisions—nation-state.

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